services — Internet network services list


services is a plain ASCII file providing a mapping between human-friendly textual names for internet services, and their underlying assigned port numbers and protocol types. Every networking program should look into this file to get the port number (and protocol) for its service. The C library routines getservent(3), getservbyname(3), getservbyport(3), setservent(3), and endservent(3) support querying this file from programs.

Port numbers are assigned by the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority), and their current policy is to assign both TCP and UDP protocols when assigning a port number. Therefore, most entries will have two entries, even for TCP-only services.

Port numbers below 1024 (so-called "low numbered" ports) can be bound to only by root (see bind(2), tcp(7), and udp(7)). This is so clients connecting to low numbered ports can trust that the service running on the port is the standard implementation, and not a rogue service run by a user of the machine. Well-known port numbers specified by the IANA are normally located in this root-only space.

The presence of an entry for a service in the services file does not necessarily mean that the service is currently running on the machine. See inetd.conf(5) for the configuration of Internet services offered. Note that not all networking services are started by inetd(8), and so won't appear in inetd.conf(5). In particular, news (NNTP) and mail (SMTP) servers are often initialized from the system boot scripts.

The location of the services file is defined by _PATH_SERVICES in <netdb.h> This is usually set to /etc/services.

Each line describes one service, and is of the form:

  • service-name port/protocol [aliases ...]


    is the friendly name the service is known by and looked up under. It is case sensitive. Often, the client program is named after the service-name.


    is the port number (in decimal) to use for this service.


    is the type of protocol to be used. This field should match an entry in the protocols(5) file. Typical values include tcp and udp.


    is an optional space or tab separated list of other names for this service. Again, the names are case sensitive.

Either spaces or tabs may be used to separate the fields.

Comments are started by the hash sign (#) and continue until the end of the line. Blank lines are skipped.

The service-name should begin in the first column of the file, since leading spaces are not stripped. service-names can be any printable characters excluding space and tab. However, a conservative choice of characters should be used to minimize compatibility problems. E.g., a−z, 0−9, and hyphen (−) would seem a sensible choice.

Lines not matching this format should not be present in the file. (Currently, they are silently skipped by getservent(3), getservbyname(3), and getservbyport(3). However, this behavior should not be relied on.)

This file might be distributed over a network using a network-wide naming service like Yellow Pages/NIS or BIND/Hesiod.

A sample services file might look like this:

netstat         15/tcp
qotd            17/tcp          quote
msp             18/tcp          # message send protocol
msp             18/udp          # message send protocol
chargen         19/tcp          ttytst source
chargen         19/udp          ttytst source
ftp             21/tcp
# 22 − unassigned
telnet          23/tcp



The Internet network services list


Definition of _PATH_SERVICES


listen(2), endservent(3), getservbyname(3), getservbyport(3), getservent(3), setservent(3), inetd.conf(5), protocols(5), inetd(8)

Assigned Numbers RFC, most recently RFC 1700, (AKA STD0002).


This page is part of release 3.52 of the Linux man-pages project. A description of the project, and information about reporting bugs, can be found at−pages/.

  This manpage is Copyright (C) 1996 Austin Donnelly <>,
with additional material Copyright (c) 1995 Martin Schulze

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this
manual provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are
preserved on all copies.

Permission is granted to copy and distribute modified versions of this
manual under the conditions for verbatim copying, provided that the
entire resulting derived work is distributed under the terms of a
permission notice identical to this one.

Since the Linux kernel and libraries are constantly changing, this
manual page may be incorrect or out-of-date.  The author(s) assume no
responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from
the use of the information contained herein.  The author(s) may not
have taken the same level of care in the production of this manual,
which is licensed free of charge, as they might when working

Formatted or processed versions of this manual, if unaccompanied by
the source, must acknowledge the copyright and authors of this work.

  This manpage was made by merging two independently written manpages,
  one written by Martin Schulze (18 Oct 95), the other written by
  Austin Donnelly, (9 Jan 96).

Thu Jan 11 12:14:41 1996 Austin Donnelly  <>
  * Merged two services(5) manpages