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SubjectRe: Network Device Naming mechanism and policy
On Thu, 2009-03-26 at 11:39 -0500, Matt Domsch wrote:
> On Tue, Mar 24, 2009 at 03:57:56PM -0700, David Miller wrote:
> > From: Matt Domsch <>
> > Date: Tue, 24 Mar 2009 10:46:17 -0500
> >
> > > Problem: Users expect on-motherboard NICs to be named eth0..ethN.
> > > This can be difficult to achieve.
> >
> > I learned a long time ago that eth0 et al. have zero meaning.
> >
> > If the system firmware folks gave us topology information with respect
> > to these things, we could export something that tools such as
> > NetworkManager, iproute2, etc. could use.
> >
> > For example, if we were told that PCI device "domain:bus:dev:fn" has
> > string label "Onboard Ethernet 0" then we could present that to the
> > user.
> >
> > Changing how the actual network device name is determined is going to
> > have zero traction.
> >
> > So, please, put mapping tables into the ACPI or similar and then
> > programs can go:
> >
> > for_each_network_device(name) {
> > fd = open(name);
> > label = get_system_label(fd, name);
> > present_to_user(label, name);
> > }
> Your wish is my command. DMTF SMBIOS 2.6 specification
> contains changes which provide
> this for PCI devices.
> Specifically, Type 9 ("System Slots") was extended to include the PCI
> domain/bus/device/function for each slot. Type 10 ("On Board Devices
> Information") could not be extended, thus it was deprecated, and new
> Type 41 ("Onboard Devices Extended Information") was created to be
> extensible and now includes PCI domain/bus/device/function
> information. Both Type 9 and Type 41 include a String field which
> hopefully has a more descriptive value, such as "Onboard Ethernet
> Broadcom 5808 NIC 1" in the case of some Dell servers.
> Shipping Dell 10G (and very soon 11G) server BIOS includes this
> information. biosdevname can use this to report device names. Some
> HP systems have a vendor-specific SMBIOS extension to provide a
> similar mapping; biosdevname can report this as well.
> > This "get_system_label()" thing can be an ethtool ioctl, some
> > rtnetlink call, or similar. In the kernel, a generic routine would
> > exist for major bus types to make the mapping translation, and drivers
> > would call these.
> >
> > For PCI it might take the PCI device pointer and try to fish
> > out a string from the ACPI layer.
> >
> > For OpenFirmware we might just simply give the full device path,
> > or a matching device alias name.
> >
> > That's the only model which allows a smooth transition and
> > no major infrastructure changes.
> While I'd be happy for NetworkManager to present these SMBIOS-provided
> human-parsable names when available, the names aren't terribly
> meaningful in a programatic fashion. The users I've encountered are
> looking for a programatic way to say:
> The first LOM is my management/admin NIC. The second LOM is my bulk
> traffic NIC. The first add-in card is my backup NIC.

nm-applet could support some sort of "named" adapters, though I'd rather
have this done with udev rules (or something like that) so that the
NIC's common name would be consistent in both the CLI and in the GUI.

The only reason nm-applet does what it does now (pulling VID/PID and
dropping stupid words like "Corporation") is so the user has *some* clue
what NIC they are about to touch; using "eth0" and "eth1" and "eth2"
isn't very helpful. But the distinction between "Intel Gigabit
Ethernet" and "D-Link 10/100 USB Adapter" is quite a bit easier to grasp
at a glance.


> meaning we still need a translation from "how I want to use a NIC" to
> "which NIC should I plug the cable into". The SMBIOS names don't
> completely solve this.
> Hence my desire of having a way to have multiple alternate names for
> the same interface. One such name would be the full SMBIOS string.
> Another would be a bus topology name. A third could be a "how do I use
> it" name. Analogous to devices represented in /dev using symlinks for
> these other names. I don't care if it's symlinks in /dev or some
> other mechanism.
> Thanks,
> Matt

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