Pretty basic question: how to PREPEND rules on IPTABLES rather than to APPEND?

I have DROP statements at the bottom of my rules. I have a software to add new rules but adding rules after DROP statements isn't good. Every time I want to add a new rule, I have to flush the table (which is inefficient).

Is there a way to prepend a rule i.e., add a rule to the top of the table rather than the bottom?

Many thanks.

4 Answers 4


Use the -I switch:

sudo iptables -I INPUT 1 -i lo -j ACCEPT

This would insert a rule at position #1 in the INPUT chain.

  • 3
    Dang! You beat me by 18 seconds... I wasn't quick enough :( Mar 29, 2012 at 19:28
  • 2
    Hehehehehehehe :)
    – cjc
    Mar 29, 2012 at 19:30
  • 3
    @YanickGirourad, hah, you got the checkmark!
    – cjc
    Mar 29, 2012 at 21:56
  • 7
    Also to note, when using -I INPUT 1, no rule gets overwritten. Instead all rules will be shifted by one position up.
    – Abdull
    Jan 12, 2014 at 22:25
  • 1
    Important note from Abdull.
    – Halsafar
    Feb 4, 2016 at 22:19

-I will insert. You're probably using -A to append.

You can also do iptables -I chain rulenum to insert a rule as number "rulenum" in chain "chain". -R chain rulenum can be used to replace a specific rule at number "rulenum" in chain "chain". iptables -L -n --line-numbers will show the rule numbers in the left-most column.

  • I'm in a rush at the moment or I'd look it up but it would be nice to see an example of how the "chain" works here, or a link.
    – PJ Brunet
    Jul 3, 2013 at 23:21
  • // , Refer to fedoraproject.org/wiki/… for more information about how to correctly insert an IPTables rule. Jun 14, 2016 at 23:26

To help with determining what line number to add the new rule, I use iptables-save to output the existing rules to the console.

For beginners I can also suggest a cheat card by using webmin administer your rules. It's very friendly and you can easily manually re-order rules in the list. It will also handle the 'slight' variations in redhat vs debian based implementations of iptables.

  • 2
    iptables -L --line-numbers is a little more platform independant
    – Sirex
    Aug 14, 2013 at 1:32
  • 1
    I'm not sure exactly why one should use webmin for that (or anything). It's far better to learn the command-line way than to use a crutch. Aug 14, 2013 at 2:14

There is a program named iptables-persistent which make iptable's rules persistent as a OS service. this service include a configuration file as the iptables-save export.

So you can reorder the lines in the configuration file and restart the service.

sudo service iptables-persistent restart

So easy!!!!!

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