The Arch Linux Rant

This post is part one in a two part series (part two can be read here). In this post, I’ll explore some of my thoughts and feelings about Arch from a fairly high level vantage point–consider it a 50,000′ review. In the next post, I’ll explain why I feel comments like this one demonstrate a certain degree of na├»vety, although it’s by far one of the more benign ones I’ve encountered in my short time partaking in the Arch community.

For those of you who know me or, at the very least, read my (mostly) pointless and fairly infrequent rants, you’ll probably recall my decision to leave Gentoo. Some eight or nine months later, I changed my mind and stuck with it for a while longer. That’s no longer the case, and as of January this year I permanently switched over to Arch Linux. I’ve been holding off on posting this rant primarily to take a “wait and see” approach to determine how well I’d do without Gentoo.

The short version is thus: I haven’t missed Gentoo one bit. I started about a year ago (maybe less), running Arch in a VM, tweaking settings, playing around with KDE 4.7-something, and spent quite some time familiarizing myself with the system. Coming from Gentoo and FreeBSD, the transition wasn’t that bad–I’m used to taking a greater hands-on approach with my systems than most people might be comfortable with–so ultimately, Arch felt like a natural fit.

Then I took the plunge.

For the interested, I should share a little bit of history. My initial foray into the world of Unix and Unix-like operating systems began around 2000ish (actually earlier, but it wasn’t until then when I started tinkering with them for my own purposes) with OpenBSD. I later transitioned to FreeBSD for a variety of reasons–mostly the improved performance and greater compatibility (at that time) with other software. It wasn’t until quite some time after that when I began using the ports collection, and prior to then I made a habit of configuring and compiling most of the software I used by hand. As my software library began to increase, so too did the amount of time needed to invest into updating it. I eventually began looking for other solutions, although I kept a FreeBSD system at home for a number of years thereafter.

Sometime later, around late 2003 or early 2004 (possibly as late as 2005), I began experimenting with Gentoo. While I tried other Linux distros, I found most of them too alien in contrast with my beloved *BSDs. Their package managers were strange and sometimes convoluted, and I had little idea how to properly install custom configured software as I was prone to doing. The BSD way worked, but I knew it wasn’t optimal since /usr/local seemed to be mostly unused or remained distro-specific as to its preferred usage. Gentoo was a reasonable fit: Its well-documented nature, a ports-like collection (portage), and the tendency to keep mostly out of the user’s way beckoned me to take a closer look. Better yet, though the system was compiled mostly from scratch, configuring individual options and customizing packages was simple and very BSD-like.

I’ll keep this as short as I can, but I’ll just say this: I ran Gentoo on my desktop and as a file server for a number of years, probably from 2005-2006 until just last year (2011). Indeed, in 2006, I made the switch to use Gentoo almost exclusively, even while I was going to university. Later that same year, my FreeBSD install on my file server was gone, victim to the spread of Gentoo. Don’t get me wrong: I still love FreeBSD–and Gentoo, too–but for home use FreeBSD didn’t seem cut out for what I wanted to do. Granted, I’d still run it in circumstances where I needed a stable, long-running platform as a web service or similar, but at that time, Ports often lagged behind Gentoo and sometimes the only way you could install software was to download and compile it yourself. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. (N.B.: In 2010, the situation somewhat reversed: Ports was updated with newer software versions while Portage stagnated. Strange what a few years will do.)

So, the transition to Gentoo was made because everything I wanted was just an emerge away. Things remained like this for a long time, too, because Gentoo was at the bleeding edge, and the convenience of a rolling-release plus fairly simple package management was seductive. I think that’s why I had a hard time adopting other distros. Frequent, new releases of software allowed me to continue sampling what was coming down the turnpike and forced me to stay up to date on current software.

Gentoo was not without its warts, of course. I won’t go into detail here as I’ve linked to my thoughts on the matter earlier in this post–and they should be mostly up to date–but the problems that began as a slow trickle eventually turned into a torrent of disaster. Occasional dependency conflicts requiring manual intervention, lengthy X server compiles (and let’s not get into glibc or a desktop environment like KDE), the lack of package maintainers, and a slow, downward spiral into the abyss lead me to look for alternatives. I didn’t want to part with the rolling release model; indeed, once you’ve sampled such ambrosia, it’s difficult to whet your palate with meager release-based distros. Around this time (late 2010, early 2011), I was participating fairly regularly in various Slashdot discussions and made a similar offhanded remark about my concerns with Gentoo, and someone suggested trying Arch Linux. So I did.

The thing that struck me the most about Arch was its simplicity. There’s very little that it does for you. System configuration using the standard init scripts is exceptionally simple and straightforward (mostly in /etc/rc.conf), and with the exception of the package manager and build system, Arch makes Gentoo look like an impenetrable fortress of automation. Within a few days of using Arch, I fell in love with the brilliantly minimalistic design.

Truth be told, there’s a lot about Arch to love and enjoy. It does take some time to get the system configured to your liking, but the installation process is mostly painless and fairly simple (bugs in the installer notwithstanding). Using an AUR helper like yaourt isn’t necessary but strongly recommended. It also helps to have at least a passing understanding of how makepkg and pacman work and interact. Of course, it isn’t necessary to use extras like the Arch Build System (ABS) and the Arch User Repository (AUR), but to ignore them is to do yourself a great disservice: There’s so much software available on the AUR that it makes Ubuntu’s impressive repositories and widespread support (through .debs) seem almost anemic.

However, I don’t think it’s possible to use Arch for very long until you’re drawn in by the allure of creating your own PKGBUILDs. I think that’s at least part of what I like most about Arch. Unlike Gentoo’s ebuilds, PKGBUILDs are simple. Armed with just a basic understanding of sh-like syntax (e.g. bash), a moderately skilled user otherwise unfamiliar with PKGBUILDs could put together a custom one in under an hour. More advanced users could piece together PKGBUILDs customizing their favorite software in an evening or two (mostly dependent upon how many packages they want). But here’s the trick: If your PKGBUILD fails for whatever reason, it’s unlikely to break your system save for inappropriate dependencies or “conflicts” statements. Since pacman (Arch’s package manager) examines the contents of packages, including those generated by custom PKGBUILDs, and determines where each file in the archive is to be placed, it takes an exceptionally stupid habit (usually using -f for force) to circumvent pacman’s all-seeing eye.

To illustrate: When Arch released GIMP 2.8, I was disappointed by some of the new features. The solution? Create a GIMP 2.6 package! (You can download the PKGBUILD here, but be sure to grab both the gegl and babl PKGBUILDs, too.) Since the Arch project provides all the appropriate PKGBUILDs for the official repos, it’s easy to find the one you want, download it, and then modify it to your liking. You don’t even have to deal with the headaches caused by portage overlays.

The astute reader may have noticed that I haven’t yet addressed the issue of binary package updates with regards to the core system and official repositories. There’s a reason for that. While having the binary packages available is nice, and it’s certainly better than spending two days compiling KDE, it wasn’t my primary reason for switching. Binary releases did impact my decision–and don’t get me wrong, I love being able to download just the updates I need without compiling anything but the few AUR packages I have–but it’s one of those conveniences that’s nice to have. I won’t begrudge compiling the system (or kernel) from scratch, because I spent so many years with stagnant Gentoo systems compiling off and on over a week or two. It would seem a tad bit hypocritical of me to complain about compile times. Besides, if you swing that way, you can do that with Arch, too.

I don’t mean to wax optimistic about the glory of Arch. It’s not without the occasional sharp edge, and there’s a plethora of things that will snag the naive user who hasn’t yet developed the healthy habit of thoroughly reading documentation. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to someone who’s new to Linux in general (they should use Ubuntu or a similar distribution), but for others who are at least familiar with the shell and want a do-it-yourself distro, Arch is certainly worth a look.

Interestingly, and unexpectedly, Arch has made using Linux fun again. I’m reminded of the days when I first started getting into Gentoo after understanding its quirks and loving every minute of it. The difference, though, is that I spend so much time doing things in Arch and with Arch that I almost don’t do much else (not even games!). My Windows install is probably lonely; it might receive a boot once every three weeks for the occasional update or game that I can’t otherwise get working under Wine, but even then, there’s so much more to explore with Arch.

No comments.
***

Shell Voodoo, Connected IPs, and Counting Total Connections

I’m posting this mostly as a note to myself, but if you, future visitor, stumble upon this post and have improvements or other things you’d like to share, be my guest. Posts that are overly critical of the methodologies provided by others, or those which otherwise add nothing to the discussion will be removed. This is especially true for those espousing beliefs that PowerShell is superior.

I won’t go into the exact details of why we needed to do this, but the general break down is thus:

  • Get a list of connected IP addresses
  • Sort them
  • Count how many connections were made from a single address

Fortunately, the solution turns out to be quite easy. For FreeBSD:

netstat -anfinet | grep -v 127.0.0.1 | awk '{ print $5 }' | \
grep -E '.*([0-9]{1,4}\.)+.*' | sed 's/\(.*\)\..*/\1/' | \
sort -g -k 1 | uniq -c | sort -n -k 1

And for most derivatives of Linux:

netstat -anW --tcp --udp | grep -v 127.0.0.1 | awk '{ print $5 }' | \
grep --color=never -E '.*[0-9]{1,4}(\.|\:).*' | sed 's/\(.*\)\:.*/\1/' | \
sort -g -k 1 | uniq -c | sort -n -k 1

You may need to modprobe sctp to get the --tcp and --udp netstat flags working. Also, both of these should work with IPv6 addresses, too, which is why I’ve tried to keep the sed regex as simple as possible.

What the Eff is This?!

Okay, I agree. I’ve probably made some kind of mistake somewhere; I don’t know awk or sed quite as well as I should (easily fixed, if I ever wanted to spend a weekend learning). That said, here’s my understanding of how this should work. First, we’ll deal with the FreeBSD derivative, line by line:

FreeBSD

Here is a breakdown for the FreeBSD-specific stuff:

netstat -anfinet | grep -v 127.0.0.1 | awk '{ print $5 }' | \

As with all platforms I’m aware, -an shows all connections by their numerical addresses. netstat prefers to perform a reverse lookup on every address, and this can take some time. However, the FreeBSD-specific option -f inet specifies to only show INET (IPv4/IPv6) addresses and eliminates much of the cruft associated with local Unix domain sockets. Likewise, we trim localhost from the list with grep -v, and we fetch the 5th output column using awk

grep -E '.*([0-9]{1,4}\.)+.*' | sed 's/\(.*\)\..*/\1/' | \

Moving on to the next line, we fetch only those lines that contain something that vaguely resembles an IP address with grep -E (I prefer to use -E here since it gives us the extended regex syntax), and we pass the results into sed to strip off the trailing remote host’s port number. Alternatively, you could use something like 's/^\([0-9]\{1,3\}\.[0-9]\{1,3\}\.[0-9]\{1,3\}\.[0-9]\{1,3\}\).*/\1/' instead to filter out IPv4 addresses, but since we already know roughly what to expect from the input we can simplify our regex. Furthermore, we also know that the IP address of the remote host in FreeBSD will always have a dot followed by the port number appended, and we can naively remove this.

sort -g -k 1 | uniq -c | sort -n -k 1

Lastly, we sort (generically, with -gunique addresses in our list including their totals, and we sort numerically by the first column (now containing the count).

Linux

Here is a breakdown for the Linux-specific stuff:

netstat -anW --tcp --udp | grep -v 127.0.0.1 | awk '{ print $5 }' | \

Following in the footsteps of FreeBSD, we use -an to display all connected numeric addresses so we don’t waste time running reverse lookups. However, in most Linux distributions, lengthy columns–and especially IPv6 addresses–will be truncated by netstat’s output. To counter this, we use -W to show the wide listing, and we use --tcp and --udp to filter out only those protocols. You may need to modprobe sctp in order to get this to work; if you can’t, this string of commands might still work. Lastly, we filter connections to localhost with grep -v, and we fetch the 5th column using awk Easy enough, right?

grep --color=never -E '.*[0-9]{1,4}(\.|\:).*' | sed 's/\(.*\)\:.*/\1/' | \

In this next line, we use the extended regex feature of grep -E to filter out lines that look somewhat address-y, and we separate the remote host’s address from its port using sed. In this case, Linux appends port numbers using a colon (:), so we have to deviate slightly from the FreeBSD example. Also, since some distros might alias grep with grep --color=auto|always, we use --color=never to eliminate feeding ANSI control characters to sed.

sort -g -k 1 | uniq -c | sort -n -k 1

Lastly, we sort by the IP address using a generic sort (-g), filter out only those addresses that are unique, count them, and then sort by the count column which is now tacked onto the front.

Now we can get a fancy list of IP addresses, how many connections from them are being made to us, and sort them accordingly! Manipulating grep accordingly can re-introduce localhost or remove specific addresses that might not be of interest.

No comments.
***

IPv6, an Experimental Overview

The Internet as we know it is destined to change. That may seem like a profound statement, but it effectively and correctly captures the essence of the Internet’s entire history. Soon–or hopefully very soon–we’ll be witness to one of the most significant transformations made to the very core of how the Internet operates.

I am of course talking about IPv6, the fundamentally-changed and massively-upgraded addressing scheme intended as a replacement to what we’re currently using, IPv4. You may be wondering why IPv6 is such a big deal, and if you haven’t heard of it yet, you should take some time to learn more. There are quite a few compelling reasons pertaining to why we need IPv6, but the most important is simple: We’re running out of publicly-addressable IPv4 addresses. According to Hurricane Electric’s statistics, we have less than two years before the complete exhaustion of our remaining IPv4 pool.

Knowledge is Power: Arm Yourself!

I’m not an authoritative source on IPv6. I’ve simply been testing it for my own diabolical purposes, but there are plenty of places to get started. I know of one particularly excellent blog dedicated to IPv6 fittingly called “Life with IPv6.” You can also find guides for various operating systems. You can find general guides for most operating systems such as this one for gogo.net (formerly Freenet6). There’s also a really good guide on configuring IPv6 for Gentoo Linux, which is general enough (in some sections) to apply to other OSes. If you happen to have a router supported by the DD-WRT replacement firmware, there’s even a guide to configure it. For the FreeBSD crowd, you have the choice of FreeBSD’s official handbook or KAME’s FreeBSD guide.

So what’s this all about?

This rant of mine has its purpose: During my excursion into the new world, I’ve encountered demons, dragons, angels, angry natives, and the occasional mime. While I haven’t any idea where the mime came from, I do know that it is best to share such discoveries. Thus, this post outlines some of the things I’ve encountered, including a few things that don’t seem to be mentioned anywhere. I may also cover a basic ip6tables setup for use in conjunction with an IPv6 tunnel; if not, don’t worry. I’ll be posting something related to that soon.

But above all else, stay away from the little red berries. Those things give you a nasty full-body rash for a week. That poor mime…

Before we begin: Some Caveats

There’s always a “gotcha,” isn’t there? I should mention this before we dive into “getting started,” otherwise you’re liable to come pounding on my door in the middle of the night complaining that I didn’t provide sufficient warning: If you have a separate consumer-grade router rather than a dedicated *nix box, this probably won’t work. You have two choices: Look around for a way to forward protocol type 41 (IPv6) to the target machine or check dd-wrt.com’s router database for your make and model. The latter option certainly isn’t for the faint of heart and it can render your router unusable.

However, there is a silver lining. I have heard that some home router manufacturers are starting to include native support for IPv6 and a few of them even include wireless access points. SixXS (another tunnel broker) maintains a wiki of several well-known brands that support IPv6 and IPv6 tunneling.

I did lie about there being only two options. There’s actually one more, but given my experiences, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. Freenet6, operated by gogo.net, is another free and open IPv6 tunnel broker. gogo.net supplies a special client that can work quite well behind a NAT machine (like your router), but the nearest North American endpoint is located in Montreal, Canada. Freenet6 is a great way to test IPv6 if your options are limited. Unfortunately, it’s also painfully slow. (Side note: The sign-up process is obnoxious and creates a “social networking for network professionals” account.)

I suppose there’s also an unspoken forth option: Don’t use IPv6. I don’t really like that option, and you shouldn’t either! Remember: We have less than two years before all of the IPv4 Internet runs out of addresses. Encouraging adoption should be a high priority among Internet-related hardware and software providers. Keep this in mind the next time you purchase a router for your home network–or dust off an old machine and turn it into a routing box. You’d be surprised how easy that really is.

Getting Started

First, if you don’t have access to a native IPv6 network (and that’s what this post assumes; if you do, stop reading now, you won’t find much more useful information!), you’ll need a tunnel broker. Tunnel brokers provide access to a native IPv6 network and, typically, a large chunk of routeable addresses over an IPv4 tunnel. The Gentoo IPv6 guide is a great place to start and includes links to several tunnel brokers around the world. Hurricane Electric is an excellent broker and provides access via tunnelbroker.net. HE also has several locations worldwide, including 10 or so tunnel endpoints across North America. I believe they’ve recently added several new endpoints in Europe.

Hurricane Electric’s tunnelbroker.net service allocates a /64 chunk of routeable addresses and allows you to create up to 5 separate tunnels from different locations. They also provide a full /48 prefix for those in need of a larger address pool, but I can’t imagine anyone who’d be in need of more than 1.8×1019 addresses–which is the address space allocated to a full /64. Better still: Hurricane electric provides configuration samples for several operating systems, including Linux, FreeBSD, and several flavors of Windows. All you have to do is set up your tunnel, pick your external address, and choose from tunnelbroker.net’s configurations what best matches your setup and go from there.

If you’re using Gentoo, the IPv6 guide is mostly safe, but don’t bother following it for configuring your tunnel–you’ll need to follow Hurricane Electric’s suggested configurations for “Linux-route2.” If you don’t, you might wind up being unable to route IPv6 packets between your internal network and the outside world. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

If all goes well, you should wind up with a new device that looks something like this:

he0       Link encap:IPv6-in-IPv4
          inet6 addr: 2001:470:c:407::2/64 Scope:Global
          inet6 addr: fe80::4800:2c85/128 Scope:Link
          UP POINTOPOINT RUNNING NOARP  MTU:1280  Metric:1
          RX packets:4136 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
          TX packets:3342 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
          collisions:0 txqueuelen:0
          RX bytes:3564671 (3.3 MiB)  TX bytes:492987 (481.4 KiB)

I won’t go over the details–there’s plenty of guides dedicated to setting up tunnels, configuring your kernel, and installing necessary software. If you can’t get the tunnel working, make sure you did something analogous to:

ip tunnel add he6 mode sit remote <SERVER IPv4 IP ADDRESS> local <YOUR IPv4 ADDRESS> ttl 255
ip link set he6 up
ip addr add <CLIENT IPv6 ADDRESS> dev he6
ip route add ::/0 dev he6

You can verify the link state by pinging a couple of IPv6-only sites (use ping6!). First, try the server IPv6 address from tunnelbroker.net; if that works, try these:

$ ping6 ipv6.google.com
$ ping6 www.kame.net

There are many other IPv6-enabled locations. I’ll leave their discovery as an exercise to the reader.

Once you’re able to successfully ping locations beyond your own delegated subnet and Hurricane Electric’s routes, it’s time to move on to more advanced topics.

Router Discovery

IPv6 includes provisions that limit the overall necessity of DHCP. No longer must addresses be delegated by a central host, and IPv6’s auto-configuration provides routing (via discovery) to connected clients. In most cases, DHCP on a pure IPv6 network is only required for supplying name server addresses and other related chores. Even then, I’ve read speculative mumblings on at least one mailing list that some such tasks could be handled via nearest-neighbor discovery. I haven’t yet tested that, however. Windows Vista (and up) already happens to have shaky IPv6 support for anything out of the ordinary.

Depending on your platform, router discovery announcements may be provided by either radvd (most Linux distros) or rtadvd (*BSD). Providing IPv6 access to your network is simply a matter of installing the appropriate package and tweaking radvd/rtadvd’s configuration file. Bear in mind that rtadvd’s configuration is somewhat terser than radvd, though it’s also much shorter. FreeBSD’s handbook has an example for that, too. However, if you’re using some flavor of Linux, you’re in for a real treat. Here’s what my configuration looks like:

interface eth1
{
    AdvSendAdvert on;
    AdvLinkMTU 1280;
    MaxRtrAdvInterval 300;
    prefix 2001:470:d:407::/64
    {
        AdvOnLink on;
        AdvAutonomous on;
    };
};

The above configuration was borrowed almost entirely from the Gentoo IPv6 guide and it works well. There are some caveats, though. If you plan on supplying DHCP via IPv6, you must add AdvManagedFlag on; somewhere after the AdvSendAdvert declaration; if you don’t, your clients won’t ever solicit DHCP requests. As far as I can tell, this isn’t mentioned in any how-to guide that I’ve yet read.

The fascinating thing about IPv6 is that the immediate availability of a router discovery service on the local network will propagate IPv6 addresses to all connected clients that support it. It’s almost like magic (in fact, it is). Try pinging some IPv6 hosts from your clients to prove it!

Linux-only Issues

radvd has a nasty habit of unsetting the sys.net.ipv6.conf.all.forwarding sysctl variable. When it does, connected IPv6 clients won’t be able to do anything via IPv6 and, if available, will degrade to IPv4 access. If you’re having trouble accessing the IPv6 Internet from your clients (or vice-versa), check this sysctl value. You can do so either via sysctl or by examining the contents of /proc/sys/net/ipv6/conf/all/forwarding. If it’s set to 1, then forwarding is enabled and your tunnel may not be working (or ip6tables might be incorrectly configured). If so, keep reading.

You may also encounter an issue where clients are allocated IPv6 addresses via auto-configuration but refuse to access the IPv6 Internet. Under my Gentoo install, this was resolved when at least one IPv6 address from the pool delegated via my tunnel broker was added to the appropriate interface on the routing box. It’s possible that this issue is specific to my setup.

DHCP

DHCP is still somewhat necessary on IPv6 networks where neighbor discovery doesn’t work for domain name resolution services. Unfortunately, there’s a big catch: It works. Partially. This section highlights some of my experiences with two main stream DHCP client/server packages: DHCPv6 and ISC DHCP v4.1.

DHCPv6

DHCPv6 behaves similarly to the WIDE-DHCP implementation. DHCPv6 has also been superseded by ISC DHCP v4.1. I’ve also had somewhat more luck with static IP assignments using DHCPv6. Here are some thoughts:

Pros
  • Most distros provide this as the defacto DHCPv6 DHCP client/server software.
  • Configuration is slightly less verbose than ISC’s DHCP.
  • Lightweight, spartan implementation.
Cons
  • Highly finicky configuration system.
  • New development halted; development is in maintenance mode.
  • Requires slightly more work than ISC’s implementation to work correctly.
Example Configuration
interface eth1 {
    allow rapid-commit;
    option dns_servers 2001:470:d:407::1 2001:470:d:407:0:baad:beef:cafe destrealm.org;
    send information-only;
 
    link AAA {
        allow unicast;
        send unicast;
        send rapid-commit;
        allow rapid-commit;
        pool {
            range 2001:aaa:12:1234::bead:500 to 2001:aaa:12:1234::bead:ffff/64;
            prefix 2001:aaa:12:1234::/64;
        };
    };
    host statichost {
        duid 00:01:00:01:12:aa:23:cb:10:ac:19:83:82:a8;
        iaidinfo {
            iaid 221149200;
            renew-time 1000;
            rebind-time 2000;
        };
        address {
            2001:aaa:12:1234::100/64;
            prefer-life-time 2000;
            valid-life-time 3000;
        };
    };
};
Notes

To a certain degree, I had the most luck with DHCPv6. Static addresses would assign (correctly) to FreeBSD clients and name server addresses would (usually) propagate. Neither Windows Vista nor Windows 7 would accept static IPv6 address assignment; I’m not sure why. Even with the correct DUID-LLT (local link + time), Windows would refuse static assignment. Dynamic addresses worked fine for all OSes I tested.

DHCPv6 version 1.2.x will build under Gentoo but it won’t run. The ebuild is incorrect and the resulting binary will attempt to load data from /var/lib/lib. Fortunately, there is a workaround.

ISC DHCP v4.1

ISC DHCP 4.1 is still very much a work in progress but works fantastic for IPv4 networks and acceptably for IPv6. ISC DHCP is the current defacto standard for DHCP.

Pros
  • Configuration is easy to understand and follow
  • DHCP configuration for IPv6 networks is almost identical to its IPv4 counterparts.
  • As an ISC project, ISC DHCP has a long running track record and earlier versions likely power most corporate and ISP networks.
Cons
  • IPv6 is only starting to stabilize in the still somewhat experimental 4.x branch.
  • Most basic IPv6 features have been implemented but some esoteric ones have yet to be developed.
  • Slightly larger package than DHCPv6; might not be suitable for highly restricted embedded applications.
Example Configuration
default-lease-time 1800;
max-lease-time 7200;
authoritative;
 
option dhcp.domain-search "destrealm.org";
option dhcp6.domain-search "destrealm.org";
option dhcp6.name-servers 2001:470:d:407::1, 2001:470:d:407:0:baad:beef:cafe;
 
subnet6 2001:aaa:12:1234::/64 {
    allow unknown-clients;
    default-lease-time 1800;
    min-lease-time 4000;
    max-lease-time 7200;
 
    # Ranges can be provided in many different ways.
    #range6 2001:aaa:12:1234::bead:10 2001:aaa:12:1234::bead:ffff;
    #range6 2001:aaa:12:1234::10 2001:aaa:12:1234::ffff;
    range6 2001:aaa:12:1234:0:ccee:0:0/96;
}
 
host statichost {
    host-identifier option dhcp6.client-id "00:01:00:01:11:f9:4b:5a:08:00:27:c5:40:c7";
    fixed-address6 2001:aaa:12:1234::500;
}

Note: The “host” declaration can appear inside a subnet declaration. I tend to separate them for my home configurations for aesthetic purposes; don’t do this for larger networks.

Other Thoughts

ISC DHCP supports both IPv4 networks and IPv6. However, it is currently impossible to supply DHCP access to both IPv4 and IPv6 networks at the same time without running multiple instances of dhcpd. It’s possible, and Gentoo certainly makes it easy; however, some tweaks are needed.

The instructions for running multiple instances of dhcpd on the same Gentoo server are somewhat misleading. If you read them, your initial impression would be to simply do something like the following:

# cd /etc/init.d
# ln -s dhcpd dhcpd6
# cp ../conf.d/dhcpd ../dhcpd6
# nano -w ../dhcpd6
# cp ../dhcp/dhcpd.conf ../dhcp/dhcpd6.conf
# # Point /etc/conf.d/dhcpd6's config file to /etc/dhcp/dhcpd6.conf
# # Done!

Unfortunately, this won’t work. Under the checkconfig() function in /etc/init.d/dhcpd (which is now also linked to /etc/init.d/dhcpd6) refuses to honor the DHCPD_OPTS defined in /etc/conf.d/dhcpd. Thus, forcing the server to run in IPv6 mode (with the -6 switch, though IPv6 mode is the server’s default) doesn’t work. Instead, it is necessary as of this writing to create a copy of the /etc/init.d/dhcpd script and modify the function accordingly to include ${DHCPD_OPTS}:

checkconfig() {
        /usr/sbin/dhcpd ${DHCPD_OPTS} -cf ${DHCPD_CHROOT}/${DHCPD_CONF} -t 1>/dev/null 2>&1
        ret=$?
        if [ $ret -ne 0 ]; then
                eerror "${SVCNAME} has detected a syntax error in your configuration files:"
                /usr/sbin/dhcpd ${DHCPD_OPTS} -cf ${DHCPD_CHROOT}/${DHCPD_CONF} -t
        fi
 
        return $ret
}

(Admittedly, the above code may cause problems if the DHCPD_OPTS variable contains -cf or similar switches.)

Furthermore, it is also necessary to point the server to a different lease file and include the following in a separate dhcpd.conf:

pid-file-name "/var/run/dhcp/dhcpd6.pid";

Here’s what my /etc/conf.d/dhcpd6 looks like:

DHCPD_CONF="/etc/dhcp/dhcpd6.conf"
DHCPD_IFACE="eth1"
DHCPD_OPTS="-6 -lf /var/lib/dhcp/dhcpd6.leases"

Also, much like DHCPv6, ISC DHCP won’t supply static addresses to Windows clients. I can only assume this is the consequence of an incorrect understanding of how DUIDs work on my behalf. If I make an insightful discovery or someone posts corrections in the comments, I’ll update these notes accordingly.

Link Local Routing

IPv6 doesn’t really support the notion of private networks. At least, it doesn’t support private networks in the same manner as IPv4. Instead, there are several ranges reserved for router discovery and, more importantly, “link local” addresses. Link local addresses are automatically created whenever IPv6 support is enabled for an interface and exist in the fe80::/16 prefix. Any address in this range is not routeable but can be pinged on the local network.

There is one surprising discovery I made with regards to IPv6’s auto-configuration. On the local network, the link local address of your router actually becomes the gateway for hosts that it has automatically configured. Gone are the *.*.*.1 router conventions of IPv4. This may seem unimportant, but when you consider that it will impact what choices you make with regards to your firewall, it suddenly becomes much more important.

Samba, CIFS, IPv6, and You

I’ve been running Samba on my local network for literally years to supply access to my /home and various file repositories. However, something unusual started happening the day I booted my server with a new kernel including IPv6 support: Windows 7 would announce that it was “unable to connect all network drives” immediately after login. I assumed (incorrectly) that Samba had crashed, and thus opened Windows explorer, double-clicked the drives, and then they mysteriously opened as if nothing were amiss.

After much poking, prodding, and a liberal application of tcpdump I discovered a couple of important things. First, it is important to have Samba upgrade to at least version 3.2 when adding IPv6 to a network (3.0 appears to be resolvable, even though it doesn’t have fully capable IPv6 support). Second, I also learned that IPv6 packets must be routeable to the Samba server–and must be processed by it as well–because Windows Vista and Windows 7 will both attempt to use CIFS over IPv6. If IPv6 queries fail, these versions of Windows will report that attached network drives cannot be mounted even though they appear to degrade successfully to IPv4 access.

Also, one of the more significant contributors to my Samba problems was related to how I had my firewall configured. Being a good netizen and blocking everything (except what I want) by default, I figured allowing access to the local network via eth1 (my internal interface) was enough. That is to say until I realized that I hadn’t correctly allowed my internal network unadulterated access to the server. Moral to the story: Once you get around to setting up ip6tables, double check your settings. I can’t stress this enough.

Chances are, too, that if you’re using Samba, you’ve probably set it up to provide printing access via the local network to Windows machines that don’t yet support IPP. (Of course, if you’re using Windows Vista or Windows 7 x64, you have no other choice than to use IPP but that’s another rant!) If you’ve enabled ip6tables, you might notice a lengthy delay in printing, and searching for a printer will seem nearly impossible. Here’s why:

Feb 19 16:54:39 sagittarius [277797.502535] IN= OUT=lo SRC=0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0001 DST=0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0001 LEN=80 TC=0 HOPLIMIT=64 FLOWLBL=0 PROTO=TCP SPT=42045 DPT=631 WINDOW=32752 RES=0x00 SYN URGP=0
Feb 19 16:54:51 sagittarius [277809.502544] IN= OUT=lo SRC=0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0001 DST=0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0001 LEN=80 TC=0 HOPLIMIT=64 FLOWLBL=0 PROTO=TCP SPT=42045 DPT=631 WINDOW=32752 RES=0x00 SYN URGP=0
Feb 19 16:55:15 sagittarius [277833.500054] IN= OUT=lo SRC=0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0001 DST=0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0001 LEN=80 TC=0 HOPLIMIT=64 FLOWLBL=0 PROTO=TCP SPT=42045 DPT=631 WINDOW=32752 RES=0x00 SYN URGP=0
Feb 19 16:56:03 sagittarius [277881.502542] IN= OUT=lo SRC=0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0001 DST=0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0001 LEN=80 TC=0 HOPLIMIT=64 FLOWLBL=0 PROTO=TCP SPT=42045 DPT=631 WINDOW=32752 RES=0x00 SYN URGP=0

Notice anything amiss? The local machine (that’s ::1/128, or all those zeros followed by a 1) keeps sending requests to port 631 but why. What’s wrong?

This is what happens when Samba sends printer list requests to CUPS. Without a reply, it’ll continue trying until it gives up. The fix? Allow localhost. I know it goes without saying, but it’s easy to overlook, particularly in something like iptables. Moreover, when you’re not used to examining IPv6 networks, it’s easy to overlook the rather unusual looking localhost declaration. Besides, there’s no reason not to grant localhost IPv6 access!

Alas, I get ahead of myself. My ip6tables section will be up and coming in a day or two, and I’ll even have a script prepared. Be aware that there are some unusual complications related to some of IPv6’s reserved ranges (more on that later), but by and large, configuring iptables for IPv6 is analogous to IPv4. The only significant difference is that you’ll have more basic rules to contend with to support things like automatic discovery.

See you next time!

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