This table should as we've already noted mainly be used for mangling packets. In other words, you may freely use the mangle targets within this table, to change TOS (Type Of Service) fields and the like.
You are strongly advised not to use this table for any filtering; nor will any DNAT, SNAT or Masquerading work in this table.
The following targets are only valid in the mangle table. They can not be used outside the mangle table.
The TOS target is used to set and/or change the Type of Service field in the packet. This could be used for setting up policies on the network regarding how a packet should be routed and so on. Note that this has not been perfected and is not really implemented on the Internet and most of the routers don't care about the value in this field, and sometimes, they act faulty on what they get. Don't set this in other words for packets going to the Internet unless you want to make routing decisions on it, with iproute2.
The TTL target is used to change the TTL (Time To Live) field of the packet. We could tell packets to only have a specific TTL and so on. One good reason for this could be that we don't want to give ourself away to nosy Internet Service Providers. Some Internet Service Providers do not like users running multiple computers on one single connection, and there are some Internet Service Providers known to look for a single host generating different TTL values, and take this as one of many signs of multiple computers connected to a single connection.
The MARK target is used to set special mark values to the packet. These marks could then be recognized by the iproute2 programs to do different routing on the packet depending on what mark they have, or if they don't have any. We could also do bandwidth limiting and Class Based Queuing based on these marks.
The SECMARK target can be used to set security context marks on single packets for usage in SELinux and other security systems that are able to handle these marks. This is then used for very fine grained security on what subsystems of the system can touch what packets et cetera. The SECMARK can also be set on a whole connection with the CONNSECMARK target.
CONNSECMARK is used to copy a security context to or from a single packet from or to the whole connection. This is then used by the SELinux and other security systems to do more fine-grained security on a connection level.