The original traceroute application must be about a thousand years old by now. I can remember messing with something like it ~20 years ago on a Windows machine, and promptly tossing it aside for a graphical version that showed where the IP addresses were located on the globe. Far more interesting.
All the same, I’d be leaving something out if I didn’t include it.
traceroute sounds out the steps it takes to reach a destination, and gives an address and “distance” between each point.
As far as I know, that’s about all it does. There are plenty of flags, but most of them ask for specific details according to specific protocols, ports, interfaces and so forth.
Talking about traceroute is like talking about one of the six simple machines. There are about four dozen variations on traceroute, and each of those has spawned its own progeny.
So while traceroute might not be the most flashy way to extract information from your network, it’s the primogenitor for an entire genre of trace tools.