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Telnet is a client-server protocol to access remote system using virtual terminal connection.

The Telnet client is available on almost all Ubuntu Linux systems. The telnet server might not have installed by default.

Remote system access using telnet
Remote system access using telnet


Use the following command to install Telnet server on the remote Ubuntu Linux system.

sudo apt -y install telnetd

We can check the status of the server by running the following command in the remote system.

sudo systemctl status inetd

The output should be similar to following. The Active: active (running) on the third line indicates that the Telnet server is running without any problem.

● inetd.service - Internet superserver
     Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/inetd.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
     Active: active (running) since Thu 2021-12-30 11:04:06 IST; 39min ago
       Docs: man:inetd(8)
   Main PID: 69727 (inetd)
      Tasks: 2 (limit: 4483)
     Memory: 2.3M
     CGroup: /system.slice/inetd.service
             ├─69727 /usr/sbin/inetd
             └─70570 in.telnetd:

Accessing the remote system using telnet

Log into your local system and run the following command to login to remote system


Replace REMOTE_IP_ADDR with your remote system IP address. Example -> Mine is You will see the output similar to following.

When prompted for Username and Password, enter your remote Linux system username and password. Once you login to remote system, you can execute any command as if you are using the system directly.

Connected to
Escape character is '^]'.
Ubuntu 20.04.3 LTS
3550 login: nayab
Welcome to Ubuntu 20.04.3 LTS (GNU/Linux 5.11.0-40-generic x86_64)

 * Documentation:
 * Management:
 * Support:

0 updates can be applied immediately.

Your Hardware Enablement Stack (HWE) is supported until April 2025.
*** System restart required ***
Last login: Thu Dec 30 11:04:58 IST 2021 from on pts/1
[email protected]:~$ 
[email protected]:~$ 

Checking open ports using telnet

This is one use case of telnet other than remote server access. We can use telnet tool to test if there are any specific ports open on the remote system. Just pass the port number followed by server ip address.

telnet 80

Following is the result from my remote system when port 80 is tested.

telnet: Unable to connect to remote host: Connection refused

If remote host refused the connection, that means the port is not open. In the above example, the port number 80 is not open.

Let’s try checking the port number 22.

telnet 22

Result :-

Connected to
Escape character is '^]'.
SSH-2.0-OpenSSH_8.2p1 Ubuntu-4ubuntu0.3

Invalid SSH identification string.
Connection closed by foreign host.

You can see the Telnet is connected to from the second line of output. That means the port 22 is open.