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Ping utility is one of the

Found at: gopher.blog.benjojo.co.uk:70/ping-with-loss-latency-split

 Splitting the ping
 ===
 ![](https://blog.benjojo.co.uk/asset/2k8lf46vtp)

Ping ((URL:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ping_(networking_utility:0/URL:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ping_(networking_utility HTML))

 Ping) is one of the fundamental pillars of networking. It's
simple, universally supported, and is normally one of the few
things that is shipped with all network stacks.
 It gives two handy confirmations, one that a host is
reachable at all, and also a rough estimate on how much latency
there is between the system running the utility and the target:
 ```
 $ ping 8.8.8.8
 PING 8.8.8.8 (8.8.8.8) 56(84) bytes of data.
 64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=1 ttl=120 time=3.29 ms
 64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=2 ttl=120 time=2.78 ms
 64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=3 ttl=120 time=3.09 ms
 64 bytes from 8.8.8.8: icmp_seq=4 ttl=120 time=3.11 ms
 ^C
 --- 8.8.8.8 ping statistics ---
 4 packets transmitted, 4 received, 0% packet loss, time
3003ms
 rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 2.789/3.073/3.298/0.186 ms
 $
 ```
 Monitoring pings over time is handy too, to spot positive
or negative changes in network quality:
 ![](https://blog.benjojo.co.uk/asset/5ANWmo8oUJ)

ICMP Type 8

 The basic mode of operation of a ping is a ICMP Type 8
is sent to the target, and the host expects a ICMP Type 0
packet to come back. Time between packet send and reply receive
is measured and we get a time:
 ![](https://blog.benjojo.co.uk/asset/lev01FDwP9)

netcode

 However there is a common assumption on this latency
number. Is that you can divide it in half to get the time it
takes to send data in one direction (These assumptions are
sometimes used in "netcode"), and while ideally that is true. The
internet is full of asymmetric routing. Meaning your ping's path
could look something like this:
 ![](https://blog.benjojo.co.uk/asset/DyTXxQsUkt)
 In this example it takes 63 ms to send a packet, but
only 35ms to get it back. To a normal ping this would just
show the latency as 109ms, but if we were to start making
one-way latency assumptions based on that 109ms value we would have
a decent amount of error (maybe up to 10ms) on how long
communications would take to arrive.
 But how do we "split" this ping into its transmit and
receive time counterparts?

apenwarr

(pdf)

 This whole idea came to me after watching a talk by
apenwarr ((pdf)) about Google Fibre WiFi, and in there apenwarr
mentions about a tool called isoping.

Isoping

 Isoping is a program that does attempt to break up the
difference between transmit latency and receive latency.
 ```
 # ./isoping test.benjojo.co.uk
 connecting to ::ffff:185.230.223.69...
                 48.8 ms rx  (min=48.8)  loss:
0/2 tx  0/1 rx
 time paradox: backsliding start by -396 usec
   48.8 ms tx    48.6 ms rx  (min=48.6)  loss: 0/3 tx
 0/2 rx
   48.7 ms tx    49.0 ms rx  (min=48.6)  loss: 0/4 tx
 0/3 rx
   48.6 ms tx    48.9 ms rx  (min=48.5)  loss: 0/5 tx
 0/4 rx
   48.5 ms tx    49.0 ms rx  (min=48.5)  loss: 0/6 tx
 0/5 rx
   48.5 ms tx    48.9 ms rx  (min=48.5)  loss: 0/7 tx
 0/6 rx
 ^C
 # ping test.benjojo.co.uk
 PING test.benjojo.co.uk (185.230.223.69) 56(84) bytes of
data.
 64 bytes from 185.145.203.147: icmp_seq=1 ttl=54 time=96.6
ms
 ^C
 # # 48 + 48 = 96
 ```
 However on more testing and after talking to apenwarr. I
discovered that it's not capable of detecting long standing asymmetry.
 > It computes those based on the *minimum* observed rtt
rather than the actual rtt. The minimum rtt is the floor on the
precision available. But for detecting why a
 > wifi link occasionally jumps to 500ms, or why your
latency spikes when you upload a file, it’s very powerful.
 So alas. Isoping is well suited for jitter (aka, the issue
they were targeting with the Google Fiber WiFi boxes) or
detecting directional packet loss. Not against our problem of
detecting chronic network asymmetrical routing.
 So how do we split the ping?
 ![](https://blog.benjojo.co.uk/asset/I2pLcFQyqt)
 As we already discussed, A ICMP ping measures the time
between sending and getting a reply, with no extra meta data it's
impossible to gleam any asymmetry in the timing between RX and TX.
 ![](https://blog.benjojo.co.uk/asset/JqDmMftREW)
 However, if we were to encode timing information in the
packet, like when we sent it and have the other side include when
it received it. We can use that to "split" the time it takes
for the packet to be sent to the host, and then subtract that
time from the total time to get the receive time.

Timestamp Requests

 Usefully, ICMP already has this feature in the form of
Timestamp Requests
 ![](https://blog.benjojo.co.uk/asset/JRbLaIeNIO)
 As you can see in the wireshark dissection, There is the
`Originate timestamp` for when the host sent the packet, and the
receive and transmit timestamps (Usually identical) for when the
other side transmitted this.

quickly wrote one

 I was not aware of any program that could do the half-RTT
latency calculation for ICMP Timestamps, so I quickly wrote one:
 ```
 $ sudo ./icmp-timestap-pinger
 TS reddit.com (151.101.65.140): Forward: -1ms Back: 3ms
RTT(2ms)
 TS klir.benjojo.co.uk (5.231.83.4): Forward: 7ms Back: 5ms
RTT(12ms)
 TS airmail.benjojo.co.uk (23.132.96.179): Forward: 66ms Back:
65ms RTT(131ms)
 TS syd-au-ping.vultr.com (108.61.212.117): Forward: 147ms Back:
153ms RTT(300ms)
 ```
 However this presents a problem, since there is no
guarantee that the host you are sending a ICMP Timestamp Requests to
has an accurate clock, the value might not be calibrated to
the same precision as the machine you are sending from, or
even at all
 To solve this, we need something like this with its own
time accuracy assurances.
 You could assure that all monitored hosts have NTPd/Chrony
installed, however this starts another question, how do you ensure
that your IP path to those NTP servers are not also affected
by the asymmetry that you are trying to measure.
 NTP and Chrony can't on their own prevent being biased
from latency asymmetry. Chrony does have a "Estimation of
asymmetric jitter", but this cannot detect chronic latency asymmetry.
 To try and reduce the jitter, the idea would be to pick
the lowest latency NTP servers, the idea being that there would
be less room for asymmetry to play a role in the time
estimation.
 ## What are the best NTP servers?
 For this I decided to run tests on the popular, and
widely available NTP servers:
 * Google
 * Facebook
 * Cloudflare
 * Apple

Linux's PPS facilities

GNSS

 To benchmark, I set up a uBlox 6M's Pulse Per Second
(PPS) line to be used as a time benchmark, using Linux's PPS
facilities and a Raspberry Pi 4's (That I got as a speakers gift!)
GPIO to trigger the interrupts. We can assume the uBlox's PPS
is nearly perfect, as it's fed by GNSS sources, meaning it is
the most accurate we can easily obtain (uBlox claims that
accuracy of the pulse lies somewhere around +/- 100ns).
 This means we can log when a pulse happens, and compare
it against how close it was to our NTP system time:
 ```
 root@tempest:~# ppstest /dev/pps0
 trying PPS source "/dev/pps0"
 found PPS source "/dev/pps0"
 ok, found 1 source(s), now start fetching data...
 source 0 - assert 1604603306.999999790, sequence: 1403151
 source 0 - assert 1604603307.999999554, sequence: 1403152
 source 0 - assert 1604603309.000000373, sequence: 1403153
 source 0 - assert 1604603310.000000803, sequence: 1403154
 source 0 - assert 1604603310.999999807, sequence: 1403155
 source 0 - assert 1604603311.999999830, sequence: 1403156
 ```
 The further away the time stamps are from the exact
second, the more inaccurate the NTP source is (likely due to
asymmetry or other network factors)
 ---
 ![](https://blog.benjojo.co.uk/asset/0WvIAsEc0S)

IDNet

anycast

 From a VDSL line in the UK on the ISP IDNet , it
appears that Cloudflare's time service provides the lowest error
from GNSS calibrated time. However there is another quirk to
take into consideration, where Cloudflare uses anycast to route
NTP traffic into their network, Apple uses DNS to direct
systems to what they think is the nearest time cluster. The upside
of this is that all apple clusters are reachable independently
(Singapore, São Paulo Brazil, Hong Kong, San Jose USA, Los Angeles
USA, New York USA, Miami USA, Atlanta USA, Sydney Australia,
Frankfurt Germany, London UK, Amsterdam Netherlands, Tokyo Japan,
Stockholm Sweden, Seoul S.Korea, Taipei Taiwan)

smearing

 Because of this we can ensure we stay "locked" to a NTP
cluster, and so I decided to use this Apple as the gold standard
even though it's error is higher (in my single location test).
Facebook and Google time clusters are incompatible with each other
in the case of leap seconds due to different implementations
of smearing.
 ---
 ## Time Tables
 Now that we have a synced clock we can get down to
finally "splitting the ping"!
 First we basically just build a table on both sides, with
an incrementing packet ID and a unix timestamp slot, this
table holds the ping packets we receive.
 ![](https://blog.benjojo.co.uk/asset/haDrDpRQ5l)
 Since we swap these tables, we now know the exact time
the packet arrived at the other side. Since we have accurate
time we can use these times directly to figure out the
directional latency of the packet.
 On top of that, we can also use it to see what packets
didn't make it due to packet loss. Since we can see what packets
we sent, and didn't get to the other side, we can see packet
loss direction too.
 Here are some examples I found in the field:
 ![](https://blog.benjojo.co.uk/asset/eVTtrR0PMe)
 Here I found a "peak hours" latency/jitter episode on a UK
residential connection, happening in the inbound direction of the
connection. Likely caused by peak hours streaming etc.
 In addition, this (some kind of DSL based) line has quite
a significant amount of latency asymmetry:
 `[xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx] RX: 15.076895ms TX: 5.450551ms [Loss RX:
0/32 | Loss TX 0/32]`

Interleaving

 Where sending packets to the internet has a 10ms delay
attached compared to receiving them. This is likely some form of
DSL Interleaving.
 In another experiment I setup sping between my flat and a
VM in China, and you can see the infamous daily peaks of
packet loss:
 ![](https://blog.benjojo.co.uk/asset/6V8zwU3O5j)
 Interestingly showing that the loss is in the direction of
the UK to China, with a small period of China to the UK.
 ---
 Since this tool is genuinely useful for debugging network
latency, and for validating the viability of using NTP for really
precise time keeping, I've factored it into a generally usable
program in the form of `sping`: https://github.com/benjojo/sping
 ```
 Usage of sping:
   -clock-is-perfect
servers (default true)
   -debug.showslots
   -debug.showstats
   -listenAddr string
   -peers string
   -pps.debug
   -pps.path string
   -udp.pps int
(default 100)
   -use.pps
   -web.listen-address string
interface (default "[::]:9523")
   -web.telemetry-path string
"/metrics")
 ```
 The program can either trust system time, or in
environments where it is not possible to set the time (some containers,
OpenVZ etc) it can run it's own calibration against Apple's NTP
servers, I found those to be the most consistent globally.
 Optionally it can also use a Pulse Per Second device for
greater accuracy.

IANA port assigned

 `sping` uses UDP to exchange ping data between peers, and
TCP for the handshake. The IANA port assigned for this is
6924.
 ---

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