Chapter 2. Obtaining, Compiling, Installing, and Removing Nmap


Nmap can often be installed or upgraded with a single command, so don't let the length of this chapter scare you. Most readers will use the table of contents to skip directly to sections that concern them. This chapter describes how to install Nmap on many platforms, including both source code compilation and binary installation methods. Graphical and command-line versions of Nmap are described and contrasted. Nmap removal instructions are also provided in case you change your mind.

Testing Whether Nmap is Already Installed

The first step toward obtaining Nmap is to check whether you already have it. Many free operating system distributions (including most Linux and BSD systems) come with Nmap packages, although they may not be installed by default. On Unix systems, open a terminal window and try executing the command nmap --version. If Nmap exists and is in your PATH, you should see output similar to that in Example 2.1.

Example 2.1. Checking for Nmap and determining its version number
felix~> nmap --version

Nmap version 4.76 ( )

If Nmap does not exist on the system (or if your PATH is incorrectly set), an error message such as nmap: Command not found is reported. As the example above shows, Nmap responds to the command by printing its version number (here 4.76).

Even if your system already has a copy of Nmap, you should consider upgrading to the latest version available from Newer versions often run faster, fix important bugs, and feature updated operating system and service version detection databases. A list of changes since the version already on your system can be found at Nmap output examples in this document may not match the output produced by older versions.

Command-line and Graphical Interfaces

Nmap has traditionally been a command-line tool run from a Unix shell or (more recently) Windows command prompt. This allows experts to quickly execute a command that does exactly what they want without having to maneuver through a bunch of configuration panels and scattered option fields. This also makes Nmap easier to script and enables easy sharing of useful commands among the user community.

One downside of the command-line approach is that it can be intimidating for new and infrequent users. Nmap offers more than a hundred command-line options, although many are obscure features or debugging controls that most users can ignore. Many graphical frontends have been created for those users who prefer a GUI interface. Nmap has traditionally included a simple GUI for Unix named NmapFE, but that was replaced in 2007 by Zenmap, which we have been developing since 2005. Zenmap is far more powerful and effective than NmapFE, particularly in results viewing. Zenmap's tab-based interface lets you search and sort results, and also browse them in several ways (host details, raw Nmap output, and ports/hosts). It works on Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, and other platforms. Zenmap is covered in depth in Chapter 12, Zenmap GUI Users' Guide. The rest of this book focuses on command-line Nmap invocations. Once you understand how the command-line options work and can interpret the output, using Zenmap or the other available Nmap GUIs is easy. Nmap's options work the same way whether you choose them from radio buttons and menus or type them at a command-line.

Downloading Nmap

Nmap.Org is the official source for downloading Nmap source code and binaries for Nmap and Zenmap. Source code is distributed in bzip2 and gzip compressed tar files, and binaries are available for Linux (RPM format), Windows (NSIS executable installer) and Mac OS X (.dmg disk image). Find all of this at

Verifying the Integrity of Nmap Downloads

It often pays to be paranoid about the integrity of files downloaded from the Internet. Popular packages such as Sendmail (example), OpenSSH (example), tcpdump, Libpcap, BitchX, Fragrouter, and many others have been infected with malicious trojans. Software distributions sites at the Free Software Foundation, Debian, and SourceForge have also been successfully compromised. This has never happened to Nmap, but one should always be careful. To verify the authenticity of an Nmap release, consult the PGP detached signatures or cryptographic hashes (including SHA1 and MD5) posted for the release in the Nmap signatures directory at

The most secure verification mechanism is detached PGP signatures. As the signing key is never stored on production servers, even someone who successfully compromises the web server couldn't forge and properly sign a trojan release. While numerous applications are able to verify PGP signatures, I recommend GNU Privacy Guard (GPG).

Nmap releases are signed with a special Nmap Project Signing Key, which can be obtained from the major keyservers or My key is included in that file too. The keys can be imported with the command gpg --import nmap_gpgkeys.txt. You only need to do this once, then you can verify all future Nmap releases from that machine. Before trusting the keys, verify that the fingerprints match the values shown in Example 2.2.

Example 2.2. Verifying the Nmap and Fyodor PGP Key Fingerprints
flog~> gpg --fingerprint nmap fyodor
pub 1024D/33599B5F 2005-04-24
    Key fingerprint = BB61 D057 C0D7 DCEF E730 996C 1AF6 EC50 3359 9B5F
uid                Fyodor <>
sub 2048g/D3C2241C 2005-04-24

pub 1024D/6B9355D0 2005-04-24
    Key fingerprint = 436D 66AB 9A79 8425 FDA0 E3F8 01AF 9F03 6B93 55D0
uid                Nmap Project Signing Key (
sub 2048g/A50A6A94 2005-04-24

For every Nmap package download file (e.g. nmap-4.76.tar.bz2 and, there is a corresponding file in the sigs directory with .asc appended to the name (e.g. nmap-4.76.tar.bz2.asc). This is the detached signature file.

With the proper PGP key in your keyring and the detached signature file downloaded, verifying an Nmap release takes a single GPG command, as shown in Example 2.3. That example assumes that the verified file can be found in the same directory by simply removing .asc from the signature filename. When that isn't the case, simply pass the target filename as the final argument to GPG. If the file has been tampered with, the results will look like Example 2.4.

Example 2.3. Verifying PGP key fingerprints (Successful)
flog> gpg --verify nmap-4.76.tar.bz2.asc 
gpg: Signature made Fri 12 Sep 2008 02:03:59 AM PDT using DSA key ID 6B9355D0
gpg: Good signature from "Nmap Project Signing Key ("

Example 2.4. Detecting a bogus file
flog> gpg --verify nmap-4.76.tar.bz2.asc nmap-4.76-hacked.tar.bz2
gpg: Signature made Fri 12 Sep 2008 02:03:59 AM PDT using DSA key ID 6B9355D0
gpg: BAD signature from "Nmap Project Signing Key ("

While PGP signatures are the recommended validation technique, SHA2, SHA1, and MD5 (among other) hashes are made available for more casual validation. An attacker who can manipulate your Internet traffic in real time (and is extremely skilled) or who compromises Nmap.Org and replaces both the distribution file and digest file, could defeat this test. However, it can be useful to check the authoritative Nmap.Org hashes if you obtain Nmap from a third party or feel it might have been accidentally corrupted. For every Nmap package download file, there is a corresponding file in the sigs directory with .digest.txt appended to the name (e.g. nmap-4.76.tar.bz2.digest.txt). An example is shown in Example 2.5. This is the detached signature file. The hashes from the digest file can be verified using common tools such as gpg, sha1sum, or md5sum, as shown in Example 2.6, “Verifying Nmap hashes”.

Example 2.5. A typical Nmap release digest file
flog> cat sigs/nmap-4.76.tgz.digest.txt 
nmap-4.76.tgz:    MD5 = 54 B5 C9 E3 F4 4C 1A DD  E1 7D F6 81 70 EB 7C FE
nmap-4.76.tgz:   SHA1 = 4374 CF9C A882 2C28 5DE9  D00E 8F67 06D0 BCFA A403
nmap-4.76.tgz: RMD160 = AE7B 80EF 4CE6 DBAA 6E65  76F9 CA38 4A22 3B89 BD3A
nmap-4.76.tgz: SHA224 = 524D479E 717D98D0 2FB0A42B 9A4E6E52 4027C9B6 1D843F95
nmap-4.76.tgz: SHA256 = 0E960E05 53EB7647 0C8517A0 038092A3 969DB65C BE23C03F
                        D6DAEF1A CDCC9658
nmap-4.76.tgz: SHA384 = D52917FD 9EE6EE62 F5F456BF E245675D B6EEEBC5 0A287B27
                        3CAA4F50 B171DC23 FE7808A8 C5E3A49A 4A78ACBE A5AEED33
nmap-4.76.tgz: SHA512 = 826CD89F 7930A765 C9FE9B41 1DAFD113 2C883857 2A3A9503
                        E4C1E690 20A37FC8 37564DC3 45FF0C97 EF45ABE6 6CEA49FF
                        E262B403 A52F4ECE C23333A0 48DEDA66

Example 2.6. Verifying Nmap hashes
flog> gpg --print-md sha256 nmap-4.76.tgz 
nmap-4.76.tgz: 0E960E05 53EB7647 0C8517A0 038092A3 969DB65C BE23C03F D6DAEF1A
flog> sha1sum nmap-4.76.tgz 
4374cf9ca8822c285de9d00e8f6706d0bcfaa403  nmap-4.76.tgz
flog> md5sum nmap-4.76.tgz
54b5c9e3f44c1adde17df68170eb7cfe  nmap-4.76.tgz

While releases from Nmap.Org are signed as described in this section, certain Nmap add-ons, interfaces, and platform-specific binaries are developed and distributed by other parties. They have different mechanisms for establishing the authenticity of their downloads.

Obtaining Nmap from the Subversion (SVN) Repository

In addition to regular stable and development releases, the latest Nmap source code is always available using the Subversion (SVN) revision control system. This delivers new features and version/OS detection database updates immediately as they are developed. The downside is that SVN head revisions aren't always as stable as official releases. So SVN is most useful for Nmap developers and users who need a fix which hasn't yet been formally released.

SVN write access is strictly limited to top Nmap developers, but everyone has read access to the repository. Check out the latest code using the command svn co Then you can later update your source code by typing svn up in your working directory.

While most users only follow the /nmap directory in SVN, there is one other interesting directory: /nmap-exp. This directory contains experimental Nmap branches which Nmap developers create when they wish to try new things without destabilizing Nmap proper. When developers feel that an experimental branch is ready for wider-scale testing, they will generally email the location to the nmap-dev mailing list.

Once Nmap is checked out, you can build it from source code just as you would with the Nmap tarball (described later in this chapter).

If you would like real-time (or digested) notification and diffs by email when any changes are made to Nmap, sign up for the nmap-svn mailing list at