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2 Easy Ways to Capture Bluetooth Traffic in Linux

Bluetooth devices are all around us. From smart home appliances to mall speakers, you’ll find Bluetooth being used everywhere.

Although Bluetooth devices are now widespread, not all devices are of the same quality and you may have problems connecting to devices, especially if one of them is a Linux machine.

Instead of constantly trying to connect to a device hoping for a miracle, a smart and quick way to troubleshoot Bluetooth errors is to check the Bluetooth traffic generated and received by your device. Let’s learn how to intercept and inspect Bluetooth traffic on Linux.

Why Capture Bluetooth Traffic?

Capturing Bluetooth traffic has several advantages. By examining Bluetooth traffic, you can find the root of the connection problem. And after reading the logs, you can quickly find a solution from Google.

Another benefit of Bluetooth traffic inspection is that you can verify the security of the data being sent to and from your device.

Often, cheap BT devices do not implement any level of encryption over the Bluetooth protocol. This allows an attacker to easily intercept and read the data inside the packets. By collecting BT data from your devices, you will be able to check whether the device you are using is secure or not.

Method 1: Capturing Bluetooth Traffic with Wireshark

Wireshark is a popular network analysis and analysis tool used across multiple domains for troubleshooting and monitoring network traffic. The program is free for personal use, so you don’t have to worry about any costs.

This is how you will capture and analyze Bluetooth traffic with Wireshark:

  1. Download and install Wireshark on your system using your distribution’s package manager. Or download it from
  2. Start Wireshark and select the interface you want to capture. For Bluetooth, select the Bluetooth interface used by your system.

    capturing bluetooth traffic with Wireshark

  3. In the filter bar, type bluetooth or to capture Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) packets, type btle and click the shark fin button in the top left corner to start capturing packets.

    capturing bluetooth traffic with wireshark

  4. You should see the package list pane populate with BT packages. By clicking on each packet, you will get its details, and if it is not encrypted, you will be able to see the data it carries in plain text.

If you already have packets saved in PCAP or a log file, you can upload them to Wireshark by clicking File > Open > Location.

Method 2: Capturing Bluetooth Traffic on Linux with btmon

capturing bluetooth traffic on linux with btmon

btmon is a command line tool that monitors the Bluetooth traffic sent and received by your Linux system. On some systems, it may be installed by default.

To check if you have it installed, start a new terminal and type btmon. If it returns any error like “command not found” it is most likely that btmon is missing.

You can easily install btmon from the terminal via your Linux distribution’s package manager.

On Debian/Ubuntu derivatives, run the following command:

sudo apt install bluez

On Arch Linux, enter:

sudo pacman -S bluez

If the previous command doesn’t work, run:

sudo pacman -S bluez-utils

For Fedora, CentOS and RHEL use:

sudo dnf install bluez

Try running btmon again and it should return the correct output.

To start capturing Bluetooth packets with btmon, launch a new terminal, make sure your Bluetooth adapters are up and running, then simply type btmon with the sudo prefix for elevated privileges:

sudo btmon

These are all the steps you need to get started capturing Bluetooth traffic on Linux. To learn more about all of btmon’s features, refer to its documentation or man page.

Now you know how to intercept Bluetooth traffic in Linux

Capturing Bluetooth traffic should help you understand how your BT devices are connecting and also allow you to troubleshoot connectivity issues.

Although intercepting Bluetooth traffic is fairly easy, analyzing and troubleshooting can be a hassle if you’re not familiar with the inner workings of Bluetooth devices. So it’s best to rely on BT traffic capture as a last resort and try general fixes first.


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