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Linux Network Administrator's Guide, Second Edition by Terry Dawson, Olaf Kirch

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Chapter 5. Configuring TCP/IP Networking

In this chapter, we walk you through all the necessary steps to set up TCP/IP networking on your machine. Starting with the assignment of IP addresses, we slowly work our way through the configuration of TCP/IP network interfaces and introduce a few tools that come in handy when hunting down network installation problems.

Most of the tasks covered in this chapter will generally have to be done only once. Afterward, you have to touch most configuration files only when adding a new system to your network or when you reconfigure your system entirely. Some of the commands used to configure TCP/IP, however, have to be executed each time the system is booted. This is usually done by invoking them from the system /etc/rc* scripts.

Commonly, the network-specific part of this procedure is contained in a script. The name of this script varies in different Linux distributions. In many older Linux distributions, it is known as rc.net or rc.inet. Sometimes you will also see two scripts named rc.inet1 and rc.inet2; the former initializes the kernel part of networking and the latter starts basic networking services and applications. In modern distributions, the rc files are structured in a more sophisticated arrangement; here you may find scripts in the /etc/init.d/ (or /etc/rc.d/init.d/) directory that create the network devices and other rc files that run the network application progras. This book’s examples are based on the latter arrangement.

This chapter discusses parts of the script that configure your network interfaces, while applications will be covered in later chapters. After finishing this chapter, you should have established a sequence of commands that properly configure TCP/IP networking on your computer. You should then replace any sample commands in your configuration scripts with your commands, make sure the script is executed from the basic rc script at startup time, and reboot your machine. The networking rc scripts that come along with your favorite Linux distribution should provide a solid example from which to work.

Mounting the /proc Filesystem

Some of the configuration tools of the Linux NET-2 and NET-3 release rely on the /proc filesystem for communicating with the kernel. This interface permits access to kernel runtime information through a filesystem-like mechanism. When mounted, you can list its files like any other filesystem, or display their contents. Typical items include the loadavg file, which contains the system load average, and meminfo, which shows current core memory and swap usage.

To this, the networking code adds the net directory. It contains a number of files that show things like the kernel ARP tables, the state of TCP connections, and the routing tables. Most network administration tools get their information from these files.

The proc filesystem (or procfs, as it is also known) is usually mounted on /proc at system boot time. The best method is to add the following line to /etc/fstab:

# procfs mount point:
none		/proc		proc	defaults

Then execute mount /proc from your /etc/rc script.

The procfs is now configured into most kernels by default. If the procfs is not in your kernel, you will get a message such as: mount: fs type procfs not supported by kernel. You will then have to recompile the kernel and answer “yes” when asked for procfs support.

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