Notes - MTU and PMTU

This is by no-means a full guide to MTU or PMTU but a small collection of notes.

Protocol Overhead

VLAN Tag (Dot1q) 4 Bytes
MPLS 4 Bytes
IP 20 Bytes
TCP Header 20 Bytes
UDP Header 8 Bytes
ICMP Header 8 Bytes


To send a ping with a full 1500 byte packet , you can run the command below.
The 1550 bytes will consist of - ICMP Payload (1472 bytes) + ICMP Header (20 bytes) + IP Header (20 bytes)

ping -s 1500 [destination ip]

Check fragmentation

Note: The -M switch option in ping is for "Select Path MTU Discovery strategy"

do       -   (prohibit fragmentation, even local one),
want   -   (do PMTU  discovery, fragment locally when packet size is large)
dont    -   (do not set DF flag).

ping -M do -s 1472
ping -M do -s 1473

1. If the top ping works, then all the nodes that you routed through on your way to google should have an MTU of 1500.

2. The bottom ping shouldn`t work and you should see the following,

From icmp_seq=1 Frag needed and DF set (mtu = 1500)

This is because you own NIC will fragment the packets due to exceeding the MTU value.


For full guides and various Cisco commands please check out the following links.


About the Author


R Donato

Rick Donato is the Founder and Chief Editor of He currently works as an SDN/NFV Solutions Architect and has a keen interest in automation and the cloud.

You can find Rick on Twitter @f3lix001