Now that you have a hardware for your SOHO appliance, installed an Operating System and prepared  systemd init script in order to resume freeRouter operation in case of unexpected outage (power cut, reset button etc.), let's proceed to RARE/freeRouter installation itself.


  • Basic Linux/Unix knowledge
  • Service provider networking knowledge


When installing RARE/freeRouter on x86, you have 2 choices:

  • installation with a software dataplane
  • installation with a DPDK dataplane

In this precise case, we will consider a DPDK dataplane installation as our hardware is compliant to the requirement listed below.

DPDK requirements

  • CPU with SSE4 support
  • DPDK compatible NIC 

Note that freeRouter is available where JVM is available

  • x86
  • ARM

Article objective

In this article we will pursue the SOHO network appliance installation based on the diagram below, and freeRouter installation using  DPDK dataplane. In this situation, the appliance is behind ISP FTTH box demarcation point. As it is typical to French FTTH domestic deployment. 

Deployment consideration

In this case, RARE/freeRouter is connected to a ISP box demarcation point that deliver copper connectivity. Nothing prevents you, following your context, to deploy a similar equipment with with SFP uplinks directly connected to your Provider Edge backbone routers if you own also the dark fiber paths local to the MAN. 


[ #003 ] - RARE/freeRouter DPDK SOHO installation 

  • Own a similar hardware described in SOHO #001
  • Having installed an Operating System with Java Runtime Environment
  • Configured systemd so that RARE/freeRouter can take over networking at each reboot as described in SOHO #002.

Let's consider the following assumptions:

  • ISP box comes with subnet configured at RJ45 demarcation point
  • Home networkS will be within
  • will be subnetted further into multiple /24 in order to accomodate home network requirement
  • RARE/freeRouter is connected to the FTTP ISP box via appliance DPDK port #0 (interface sdn1)
  • Home traffic going to outside world will be subject to port address translation (NAT/PAT) using an IPv4 within ISP subnet range
  • appliance port #1 will be connected to FTTH ISP box and will have an IP within

IPv6 addressing plan has not been forgotten. It is not mentioned here on purpose in order to not complicate explanations. IPv6 we be the object of further articles. It is not that IPv6 is a complex topic. It just that it deserves special attention. You might not realised it, but IPv6 is everywhere and is used by default between peers as soon as IPv6 is enable. So IMHO we need to get used to it as soon as possible especially if you are a network administrator.

FreeRouter uses 2 configuration files in order to run, let's write these configuration files in /rtr

freeRouter hardware configuration file: rtr-hw.txt
hwid j1900-i211
! cpu_port
int eth0 eth - 20001 20002
! freerouter control port for message packet-in/out in P4 VRF _ONLY_
tcp2vrf 9080 p4 9080
! freeroouter local access in p4 VRF _ONLY_
tcp2vrf 2323 p4 23
! launch a process called "veth0" that actually link to veth0b
! cmd for control plane/dataplane communication unified messaging: ip link add veth0a type veth peer name veth0b
! cmd for appliance Linux access: ip link add veth1a type veth peer name veth1b
! cmd for integrated wifi: ip link add veth2a type veth peer name veth2b
! external wifi AP
proc hostapd /usr/sbin/hostapd /etc/hostapd/hostapd.conf
! integrated wifi AP
proc wlan /rtr/pcap2pcap.bin wlan0 veth2a
! DP/CP communication process
proc veth0 /rtr/pcapInt.bin veth0a 20002 20001
! DP DPDK process
proc p4emu /rtr/p4dpdk.bin --vdev=net_af_packet0,iface=veth0b --vdev=net_af_packet1,iface=veth2b --vdev=net_af_packet2,iface=veth1b 9080 6


Let's spend some times on this hardware configuration file, as you might have notice there are additional interesting lines worth to mention:

  • Exclamation mark "!" are comments
  • hwid is a text field that would just designate the hardware on which freeRouter is running. (output of : show platform)
  • proc <process-name>

It is possible within freeRouter startup to launch processes. We use here this feature to start control plane / dataplane communication via veth pair: veth0a and veth0b and also P4Emu/dpdk, p4dpdk.bin packet processing backend.

  • proc p4emu /rtr/p4dpdk.bin --vdev=net_af_packet0,iface=veth0b --vdev=net_af_packet1,iface=veth2b --vdev=net_af_packet2,iface=veth1b 9080 6

In dpdk, by default dpdk interfaces have port_ids that are sequentially allocated and in the order of appearance in dpdk-devbind --status output usually sorted by pci_id. In the below output interface enp0s1 has port_id #0 and in dpdk it would be pci_id:00:01.0

enp0s1 would be: #0 with pci_id: 00:01.0

enp0s2 would be: #1 with pci_id: 00:02.0

enp0s5 would be: #2 with pci_id: 00:05.0

enp0s6 would be: #3 with pci_id: 00:06.0

enp0s7 would be: #4 with pci_id: 00:07.0

enp0s8 would be: #5 with pci_id: 00:08.0

DPDK diagnosis --status

Network devices using DPDK-compatible driver
0000:01:00.0 'I211 Gigabit Network Connection 1539' drv=uio_pci_generic unused=igb
0000:02:00.0 'I211 Gigabit Network Connection 1539' drv=uio_pci_generic unused=igb
0000:05:00.0 'I211 Gigabit Network Connection 1539' drv=uio_pci_generic unused=igb
0000:06:00.0 'I211 Gigabit Network Connection 1539' drv=uio_pci_generic unused=igb
0000:07:00.0 'I211 Gigabit Network Connection 1539' drv=uio_pci_generic unused=igb
0000:08:00.0 'I211 Gigabit Network Connection 1539' drv=uio_pci_generic unused=igb

Network devices using kernel driver
0000:09:00.0 'AR928X Wireless Network Adapter (PCI-Express) 002a' if=wlan0 drv=ath9k unused=uio_pci_generic 

No 'Baseband' devices detected

Other Crypto devices
0000:00:1a.0 'Atom Processor Z36xxx/Z37xxx Series Trusted Execution Engine 0f18' unused=uio_pci_generic

No 'Eventdev' devices detected

No 'Mempool' devices detected

No 'Compress' devices detected

No 'Misc (rawdev)' devices detected
  • DPDK --vdev addition. In this precise case we instruct DPDK to take into account additional veth endpoint we created respectively for
    • Control plane / data plane communication
    • Linux out of band management access via SSH we installed previously during Debian package installation
    • integrated hardware WIFI access point
  • in DPDK vdev interface will have in order of apparition in the command line:
    • DP/CP communication: 6 ↔ veth0b
    • integrated WIFI: 7 ↔ veth2b
    • Linux out of band management access: 8 ↔ veth1b

external WIFI access point will be bound directly to an interface of the appliance via DPDK. This will be describe in future articles.

freeRouter software configuration file: rtr-sw.txt
hostname mjolnir
vrf definition inet
vrf definition p4
interface ethernet0
 description freerouter@P4_CPU_PORT[veth0a]
 no shutdown
 no log-link-change
interface sdn1
 description freerouter@DPDK[port-1]
 mtu 1500
 vrf forwarding inet
 ipv4 address
 no shutdown
 no log-link-change
interface sdn2
 description freerouter@DPDK[port-2]
 mtu 1500
 no log-link-change
interface sdn3
 description freerouter@DPDK[port-3]
 mtu 1500
 no log-link-change
interface sdn4
 description freerouter@DPDK[port-4]
 mtu 1500
 no log-link-change
interface sdn5
 description freerouter@DPDK[port-5]
 mtu 1500
 no log-link-change
interface sdn6
 description freerouter@DPDK[port-6]
 mtu 1500
 no log-link-change
interface sdn998
 description freerouter@DPDK[port-7 --> veth2a] integrated wifi
 mtu 1500
 no log-link-change
interface sdn999
 description freerouter@OOBM[port-8 --> veth1a] Linux management
 mtu 1500
 vrf forwarding inet
 ipv4 address
 no shutdown
 no log-link-change

server telnet telnet
 security protocol telnet
 no exec authorization
 no login authentication
 vrf p4
server p4lang p4
 export-vrf inet 1
 export-port sdn1 0 1 0 0 0
 export-port sdn2 1 1 0 0 0
 export-port sdn3 2 1 0 0 0
 export-port sdn4 3 1 0 0 0
 export-port sdn5 4 1 0 0 0
 export-port sdn6 5 1 0 0 0
 export-port sdn998 7 1 0 0 0
 export-port sdn999 8 1 0 0 0
 interconnect ethernet0
 vrf p4
  • For now integrated wifi is shut. We will see in later article how to activate it
  • At Linux level, if you noticed in the previous article
    • management IP subnet is OOBM appliance IP is then
appliance management IP@Linux level (check previous article)
ip addr flush dev veth1a
ip addr add dev veth1a
  • management IP seen from freeRouter@sdn999 with IP within
  • with configured a Linux static routes
Add default route to OOBM sdn999@Linux level (check previous article)
route add default gw

Security note

  • If you pay attention p4lang server in p4 VRF
    • This VRF has no bound interface
    • Is isolated then from the other VRF
  • This will allow only local Linux host control plane and dataplane communication 


ping ISP demarcation point IP
ping /vrf inet /interface sdn1                           
pinging, src=, vrf=inet, cnt=5, len=64, tim=1000, ttl=255, tos=0, sweep=false
result=100%, recv/sent/lost=5/5/0, rtt min/avg/max/total=0/0/1/4
ARP discovery
mjolnir#sh ipv4 arp sdn1                                                       
mac             address        time      static
0024.d4a0.0cd3  00:00:20  false
Add default route to OOBM sdn999@Linux level (check previous article)
sh int sdn1                                                          
sdn1 is up (since 13:14:14, 2 changes)
 description: mjolnir@LAN1[01:00.0]
 type is sdn, hwaddr=003b.7671.764f, mtu=1500, bw=8000kbps, vrf=inet
 ip4 address=, netmask=, ifcid=10014
 received 64038 packets (17841459 bytes) dropped 4 packets (326 bytes)
 transmitted 250217 packets (38032822 bytes) promisc=false macsec=false
interface summary
show interfaces summary                                                
interface    state  tx        rx        drop
ethernet0    up     74690935  51798769  0
sdn1         up     37954707  17828649  326
sdn2         admin  0         0         0
sdn3         admin  0         0         0
sdn4         admin  0         0         0
sdn5         admin  0         0         0
sdn6         admin  0         0         0
sdn998       admin  0         0         0
sdn999       up     23646     17904     0
interface summary
interface   state  tx          rx          drop
sdn1        up     674397352   3883928390  948
sdn2        admin  0           0           0
sdn3        admin  0           0           0
sdn4        admin  0           0           0
sdn5        admin  0           0           0
sdn6        admin  0           0           0
sdn998      admin  0           0           0
sdn999      up     110520      85072       0

Check Linux appliance local routes

From linux terminal
root@mjolnir:~# route -n
Kernel IP routing table
Destination     Gateway         Genmask         Flags Metric Ref    Use Iface         UG    0      0        0 veth1a

Test local telnet access from linux/localhost


In this article

  • we finally launched RARE/freeRouter with DPDK dataplane
  • configure RARE/freeRouter with a vanilla config that takes into account all the appliance physical interfaces
  • added veth pair in the config in order to take into account:
    • Control plane / Data plane communication 
    • linux OOBM
    • integrated WIFI
  • Enabled and checked IPv4 connectivity between freeRouter@sdn1 and ISP demarcation point
  • Check telnet access to freeRouter from localhost only

RARE validated design: [ SOHO #003 ] - key take-away

From this point you have a complete freeRouter connected to ISP box via SDN1 as uplink in subnet. We will extend further this base configuration step by step in order to enrich user experience !

  • Now you would want to enable IPv4/IPv6  connectivity to all potential hosts@home whether they are connected via RJ45 or via built-in WIFI.
  • you would also want to distribute IPv4, IPv6 to all the of hosts@home
  • IPv4/IPv6 connectivity is not enough, you would like to provide Domain Name Service to them
  • Domain Name Service is not enough if they can't reach outside world. As we are using RFC1918 addressing plan we should figure out a way to ensure NAT/PAT address translation in order to enable egress traffic toward the Internet
  • Your home might have several floors and only one WIFI access point is not enough ? Let's see how we can add additional WIFI AP in the network
  • Maybe you have an outsourced network management service ? Let's see how connectivity can be enable via OpenVPN encrypted tunnel
  • Last but not least, let's see how we can connect DN42 parallel network using a Wireguard tunnel relying on an IPv6 underlay.

You've guessed it, all of these points will be elaborated in the futures articles. Therefore stay tuned !