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Author image Mathias Weidner


iptables2dot - turn iptables-save output into graphs for GraphViz


 iptables2dot [options] [iptables-save-output-file]



Print a brief help message and exit.


Print the manual page and exit.

--add-optdef optdef

Provide an option definition for an iptables option that is unknown to the rule parser from App::Iptables2Dot.

If the program dies with the message unknown argument in rule: --unknown-opt arg, you could run it like this:

 iptables2dot --add-optdef unknown-opt iptables-save-output

If the unknown option takes itself an argument, you should run it like this:

 iptables2dot --add-optdef unknown-opt=s iptables-save-output

The suffix =s tells the rule parser that unknown-opts takes a string as argument. See Getopt::Long for further possibilities regarding the arguments of this option.

This may allow you to finish your analysis of iptables-save-output-file without having to modify the module source in lib/App/Iptables2Dot.pm. Look at App::Iptables2Dot for further information.


Provide labels at the edge showing the input or output device for a jump rule.

--omittargets targetlist

Omit some jump targets in the dot graph when given together with --showrules. Multiple targets are separated by comma.


Show/don't show the rules for the chains. Default is --showrules.


Show/don't show chains without jumps to other chains. Default is --noshowunusednodes.

--tables tablelist

Only print the tables given in tablelist. The tables in tablelist are separated by comma.

Possible tables are nat, raw, mangle and filter. Defaults to table filter.


With a true value the nodes in the dot file will be named node0 .. noden and provided with a label showing their name from iptables-save output.

This option can help if the filter rules contain chains with a dash (-) in their name, which is not allowed as input for dot.


This program takes the output from the command iptables-save on Linux and turns into input suitable for the dot program from GraphViz.

It takes the output form iptables-save either from standard input (STDIN) or from a text file whose name was given on the command line.

It writes the graph description for the dot program to standard output (STDOUT).

The main purpose of this program is to get an overview of a given iptables configuration and understand the possible jumps between different chains in the tables. I usually make a printout of the graph for the different tables and have it at hand when studying the rules.

The typical workflow is:

 $ sudo iptables-save \
   | iptables2dot -noshowrules -table filter \
   > iptables-filter-overview.dot
 $ dot -Tpdf iptables-filter-overview.dot -o iptables-filter-overview.pdf

Although it is possible to make a detailed graph of an iptables configuration containing all rules, I wouldn't recommend this in most cases.

In those configurations, where you would need the graph to comprehend the rules, the resulting graph would be a mess.

When the graph looks neat and is legible on A4 paper, you would probably understand the configuration without it. But it could be handy to explain the rules to someone else, following them with a pencil or your finger.

You would do this to get a detailed graph:

 $ sudo iptables-save \
   | iptables2dot -edgelabel -table filter \
   > iptables-filter.dot
 $ dot -Tpdf iptables-filter.dot -o iptables-filter.pdf


unknown argument in rule: %s

The program will die with this message showing the rule for iptables-save that contained an unknown option.

Since the rules are parsed by GetOptionsFromString() from module Getopt::Long, you may workaround this by adding the unknown option to the array @optdefs at the top of Apt/Iptables2Dot.pm. After that please file a bug at https://rt.cpan.org/ or send me a notice at mamawe@cpan.org to have it fixed in one of the next releases of this distribution.

Alternatively you may want to use the program like this

 iptables2dot --add-optdef unknown-opt=s ...

if the program dies with message unknown argument in rule: --unknown-opt arg ... and you don't want to touch the library file Apt/Iptables2Dot.pm.


Mathias Weidner <mamawe@cpan.org>