Basic Linux Networking tips and tricks part-4: curl command

cURL

Here is another post of the series on basic network troubleshooting and tools under Linux.

In this post, I will talk about the cURL command.

 


Others posts of the series

This post is part of a series about basic Linux Networking tips and tricks.
The others posts of this series are:

 


What is cURL?

cURL is a Linux command-line tool for getting or sending data and files, using an URL syntax.

Since cURL uses libcurl, it supports every protocol libcurl supports, like: DICT, FILE, FTP, FTPS, Gopher, HTTP, HTTPS, IMAP, IMAPS, LDAP, LDAPS, MQTT, POP3, POP3S, RTMP, RTMPS, RTSP, SCP, SFTP, SMB, SMBS, SMTP, SMTPS, Telnet and TFTP.

cURL supports also SSL certificates, HTTP POST/PUT, FTP uploading, HTTP form based upload, proxies, HTTP/2, HTTP/3, cookies, user+password authentication (Basic, Plain, Digest, CRAM-MD5, NTLM, Negotiate and Kerberos), file transfer resume, proxy tunneling and more.

cURL was first released in 1997 and was originally named httpget. Then it became urlget before adopting the current name of cURL. The original author and lead developer is the Swedish developer Daniel Stenberg, who created cURL because he wanted to automate the fetching of currency exchange rates for IRC users (source WikiPedia).

 

What’s curl used for?

The cURL command is used in command line or scripts to transfer data. It is also used in many IoT and connected devices and is the Internet transfer backbone for thousands of software applications affecting billions of humans daily.

For network engineers, it is very valuable for testing purposes, for example to make API queries from the command line or to test a website status.

 

How to use curl?

I cannot cover all the options for using curl, because there are so many. But instead, I will provide below some useful examples of how to use cURL in day-to-day operations.

 

Most basic, download a single file from a web site:

$ curl http://example.com/path.to.the/file.xyz

 

To download a file and specify a new local filename (-o option):

$ curl http://example.com/file.xyz -o new_file_name.xyz

 

Download multiple files at once, from multiple locations (-O option is to keep the original filename):

$ curl -O http://example.com/first-file.xyz -O http://anothersite.com/second-file.xyz -O http://site3.com/file.xyz

 

To download all sequentially numbered files (files 1-24 in this example):

$ curl http://example.com/file[1-24].xyz

 

Download a file and follow redirect if needed (-L option):

$ curl -L http://example.com/file

 

To download a file and pass HTTP Authentication (-u option):

$ curl -u username:password URL

 

Download a file with a Proxy (-x option):

$ curl -x proxysever.example.com:PORT http://address-i-want-to.access

 

To download a file from a FTP server with authentication (-u again for the authentication and -O to keep the original file name):

$ curl -u username:password -O ftp://example.com/pub/file.zip

 

Upload a file to a FTP server with authentication (-u for the authentication and -T for Transfer option):

$ curl -u username:password -T image.png ftp://ftp.example.com/images/

 

Get an FTP directory listing:

$ curl ftp://username:password@example.com

 

Resume a previously failed or aborted download (-C option to resume the transfer and -o to define the local file name):

$ curl -C - -o partial_file.zip http://example.com/file.zip

As we saw, the lowercase -o option save the file with a different name. Here we can also use the original remote file name using the uppercase -O option.

 

Fetch only the HTTP headers from a response (-I option):

$ curl -I http://example.com

This is useful to check the status of a website, in combination with -s option (silent) and -L to follow the redirect, if any.

This is also useful to see the location of a tiny url, for example:

$ curl -sIL https://tinyurl.com/ybtwo4o4 | grep "^location"
location: https://aboutnetworks.net/linux-networking-part-4

 

Limit the download rate speed (–limit-rate option):

$ curl --limit-rate 100B -O http://example.com/file

 

POST to a http form (-F option)

$ curl -F "username=user" -F "password=test" http://example.com/form.html

Use the format: form_field_name=content with -F

 

POST request, for example for an API (–data or -d for HTTP post and -X POST for the request option)

$ curl --data -X POST "param1=value1" https://example.com/api

We can also specify the content type with -H header option, and -d for data option, for example for JSON data:

$ curl -H "Content-Type: application/json" -X POST -d '{"user":"joe","pass":"xyz"}' http://example.com/api

 

 

How to have fun with curl?

After having seen examples how to work with cURL, here are some cooler examples.

 

Get the local weather report in command line

Simple as:

$ curl wttr.in

Get the weather report of the city you like:

$ curl wttr.in/<city>

You can use the city name, zip or airport code, for example: $ curl wttr.in/London

wttr_london

 

You can use the short version also:

$ curl wttr.in/Zurich?format=3
Zurich: ⛅️ +22°C

Or get an image of this report:

$ curl wttr.in/London.png --output London.png

In another format:

$ curl wttr.in/London_view=v2.png --output London.png

Get the local daily graph of temperature and precipitation:

$ curl v2.wttr.in

v2_wttr_in

 

 

To see the moon status:

$ curl wttr.in/moon

wttr_moon

 

Make a qrcode in command line

Base is:

$ curl qrenco.de

For example:

$ curl qrenco.de/https://aboutnetworks.net

qrenco.de

 

Cheat Sheet:

$ curl cheat.sh

For example, you need cheat sheet on curl:

$ curl cheat.sh/curl

Or for vim:

$ curl cheat.sh/vim

And much more…

 

To get Cryptocurrencies exchange rate in cli

Cryptocurrencies exchange rate:

$ curl rate.sx

rate.sx

 

Bitcoin exchange rate:

$ curl rate.sx/btc

rate.sx/btc

 

Ethereum exchange rate:

$ curl rate.sx/eth

Etc…

 

Get your current IP address (external IP)

$ curl ifconfig.me

The same in JSON or XML formats:

$ curl ifconfig.me/all.json
or
$ curl ifconfig.me/all.xml

Go to https://ifconfig.me/ for more options.

 

Get your current (external) IP, IP based geo location, AS number of your ISP, and much more

$ curl ipinfo.io

 


Read more

 

Everything curl – the book

Everything curl is an extensive, detailed and totally free book, available in multiple formats, here: https://curl.haxx.se/book.html

The web version of the book is here: https://ec.haxx.se/

 

Other sources used in this post

 


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2 Thoughts to “Basic Linux Networking tips and tricks part-4: curl command”

  1. jsh3323

    Missing the i in ifconfig in the “The same in JSON or XML formats:” section

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