You can list iptables rules with rule numbers using the --line-numbers option, but this only works in list (-L) mode. I find it much more convenient to view rules using the output from iptables -S or iptables-save.

You can augment the output from these commands with rule numbers with the following awk script:

#!/bin/awk -f

state == 0 && /^-A/ {state=1; chain=$2; counter=1; printf "\n"}
state == 1 && $2 != chain {chain=$2; counter=1; printf "\n"}
!/^-A/ {state=0}
state == 1 {printf "[%03d] %s\n", counter++, $0}
state == 0 {print}

This will produce output along the lines of:


[001] -A INPUT -i virbr1 -p udp -m udp --dport 53 -j ACCEPT
[002] -A INPUT -i virbr1 -p tcp -m tcp --dport 53 -j ACCEPT
[003] -A INPUT -i virbr1 -p udp -m udp --dport 67 -j ACCEPT
[004] -A INPUT -i virbr1 -p tcp -m tcp --dport 67 -j ACCEPT
[005] -A INPUT -i virbr0 -p udp -m udp --dport 53 -j ACCEPT
[006] -A INPUT -i virbr0 -p tcp -m tcp --dport 53 -j ACCEPT
[007] -A INPUT -i virbr0 -p udp -m udp --dport 67 -j ACCEPT
[008] -A INPUT -i virbr0 -p tcp -m tcp --dport 67 -j ACCEPT

[002] -A FORWARD -o docker0 -m conntrack --ctstate RELATED,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
[003] -A FORWARD -o docker0 -j DOCKER
[004] -A FORWARD -i docker0 ! -o docker0 -j ACCEPT
[005] -A FORWARD -i docker0 -o docker0 -j ACCEPT

[001] -A DOCKER-ISOLATION -i br-c9ab3aa72e98 -o docker0 -j DROP
[002] -A DOCKER-ISOLATION -i docker0 -o br-c9ab3aa72e98 -j DROP
[003] -A DOCKER-ISOLATION -i br-74ee392a7301 -o docker0 -j DROP
[004] -A DOCKER-ISOLATION -i docker0 -o br-74ee392a7301 -j DROP
[005] -A DOCKER-ISOLATION -i br-6b5fa040c423 -o docker0 -j DROP
[006] -A DOCKER-ISOLATION -i docker0 -o br-6b5fa040c423 -j DROP
[007] -A DOCKER-ISOLATION -i br-438e4f71d66d -o docker0 -j DROP
[008] -A DOCKER-ISOLATION -i docker0 -o br-438e4f71d66d -j DROP

That makes it much easier if you’re trying to insert or delete rules by index (as in iptables -I INPUT 7 ...). I keep the awk code itself in a script named number-rules so that running it locally usually looks like:

# iptables -S | number-rules | less