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1. Overview

Network configuration is the process of assigning network settings and controls. We can perform network configurations by using physical devices or by using software. It’s easier to use software because it removes the need for manual configurations.

In this tutorial, we’ll learn about the ipconfig and ifconfig network configuration commands. We’ll also look at the differences between the two commands.

2. ipconfig

Firstly, ipconfig stands for Internet Protocol Configuration. This command displays all the current TCP/IP network configuration values and refreshes Dynamic Host Configuration (DHCP) and Domain Name System (DNS) settings.

We mainly use the ipconfig command in Microsoft Windows operating system. Some latest versions of Linux OS also support the ipconfig command.

Moreover, using the ipconfig command without parameters displays the Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) and IPv6 addresses, subnet mask, and default gateway for all adapters. This includes both enabled and disabled adapters that are connected to the system:

$ ipconfig

Windows IP Configuration

Ethernet adapter Ethernet:

   Media State . . . . . . . . . . . : Media disconnected
   Connection-specific DNS Suffix  . : must.ac.mw

Ethernet adapter VirtualBox Host-Only Network:

   Connection-specific DNS Suffix  . :
   Link-local IPv6 Address . . . . . : fe80::25ad:71ab:e4ba:8a2d%7
   IPv4 Address. . . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.56.1
   Subnet Mask . . . . . . . . . . . : 255.255.255.0
   Default Gateway . . . . . . . . . :

Ethernet adapter VirtualBox Host-Only Network #2:

   Connection-specific DNS Suffix  . :
   Link-local IPv6 Address . . . . . : fe80::9caf:8f0e:ba04:1484%5
   IPv4 Address. . . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.84.2
   Subnet Mask . . . . . . . . . . . : 255.255.255.0
   Default Gateway . . . . . . . . . :

In addition, here are some of the most common ipconfig commands:

  • ipconfig /all: gives the full network configuration of the system
  • ipconfig /displaydns: displays the contents of the DNS resolver cache
  • ipconfig /registerdns: initiates manual dynamic registration of the DNS names and IP addresses that are configured on the system

3. ifconfig

ifconfig stands for Interface Configuration. This command displays all the TCP/IP network configurations of the computer.

We use ifconfig command mainly in Unix-based operating systems.

Initially, the ifconfig command only displays the network configurations of enabled network devices that are currently connected to the system:

$ ifconfig
eth0: flags=4163<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,MULTICAST>  mtu 1500
        inet 192.168.74.128  netmask 255.255.255.0  broadcast 192.168.74.255
        inet6 fe80::20c:29ff:fe6f:572b  prefixlen 64  scopeid 0x20<link>
        ether 00:0c:29:6f:57:2b  txqueuelen 1000  (Ethernet)
        RX packets 4178  bytes 265975 (259.7 KiB)
        RX errors 4  dropped 0  overruns 0  frame 0
        TX packets 162401  bytes 6826068 (6.5 MiB)
        TX errors 0  dropped 0 overruns 0  carrier 0  collisions 0
        device interrupt 19  base 0x2000  

lo: flags=73<UP,LOOPBACK,RUNNING>  mtu 65536
        inet 127.0.0.1  netmask 255.0.0.0
        inet6 ::1  prefixlen 128  scopeid 0x10<host>
        loop  txqueuelen 1000  (Local Loopback)
        RX packets 504  bytes 36836 (35.9 KiB)
        RX errors 0  dropped 0  overruns 0  frame 0
        TX packets 504  bytes 36836 (35.9 KiB)
        TX errors 0  dropped 0 overruns 0  carrier 0  collisions 0

Specifically, the command displays the IP address, subnet mask, and default gateway for each adapter connected to the system.

Furthermore, let’s see some of the most common ifconfig commands:

  • ifconfig [interface name]: displays the network configuration information of the specified interface only
  • ifconfig -a: displays all the interfaces that are currently available even if they are down

4. ipconfig vs. ifconfig

Let’s look at the differences between ipconfig and ifconfig:

Comparison Factor ipconfig  ifconfig
Full name ipconfig stands for Internet Protocol Configuration ifconfig stands for Interface Configuration
Supported platform we use ipconfig in Windows operating systems we use ifconfig in Unix-based operating systems
Functionality ipconfig displays information about all the network interfaces, whether enabled or not ifconfig displays only the information of enabled network interfaces connected to the system
Display interfaces We use ipconfig /all to display all the network configurations of the system in Windows operating systems we use ifconfig -a to display all the network configurations of the system in Unix-based operating systems

5. Conclusion

Finally, in this article, we learned about the ipconfig command and the ifconfig command. We also looked at the differences between the two commands.

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If you have a few years of experience in the Linux ecosystem, and you’re interested in sharing that experience with the community, have a look at our Contribution Guidelines.

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