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Network Packet Capture


The net_capture API allows user to monitor the network traffic in one of the Zephyr network interfaces and send that traffic to external system for analysis. The monitoring can be setup either manually using net-shell or automatically by using the net_capture API.

Cooked Mode Capture

If capturing is enabled and configured, the system will automatically capture network traffic for a given network interface. If you would like to capture network data when there is no network interface involved, then you need to use the cooked mode capture API.

In cooked mode capture, arbitrary network packets can be captured and there does not need to be network interface involved. For example low level HDLC packets in PPP can be captured, as the HDLC L2 layer data is stripped away when using the normal network interface based capture. Also CANBUS or Bluetooth network data could be captured although currently there is no support in the network stack to capture those.

The cooked mode capture works like this:

  • An any network interface is created. It acts as a sink where the cooked mode captured packets are written by the cooked mode capture API.

  • A cooked virtual network interface is attached on top of this any interface.

  • The cooked interface must be configured to capture certain L2 packet types using the network interface configuration API.

  • When cooked mode capture API is used, the caller must specify what is the layer 2 protocol type of the captured data. The cooked mode capture API is then able to determine what to capture when receiving such a L2 packet.

  • The network packet capturing infrastructure is then setup so that the cooked interface is marked as captured network interface. The packets received by the cooked interface via the any interface are then automatically placed to the capture IP tunnel and sent to remote host for analysis.

For example, in the sample capture application, these network interfaces are created:

Interface any (0x808ab3c) (Dummy) [1]
Virtual interfaces attached to this : 2
Device    : NET_ANY (0x80849a4)

Interface cooked (0x808ac94) (Virtual) [2]
Virtual name : Cooked mode capture
Attached  : 1 (Dummy / 0x808ab3c)
Device    : NET_COOKED (0x808497c)

Interface eth0 (0x808adec) (Ethernet) [3]
Virtual interfaces attached to this : 4
Device    : zeth0 (0x80849b8)
IPv6 unicast addresses (max 4):
     fe80::5eff:fe00:53e6 autoconf preferred infinite
     2001:db8::1 manual preferred infinite
IPv4 unicast addresses (max 2): overridable preferred infinite

Interface net0 (0x808af44) (Virtual) [4]
Virtual name : Capture tunnel
Attached  : 3 (Ethernet / 0x808adec)
Device    : IP_TUNNEL0 (0x8084990)
IPv6 unicast addresses (max 4):
     2001:db8:200::1 manual preferred infinite
     fe80::efed:6dff:fef2:b1df autoconf preferred infinite
     fe80::56da:1eff:fe5e:bc02 autoconf preferred infinite

In this example, the is the address of the outer end point of the host that terminates the tunnel. Zephyr uses this address to select the internal interface to use for the tunnel. In this example it is interface 3.

The interface 2 is a virtual interface that runs on top of interface 1. The cooked capture packets are written by the capture API to sink interface 1. The packets propagate to interface 2 because it is linked to the first interface. The net capture enable 2 net-shell command will cause the packets sent to interface 2 to be written to capture interface 4, which in turn then capsulates the packets and tunnels them to peer via the Ethernet interface 3.

The above IP addresses might change if you change the addresses in the sample samples/net/capture/overlay-tunnel.conf file.

Sample usage

See Network packet capture sample application and Monitor Network Traffic for details.

API Reference

group net_capture

Network packet capture support functions.


int net_capture_setup(const char *remote_addr, const char *my_local_addr, const char *peer_addr, const struct device **dev)

Setup network packet capturing support.

  • remote_addr – The value tells the tunnel remote/outer endpoint IP address. The IP address can be either IPv4 or IPv6 address. This address is used to select the network interface where the tunnel is created.

  • my_local_addr – The local/inner IP address of the tunnel. Can contain also port number which is used as UDP source port.

  • peer_addr – The peer/inner IP address of the tunnel. Can contain also port number which is used as UDP destination port.

  • dev – Network capture device. This is returned to the caller.


0 if ok, <0 if network packet capture setup failed

static inline int net_capture_cleanup(const struct device *dev)

Cleanup network packet capturing support.

This should be called after the capturing is done and resources can be released.


0 if ok, <0 if network packet capture cleanup failed

static inline int net_capture_enable(const struct device *dev, struct net_if *iface)

Enable network packet capturing support.

This creates tunnel network interface where all the captured packets are pushed. The captured network packets are placed in UDP packets that are sent to tunnel peer.

  • dev – Network capture device

  • iface – Network interface we are starting to capture packets.


0 if ok, <0 if network packet capture enable failed

static inline bool net_capture_is_enabled(const struct device *dev)

Is network packet capture enabled or disabled.

  • dev – Network capture device. If set to NULL, then the default capture device is used.


True if enabled, False if network capture is disabled.

static inline int net_capture_disable(const struct device *dev)

Disable network packet capturing support.

  • dev – Network capture device


0 if ok, <0 if network packet capture disable failed