Open Source Software and Linux

Dec 12 2008   7:56PM GMT

Setting up a physical NIC for a firewall on a Xen domU (Part 1)

John Little Profile: Xjlittle

Recently I brought up a new Xen server that needed an iptables firewall on a domU. My first thought had been to setup the firewall on dom0 but that turned out to be a difficult task because of all of the virtual interfaces that are created. Red Hat/Centos also installs a set of rules by default to make sure that all of these interfaces will interact with each other properly. Onward to domU.

The first thing necessary to setting up a domU firewall that is exposed to the internet is to “hide” an interface from dom0 and import it into the domU firewall machine. To start we need to do a few things. Ultimately this is going to cause of reboot of dom0 so consider if this is feasible for your situation.

Let’s get started. First we need to get some numbers from the interface To do this use the lspci command.

[root@virtual-host ~]# lspci |grep -i ethernet
==>01:02.0 Ethernet controller: Intel Corporation 82546GB Gigabit Ethernet Controller (rev 03)
01:02.1 Ethernet controller: Intel Corporation 82546GB Gigabit Ethernet Controller (rev 03)
01:06.0 Ethernet controller: Intel Corporation 82540EM Gigabit Ethernet Controller (rev 02)

As you can see I have three interfaces on this machine. The marked interface requires an entry into modprobe.conf and the xen firewall configuration file.

options pciback hide=(01:02.0)

##xen firewall configuration
pci = [ "01:02.0" ]

Now we need to use the lspci -n command and use this entry in the xend-pci-permissive.sxp file under /etc/xen.

[root@virtual-host xen]# lspci -n
==>01:02.0 0200: 8086:1079 (rev 03)
01:02.1 0200: 8086:1079 (rev 03)
1:06.0 0200: 8086:100e (rev 02)

Match the pci numbers from the lspci command to find the correct line. You’ll want the last 8 characters of this line. In the code above we want the 8086:1079 part of the output.

Open the xend-pci-permissive.sxp and make an entry like the following:


Once we have this done we need to make a new initrd image that preloads the pciback module. Before running the following code you should make a copy of your current initrd. If you run into problems you can use this to replace the one that you created and try again. Use the following code to create the new initrd:

cd /boot
mkinitrd -f --preload pciback initrd-$(uname -r).img $(uname -r)

After creating the new initrd it’s time to reboot and check your work.

Once dom0 is up we need to look for certain entries in /var/log/messages:

[root@virtual-host ~]# grep pciback /var/log/messages
vpci: 0000:01:02.0: assign to virtual slot 0
virtual-host kernel: pciback 0000:01:02.0: seizing device
virtual-host kernel: pciback 0000:01:02.0: enabling permissive mode configuration space accesses!
virtual-host kernel: pciback 0000:01:02.0: permissive mode is potentially unsafe!
virtual-host kernel: pciback: vpci: 0000:01:02.0: assign to virtual slot 0

Once you see that the device is seized and assigned to a virtual slot check your firewall machine to make sure it is getting an ip from your ISP as well as connected to your local lan IP.

[root@fw0 ~]# ifconfig
eth0 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 00:16:3E:36:73:82
inet addr: Bcast: Mask:
inet6 addr: fe80::216:3eff:fe36:7382/64 Scope:Link
RX packets:548690 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:291190 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
RX bytes:486044371 (463.5 MiB) TX bytes:47023339 (44.8 MiB)

eth1 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 00:04:23:A6:C1:0E
inet Mask:
inet6 addr: fe80::204:23ff:fea6:c10e/64 Scope:Link
RX packets:311217 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:564587 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0

collisions:0 txqueuelen:100
RX bytes:50257788 (47.9 MiB) TX bytes:487593757 (465.0 MiB)
Base address:0xb400 Memory:fea40000-fea60000

As you can see from the above output eth0 is connected to my lan and eth1 has received it’s internet address so that we are connected to the internet. The OS (Red Hat/CentOS) should create the entry for eth1 without any input on your part.

Please read my next post for setting up iptables in your domU.


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