multiple ethernet devices in Xen


It seems that no-one has documented what needs to be done to correctly run multiple Ethernet devices (with one always being eth0 and the other always being eth1) in a Linux Xen configuration (or if it is documented then google wouldn’t find it for me).

vif = [ ‘mac=00:16:3e:00:01:01’, ‘mac=00:16:3e:00:02:01, bridge=xenbr1’ ]

Firstly I use a vif line such as the above in the Xen configuration. This means that there is one ethernet device with the hardware address of 00:16:3e:00:01:01 and another with the address of 00:16:3e:00:02:01. I just updated this section, the 00:16:3e prefix has officially been allocated to the Xen project for virtual machines. Therefore on your Xen installation you can do whatever you like with MAC addresses in that range without risk of competing with real hardware. The Xen code uses random MAC addresses in that range if you let it.

I have two bridge devices, xenbr0 and xenbr1. I only need to specify one as Xen can figure the other out.

Now when my domU’s boot they assign ethernet device names from the range eth0 to eth8. If there is only one virtual Ethernet device then it is always eth0 and things are easy. But for multiple devices I need to rename the interfaces.

eth0 mac 00:16:3e:00:01:01
eth1 mac 00:16:3e:00:02:01

This is done through the ifrename program (package name ifrename in Debian). I create a file named /etc/iftab with the above contents and then early in the boot process (before the interfaces are brought up) the devices will be renamed.

In the Red Hat model you edit the files such as /etc/sysconfig/networking/devices/ifcfg-eth0 and change the line that starts with HWADDR to cause a device rename on boot.

Update: the original version of this post used MAC addresses with a prefix of 00:00:00, the officially allocated prefix for Xen is 00:16:3e which I now use. Thanks to the person who commented about this.


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