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A standard installation of Wireshark doesn't give the program permission to access the network interface.

I suppose I have to run the program with sudo, but do not know how to add it to the icon - if that's the way to do it.

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Are you talking about WireShark? If not, can you link to the application's home page so we can see what you're talking about. Thanks. – Oli Oct 31 '11 at 12:23
Actually, he's probably talking about Wireshark rather than WireShark. :-) – Guy Harris May 1 '14 at 21:47
up vote 100 down vote accepted

For WireShark there's a better way. The bit that normally needs root is the packet collection application and this can be configured to allow certain people to use it without sudo, gksu, etc.

In a terminal (very important that you're in a terminal, not just the Alt+F2 dialogue) run this:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure wireshark-common

This will ask you if you want to allow non-root user to be able to sniff. That's what we're aiming for, so select Yes and hit return.

Reconfiguring wireshark-common

This adds a wireshark group. Anybody in that group will be able to sniff without being root. This is obviously more secure than just letting anybody sniff but does mean there's no password checking. Technically any person with access to a computer logged in with a wireshark account will be able to sniff. If that's acceptable to you, carry on.

If not, run that again and select no.

Then you just need to add the user to that group. Run this:

sudo adduser $USER wireshark

And restart or log out. When you're back in it should let you start sniffing without any fuss about being root.

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Thanks. That was what I'd hoped for :-) – Sven AA Oct 31 '11 at 12:38
Any way to skip restart/logout step? – Taha Jahangir Dec 7 '13 at 13:53
This solution stopped working in 14.04 – Janghou May 1 '14 at 8:32
@Janghou Still works for me. Did add your user to the wireshark group and restart? – Oli May 1 '14 at 9:59
And, yes, it's definitely a much better way than running Wireshark as root. The README.packaging file in the Wireshark source says "WIRESHARK CONTAINS OVER TWO MILLION LINES OF SOURCE CODE. DO NOT RUN THEM AS ROOT." – Guy Harris May 1 '14 at 21:49

You can also run Wireshark with root privileges by running gksu wireshark from the terminal.

Note that there are security concerns with running Wireshark in this mode, namely that any exploit that compromises Wireshark now has root privileges rather than user privileges. This is more of a concern with Wireshark than other application because, by it's very nature (capturing and processing arbitrary input), Wireshark is more vulnerable to exploits than typical desktop applications. You are probably safe on a SOHO network, but you should be aware of this concern before proceeding.


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I just configured it with --enable-setcap-install flag then I can't do this. – Smile.Hunter Dec 23 '12 at 0:26
This is far more dangerous and more problematic, because there are for more exploitable bugs when running the full gui as root, and configuration issues can crop up when a gui program runs as root. See the dpkg-reconfigure solution above for a much better option. – nealmcb Jan 15 '13 at 23:53
For desktop users, I consider this to be a workaround. When you sudo the app, all files it creates have root permission, and you need to constantly keep changing file permissions to make them available to your current user in your home directory. For server and sysadmins in general, sudo is actually the best approach. – JulioHM Feb 26 '13 at 15:07
@JulioHM Running Wireshark as root is dangerous for everyone, including server and sysadmins. – kraxor Jul 1 '14 at 0:42
At approximately line 40 of Wireshark's doc/README.packaging file, it says "WIRESHARK CONTAINS OVER TWO MILLION LINES OF SOURCE CODE. DO NOT RUN THEM AS ROOT." Take that statement very seriously. – Guy Harris Aug 10 '14 at 7:48

Here is another way

sudo groupadd wireshark
sudo usermod -a -G wireshark YOUR_USER_NAME
sudo chgrp wireshark /usr/bin/dumpcap
sudo chmod 750 /usr/bin/dumpcap
sudo setcap cap_net_raw,cap_net_admin=eip /usr/bin/dumpcap
sudo getcap /usr/bin/dumpcap
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This will remain interfaces from loading unless changed. sudo chgrp USER_NAME /usr/bin/dumpcap – Baron Mar 30 '15 at 9:21

you can try this also, open the terminal, run this command

# setcap 'CAP_NET_RAW+eip CAP_NET_ADMIN+eip' /usr/bin/dumpcap

run wireshark as a non-root user

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