A little while back I posted an entry called MTU Vs MSS - Part One. At the time the plan was to follow it up with Part Two a short time later, however, here it comes over a year late :) I do apologise for that.

What prompted me to get back to writing Part Two was an e-mail from a reader who asked how I came to the conclusion that using the “ip tcp adjust-mss” command affects a SYN packet’s MSS regardless of whether it is applied to the inbound or outbound interface. The reader also asked if I have any links to documentation that describes this. The way in which I came to the conclusion was by labbing it up. Unfortunately though I do not have any documentation that backs me up.

This blog post will demonstrate the lab I used to come to the above conclusion.

Here is the topology that I used. I have marked each link with a letter to mark the points at which the proceeding packet captures were done. (Note that PC1 and PC2 are GNS3 routers with their icons changed).


No MSS Change

Before making any changes to the MSS, I’ll first initiate a telnet session from PC1 to PC2.

Packet Capture from PC1’s F0/0 interface (“A”):


Packet Capture from R2’s F0/1 interface (“B”):


Looking at the above captures we can see that the PC1 sent an MSS of 536 in its SYN packet, and PC2 responded with an MSS of 536 in its SYN/ACK packet.

R2 F0/0 MSS Change

Now that we’ve done our benchmark test, let’s see what happens when we set an MSS of 500 on R2’s F0/0 interface.

R2(config)#int f0/0
R2(config-if)#ip tcp adjust-mss 500

Now let’s repeat the telnet test:

Packet Capture from PC1’s F0/0 interface (“A”):


Packet Capture from R2’s F0/1 interface (“B”):


Here we can see that when the packet leaves PC1, it is sending its SYN packet with an MSS of 536, but when the packet leaves R2, the MSS has changed to 500.

R2 F0/1 MSS Change

Now I’ll remove the “ip tcp adjust-mss” command from R2’s F0/0 interface and will apply it to R2’s F0/1, this time using an MSS of 510.

R2(config)#int f0/1
R2(config-if)#ip tcp adjust-mss 510

Now let’s repeat the telnet test:

Packet Capture from PC1’s F0/0 interface (“A”):


Packet Capture from R2’s F0/1 interface (“B”):


Here we can see the results are the same as the ones seen when the “ip tcp adjust-mss” command was put on R2’s F0/0 interface.

MSS on Both Interfaces

As you might expect, if you set the  “ip tcp adjust-mss” command on both of the router’s interfaces, it will use the lower of the two.

As always, if you have any questions or have a topic that you would like me to discuss, please feel free to post a comment at the bottom of this blog entry, e-mail at will@oznetnerd.com, or drop me a message on Reddit (OzNetNerd).

Note: The opinions expressed in this blog are my own and not those of my employer.

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