One tool that I haven’t seen on *nix that I see my Windows brethren using, is called portping. There is a little freeware app called portping for Windows, that is really a misnomer as it doesn’t ping anything really, but simply does a tcp connection attempt to see if the port on the destination side is answering. This is actually a really cool tool in my book, so I wrote my own in PERL since I couldn’t find something similar. Basically, you call the script, give it a destination, a protocol (TCP is used by default), and a payload to deliver if you want to send something, otherwise it simply tries to connect to the port specified. I have used it for a while now, and it has come in handy for troubleshooting network connections.
The script was posted in our forums, why don’t you take a look for yourself, and let us know what you think!