The ping program sends an ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) packet to an IP address, asking the remote machine to send back an echo packet. The ICMP packet is very small in the grand scheme of things and puts very little burden on your network. It tests the full route of the network from your client machine to the server, whether it is from the United Kingdom or Australia or a machine sitting next to you.
To ping a machine, you need to issue the ping command with the host name or IP of the machine you want to test. The ping process will either show you echo packets and how long it took for them to return to you or notify you that the machine could not be contacted. Take a look at Listing 15-15.
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