netsh vs ifconfig

UPDATE : new version available

windows includes a handy little tool called ‘netsh’. you can use this to completely configure your networking environment from the command line.

and when i say ‘completely’ i mean ‘completely’. you can configure every aspect of windows networking (including ipsec, ras, tcp/ip, rpc a.s.o…). as you can imagine, the commandline for this beast gets rather complex….

i often work in different networking enviroments and have to change my ip configuration very often. for this reason i wanted an easy to use command line tool to quickly change my tcp/ip related configuration (you need 8 mouse clicks and 3 dialogs to do it with the gui, if you are running as admin…i’m not running as admin – so i need even more)

other reasons i wrote this tool were

  • i wasn’t quite aware that there are several shortcuts in the netsh syntax to make it more usable
  • i wanted to experiment with the .net wmi classes

after sending the tool to keith, he commented that i built something that is already included in the os (yes, every single windows installation – no need to copy my tool on the machine – good point) and that the commandline syntax isn’t that ugly as i thought (and he is partially right here, too). keith now wrote a blog entry about netsh – and i thought i should compare both tools now….

enumerating interfaces:

You have to know the name of the network connection (the names in the network connections window) or use ‘lo’ as the standard network interface.

ifconfig /s show all available network interfaces that support tcp/ip and gives you a number. this number can be used in subsequent use with the /eth n switch

setting ip address and subnet mask and default gateway

netsh int ip set addr lo static

ifconfig /eth 1 /ip /mask /gw

note : i haven’t found a way to set only the default gw in netsh. in ifconfig that would be:

ifconfig /eth 1 /gw

setting dns

netsh int ip set dns lo static primary

ifconfig /eth 1 /dns

switching to dhcp

netsh int ip set addr lo dhcp

ifconfig /eth 1 /dhcp

a ifconfig feature:
use ifconfig /eth 1 /s to show all the wmi has to say about this interface (similar as ipconfig on steroids)

a netsh feature:
keith forgot that.
whats handy in netsh is, that you can dump out your current ip configuration with

netsh int ip dump

e.g. to a text file and reimport that file later with

netsh -f config.txt

that’s a nice feature! i will include that in a future version of ifconfig (but i will just dump out the correct commandline for ifconfig for the current configuration so you can directly use it in batch files :)

the diag stuff keith talks about was new to me and looks reasonable. but it is silly that diag for the mail server is hardwired to outlook express…

other stuff i want to add:

  • you can currently only set 1 ip and 1 gateway and 1 dns server (i am thinking about how to implement that without getting to complicated syntax-wise)
  • you can’t currently set ip and netmask independently (will be fixed) – but, hey, netsh can’t do that either :)
  • turning windows firewall on and off with ifconfig (that’s currently not available in netsh before xp sp2)
  • settting the ie proxy (proxies are in general a pain…most often these two config changes go hand in hand – but if you are not running as admin, you have to change the ip config from a admin context, this will not be the context you are running ie in…but the proxy settings are user i am thinking about that…)

if you want to play around with ifconfig – you can get it here.
if you want to play with netsh – hey – it’s included in windows ;)

if you have any feature suggestions or think thats totally useless – write a comment.
if you think – why doesn’t he just use the mouse – write a comment, too :)


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