Any way to get an audio representation of packet flow?

Murray Taylor mtaylor at
Wed Jan 26 14:22:08 PST 2005

On Tue, 2005-01-25 at 20:04, Doug Lee wrote:
> Ok, this may be odd to many, but here's what I want:
> I like tcpdump's powerful ways of selecting and analyzing specific
> portions of packet traffic, but I want a real-time way to represent
> the results.  I am blind, so graphs don't help. <grin>  Usually all I
> want to know is the pattern of packet match frequency vs. time, so a
> little click for each matching packet would translate nicely into what
> I'm looking for.
> My normal tactic involves directing output from tcpdump to /dev/audio
> or even /dev/pcaudio:
> tcpdump -l -n [... rules for traffic ...] >/dev/audio
> is the first trick I tried.  Problem:  It causes me to get kernel
> errors like "runt packet" and such, presumably because it adds too
> mmuch overhead to packet processing somehow.  (This is a P166; maybe
> that problem wouldn't exist on faster hardware?)
> My next trick was like
> tcpdump -s 1 -w /dev/audio [... rules for traffic ...]
> No errors this time, but the output of -w is buffered regardless of -l
> (which normally makes a lot of sense, of course), so it wasn't very
> real-time.
> I currently run FreeBSD 4.10-STABLE, but I'd be interested in any
> solutions requiring 5.x features as well, for future planning.
> Please Cc me if you have any ideas.
> Thanks much.

This could be the solution you need - I havent tried it myself
but it 'sounds interesting' ... 
The concept of monitoring a system by subliminal audio cues is clever.

Activities in complex networks are often both too important to ignore
and too tedious to watch. We created a network monitoring system, Peep,
that replaces visual monitoring with a sonic `ecology' of natural
sounds, where each kind of sound represents a specific kind of network
event. This system combines network state information from multiple data
sources, by mixing audio signals into a single audio stream in real
time. Using Peep, one can easily detect common network problems such as
high load, excessive traffic, and email spam, by comparing sounds being
played with those of a normally functioning network. This allows the
system administrator to concentrate on more important things while
monitoring the network via peripheral hearing. This work was supported
in part by a USENIX student software project grant.

Murray Taylor
Special Projects Engineer
Bytecraft Systems & Entertainment
P: +61 3 8710 2555
F: +61 3 8710 2599
D: +61 3 9238 4275
M: +61 417 319 256
E: mtaylor at
or visit us on the web

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