I am trying to load balance using iptables.

My rules look like below:

iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -p tcp --dport 5000 -m statistic --mode nth --every 6 --packet 0 -j REDIRECT --to-port 5890

iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -p tcp --dport 5000 -m statistic --mode nth --every 5 --packet 0 -j REDIRECT --to-port 5891




iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -p tcp --dport 5000 -m statistic --mode nth --every 1 --packet 0 -j REDIRECT --to-port 5896

Can I use multiport option to consolidate the six rules into a single one?

  • are you sure there's not a cut/paste error? same destination port and same redirection port for every rule... I don't see how there's any load-balancing done with this configuration. Also a REDIRECTed destination is always local (the system running iptables) and won't be routed. Is that what you want for load-balancing?
    – A.B
    Jan 17, 2018 at 18:45
  • corrected, that was a typo. my intention is to redirect any packet that comes to 5000 to six other ports in a round robin way. In a way its internal port load balancing Jan 19, 2018 at 3:16

1 Answer 1


The multiport match is used as selector. There's no multiport option for the TARGET REDIRECT. If you try to put a port range in the --to-ports option of REDIRECT, only the first port in the range will be chosen. Same if you (manage to) use -j DNAT --to-destination rule instead of REDIRECT. There won't be round-robin used.

The method you're currently using with iptables is certainly the way to go. The only minor optimization I can see is that you don't need -m statistic --mode nth --every 1 --packet 0 on the last rule, because it always matches, and that --packet defaults to 0 so can be omitted everywhere.

Note: an other possible method would be by using ipvs (aka lvs) but it's certainly overkill especially for a local redirection, if at all possible for this case.

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