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How To Find MAC Address on Linux

Written by ouilookup

Updated on 2020-04-26


If you are working as a system or a network administrator, you probably need to find MAC addresses everyday.

MAC addresses represent a very valuable source of information : they uniquely identify computers, more precisely network cards, over a network.

Assigned by the IEEE, MAC addresses can be equally found on Linux or Windows operating systems.

In this tutorial, you are going to learn how you can easily find your MAC address on Linux.

Whether you like running commands directly in the shell, or if you prefer the graphical interface, you will be able to find your MAC address on Linux quickly.

Find MAC Address on Linux

The easiest way to find your MAC address on Linux is to execute the “ifconfig” command with the “-a” option for “all”.

The MAC address is available in the “ether” section, concatening your OUI vendor and your OUI specific address.

For this network interface, you are presented with multiple different information :

  • Network card general information : if the card is up or down, if it is running on unicast or multicast and its MTU.
  • Layer 2 information : the information you are interested in : the MAC addresses as well as the layer 2 protocol used by the network card (in this case Ethernet)
  • Layer 3 information : most of the time, you will be dealing with TCP/IP networks. As a consequence, the layer 3 summarizes the information about your IP address (IPv4 and IPv6 addresses). You are also given your default gateway IP address and netmask address.
  • RX and TX packets : linked to the actual cable used, RX and TX entries represent the packets you are able to receive versus the packets you are able to transmit.

In this case, you are interested in the layer 2 information, more precisely the ether MAC address.

As you can see, when running the “ifconfig” command, my current MAC address is 02:42:35:54:98:2a.

The first three triplets are reserved for the OUI vendor (02:42:35 being the OUI vendor, and 54:98:2a the specific MAC address).

Note : if you are dealing with a virtual machine, or if you are currently renting a VPS, you may be assigned a virtual MAC address that is not linked to a specific vendor.

Also, if you have multiple network interfaces, they will all display their own individual addresses.

Awesome!

You successfully found your MAC address on Linux.

However, using the “ifconfig” command is not the only way for you to get your MAC address.

Find MAC Address using ip

If you are a veteran system administrator, you are probably already very familiar with the “ip” command.

In most cases, it is used in order to determine your current IP address, but it can also be used in order to get your MAC address.

In order to get your current MAC address, execute the “ip addr” command with the “show” option.

$ ip addr show

Using this command, you will be listed with all the network interfaces available on your current server.

As you can see, the result is pretty much the same than the one from the previous section (3a:2c:fb:46:63:be).

Using OUILookup, you are now able to search for your OUI vendor and have some more information about their location.

Find MAC Address by navigating the filesystem

As you probably already know, on Linux, everything is a file.

As a consequence, a lot of information is stored directly in plain files accessible by users on the filesystem.

Luckily for you, the MAC address can be accessed that way.

In order to find your MAC address on Linux, navigate to the "/sys/class/net" and identify the interface card you are interested in.

Now that you have identified the network interface you are interested in, open the content of the “address” file in this symbolic link.

$ cat /sys/class/net/eth0/address

Congratulations, you have successfully identified your MAC address on your filesystem.

You can now use our website in order to identify the vendor associated with this MAC address.

Relationship between MAC and ARP

Now that you have identified your MAC address, you can use this information in order to troubleshoot network issues.

As a quick reminder, the MAC identifier is used by the ARP protocol in order to establish connections between nodes over a private local network (or LAN network).

Most of the time, this information will be used by switches (which are layer 2 devices) on your network.

Switches will store this information using an ARP table containing a mapping between IP addresses and MAC addresses.

However, switches are not the only ones to have an ARP table : your local server does also.

If you are interested in the MAC addresses currently stored locally on your server, hit the “arp” command in order to see your current cache.

$ arp

Great, now you know all the MAC addresses that are cached in your server!

Conclusion

In this tutorial, you learnt how you can easily find your MAC address on Linux.

You also learnt about the relationship between your MAC address and the ARP protocol, that is used every single day for private network communication.

If you are interested in MAC addresses, you should probably head over to our blog section as we have many other tutorials on the same subject over there.

You can also check our articles :

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