Saturday, June 2, 2018

Configuring OpenBGPD to announce VM's virtual networks

We use BGP quite heavily at work, and even though I'm not interacting with that directly, it feels like it's something very useful to learn at least on some basic level. The most effective and fun way of learning technology is finding some practical application, so I decided to see if it could help to improve networking management for my Virtual Machines.

My setup is fairly simple: I have a host that runs bhyve VMs and I have a desktop system from where I ssh to VMs, both hosts run FreeBSD. All VMs are connected to each other through a bridge and have a common network 10.0.1/24. The point of this exercise is to be able to ssh to these VMs from desktop without adding static routes and without adding vmhost's external interfaces to the VMs bridge.

I've installed openbgpd on both hosts and configured it like this:

vmhost: /usr/local/etc/bgpd.conf

AS 65002
fib-update no


neighbor {
    descr "desktop"
    remote-as 65001

Here, router-id is set vmhost's IP address in my home network (192.168.87/24), fib-update no is set to forbid routing table update, which I initially set for testing, but keeping it as vmhost is not supposed to learn new routes from desktop anyway. network announces my VMs network and neighbor describes my desktop box.

Now the desktop box:

desktop: /usr/local/etc/bgpd.conf

AS 65001
fib-update yes

neighbor {                                                                                                                                                                                           
        descr "vmhost"                                                                                                                                                                                             
        remote-as 65002                                                                                                                                                                                            

It's pretty similar to vmhost's bgpd.conf, but no networks are announced here, and fib-update is set to yes because the whole point is to get VM routes added.

Both hosts have to have the openbgpd service enabled:



Now start the service (or wait until next reboot) using service openbgpd start and check if neighbors are there:

vmhost: bgpctl show summary

$ bgpctl show summary                                                                                                                                                                    
Neighbor                   AS    MsgRcvd    MsgSent  OutQ Up/Down  State/PrfRcvd                                                                                                                                   
desktop                 65001       1089       1090     0 09:03:17      0                                                                                                                                          

desktop: bgpctl show summary

$ bgpctl show summary
Neighbor                   AS    MsgRcvd    MsgSent  OutQ Up/Down  State/PrfRcvd
vmhost                  65002       1507       1502     0 09:04:58      1

Get some detailed information about the neighbor:

desktop: bgpctl sh nei vmhost

$ bgpctl sh nei vmhost                                                                                                                                                                    
BGP neighbor is, remote AS 65002                                                                                                                                                                     
 Description: vmhost                                                                                                                                                                                               
  BGP version 4, remote router-id                                                                                                                                                                    
  BGP state = Established, up for 09:06:25                                                                                                                                                                         
  Last read 00:00:21, holdtime 90s, keepalive interval 30s                                                                                                                                                         
  Neighbor capabilities:                                                                                                                                                                                           
    Multiprotocol extensions: IPv4 unicast                                                                                                                                                                         
    Route Refresh                                                                                                                                                                                                  
    Graceful Restart: Timeout: 90, restarted, IPv4 unicast                                                                                                                                                         
    4-byte AS numbers                                                                                                                                                                                              
  Message statistics:                                                                                                                                                                                              
                  Sent       Received                                                                                                                                                                              
  Opens                    3          3                                                                                                                                                                            
  Notifications            0          2                                                                                                                                                                            
  Updates                  3          6                                                                                                                                                                            
  Keepalives            1499       1499                                                                                                                                                                            
  Route Refresh            0          0                                                                                                                                                                            
  Total                 1505       1510                                                                                                                                                                            
  Update statistics:                                                                                                                                                                                               
                  Sent       Received                                                                                                                                                                              
  Updates                  0          1                                                                                                                                                                            
  Withdraws                0          0                                                                                                                                                                            
  End-of-Rib               1          1                                                                                                                                                                            
  Local host:, Local port:    179                                                                                                                                                            
  Remote host:, Remote port: 13528                                                                                                                                                            

By the way, as you can see, bgpctl supports shortened commands, e.g. sh nei instead of show neighbor.

Now look for that VMs route:

desktop: bgpctl show rib

$ sudo bgpctl show rib
flags: * = Valid, > = Selected, I = via IBGP, A = Announced, S = Stale
origin: i = IGP, e = EGP, ? = Incomplete

flags destination          gateway          lpref   med aspath origin
*>      100     0 65002 i

So that VMs network, 10.0.1/24, it's there! Now check if the system routing table was updated and has this route:


$ route -n get   
   route to:
        fib: 0                                                                                                                                                                                                     
  interface: re0                                                                                                                                                                                                   
 recvpipe  sendpipe  ssthresh  rtt,msec    mtu        weight    expire                                                                                                                                             
       0         0         0         0      1500         1         0                                                                                                                                               
$ ping -c 1                                                                                                                                                                     
PING ( 56 data bytes                                                                                                                                                                          
64 bytes from icmp_seq=0 ttl=63 time=0.192 ms                                                                                                                                                           
--- ping statistics ---                                                                                                                                                                                  
1 packets transmitted, 1 packets received, 0.0% packet loss                                                                                                                                                        
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 0.192/0.192/0.192/0.000 ms                                                                                                                                                         

Whoa, things work as expected!


As mentioned already, similar result could be achieved without using BGP by using either static routes or bridging interfaces differently, but the purpose of this exercise is to get some basic hands-on experience with BGP. Right now I'm looking into extending my setup in order to try more complex BGP schema. I'm thinking about adding some software switches in front of my VMs or maybe adding a second VM host (if budget allows). You're welcome to comment if you have some ideas how to extend this setup for educational purposes in the context of BGP and networking.

As a side note, I really like openbgpd so far. Its configuration file format is clean and simple, documentation is good, error and information messages are clear, and CLI has intuitive syntax.


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