Linux – view HTTP header response using curl, httpie, GET, nmap


Most users are interested in the content they receive when they visit a web site. There is an extra information web clients and servers exchange – HTTP headers. HTTP headers let the client and the server pass additional information with an HTTP request or response.

So how do we view the HTTP response from a remove web server? There are several tools for these

1. Curl : use ‘-I’ flag

   -I, --head
          (HTTP FTP FILE) Fetch the headers only! HTTP-servers feature the command HEAD which this uses to get nothing but  the  header  of  a
          document. When used on an FTP or FILE file, curl displays the file size and last modification time only.
$ curl -I google.com
HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently
Location: http://www.google.com/
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8
Date: Sun, 02 Aug 2020 13:48:01 GMT
Expires: Tue, 01 Sep 2020 13:48:01 GMT
Cache-Control: public, max-age=2592000
Server: gws
Content-Length: 219
X-XSS-Protection: 0
X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN

2. httpie : Use ‘-h h’ flag

--print WHAT, -p WHAT
       String specifying what the output should contain:
      'H' request headers
      'B' request body
      'h' response headers
      'b' response body
$ http www.google.com --print h
 HTTP/1.1 200 OK
 Cache-Control: private, max-age=0
 Content-Encoding: gzip
 Content-Length: 5256
 Content-Type: text/html; charset=ISO-8859-1
 Date: Sun, 02 Aug 2020 13:50:50 GMT
 Expires: -1
 P3P: CP="This is not a P3P policy! See g.co/p3phelp for more info."
 Server: gws
 Set-Cookie: 1P_JAR=2020-08-02-13; expires=Tue, 01-Sep-2020 13:50:50 GMT; path=/; domain=.google.com; Secure
 Set-Cookie: NID=TRUNCATED; expires=Mon, 01-Feb-2021 13:50:50 GMT; path=/; domain=.google.com; HttpOnly
 X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN
 X-XSS-Protection: 0

3. GET – lwp-request : ‘Ed’ flag

In many Linux distros, GET is an alias for lwp-request. It gives way more detailed information in the response header, including SSL parameters.

  -E  Print response status chain with full response headers.

  -d  Do not print the content of the response.
$ GET linux.com -Ed
GET http://linux.com
User-Agent: lwp-request/6.31 libwww-perl/6.31

301 Moved Permanently
Cache-Control: public, max-age=86400
Connection: close
Date: Sun, 02 Aug 2020 13:56:35 GMT
Via: 1.1 varnish
Accept-Ranges: bytes
Age: 43368
Location: https://linux.com/
Server: nginx
Vary: Cookie, Cookie
Content-Length: 162
Content-Type: text/html
Client-Date: Sun, 02 Aug 2020 13:56:35 GMT
Client-Peer: REDACTED
Client-Response-Num: 1
Title: 301 Moved Permanently
X-Cache: HIT, HIT
X-Cache-Hits: 1, 1
X-Pantheon-Styx-Hostname: styx-fe3-a-745747b57-x7rhq
X-Served-By: cache-mdw17324-MDW, cache-fty21379-FTY
X-Styx-Req-Id: 01697a62-d463-11ea-a64f-aabcb0e0cfdc
X-Timer: S1596376596.936127,VS0,VE1

GET https://linux.com/
User-Agent: lwp-request/6.31 libwww-perl/6.31

301 Moved Permanently
Cache-Control: public, max-age=86400
Connection: close
Date: Sun, 02 Aug 2020 13:56:36 GMT
Via: 1.1 varnish
Accept-Ranges: bytes
Age: 43368
Location: https://www.linux.com/
Server: nginx
Vary: Cookie, Cookie
Content-Length: 0
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8
Client-Date: Sun, 02 Aug 2020 13:56:36 GMT
Client-Peer: REDACTED
Client-Response-Num: 1
Client-SSL-Cert-Issuer: /C=US/O=Let's Encrypt/CN=Let's Encrypt Authority X3
Client-SSL-Cert-Subject: /CN=linux.com
Client-SSL-Cipher: ECDHE-RSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256
Client-SSL-Socket-Class: IO::Socket::SSL
Strict-Transport-Security: max-age=300
X-Cache: HIT, HIT
X-Cache-Hits: 1, 1
X-Pantheon-Styx-Hostname: styx-fe3-b-64d9844f89-tc7zl
X-Served-By: cache-mdw17340-MDW, cache-pdk17820-PDK
X-Styx-Req-Id: 01bf3709-d463-11ea-baef-1ede833e594e
X-Timer: S1596376596.065153,VS0,VE1

GET https://www.linux.com/
User-Agent: lwp-request/6.31 libwww-perl/6.31

200 OK
Cache-Control: public, max-age=1800
Connection: close
Date: Sun, 02 Aug 2020 13:56:36 GMT
Via: 1.1 varnish
Accept-Ranges: bytes
Age: 1659
Server: nginx
Vary: Accept-Encoding, Cookie, Cookie
Content-Length: 126289
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8
Client-Date: Sun, 02 Aug 2020 13:56:36 GMT
Client-Peer: REDACTED
Client-Response-Num: 1
Client-SSL-Cert-Issuer: /C=US/O=Let's Encrypt/CN=Let's Encrypt Authority X3
Client-SSL-Cert-Subject: /CN=linux.com
Client-SSL-Cipher: ECDHE-RSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256
Client-SSL-Socket-Class: IO::Socket::SSL
Link: <https://www.linux.com/wp-json/>; rel="https://api.w.org/"
Link: <https://www.linux.com/>; rel=shortlink
Strict-Transport-Security: max-age=300
Title: Linux.com - News For Open Source Professionals
X-Cache: HIT, MISS
X-Cache-Hits: 5, 0
X-Meta-Charset: UTF-8
X-Meta-Description: Linux.com is the go-to resource for open source professionals to learn about the latest in Linux and open source technology, careers, best practices, and industry trends. Get news, information, and tutorials to help advance your next project or career – or just to simply stay informed.
X-Meta-Generator: WordPress 5.4.2
X-Meta-Twitter-Card: summary_large_image
X-Meta-Twitter-Description: Linux.com is the go-to resource for open source professionals to learn about the latest in Linux and open source technology, careers, best practices, and industry trends. Get news, information, and tutorials to help advance your next project or career – or just to simply stay informed.
X-Meta-Twitter-Image: https://www.linux.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/ldc_social.jpg
X-Meta-Twitter-Title: Linux.com - News For Open Source Professionals
X-Meta-Viewport: width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0
X-Pantheon-Styx-Hostname: styx-fe3-a-745747b57-mfmk7
X-Served-By: cache-mdw17340-MDW, cache-pdk17866-PDK
X-Styx-Req-Id: 1df2da1b-d4c4-11ea-84e9-925461917092
X-Timer: S1596376596.261327,VS0,VE18

Nmap : –script=http-headers flag

Nmap is a network discovery tool but it can be used for scanning http headers as well. The port number has to be specified, otherwise nmap will scan several common ports.

$ nmap --script=http-headers google.com -p 80

Starting Nmap 7.60 ( https://nmap.org ) at 2020-08-02 10:00 PDT
Nmap scan report for google.com (172.217.15.110)
Host is up (0.026s latency).
rDNS record for 172.217.15.110: iad30s21-in-f14.1e100.net

PORT   STATE SERVICE
80/tcp open  http
| http-headers: 
|   Location: http://www.google.com/
|   Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8
|   Date: Sun, 02 Aug 2020 14:00:10 GMT
|   Expires: Tue, 01 Sep 2020 14:00:10 GMT
|   Cache-Control: public, max-age=2592000
|   Server: gws
|   Content-Length: 219
|   X-XSS-Protection: 0
|   X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN
|   Connection: close
|   
|_  (Request type: GET)

Nmap done: 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 0.69 seconds



$ nmap --script=http-headers google.com -p 443

Starting Nmap 7.60 ( https://nmap.org ) at 2020-08-02 10:00 PDT
Nmap scan report for google.com (172.217.15.110)
Host is up (0.027s latency).
rDNS record for 172.217.15.110: iad30s21-in-f14.1e100.net

PORT    STATE SERVICE
443/tcp open  https
| http-headers: 
|   Location: https://www.google.com/
|   Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8
|   Date: Sun, 02 Aug 2020 14:00:13 GMT
|   Expires: Tue, 01 Sep 2020 14:00:13 GMT
|   Cache-Control: public, max-age=2592000
|   Server: gws
|   Content-Length: 220
|   X-XSS-Protection: 0
|   X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN
|   Alt-Svc: h3-29=":443"; ma=2592000,h3-27=":443"; ma=2592000,h3-T050=":443"; ma=2592000,h3-Q050=":443"; ma=2592000,h3-Q046=":443"; ma=2592000,h3-Q043=":443"; ma=2592000,quic=":443"; ma=2592000; v="46,43"
|   Connection: close
|   
|_  (Request type: GET)

Nmap done: 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 0.74 seconds

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