Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Unnumbered interfaces confuse Quagga

The whole reason I was reading e-mail on a Sunday was not to look for telnetd exploits.

I was logged in because Team IPsec runs its punchin IPsec remote-access server (sometimes called a VPN server, but I hate that term because it's pushed by too many middlebox vendors) which was having routing problems.

As stated before, Solaris implements tunnels as point-to-point interfaces. For a remote-access server like we have in punchin, this means every external IP address gets a tunnel interface. (Until we had Tunnel Reform, this meant only one client per external IP address, which messed up NATs for multiple clients.) A tunnel interface has two addresses - a local one and a remote one. The local one can be shared with other tunnels or even with a different local interface (like the local ethernet). Such interfaces are called unnumbered interfaces.

A remote access server does forward packets, and is therefore by definition a router. One of our servers just swapped out Zebra (from older OpenSolaris/Nevada build) to Quagga. We use Quagga's OSPF to learn the topology of the Sun internal network (the SWAN).

As clients "punch out", their tunnel gets destroyed. Now each of these tunnels shares the same local IP address with our ethernet to the SWAN. Unfortunately, these "interface down" events confuse Quagga, and suddenly all of my punchin clients can't move bits to the internal network anymore.

There is a workaround, and that's to assign a different local IP address than the one that is directly connected to the SWAN for use with all of the client tunnels. It's not that painful, as I only lose one out of 256 possible client addresses (our engineering ones only have a /24 from which to allocate client addresses). Still, as an esteemed colleague said, "I hope that's not the *whole* solution."

It isn't, and I would like to ask the Quagga community (as I've already asked our local routing folks, Paul Jakma and Alan Maguire) to make sure that Quagga and its routing protocols play nicely with unnumbered interfaces. It'll allow me to plumb tunnels until I'm all out of address space! :)

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