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The RIPE-javik logs: Day 3

Posted by Carsten Strotmann on 5/23/19 7:11 AM

ripe day 3carsten@menandmice:~$ cat ~/ripe/ripejavik-day3.txt | blog-publish

Wednesday was a hands-on kind of day at RIPE 78. Attending the OpenSource Working Group yielded lots of interesting information, and we’ve interviewed some RIPE 78 participants for our upcoming podcasts. (Watch this space!)

Open Source Working Group

The Working Group started with two different solutions for a similar task, both very interesting.

The first presentation was about building Network Labs using OpenSource tools. Wolfgang Tremmel from German Internet Exchange DE-CIX reported his experiences with using Docker Linux containers to build a training lab for BGP training. He used a Docker container with FRRouting (an open source routing software rooted on Quagga) and exposed the terminal command line of each container via ttyd to the net.

In this configuration, the training participants only need a web browser to access the lab machines. The lab can either run local in the training room or on some cloud service. Getting IPv6 to work with Docker can be challenging, and Wolfgang ran into problems there. I personally would recommend podman or systemd-nspawn as an IPv6 friendly alternative to Docker.

In the same presentation slot, Sander Steffann talked about his experiences with his router labs. While the focus in Wolfgang’s training is the routing protocol itself (and less the routing software used), Sander has a lab that allows the students to try out real commercial router software such as Cisco, Juniper, or Microtik.

Sander is using the GNS3 project that is able to emulate or virtualize commercial router hardware to run the router firmware unmodified. While GNS3 itself is open source, the router firmware needed is not. Emulation is costly, especially for more modern router machines, so his lab needed very powerful machines. Sander combined GNS3 with a nice, web-based management system that would display instructions and information about the routing labs.


The second presentation was from Max Rottenkolber, who was talking about his open source project, a high-performance VPN solution for x86_64 machines. This Site-to-Site VPN software is called Vita and is built upon Snabb, a high-performance network stack running in userspace.

While it is running on top of Linux, it does not use the Linux network stack, instead accessing the network cards hardware from userspace directly. While doing this, Snabb can be used to create applications that are very optimized for network throughput. Vita (and Snabb) are mainly built with the Lua programming language, and the code is compiled to optimized x84_64 machine code using a Just-in-Time (JIT) compiler. Because Vita is bypassing the kernel, it can fully control the hardware and squeeze maximum performance out of the system.

The project is still in development, and the medium-term goal is to be able to encrypt 100 Gbps line-rate traffic (with 60byte packets). Because VPN gateways running Vita are dedicated servers, and because all networking is done in userspace, almost no kernel syscalls are used and the system's performance is not affected by the mitigations for the Intel CPU problems such as Spectre, Meltdown, and others.

Lightning talks

In the lightning talks session, Sander Steffann was asking the RIPE community for help with the NAT64check website he operates. The service allows users to enter the URL of a particular website, and run tests over IPv4, IPv6, and NAT64 in order to check:

  • whether the website is actually reachable in each case,
  • whether identical web pages are returned,
  • and whether all the resources such as images, stylesheets, and scripts load correctly.

Sander is looking for people who are interested in joining the team that keeps this service running.


Next, Maria Jan Matejka from CZ.NIC presented an update on new developments around the BIRDv2 open source routing daemon. BIRD is a dynamic routing daemon running on Linux, BSD and other systems and implements many routing protocols like BGP, OSPF, Babel and more.

The new version has custom route attributes, a filter benchmark tool and will become faster filter in the future. There was also a "dirty hack" presented on how to auto-reload a route as an RPKI change.


The working-group closed with a discussion on industry hackathons, with presentations on both experiences from the IETF hackathons and the RIPE hackathons.

More coverage (And a podcast!)

RIPE 78 is now in full swing, with conference events and lots of off-site discussions, sight-seeing, and social happenings. We’ll continue our daily briefings throughout the week, but we’re also working on a more in-depth project: a podcast digging deeper into all things DNS, DHCP, and IPAM.

Make sure you follow Men & Mice’s social media channels and blog for the announcement!

Topics: Open Source, RIPE 78, VPN, workshop, routing

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