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17 Kernel Interface

There are several different methods for reading kernel routing table information, updating kernel routing tables, and for looking up interfaces.


The ‘ioctl’ method is a very traditional way for reading or writing kernel information. ‘ioctl’ can be used for looking up interfaces and for modifying interface addresses, flags, mtu settings and other types of information. Also, ‘ioctl’ can insert and delete kernel routing table entries. It will soon be available on almost any platform which zebra supports, but it is a little bit ugly thus far, so if a better method is supported by the kernel, zebra will use that.


sysctl’ can lookup kernel information using MIB (Management Information Base) syntax. Normally, it only provides a way of getting information from the kernel. So one would usually want to change kernel information using another method such as ‘ioctl’.

proc filesystem

proc filesystem’ provides an easy way of getting kernel information.

routing socket

On recent Linux kernels (2.0.x and 2.2.x), there is a kernel/user communication support called netlink. It makes asynchronous communication between kernel and Quagga possible, similar to a routing socket on BSD systems.

Before you use this feature, be sure to select (in kernel configuration) the kernel/netlink support option ’Kernel/User network link driver’ and ’Routing messages’.

Today, the /dev/route special device file is obsolete. Netlink communication is done by reading/writing over netlink socket.

After the kernel configuration, please reconfigure and rebuild Quagga. You can use netlink as a dynamic routing update channel between Quagga and the kernel.

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