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Linux Ethernet Bonding Driver HOWTO
Initial release : Thomas Davis <tadavis at>
Corrections, HA extensions : 2000/10/03-15 :
- Willy Tarreau <willy at>
- Constantine Gavrilov <const-g at>
- Chad N. Tindel <ctindel at ieee dot org>
- Janice Girouard <girouard at us dot ibm dot com>
- Jay Vosburgh <fubar at us dot ibm dot com>
Reorganized and updated Feb 2005 by Jay Vosburgh
Note :
The bonding driver originally came from Donald Becker's beowulf patches for
kernel 2.0. It has changed quite a bit since, and the original tools from
extreme-linux and beowulf sites will not work with this version of the driver.
For new versions of the driver, patches for older kernels and the updated
userspace tools, please follow the links at the end of this file.
Table of Contents
1. Bonding Driver Installation
2. Bonding Driver Options
3. Configuring Bonding Devices
3.1 Configuration with sysconfig support
3.2 Configuration with initscripts support
3.3 Configuring Bonding Manually
3.4 Configuring Multiple Bonds
5. Querying Bonding Configuration
5.1 Bonding Configuration
5.2 Network Configuration
6. Switch Configuration
7. 802.1q VLAN Support
8. Link Monitoring
8.1 ARP Monitor Operation
8.2 Configuring Multiple ARP Targets
8.3 MII Monitor Operation
9. Potential Trouble Sources
9.1 Adventures in Routing
9.2 Ethernet Device Renaming
9.3 Painfully Slow Or No Failed Link Detection By Miimon
10. SNMP agents
11. Promiscuous mode
12. High Availability Information
12.1 High Availability in a Single Switch Topology
12.1.1 Bonding Mode Selection for Single Switch Topology
12.1.2 Link Monitoring for Single Switch Topology
12.2 High Availability in a Multiple Switch Topology
12.2.1 Bonding Mode Selection for Multiple Switch Topology
12.2.2 Link Monitoring for Multiple Switch Topology
12.3 Switch Behavior Issues for High Availability
13. Hardware Specific Considerations
13.1 IBM BladeCenter
14. Frequently Asked Questions
15. Resources and Links
1. Bonding Driver Installation
Most popular distro kernels ship with the bonding driver
already available as a module and the ifenslave user level control
program installed and ready for use. If your distro does not, or you
have need to compile bonding from source (e.g., configuring and
installing a mainline kernel from, you'll need to perform
the following steps:
1.1 Configure and build the kernel with bonding
The latest version of the bonding driver is available in the
drivers/net/bonding subdirectory of the most recent kernel source
(which is available on
Prior to the 2.4.11 kernel, the bonding driver was maintained
largely outside the kernel tree; patches for some earlier kernels are
available on the bonding sourceforge site, although those patches are
still several years out of date. Most users will want to use either
the most recent kernel from or whatever kernel came with
their distro.
Configure kernel with "make menuconfig" (or "make xconfig" or
"make config"), then select "Bonding driver support" in the "Network
device support" section. It is recommended that you configure the
driver as module since it is currently the only way to pass parameters
to the driver or configure more than one bonding device.
Build and install the new kernel and modules, then proceed to
step 2.
1.2 Install ifenslave Control Utility
The ifenslave user level control program is included in the
kernel source tree, in the file Documentation/networking/ifenslave.c.
It is generally recommended that you use the ifenslave that
corresponds to the kernel that you are using (either from the same
source tree or supplied with the distro), however, ifenslave
executables from older kernels should function (but features newer
than the ifenslave release are not supported). Running an ifenslave
that is newer than the kernel is not supported, and may or may not
To install ifenslave, do the following:
# gcc -Wall -O -I/usr/src/linux/include ifenslave.c -o ifenslave
# cp ifenslave /sbin/ifenslave
If your kernel source is not in "/usr/src/linux," then replace
"/usr/src/linux/include" in the above with the location of your kernel
source include directory.
You may wish to back up any existing /sbin/ifenslave, or, for
testing or informal use, tag the ifenslave to the kernel version
(e.g., name the ifenslave executable /sbin/ifenslave-2.6.10).
If you omit the "-I" or specify an incorrect directory, you
may end up with an ifenslave that is incompatible with the kernel
you're trying to build it for. Some distros (e.g., Red Hat from 7.1
onwards) do not have /usr/include/linux symbolically linked to the
default kernel source include directory.
2. Bonding Driver Options
Options for the bonding driver are supplied as parameters to
the bonding module at load time. They may be given as command line
arguments to the insmod or modprobe command, but are usually specified
in either the /etc/modprobe.conf configuration file, or in a
distro-specific configuration file (some of which are detailed in the
next section).
The available bonding driver parameters are listed below. If a
parameter is not specified the default value is used. When initially
configuring a bond, it is recommended "tail -f /var/log/messages" be
run in a separate window to watch for bonding driver error messages.
It is critical that either the miimon or arp_interval and
arp_ip_target parameters be specified, otherwise serious network
degradation will occur during link failures. Very few devices do not
support at least miimon, so there is really no reason not to use it.
Options with textual values will accept either the text name
or, for backwards compatibility, the option value. E.g.,
"mode=802.3ad" and "mode=4" set the same mode.
The parameters are as follows:
Specifies the ARP monitoring frequency in milli-seconds. If
ARP monitoring is used in a load-balancing mode (mode 0 or 2),
the switch should be configured in a mode that evenly
distributes packets across all links - such as round-robin. If
the switch is configured to distribute the packets in an XOR
fashion, all replies from the ARP targets will be received on
the same link which could cause the other team members to
fail. ARP monitoring should not be used in conjunction with
miimon. A value of 0 disables ARP monitoring. The default
value is 0.
Specifies the ip addresses to use when arp_interval is > 0.
These are the targets of the ARP request sent to determine the
health of the link to the targets. Specify these values in
ddd.ddd.ddd.ddd format. Multiple ip adresses must be
seperated by a comma. At least one IP address must be given
for ARP monitoring to function. The maximum number of targets
that can be specified is 16. The default value is no IP
Specifies the time, in milliseconds, to wait before disabling
a slave after a link failure has been detected. This option
is only valid for the miimon link monitor. The downdelay
value should be a multiple of the miimon value; if not, it
will be rounded down to the nearest multiple. The default
value is 0.
Option specifying the rate in which we'll ask our link partner
to transmit LACPDU packets in 802.3ad mode. Possible values
slow or 0
Request partner to transmit LACPDUs every 30 seconds (default)
fast or 1
Request partner to transmit LACPDUs every 1 second
Specifies the number of bonding devices to create for this
instance of the bonding driver. E.g., if max_bonds is 3, and
the bonding driver is not already loaded, then bond0, bond1
and bond2 will be created. The default value is 1.
Specifies the frequency in milli-seconds that MII link
monitoring will occur. A value of zero disables MII link
monitoring. A value of 100 is a good starting point. The
use_carrier option, below, affects how the link state is
determined. See the High Availability section for additional
information. The default value is 0.
Specifies one of the bonding policies. The default is
balance-rr (round robin). Possible values are:
balance-rr or 0
Round-robin policy: Transmit packets in sequential
order from the first available slave through the
last. This mode provides load balancing and fault
active-backup or 1
Active-backup policy: Only one slave in the bond is
active. A different slave becomes active if, and only
if, the active slave fails. The bond's MAC address is
externally visible on only one port (network adapter)
to avoid confusing the switch. This mode provides
fault tolerance. The primary option affects the
behavior of this mode.
balance-xor or 2
XOR policy: Transmit based on [(source MAC address
XOR'd with destination MAC address) modulo slave
count]. This selects the same slave for each
destination MAC address. This mode provides load
balancing and fault tolerance.
broadcast or 3
Broadcast policy: transmits everything on all slave
interfaces. This mode provides fault tolerance.
802.3ad or 4
IEEE 802.3ad Dynamic link aggregation. Creates
aggregation groups that share the same speed and
duplex settings. Utilizes all slaves in the active
aggregator according to the 802.3ad specification.
1. Ethtool support in the base drivers for retrieving
the speed and duplex of each slave.
2. A switch that supports IEEE 802.3ad Dynamic link
Most switches will require some type of configuration
to enable 802.3ad mode.
balance-tlb or 5
Adaptive transmit load balancing: channel bonding that
does not require any special switch support. The
outgoing traffic is distributed according to the
current load (computed relative to the speed) on each
slave. Incoming traffic is received by the current
slave. If the receiving slave fails, another slave
takes over the MAC address of the failed receiving
Ethtool support in the base drivers for retrieving the
speed of each slave.
balance-alb or 6
Adaptive load balancing: includes balance-tlb plus
receive load balancing (rlb) for IPV4 traffic, and
does not require any special switch support. The
receive load balancing is achieved by ARP negotiation.
The bonding driver intercepts the ARP Replies sent by
the local system on their way out and overwrites the
source hardware address with the unique hardware
address of one of the slaves in the bond such that
different peers use different hardware addresses for
the server.
Receive traffic from connections created by the server
is also balanced. When the local system sends an ARP
Request the bonding driver copies and saves the peer's
IP information from the ARP packet. When the ARP
Reply arrives from the peer, its hardware address is
retrieved and the bonding driver initiates an ARP
reply to this peer assigning it to one of the slaves
in the bond. A problematic outcome of using ARP
negotiation for balancing is that each time that an
ARP request is broadcast it uses the hardware address
of the bond. Hence, peers learn the hardware address
of the bond and the balancing of receive traffic
collapses to the current slave. This is handled by
sending updates (ARP Replies) to all the peers with
their individually assigned hardware address such that
the traffic is redistributed. Receive traffic is also
redistributed when a new slave is added to the bond
and when an inactive slave is re-activated. The
receive load is distributed sequentially (round robin)
among the group of highest speed slaves in the bond.
When a link is reconnected or a new slave joins the
bond the receive traffic is redistributed among all
active slaves in the bond by intiating ARP Replies
with the selected mac address to each of the
clients. The updelay parameter (detailed below) must
be set to a value equal or greater than the switch's
forwarding delay so that the ARP Replies sent to the
peers will not be blocked by the switch.
1. Ethtool support in the base drivers for retrieving
the speed of each slave.
2. Base driver support for setting the hardware
address of a device while it is open. This is
required so that there will always be one slave in the
team using the bond hardware address (the
curr_active_slave) while having a unique hardware
address for each slave in the bond. If the
curr_active_slave fails its hardware address is
swapped with the new curr_active_slave that was
A string (eth0, eth2, etc) specifying which slave is the
primary device. The specified device will always be the
active slave while it is available. Only when the primary is
off-line will alternate devices be used. This is useful when
one slave is preferred over another, e.g., when one slave has
higher throughput than another.
The primary option is only valid for active-backup mode.
Specifies the time, in milliseconds, to wait before enabling a
slave after a link recovery has been detected. This option is
only valid for the miimon link monitor. The updelay value
should be a multiple of the miimon value; if not, it will be
rounded down to the nearest multiple. The default value is 0.
Specifies whether or not miimon should use MII or ETHTOOL
ioctls vs. netif_carrier_ok() to determine the link
status. The MII or ETHTOOL ioctls are less efficient and
utilize a deprecated calling sequence within the kernel. The
netif_carrier_ok() relies on the device driver to maintain its
state with netif_carrier_on/off; at this writing, most, but
not all, device drivers support this facility.
If bonding insists that the link is up when it should not be,
it may be that your network device driver does not support
netif_carrier_on/off. The default state for netif_carrier is
"carrier on," so if a driver does not support netif_carrier,
it will appear as if the link is always up. In this case,
setting use_carrier to 0 will cause bonding to revert to the
MII / ETHTOOL ioctl method to determine the link state.
A value of 1 enables the use of netif_carrier_ok(), a value of
0 will use the deprecated MII / ETHTOOL ioctls. The default
value is 1.
3. Configuring Bonding Devices
There are, essentially, two methods for configuring bonding:
with support from the distro's network initialization scripts, and
without. Distros generally use one of two packages for the network
initialization scripts: initscripts or sysconfig. Recent versions of
these packages have support for bonding, while older versions do not.
We will first describe the options for configuring bonding for
distros using versions of initscripts and sysconfig with full or
partial support for bonding, then provide information on enabling
bonding without support from the network initialization scripts (i.e.,
older versions of initscripts or sysconfig).
If you're unsure whether your distro uses sysconfig or
initscripts, or don't know if it's new enough, have no fear.
Determining this is fairly straightforward.
First, issue the command:
$ rpm -qf /sbin/ifup
It will respond with a line of text starting with either
"initscripts" or "sysconfig," followed by some numbers. This is the
package that provides your network initialization scripts.
Next, to determine if your installation supports bonding,
issue the command:
$ grep ifenslave /sbin/ifup
If this returns any matches, then your initscripts or
sysconfig has support for bonding.
3.1 Configuration with sysconfig support
This section applies to distros using a version of sysconfig
with bonding support, for example, SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9.
SuSE SLES 9's networking configuration system does support
bonding, however, at this writing, the YaST system configuration
frontend does not provide any means to work with bonding devices.
Bonding devices can be managed by hand, however, as follows.
First, if they have not already been configured, configure the
slave devices. On SLES 9, this is most easily done by running the
yast2 sysconfig configuration utility. The goal is for to create an
ifcfg-id file for each slave device. The simplest way to accomplish
this is to configure the devices for DHCP. The name of the
configuration file for each device will be of the form:
Where the "xx" portion will be replaced with the digits from
the device's permanent MAC address.
Once the set of ifcfg-id-xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx files has been
created, it is necessary to edit the configuration files for the slave
devices (the MAC addresses correspond to those of the slave devices).
Before editing, the file will contain muliple lines, and will look
something like this:
Change the BOOTPROTO and STARTMODE lines to the following:
Do not alter the UNIQUE or _nm_name lines. Remove any other
lines (USERCTL, etc).
Once the ifcfg-id-xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx files have been modified,
it's time to create the configuration file for the bonding device
itself. This file is named ifcfg-bondX, where X is the number of the
bonding device to create, starting at 0. The first such file is
ifcfg-bond0, the second is ifcfg-bond1, and so on. The sysconfig
network configuration system will correctly start multiple instances
of bonding.
The contents of the ifcfg-bondX file is as follows:
BONDING_MODULE_OPTS="mode=active-backup miimon=100"
values with the appropriate values for your network.
Note that configuring the bonding device with BOOTPROTO='dhcp'
does not work; the scripts attempt to obtain the device address from
DHCP prior to adding any of the slave devices. Without active slaves,
the DHCP requests are not sent to the network.
The STARTMODE specifies when the device is brought online.
The possible values are:
onboot: The device is started at boot time. If you're not
sure, this is probably what you want.
manual: The device is started only when ifup is called
manually. Bonding devices may be configured this
way if you do not wish them to start automatically
at boot for some reason.
hotplug: The device is started by a hotplug event. This is not
a valid choice for a bonding device.
off or ignore: The device configuration is ignored.
The line BONDING_MASTER='yes' indicates that the device is a
bonding master device. The only useful value is "yes."
The contents of BONDING_MODULE_OPTS are supplied to the
instance of the bonding module for this device. Specify the options
for the bonding mode, link monitoring, and so on here. Do not include
the max_bonds bonding parameter; this will confuse the configuration
system if you have multiple bonding devices.
Finally, supply one BONDING_SLAVEn="ethX" for each slave,
where "n" is an increasing value, one for each slave, and "ethX" is
the name of the slave device (eth0, eth1, etc).
When all configuration files have been modified or created,
networking must be restarted for the configuration changes to take
effect. This can be accomplished via the following:
# /etc/init.d/network restart
Note that the network control script (/sbin/ifdown) will
remove the bonding module as part of the network shutdown processing,
so it is not necessary to remove the module by hand if, e.g., the
module paramters have changed.
Also, at this writing, YaST/YaST2 will not manage bonding
devices (they do not show bonding interfaces on its list of network
devices). It is necessary to edit the configuration file by hand to
change the bonding configuration.
Additional general options and details of the ifcfg file
format can be found in an example ifcfg template file:
Note that the template does not document the various BONDING_
settings described above, but does describe many of the other options.
3.2 Configuration with initscripts support
This section applies to distros using a version of initscripts
with bonding support, for example, Red Hat Linux 9 or Red Hat
Enterprise Linux version 3. On these systems, the network
initialization scripts have some knowledge of bonding, and can be
configured to control bonding devices.
These distros will not automatically load the network adapter
driver unless the ethX device is configured with an IP address.
Because of this constraint, users must manually configure a
network-script file for all physical adapters that will be members of
a bondX link. Network script files are located in the directory:
The file name must be prefixed with "ifcfg-eth" and suffixed
with the adapter's physical adapter number. For example, the script
for eth0 would be named /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0.
Place the following text in the file:
The DEVICE= line will be different for every ethX device and
must correspond with the name of the file, i.e., ifcfg-eth1 must have
a device line of DEVICE=eth1. The setting of the MASTER= line will
also depend on the final bonding interface name chosen for your bond.
As with other network devices, these typically start at 0, and go up
one for each device, i.e., the first bonding instance is bond0, the
second is bond1, and so on.
Next, create a bond network script. The file name for this
script will be /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-bondX where X is
the number of the bond. For bond0 the file is named "ifcfg-bond0",
for bond1 it is named "ifcfg-bond1", and so on. Within that file,
place the following text:
Be sure to change the networking specific lines (IPADDR,
NETMASK, NETWORK and BROADCAST) to match your network configuration.
Finally, it is necessary to edit /etc/modules.conf to load the
bonding module when the bond0 interface is brought up. The following
sample lines in /etc/modules.conf will load the bonding module, and
select its options:
alias bond0 bonding
options bond0 mode=balance-alb miimon=100
Replace the sample parameters with the appropriate set of
options for your configuration.
Finally run "/etc/rc.d/init.d/network restart" as root. This
will restart the networking subsystem and your bond link should be now
up and running.
3.3 Configuring Bonding Manually
This section applies to distros whose network initialization
scripts (the sysconfig or initscripts package) do not have specific
knowledge of bonding. One such distro is SuSE Linux Enterprise Server
version 8.
The general methodology for these systems is to place the
bonding module parameters into /etc/modprobe.conf, then add modprobe
and/or ifenslave commands to the system's global init script. The
name of the global init script differs; for sysconfig, it is
/etc/init.d/boot.local and for initscripts it is /etc/rc.d/rc.local.
For example, if you wanted to make a simple bond of two e100
devices (presumed to be eth0 and eth1), and have it persist across
reboots, edit the appropriate file (/etc/init.d/boot.local or
/etc/rc.d/rc.local), and add the following:
modprobe bonding -obond0 mode=balance-alb miimon=100
modprobe e100
ifconfig bond0 netmask up
ifenslave bond0 eth0
ifenslave bond0 eth1
Replace the example bonding module parameters and bond0
network configuration (IP address, netmask, etc) with the appropriate
values for your configuration. The above example loads the bonding
module with the name "bond0," this simplifies the naming if multiple
bonding modules are loaded (each successive instance of the module is
given a different name, and the module instance names match the
bonding interface names).
Unfortunately, this method will not provide support for the
ifup and ifdown scripts on the bond devices. To reload the bonding
configuration, it is necessary to run the initialization script, e.g.,
# /etc/init.d/boot.local
# /etc/rc.d/rc.local
It may be desirable in such a case to create a separate script
which only initializes the bonding configuration, then call that
separate script from within boot.local. This allows for bonding to be
enabled without re-running the entire global init script.
To shut down the bonding devices, it is necessary to first
mark the bonding device itself as being down, then remove the
appropriate device driver modules. For our example above, you can do
the following:
# ifconfig bond0 down
# rmmod bond0
# rmmod e100
Again, for convenience, it may be desirable to create a script
with these commands.
3.4 Configuring Multiple Bonds
This section contains information on configuring multiple
bonding devices with differing options. If you require multiple
bonding devices, but all with the same options, see the "max_bonds"
module paramter, documented above.
To create multiple bonding devices with differing options, it
is necessary to load the bonding driver multiple times. Note that
current versions of the sysconfig network initialization scripts
handle this automatically; if your distro uses these scripts, no
special action is needed. See the section Configuring Bonding
Devices, above, if you're not sure about your network initialization
To load multiple instances of the module, it is necessary to
specify a different name for each instance (the module loading system
requires that every loaded module, even multiple instances of the same
module, have a unique name). This is accomplished by supplying
multiple sets of bonding options in /etc/modprobe.conf, for example:
alias bond0 bonding
options bond0 -o bond0 mode=balance-rr miimon=100
alias bond1 bonding
options bond1 -o bond1 mode=balance-alb miimon=50
will load the bonding module two times. The first instance is
named "bond0" and creates the bond0 device in balance-rr mode with an
miimon of 100. The second instance is named "bond1" and creates the
bond1 device in balance-alb mode with an miimon of 50.
This may be repeated any number of times, specifying a new and
unique name in place of bond0 or bond1 for each instance.
When the appropriate module paramters are in place, then
configure bonding according to the instructions for your distro.
5. Querying Bonding Configuration
5.1 Bonding Configuration
Each bonding device has a read-only file residing in the
/proc/net/bonding directory. The file contents include information
about the bonding configuration, options and state of each slave.
For example, the contents of /proc/net/bonding/bond0 after the
driver is loaded with parameters of mode=0 and miimon=1000 is
generally as follows:
Ethernet Channel Bonding Driver: 2.6.1 (October 29, 2004)
Bonding Mode: load balancing (round-robin)
Currently Active Slave: eth0
MII Status: up
MII Polling Interval (ms): 1000
Up Delay (ms): 0
Down Delay (ms): 0
Slave Interface: eth1
MII Status: up
Link Failure Count: 1
Slave Interface: eth0
MII Status: up
Link Failure Count: 1
The precise format and contents will change depending upon the
bonding configuration, state, and version of the bonding driver.
5.2 Network configuration
The network configuration can be inspected using the ifconfig
command. Bonding devices will have the MASTER flag set; Bonding slave
devices will have the SLAVE flag set. The ifconfig output does not
contain information on which slaves are associated with which masters.
In the example below, the bond0 interface is the master
(MASTER) while eth0 and eth1 are slaves (SLAVE). Notice all slaves of
bond0 have the same MAC address (HWaddr) as bond0 for all modes except
TLB and ALB that require a unique MAC address for each slave.
# /sbin/ifconfig
bond0 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 00:C0:F0:1F:37:B4
inet addr:XXX.XXX.XXX.YYY Bcast:XXX.XXX.XXX.255 Mask:
RX packets:7224794 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:3286647 errors:1 dropped:0 overruns:1 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:0
eth0 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 00:C0:F0:1F:37:B4
inet addr:XXX.XXX.XXX.YYY Bcast:XXX.XXX.XXX.255 Mask:
RX packets:3573025 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:1643167 errors:1 dropped:0 overruns:1 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:100
Interrupt:10 Base address:0x1080
eth1 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 00:C0:F0:1F:37:B4
inet addr:XXX.XXX.XXX.YYY Bcast:XXX.XXX.XXX.255 Mask:
RX packets:3651769 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:1643480 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:100
Interrupt:9 Base address:0x1400
6. Switch Configuration
For this section, "switch" refers to whatever system the
bonded devices are directly connected to (i.e., where the other end of
the cable plugs into). This may be an actual dedicated switch device,
or it may be another regular system (e.g., another computer running
The active-backup, balance-tlb and balance-alb modes do not
require any specific configuration of the switch.
The 802.3ad mode requires that the switch have the appropriate
ports configured as an 802.3ad aggregation. The precise method used
to configure this varies from switch to switch, but, for example, a
Cisco 3550 series switch requires that the appropriate ports first be
grouped together in a single etherchannel instance, then that
etherchannel is set to mode "lacp" to enable 802.3ad (instead of
standard EtherChannel).
The balance-rr, balance-xor and broadcast modes generally
require that the switch have the appropriate ports grouped together.
The nomenclature for such a group differs between switches, it may be
called an "etherchannel" (as in the Cisco example, above), a "trunk
group" or some other similar variation. For these modes, each switch
will also have its own configuration options for the switch's transmit
policy to the bond. Typical choices include XOR of either the MAC or
IP addresses. The transmit policy of the two peers does not need to
match. For these three modes, the bonding mode really selects a
transmit policy for an EtherChannel group; all three will interoperate
with another EtherChannel group.
7. 802.1q VLAN Support
It is possible to configure VLAN devices over a bond interface
using the 8021q driver. However, only packets coming from the 8021q
driver and passing through bonding will be tagged by default. Self
generated packets, for example, bonding's learning packets or ARP
packets generated by either ALB mode or the ARP monitor mechanism, are
tagged internally by bonding itself. As a result, bonding must
"learn" the VLAN IDs configured above it, and use those IDs to tag
self generated packets.
For reasons of simplicity, and to support the use of adapters
that can do VLAN hardware acceleration offloding, the bonding
interface declares itself as fully hardware offloaing capable, it gets
the add_vid/kill_vid notifications to gather the necessary
information, and it propagates those actions to the slaves. In case
of mixed adapter types, hardware accelerated tagged packets that
should go through an adapter that is not offloading capable are
"un-accelerated" by the bonding driver so the VLAN tag sits in the
regular location.
VLAN interfaces *must* be added on top of a bonding interface
only after enslaving at least one slave. The bonding interface has a
hardware address of 00:00:00:00:00:00 until the first slave is added.
If the VLAN interface is created prior to the first enslavement, it
would pick up the all-zeroes hardware address. Once the first slave
is attached to the bond, the bond device itself will pick up the
slave's hardware address, which is then available for the VLAN device.
Also, be aware that a similar problem can occur if all slaves
are released from a bond that still has one or more VLAN interfaces on
top of it. When a new slave is added, the bonding interface will
obtain its hardware address from the first slave, which might not
match the hardware address of the VLAN interfaces (which was
ultimately copied from an earlier slave).
There are two methods to insure that the VLAN device operates
with the correct hardware address if all slaves are removed from a
bond interface:
1. Remove all VLAN interfaces then recreate them
2. Set the bonding interface's hardware address so that it
matches the hardware address of the VLAN interfaces.
Note that changing a VLAN interface's HW address would set the
underlying device -- i.e. the bonding interface -- to promiscouos
mode, which might not be what you want.
8. Link Monitoring
The bonding driver at present supports two schemes for
monitoring a slave device's link state: the ARP monitor and the MII
At the present time, due to implementation restrictions in the
bonding driver itself, it is not possible to enable both ARP and MII
monitoring simultaneously.
8.1 ARP Monitor Operation
The ARP monitor operates as its name suggests: it sends ARP
queries to one or more designated peer systems on the network, and
uses the response as an indication that the link is operating. This
gives some assurance that traffic is actually flowing to and from one
or more peers on the local network.
The ARP monitor relies on the device driver itself to verify
that traffic is flowing. In particular, the driver must keep up to
date the last receive time, dev->last_rx, and transmit start time,
dev->trans_start. If these are not updated by the driver, then the
ARP monitor will immediately fail any slaves using that driver, and
those slaves will stay down. If networking monitoring (tcpdump, etc)
shows the ARP requests and replies on the network, then it may be that
your device driver is not updating last_rx and trans_start.
8.2 Configuring Multiple ARP Targets
While ARP monitoring can be done with just one target, it can
be useful in a High Availability setup to have several targets to
monitor. In the case of just one target, the target itself may go
down or have a problem making it unresponsive to ARP requests. Having
an additional target (or several) increases the reliability of the ARP
Multiple ARP targets must be seperated by commas as follows:
# example options for ARP monitoring with three targets
alias bond0 bonding
options bond0 arp_interval=60 arp_ip_target=,,
For just a single target the options would resemble:
# example options for ARP monitoring with one target
alias bond0 bonding
options bond0 arp_interval=60 arp_ip_target=
8.3 MII Monitor Operation
The MII monitor monitors only the carrier state of the local
network interface. It accomplishes this in one of three ways: by
depending upon the device driver to maintain its carrier state, by
querying the device's MII registers, or by making an ethtool query to
the device.
If the use_carrier module parameter is 1 (the default value),
then the MII monitor will rely on the driver for carrier state
information (via the netif_carrier subsystem). As explained in the
use_carrier parameter information, above, if the MII monitor fails to
detect carrier loss on the device (e.g., when the cable is physically
disconnected), it may be that the driver does not support
If use_carrier is 0, then the MII monitor will first query the
device's (via ioctl) MII registers and check the link state. If that
request fails (not just that it returns carrier down), then the MII
monitor will make an ethtool ETHOOL_GLINK request to attempt to obtain
the same information. If both methods fail (i.e., the driver either
does not support or had some error in processing both the MII register
and ethtool requests), then the MII monitor will assume the link is
9. Potential Sources of Trouble
9.1 Adventures in Routing
When bonding is configured, it is important that the slave
devices not have routes that supercede routes of the master (or,
generally, not have routes at all). For example, suppose the bonding
device bond0 has two slaves, eth0 and eth1, and the routing table is
as follows:
Kernel IP routing table
Destination Gateway Genmask Flags MSS Window irtt Iface U 40 0 0 eth0 U 40 0 0 eth1 U 40 0 0 bond0 U 40 0 0 lo
This routing configuration will likely still update the
receive/transmit times in the driver (needed by the ARP monitor), but
may bypass the bonding driver (because outgoing traffic to, in this
case, another host on network 10 would use eth0 or eth1 before bond0).
The ARP monitor (and ARP itself) may become confused by this
configuration, because ARP requests (generated by the ARP monitor)
will be sent on one interface (bond0), but the corresponding reply
will arrive on a different interface (eth0). This reply looks to ARP
as an unsolicited ARP reply (because ARP matches replies on an
interface basis), and is discarded. The MII monitor is not affected
by the state of the routing table.
The solution here is simply to insure that slaves do not have
routes of their own, and if for some reason they must, those routes do
not supercede routes of their master. This should generally be the
case, but unusual configurations or errant manual or automatic static
route additions may cause trouble.
9.2 Ethernet Device Renaming
On systems with network configuration scripts that do not
associate physical devices directly with network interface names (so
that the same physical device always has the same "ethX" name), it may
be necessary to add some special logic to either /etc/modules.conf or
/etc/modprobe.conf (depending upon which is installed on the system).
For example, given a modules.conf containing the following:
alias bond0 bonding
options bond0 mode=some-mode miimon=50
alias eth0 tg3
alias eth1 tg3
alias eth2 e1000
alias eth3 e1000
If neither eth0 and eth1 are slaves to bond0, then when the
bond0 interface comes up, the devices may end up reordered. This
happens because bonding is loaded first, then its slave device's
drivers are loaded next. Since no other drivers have been loaded,
when the e1000 driver loads, it will receive eth0 and eth1 for its
devices, but the bonding configuration tries to enslave eth2 and eth3
(which may later be assigned to the tg3 devices).
Adding the following:
add above bonding e1000 tg3
causes modprobe to load e1000 then tg3, in that order, when
bonding is loaded. This command is fully documented in the
modules.conf manual page.
On systems utilizing modprobe.conf (or modprobe.conf.local),
an equivalent problem can occur. In this case, the following can be
added to modprobe.conf (or modprobe.conf.local, as appropriate), as
follows (all on one line; it has been split here for clarity):
install bonding /sbin/modprobe tg3; /sbin/modprobe e1000;
/sbin/modprobe --ignore-install bonding
This will, when loading the bonding module, rather than
performing the normal action, instead execute the provided command.
This command loads the device drivers in the order needed, then calls
modprobe with --ingore-install to cause the normal action to then take
place. Full documentation on this can be found in the modprobe.conf
and modprobe manual pages.
9.3. Painfully Slow Or No Failed Link Detection By Miimon
By default, bonding enables the use_carrier option, which
instructs bonding to trust the driver to maintain carrier state.
As discussed in the options section, above, some drivers do
not support the netif_carrier_on/_off link state tracking system.
With use_carrier enabled, bonding will always see these links as up,
regardless of their actual state.
Additionally, other drivers do support netif_carrier, but do
not maintain it in real time, e.g., only polling the link state at
some fixed interval. In this case, miimon will detect failures, but
only after some long period of time has expired. If it appears that
miimon is very slow in detecting link failures, try specifying
use_carrier=0 to see if that improves the failure detection time. If
it does, then it may be that the driver checks the carrier state at a
fixed interval, but does not cache the MII register values (so the
use_carrier=0 method of querying the registers directly works). If
use_carrier=0 does not improve the failover, then the driver may cache
the registers, or the problem may be elsewhere.
Also, remember that miimon only checks for the device's
carrier state. It has no way to determine the state of devices on or
beyond other ports of a switch, or if a switch is refusing to pass
traffic while still maintaining carrier on.
10. SNMP agents
If running SNMP agents, the bonding driver should be loaded
before any network drivers participating in a bond. This requirement
is due to the the interface index (ipAdEntIfIndex) being associated to
the first interface found with a given IP address. That is, there is
only one ipAdEntIfIndex for each IP address. For example, if eth0 and
eth1 are slaves of bond0 and the driver for eth0 is loaded before the
bonding driver, the interface for the IP address will be associated
with the eth0 interface. This configuration is shown below, the IP
address has an interface index of 2 which indexes to eth0
in the ifDescr table (ifDescr.2).
interfaces.ifTable.ifEntry.ifDescr.1 = lo
interfaces.ifTable.ifEntry.ifDescr.2 = eth0
interfaces.ifTable.ifEntry.ifDescr.3 = eth1
interfaces.ifTable.ifEntry.ifDescr.4 = eth2
interfaces.ifTable.ifEntry.ifDescr.5 = eth3
interfaces.ifTable.ifEntry.ifDescr.6 = bond0
ip.ipAddrTable.ipAddrEntry.ipAdEntIfIndex. = 5
ip.ipAddrTable.ipAddrEntry.ipAdEntIfIndex. = 2
ip.ipAddrTable.ipAddrEntry.ipAdEntIfIndex. = 4
ip.ipAddrTable.ipAddrEntry.ipAdEntIfIndex. = 1
This problem is avoided by loading the bonding driver before
any network drivers participating in a bond. Below is an example of
loading the bonding driver first, the IP address is
correctly associated with ifDescr.2.
interfaces.ifTable.ifEntry.ifDescr.1 = lo
interfaces.ifTable.ifEntry.ifDescr.2 = bond0
interfaces.ifTable.ifEntry.ifDescr.3 = eth0
interfaces.ifTable.ifEntry.ifDescr.4 = eth1
interfaces.ifTable.ifEntry.ifDescr.5 = eth2
interfaces.ifTable.ifEntry.ifDescr.6 = eth3
ip.ipAddrTable.ipAddrEntry.ipAdEntIfIndex. = 6
ip.ipAddrTable.ipAddrEntry.ipAdEntIfIndex. = 2
ip.ipAddrTable.ipAddrEntry.ipAdEntIfIndex. = 5
ip.ipAddrTable.ipAddrEntry.ipAdEntIfIndex. = 1
While some distributions may not report the interface name in
ifDescr, the association between the IP address and IfIndex remains
and SNMP functions such as Interface_Scan_Next will report that
11. Promiscuous mode
When running network monitoring tools, e.g., tcpdump, it is
common to enable promiscuous mode on the device, so that all traffic
is seen (instead of seeing only traffic destined for the local host).
The bonding driver handles promiscuous mode changes to the bonding
master device (e.g., bond0), and propogates the setting to the slave
For the balance-rr, balance-xor, broadcast, and 802.3ad modes,
the promiscuous mode setting is propogated to all slaves.
For the active-backup, balance-tlb and balance-alb modes, the
promiscuous mode setting is propogated only to the active slave.
For balance-tlb mode, the active slave is the slave currently
receiving inbound traffic.
For balance-alb mode, the active slave is the slave used as a
"primary." This slave is used for mode-specific control traffic, for
sending to peers that are unassigned or if the load is unbalanced.
For the active-backup, balance-tlb and balance-alb modes, when
the active slave changes (e.g., due to a link failure), the
promiscuous setting will be propogated to the new active slave.
12. High Availability Information
High Availability refers to configurations that provide
maximum network availability by having redundant or backup devices,
links and switches between the host and the rest of the world.
There are currently two basic methods for configuring to
maximize availability. They are dependent on the network topology and
the primary goal of the configuration, but in general, a configuration
can be optimized for maximum available bandwidth, or for maximum
network availability.
12.1 High Availability in a Single Switch Topology
If two hosts (or a host and a switch) are directly connected
via multiple physical links, then there is no network availability
penalty for optimizing for maximum bandwidth: there is only one switch
(or peer), so if it fails, you have no alternative access to fail over
Example 1 : host to switch (or other host)
+----------+ +----------+
| |eth0 eth0| switch |
| Host A +--------------------------+ or |
| +--------------------------+ other |
| |eth1 eth1| host |
+----------+ +----------+
12.1.1 Bonding Mode Selection for single switch topology
This configuration is the easiest to set up and to understand,
although you will have to decide which bonding mode best suits your
needs. The tradeoffs for each mode are detailed below:
balance-rr: This mode is the only mode that will permit a single
TCP/IP connection to stripe traffic across multiple
interfaces. It is therefore the only mode that will allow a
single TCP/IP stream to utilize more than one interface's
worth of throughput. This comes at a cost, however: the
striping often results in peer systems receiving packets out
of order, causing TCP/IP's congestion control system to kick
in, often by retransmitting segments.
It is possible to adjust TCP/IP's congestion limits by
altering the net.ipv4.tcp_reordering sysctl parameter. The
usual default value is 3, and the maximum useful value is 127.
For a four interface balance-rr bond, expect that a single
TCP/IP stream will utilize no more than approximately 2.3
interface's worth of throughput, even after adjusting
If you are utilizing protocols other than TCP/IP, UDP for
example, and your application can tolerate out of order
delivery, then this mode can allow for single stream datagram
performance that scales near linearly as interfaces are added
to the bond.
This mode requires the switch to have the appropriate ports
configured for "etherchannel" or "trunking."
active-backup: There is not much advantage in this network topology to
the active-backup mode, as the inactive backup devices are all
connected to the same peer as the primary. In this case, a
load balancing mode (with link monitoring) will provide the
same level of network availability, but with increased
available bandwidth. On the plus side, it does not require
any configuration of the switch.
balance-xor: This mode will limit traffic such that packets destined
for specific peers will always be sent over the same
interface. Since the destination is determined by the MAC
addresses involved, this may be desirable if you have a large
network with many hosts. It is likely to be suboptimal if all
your traffic is passed through a single router, however. As
with balance-rr, the switch ports need to be configured for
"etherchannel" or "trunking."
broadcast: Like active-backup, there is not much advantage to this
mode in this type of network topology.
802.3ad: This mode can be a good choice for this type of network
topology. The 802.3ad mode is an IEEE standard, so all peers
that implement 802.3ad should interoperate well. The 802.3ad
protocol includes automatic configuration of the aggregates,
so minimal manual configuration of the switch is needed
(typically only to designate that some set of devices is
usable for 802.3ad). The 802.3ad standard also mandates that
frames be delivered in order (within certain limits), so in
general single connections will not see misordering of
packets. The 802.3ad mode does have some drawbacks: the
standard mandates that all devices in the aggregate operate at
the same speed and duplex. Also, as with all bonding load
balance modes other than balance-rr, no single connection will
be able to utilize more than a single interface's worth of
bandwidth. Additionally, the linux bonding 802.3ad
implementation distributes traffic by peer (using an XOR of
MAC addresses), so in general all traffic to a particular
destination will use the same interface. Finally, the 802.3ad
mode mandates the use of the MII monitor, therefore, the ARP
monitor is not available in this mode.
balance-tlb: This mode is also a good choice for this type of
topology. It has no special switch configuration
requirements, and balances outgoing traffic by peer, in a
vaguely intelligent manner (not a simple XOR as in balance-xor
or 802.3ad mode), so that unlucky MAC addresses will not all
"bunch up" on a single interface. Interfaces may be of
differing speeds. On the down side, in this mode all incoming
traffic arrives over a single interface, this mode requires
certain ethtool support in the network device driver of the
slave interfaces, and the ARP monitor is not available.
balance-alb: This mode is everything that balance-tlb is, and more. It
has all of the features (and restrictions) of balance-tlb, and
will also balance incoming traffic from peers (as described in
the Bonding Module Options section, above). The only extra
down side to this mode is that the network device driver must
support changing the hardware address while the device is
12.1.2 Link Monitoring for Single Switch Topology
The choice of link monitoring may largely depend upon which
mode you choose to use. The more advanced load balancing modes do not
support the use of the ARP monitor, and are thus restricted to using
the MII monitor (which does not provide as high a level of assurance
as the ARP monitor).
12.2 High Availability in a Multiple Switch Topology
With multiple switches, the configuration of bonding and the
network changes dramatically. In multiple switch topologies, there is
a tradeoff between network availability and usable bandwidth.
Below is a sample network, configured to maximize the
availability of the network:
| |
|port3 port3|
+-----+----+ +-----+----+
| |port2 ISL port2| |
| switch A +--------------------------+ switch B |
| | | |
+-----+----+ +-----++---+
|port1 port1|
| +-------+ |
+-------------+ host1 +---------------+
eth0 +-------+ eth1
In this configuration, there is a link between the two
switches (ISL, or inter switch link), and multiple ports connecting to
the outside world ("port3" on each switch). There is no technical
reason that this could not be extended to a third switch.
12.2.1 Bonding Mode Selection for Multiple Switch Topology
In a topology such as this, the active-backup and broadcast
modes are the only useful bonding modes; the other modes require all
links to terminate on the same peer for them to behave rationally.
active-backup: This is generally the preferred mode, particularly if
the switches have an ISL and play together well. If the
network configuration is such that one switch is specifically
a backup switch (e.g., has lower capacity, higher cost, etc),
then the primary option can be used to insure that the
preferred link is always used when it is available.
broadcast: This mode is really a special purpose mode, and is suitable
only for very specific needs. For example, if the two
switches are not connected (no ISL), and the networks beyond
them are totally independant. In this case, if it is
necessary for some specific one-way traffic to reach both
independent networks, then the broadcast mode may be suitable.
12.2.2 Link Monitoring Selection for Multiple Switch Topology
The choice of link monitoring ultimately depends upon your
switch. If the switch can reliably fail ports in response to other
failures, then either the MII or ARP monitors should work. For
example, in the above example, if the "port3" link fails at the remote
end, the MII monitor has no direct means to detect this. The ARP
monitor could be configured with a target at the remote end of port3,
thus detecting that failure without switch support.
In general, however, in a multiple switch topology, the ARP
monitor can provide a higher level of reliability in detecting link
failures. Additionally, it should be configured with multiple targets
(at least one for each switch in the network). This will insure that,
regardless of which switch is active, the ARP monitor has a suitable
target to query.
12.3 Switch Behavior Issues for High Availability
You may encounter issues with the timing of link up and down
reporting by the switch.
First, when a link comes up, some switches may indicate that
the link is up (carrier available), but not pass traffic over the
interface for some period of time. This delay is typically due to
some type of autonegotiation or routing protocol, but may also occur
during switch initialization (e.g., during recovery after a switch
failure). If you find this to be a problem, specify an appropriate
value to the updelay bonding module option to delay the use of the
relevant interface(s).
Second, some switches may "bounce" the link state one or more
times while a link is changing state. This occurs most commonly while
the switch is initializing. Again, an appropriate updelay value may
help, but note that if all links are down, then updelay is ignored
when any link becomes active (the slave closest to completing its
updelay is chosen).
Note that when a bonding interface has no active links, the
driver will immediately reuse the first link that goes up, even if
updelay parameter was specified. If there are slave interfaces
waiting for the updelay timeout to expire, the interface that first
went into that state will be immediately reused. This reduces down
time of the network if the value of updelay has been overestimated.
In addition to the concerns about switch timings, if your
switches take a long time to go into backup mode, it may be desirable
to not activate a backup interface immediately after a link goes down.
Failover may be delayed via the downdelay bonding module option.
13. Hardware Specific Considerations
This section contains additional information for configuring
bonding on specific hardware platforms, or for interfacing bonding
with particular switches or other devices.
13.1 IBM BladeCenter
This applies to the JS20 and similar systems.
On the JS20 blades, the bonding driver supports only
balance-rr, active-backup, balance-tlb and balance-alb modes. This is
largely due to the network topology inside the BladeCenter, detailed
JS20 network adapter information
All JS20s come with two Broadcom Gigabit Ethernet ports
integrated on the planar. In the BladeCenter chassis, the eth0 port
of all JS20 blades is hard wired to I/O Module #1; similarly, all eth1
ports are wired to I/O Module #2. An add-on Broadcom daughter card
can be installed on a JS20 to provide two more Gigabit Ethernet ports.
These ports, eth2 and eth3, are wired to I/O Modules 3 and 4,
Each I/O Module may contain either a switch or a passthrough
module (which allows ports to be directly connected to an external
switch). Some bonding modes require a specific BladeCenter internal
network topology in order to function; these are detailed below.
Additional BladeCenter-specific networking information can be
found in two IBM Redbooks (
"IBM eServer BladeCenter Networking Options"
"IBM eServer BladeCenter Layer 2-7 Network Switching"
BladeCenter networking configuration
Because a BladeCenter can be configured in a very large number
of ways, this discussion will be confined to describing basic
Normally, Ethernet Switch Modules (ESM) are used in I/O
modules 1 and 2. In this configuration, the eth0 and eth1 ports of a
JS20 will be connected to different internal switches (in the
respective I/O modules).
An optical passthru module (OPM) connects the I/O module
directly to an external switch. By using OPMs in I/O module #1 and
#2, the eth0 and eth1 interfaces of a JS20 can be redirected to the
outside world and connected to a common external switch.
Depending upon the mix of ESM and OPM modules, the network
will appear to bonding as either a single switch topology (all OPM
modules) or as a multiple switch topology (one or more ESM modules,
zero or more OPM modules). It is also possible to connect ESM modules
together, resulting in a configuration much like the example in "High
Availability in a multiple switch topology."
Requirements for specifc modes
The balance-rr mode requires the use of OPM modules for
devices in the bond, all connected to an common external switch. That
switch must be configured for "etherchannel" or "trunking" on the
appropriate ports, as is usual for balance-rr.
The balance-alb and balance-tlb modes will function with
either switch modules or passthrough modules (or a mix). The only
specific requirement for these modes is that all network interfaces
must be able to reach all destinations for traffic sent over the
bonding device (i.e., the network must converge at some point outside
the BladeCenter).
The active-backup mode has no additional requirements.
Link monitoring issues
When an Ethernet Switch Module is in place, only the ARP
monitor will reliably detect link loss to an external switch. This is
nothing unusual, but examination of the BladeCenter cabinet would
suggest that the "external" network ports are the ethernet ports for
the system, when it fact there is a switch between these "external"
ports and the devices on the JS20 system itself. The MII monitor is
only able to detect link failures between the ESM and the JS20 system.
When a passthrough module is in place, the MII monitor does
detect failures to the "external" port, which is then directly
connected to the JS20 system.
Other concerns
The Serial Over LAN link is established over the primary
ethernet (eth0) only, therefore, any loss of link to eth0 will result
in losing your SoL connection. It will not fail over with other
network traffic.
It may be desirable to disable spanning tree on the switch
(either the internal Ethernet Switch Module, or an external switch) to
avoid fail-over delays issues when using bonding.
14. Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is it SMP safe?
Yes. The old 2.0.xx channel bonding patch was not SMP safe.
The new driver was designed to be SMP safe from the start.
2. What type of cards will work with it?
Any Ethernet type cards (you can even mix cards - a Intel
EtherExpress PRO/100 and a 3com 3c905b, for example). They need not
be of the same speed.
3. How many bonding devices can I have?
There is no limit.
4. How many slaves can a bonding device have?
This is limited only by the number of network interfaces Linux
supports and/or the number of network cards you can place in your
5. What happens when a slave link dies?
If link monitoring is enabled, then the failing device will be
disabled. The active-backup mode will fail over to a backup link, and
other modes will ignore the failed link. The link will continue to be
monitored, and should it recover, it will rejoin the bond (in whatever
manner is appropriate for the mode). See the section on High
Availability for additional information.
Link monitoring can be enabled via either the miimon or
arp_interval paramters (described in the module paramters section,
above). In general, miimon monitors the carrier state as sensed by
the underlying network device, and the arp monitor (arp_interval)
monitors connectivity to another host on the local network.
If no link monitoring is configured, the bonding driver will
be unable to detect link failures, and will assume that all links are
always available. This will likely result in lost packets, and a
resulting degredation of performance. The precise performance loss
depends upon the bonding mode and network configuration.
6. Can bonding be used for High Availability?
Yes. See the section on High Availability for details.
7. Which switches/systems does it work with?
The full answer to this depends upon the desired mode.
In the basic balance modes (balance-rr and balance-xor), it
works with any system that supports etherchannel (also called
trunking). Most managed switches currently available have such
support, and many unmananged switches as well.
The advanced balance modes (balance-tlb and balance-alb) do
not have special switch requirements, but do need device drivers that
support specific features (described in the appropriate section under
module paramters, above).
In 802.3ad mode, it works with with systems that support IEEE
802.3ad Dynamic Link Aggregation. Most managed and many unmanaged
switches currently available support 802.3ad.
The active-backup mode should work with any Layer-II switch.
8. Where does a bonding device get its MAC address from?
If not explicitly configured with ifconfig, the MAC address of
the bonding device is taken from its first slave device. This MAC
address is then passed to all following slaves and remains persistent
(even if the the first slave is removed) until the bonding device is
brought down or reconfigured.
If you wish to change the MAC address, you can set it with
# ifconfig bond0 hw ether 00:11:22:33:44:55
The MAC address can be also changed by bringing down/up the
device and then changing its slaves (or their order):
# ifconfig bond0 down ; modprobe -r bonding
# ifconfig bond0 .... up
# ifenslave bond0 eth...
This method will automatically take the address from the next
slave that is added.
To restore your slaves' MAC addresses, you need to detach them
from the bond (`ifenslave -d bond0 eth0'). The bonding driver will
then restore the MAC addresses that the slaves had before they were
15. Resources and Links
The latest version of the bonding driver can be found in the latest
version of the linux kernel, found on
Discussions regarding the bonding driver take place primarily on the
bonding-devel mailing list, hosted at If you have
questions or problems, post them to the list.
There is also a project site on sourceforge.
Donald Becker's Ethernet Drivers and diag programs may be found at :
You will also find a lot of information regarding Ethernet, NWay, MII,
etc. at
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