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Management VRF

In Cumulus Linux 4.0 and later, management VRF is enabled by default. This is a change from earlier Cumulus Linux releases, where management VRF is disabled by default. Be sure to update any configuration scripts, if necessary.

Management VRF is a subset of Virtual Routing and Forwarding - VRF (virtual routing tables and forwarding) and provides a separation between the out-of-band management network and the in-band data plane network. For all VRFs, the main routing table is the default table for all of the data plane switch ports. With management VRF, a second table, mgmt, is used for routing through the Ethernet ports of the switch. The mgmt name is special cased to identify the management VRF from a data plane VRF. FIB rules are installed for DNS servers because this is the typical deployment case.

Cumulus Linux only supports eth0 (or eth1, depending on the switch platform) for out-of-band management. The Ethernet ports are software-only ports that are not hardware accelerated by switchd. VLAN subinterfaces, bonds, bridges, and the front panel switch ports are not supported as OOB management interfaces.

In band management of Cumulus Linux is possible using loopbacks and SVIs (switch virtual interfaces).

Management VRF is enabled by default in Cumulus Linux so logins to the switch are set into the management VRF context. IPv4 and IPv6 networking applications (for example, Ansible, Chef, and apt-get) run by an administrator communicate out the management network by default. This default context does not impact services run through systemd and the systemctl command, and does not impact commands examining the state of the switch, such as the ip command to list links, neighbors, or routes.

The management VRF configurations in this chapter contain a localhost loopback IPv4 address of and IPv6 address of ::1/128. Management VRF must have an IPv6 address as well as an IPv4 address to work correctly. Adding the loopback address to the layer 3 domain of the management VRF prevents issues with applications that expect the loopback IP address to exist in the VRF, such as NTP.

To disable management VRF, either run the NCLU net del vrf mgmt command or remove the auto mgmt and auto eth0 stanzas from the /etc/network/interfaces file, then reboot the switch:

Bring Up the Management VRF

If you take down the management VRF using ifdown, to bring it back up you need to do one of two things:

  • Run the ifup --with-depends mgmt command
  • Run ifreload -a command

The following command example brings down the management VRF, then brings it back up with the ifup --with-depends mgmt command:

cumulus@switch:~$ sudo ifdown mgmt
cumulus@switch:~$ sudo ifup --with-depends mgmt

Running ifreload -a disconnects the session for any interface configured as auto.

Run Services within the Management VRF

At installation, the only two enabled services that run in the management VRF are NTP (ntp@mgmt.service) and netqd (netqd@mgmt). However, you can run a variety of services within the management VRF instead of the default VRF. When you run a systemd service inside the management VRF, that service runs only on eth0. You cannot configure the same service to run successfully in both the management VRF and the default VRF; you must stop and disable the normal service with systemctl.

You must disable the following services in the default VRF if you want to run them in the management VRF:

  • chef-client
  • collectd
  • hsflowd
  • netq-agent
  • netq-notifier
  • puppet
  • snmpd
  • snmptrapd
  • ssh
  • zabbix-agent

You can configure certain services (such as snmpd) to use multiple routing tables, some in the management VRF, some in the default or additional VRFs. The kernel provides a sysctl that allows a single instance to accept connections over all VRFs.

For TCP, connected sockets are bound to the VRF on which the first packet is received.

The following steps show how to enable the SNMP service to run in the management VRF. You can enable any of the services listed above, except for dhcrelay (see DHCP Relays).

  1. If SNMP is running, stop the service:

    cumulus@switch:~$ sudo systemctl stop snmpd.service
  2. Disable SNMP from starting automatically in the default VRF:

    cumulus@switch:~$ sudo systemctl disable snmpd.service
  3. Start SNMP in the management VRF:

    cumulus@switch:~$ sudo systemctl start snmpd@mgmt.service
  4. Enable snmpd@mgmt so that it starts when the switch boots:

    cumulus@switch:~$ sudo systemctl enable snmpd@mgmt.service
  5. Verify that the SNMP service is running in the management VRF:

    cumulus@switch:~$ ps aux | grep snmpd
    snmp      3083  0.1  1.9  35916 13292 ?        Ss   21:07   0:00 /usr/sbin/snmpd -y -LS 0-4 d -Lf /dev/null -u snmp -g snmp -I -smux -p /run/snmpd.pid -f
    cumulus   3225  0.0  0.1   6076   884 pts/0    S+   21:07   0:00 grep snmpd

Run the following command to show the process IDs associated with the management VRF:

cumulus@switch:~$ ip vrf pids mgmt
1149  ntpd
 1159  login
 1227  bash
16178  vi
  948  dhclient
20934  sshd
20975  bash
21343  sshd
21384  bash
21477  ip

Run the following command to show the VRF association of the specified process:

cumulus@switch:~$ ip vrf identify 2055

Run ip vrf help for additional ip vrf commands.

You might see a warning, similar to the one below from systemctl for any management VRF service. You can ignore this warning. This is a problem in systemd in Debian 10 (buster).

Warning: The unit file, source configuration file or drop-ins of ntp@mgmt.service changed on disk. Run ‘systemctl daemon-reload’ to reload unit

Enable Polling with snmpd in a Management VRF

When you enable snmpd to run in the management VRF, you need to specify that VRF so that snmpd listens on eth0 in the management VRF; you can also configure snmpd to listen on other ports. In Cumulus Linux, SNMP configuration is VRF aware so snmpd can bind to multiple IP addresses each configured with a particular VRF (routing table). The snmpd daemon responds to polling requests on the interfaces of the VRF on which the request comes in. For information about configuring SNMP version 1, 2c, and 3 Traps and (v3) Inform messages, refer to Simple Network Management Protocol - SNMP.

The message Duplicate IPv4 address detected, some interfaces may not be visible in IP-MIB displays after starting snmpd in the management VRF. This is because the IP-MIB assumes that the same IP address cannot be used twice on the same device; the IP-MIB is not VRF aware. This message is a warning that the SNMP IP-MIB detects overlapping IP addresses on the system; it does not indicate a problem and is non-impacting to the operation of the switch.

ping or traceroute on the Management VRF

By default, when you issue a ping or traceroute, the packet is sent to the dataplane network (the main routing table). To use ping or traceroute on the management network, use ping -I mgmt or traceroute -i mgmt. To select a source address within the management VRF, use the -s flag for traceroute.

cumulus@switch:~$ ping -I mgmt <destination-ip>


cumulus@switch:~$ sudo traceroute -i mgmt -s <source-ip> <destination-ip>

For additional information on using ping and traceroute, see Network Troubleshooting.

Run Services as a Non-root User

To run services in the management VRF as a non-root user, you need to create a custom service based on the original service file. The following example commands configure the SSH service to run in the management VRF as a non-root user.

  1. Run the following command to create a custom service file in the /etc/systemd/system direcotry.

    cumulus@switch:~$ sudo -E systemctl edit --full ssh.service
  2. If a User directive exists under [Service], comment it out.

    cumulus@switch:~$ sudo nano /etc/systemd/system/ssh.service
    ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/ssh agent -data-dir=/tmp/ssh -bind=
  3. Modify the ExecStart line to /usr/bin/ip vrf exec mgmt /sbin/runuser -u USER -- ssh:

    ExecStart=/usr/bin/ip vrf exec mgmt /sbin/runuser -u cumulus -- ssh


FRRouting is VRF-aware and sends packets based on the switch port routing table. This includes BGP peering via loopback interfaces. BGP does routing lookups in the default table. However, depending on how your routes are redistributed, you might want to perform the following modification.

Management VRF uses the mgmt table, including local routes. It does not affect how the routes are redistributed when using routing protocols such as OSPF and BGP.

To redistribute the routes in your network, use the redistribute connected command under BGP or OSPF. This enables the directly-connected network out of eth0 to be advertised to its neighbor.

This also creates a route on the neighbor device to the management network through the data plane, which might not be desired.

Consider lways using route maps to control the advertised networks redistributed by the redistribute connected command. For example, you can specify a route map to redistribute routes in this way (for both BGP and OSPF):

cumulus@switch:~$ net add routing route-map REDISTRIBUTE-CONNECTED deny 100 match interface eth0
cumulus@switch:~$ net add routing route-map REDISTRIBUTE-CONNECTED permit 1000
cumulus@switch:$ sudo vtysh

switch# configure terminal
switch(config)# route-map REDISTRIBUTE-CONNECTED deny 100 match interface eth0
switch(config)# route-map REDISTRIBUTE-CONNECTED permit 1000
switch(config)# redistribute connected route-map REDISTRIBUTE-CONNECTED
switch(config)# exit
switch# write memory
switch# exit

The NCLU and vtysh commands save the configuration in the /etc/frr/frr.conf file. For example:

redistribute connected route-map REDISTRIBUTE-CONNECTED

match interface eth0
route-map REDISTRIBUTE-CONNECTED permit 1000

SSH within a Management VRF Context

If you SSH to the switch through a switch port, SSH works as expected. If you need to SSH from the device out of a switch port, use the ip vrf exec default ssh <switch-port-ip-address> command. For example:

cumulus@switch:~$ sudo ip vrf exec default ssh

View the Routing Tables

The ip route show command shows the switch port (main) table. You can see the dataplane routing table with the net show route vrf main command.

To show information for eth0 (the management routing table), run the net show route vrf mgmt command:

cumulus@switch:~$ net show route vrf mgmt
default via dev eth0
cumulus@switch:~$ net show route
default via dev swp17  proto zebra  metric 20 via dev swp17 dev swp17  proto kernel  scope link  src dev eth0  proto kernel  scope link  src

If you run the ip route get command to return information about a single route, the command resolves over the mgmt table by default. To obtain information about the route in the switching silicon, run this command:

cumulus@switch:~$ net show route <ip-address>

To show the route for any VRF, run the net show route vrf <vrf-name> <ip-address> command:

cumulus@switch:~$ net show route vrf mgmt <ip-address>

When you use ip route get to return information about a single route, the command resolves over the mgmt table by default. To show information about the route in the switching silicon, run this command:

cumulus@switch:~$ ip route get <ip-address>

Alternatively, you can run this command:

cumulus@switch:~$ sudo cl-rctl ip route show <ip-address>

To get the route for any VRF, run the ip route get <ip-address> oif <vrf-name> command. For example, to show the route for the management VRF, run:

cumulus@switch:~$ ip route get <ip-address> oif mgmt

mgmt Interface Class

In ifupdown2, interface classes are used to create a user-defined grouping for interfaces. The special class mgmt is available to separate the management interfaces of the switch from the data interfaces. This allows you to manage the data interfaces by default using ifupdown2 commands. Performing operations on the mgmt interfaces requires specifying the --allow-mgmt option, which prevents inadvertent outages on the management interfaces. Cumulus Linux by default brings up all interfaces in both the auto (default) class and the mgmt interface class when the switch boots.

The management VRF interface class is not supported if you are configuring Cumulus Linux using NCLU.

You configure the management interface in the /etc/network/interfaces file. In the example below, the management interface eth0 and the management VRF stanzas are added to the mgmt interface class:

auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

allow-mgmt eth0
iface eth0 inet dhcp
    vrf mgmt

allow-mgmt mgmt
iface mgmt
    address ::1/128
    vrf-table auto

When you run ifupdown2 commands against the interfaces in the mgmt class, include --allow=mgmt with the commands. For example, to see which interfaces are in the mgmt interface class, run:

cumulus@switch:~$ ifquery l --allow=mgmt

To reload the configurations for interfaces in the mgmt class, run:

cumulus@switch:~$ sudo ifreload --allow=mgmt

You can still bring the management interface up and down using ifup eth0 and ifdown eth0.

Management VRF and DNS

Cumulus Linux supports both DHCP and static DNS entries over management VRF through IP FIB rules. These rules are added to direct lookups to the DNS addresses out of the management VRF.

For DNS to use the management VRF, the static DNS entries must reference the management VRF in the /etc/resolv.conf file. You cannot specify the same DNS server address twice to associate it with different VRFs.

For example, to specify DNS servers and associate some of them with the management VRF, run the following commands:

cumulus@switch:~$ net add dns nameserver ipv4
cumulus@switch:~$ net add dns nameserver ipv4 vrf mgmt
cumulus@switch:~$ net add dns nameserver ipv4 vrf mgmt
cumulus@switch:~$ net pending
cumulus@switch:~$ net commit

Edit the /etc/resolv.conf file to add the DNS servers and associate some of them with the management VRF. For example:

cumulus@switch:~$ sudo nano /etc/resolv.conf
nameserver # vrf mgmt
nameserver # vrf mgmt

Run the ifreload -a command to load the new configuration:

cumulus@switch:~$ ifreload -a

  • Because DNS lookups are forced out of the management interface using FIB rules, this might affect data plane ports if you use overlapping addresses. For example, when the DNS server IP address is learned over the management VRF, a FIB rule is created for that IP address. When DHCP relay is configured for the same IP address, a DHCP discover packet received on the front panel port is forwarded out of the management interface (eth0) even though a route is present out the front-panel port.
  • If you do not specify a DNS server and you lose in band connectivity, DNS does not work through the management VRF. Cumulus Linux does not assume all DNS servers are reachable through the management VRF.