I see some good explanation for fetching information about network cards and their statistics in ubuntu on this page. This gave a nice output as mentioned on the page. I tried reading other documentations too but could not find a flag or something similar where I can differentiate between the real and virtual network cards on my system.

Is there are way to differentiate ? Thanks.

  • 1
    Note that for HVM devices there may be no way of telling as hypervisors emulate a real device (usually Intel or Realtek). May 30, 2017 at 12:03

2 Answers 2


Check the /sys/class/net/<device_name> symlink. If it points into /sys/devices/virtual/, then it is a virtual interface. If it points to a "real" device (e.g. into /sys/devices/pci0000:00/), then it is not.


From code, you can use readlink to check if the device is virtual. Here is a very dummy sample code to do so:

#include <fcntl.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <stdio.h>

int main(int argc, char **argv) {
    char theLink[128];
    char thePath[128];


    if (argc>1) {
    } else {
        printf("Gimme device\n");
        return 1;

    if (readlink(thePath, theLink, 127)==-1) {
    } else {
        if (strstr(theLink,"/virtual")) {
            printf("%s is a virtual device\n",argv[1]);
        } else {
            printf("%s is a physical device\n",argv[1]);
  • sounds promising, anything similar for virtual disks also ? And it seems like I need to do ls -l for confirming this. Any way from code ?
    – Gagan93
    May 30, 2017 at 7:40
  • For disks, check the symlinks in /sys/class/block. Also, I added a primitive sample to check if the device is virtual.
    – Lacek
    May 30, 2017 at 8:22
  • The sample works excellent for EC2 instances also, for the /sys/class/block link, probably I used the wrong word (disk). I need for mount points (/root, /mnt, etc). Is there a local in system for these also ? @Lacek
    – Gagan93
    May 30, 2017 at 9:58
  • I think mount points can only be extracted from /proc/mounts (on Linux, this is a symlink to /proc/self/mounts). Parsing that file is a bit more difficult though.
    – Lacek
    May 30, 2017 at 10:57
  • @Gagan93: What do you mean by virtual mount points? Every since the big VFS re-write ~20 years ago, I don't think that makes much sense. The current Linux VFS is very Plan9-like where everything is a (potential) file system, everything is a (potential) mount point, and every mount point is (in some sense) virtual. May 30, 2017 at 13:23

Other way is to check if the file /sys/class/net/<interface>/device exists. Usually docker and other virtual interfaces doesn't have that file (which is actually a symlink to the device). This should work:

for device in $(ls /sys/class/net/); do
  if [ -L /sys/class/net/$device/device ]; then
     echo "Device : $device"
     echo "Virtual: $device"

Output (example executed in my laptop):

Virtual: docker0
Virtual: docker_gwbridge
Device : enp0s25
Virtual: lo
Virtual: veth7a67a62
Device : wlo1
Virtual: ztmjfg2jdx

Tested in Ubuntu 22.04 not sure if the same applies to other distributions.

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