Tuesday, December 6, 2011

PHP Command Line Telnet Client

A while ago I wrote a single line PHP Command line client.

while (1) {  fputs(STDOUT, "\n\-PHP$ "); eval(trim(fgets(STDIN))); }

Recently I needed to test an XMPP server and found out that Windows7 does not have telnet enabled by default. Usually I'd just use putty as it supports telnet also but wondered if I could just do this from the command line via PHP. Well here it is, a PHP command line telnet client.

echo "PHP Telnet Client. (c) 2011 Fiji Web Design, http://www.fijiwebdesign.com.\n";

$opts = getopt("h:p:") or die("Invalid options. Please supply -h [host] -p [port]");

$host = $opts['h'];
$port = $opts['p'];

$fp = fsockopen($host, $port) or die("Could not connect to host ($host) on port ($port)");
echo "Connected to server...\n";

stream_set_blocking($fp, 0);

while (1) {

  $input = (fgets(STDIN));
  fwrite($fp, $input) or die('Could not write to server');
  sleep(1); // let server respond

  $out = '';
  while($buf = fread($fp, 2028)) {
    $out .= $buf;

  if ($out != '') echo $out;


Now that isn't one line like the PHP command line client. Also, if you are on windows and a version of PHP lower then 5.3, you will not have the getopt() function. To solve this here is a substitute for getopt().

if (!function_exists('getopt')) {

  function getopt($opts) {
      $argv = $_SERVER["argv"];
      $result = false;
      $opts_array = explode(':', $opts);
      foreach($opts_array as $opt) {
          $key = array_search('-' . $opt, $argv);
          if($key && !in_array($argv[$key+1], $opts_array)) {
              $result[$opt] = trim($argv[$key+1]);
          } elseif($key) {
              $result[$opt] = '';
      return $result;


Save the PHP code to a file, I call it telnet.php. Then open the shell and navigate to the directory which has telnet.php and type in:

php telnet.php -h [hostname] -p [port]

For example:

php telnet.php -h google.com -p 80

This will open a connection to google.com on the http port. Then you can type in your HTTP headers:

GET / HTTP/1.1
HOST: google.com

Then press enter twice, because HTTP requires that you send a newline to terminate the HTTP headers. Google.com should respond with the headers and HTML of the Google website.

You can telnet into any listening TCP port so for instance you can test XMPP servers.

php telnet.php -h talk.google.com -p 5222

Then send your XMPP stanzas.

Or even telnet into an email server and send or retrieve emails.


The socket connection to the server your are telneting to is currently non-blocking while the read from STDIN is currently blocking. This causes the response from the server to not show until you hit enter (send \n) a few times. It would be better design to have both streams non-blocking and do a socket_select() call but the current works for now and does not require socket_select() support which I believe requires php built with sockets support. The current implementation should work without that support but does use up a lot of CPU with the while(1) loop.

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