CARP(4) Device Drivers Manual CARP(4)
carp - Common Address Redundancy Protocol
The carp interface is a pseudo-device which implements and controls the
CARP protocol. carp allows multiple hosts on the same local network to
share a set of IP addresses. Its primary purpose is to ensure that these
addresses are always available, but in some configurations carp can also
provide load balancing functionality.
A carp interface can be created at runtime using the ifconfig carpN
create command or by setting up a hostname.if(5) configuration file for
To use carp, the administrator needs to configure at minimum a common
virtual host ID (VHID) and virtual host IP address on each machine which
is to take part in the virtual group. Additional parameters can also be
set on a per-interface basis: advbase and advskew, which are used to
control how frequently the host sends advertisements when it is the
master for a virtual host, and pass which is used to authenticate carp
advertisements. Finally carpdev is used to specify which interface the
carp device attaches to. These configurations can be done using
ifconfig(8), or through the SIOCSVH ioctl.
carp can also be used in conjunction with ifstated(8) to respond to
changes in CARP state; however, for most uses this will not be necessary.
See the manual page for ifstated(8) for more information.
Additionally, there are a number of global parameters which can be set
net.inet.carp.allow Accept incoming carp packets. Enabled by
net.inet.carp.preempt Allow virtual hosts to preempt each other.
Disabled by default.
net.inet.carp.log Make carp log state changes, bad packets, and
other errors. May be a value between 0 and 7
corresponding with syslog(3) priorities. The
default value is 2, which limits logging to
changes in CARP state.
carp uses IP balancing to load balance incoming traffic over a group of
carp hosts. IP balancing is not dependent on ARP and therefore works for
traffic that comes over a router. However it requires the traffic that
is destined towards the load balanced IP addresses to be received by all
carp hosts. While this is always the case when connected to a hub, it
has to play some tricks in switched networks, which will result in a
higher network load.
To configure load balancing one has to specify multiple carp nodes using
the carpnodes option. Each node in a load balancing cluster is
represented by at least one "vhid:advskew" pair in a comma separated
list. carp tries to distribute the incoming network load over all
configured carpnodes. The following example creates a load balancing
group consisting of three nodes, using vhids 3, 4 and 6:
# ifconfig carp0 carpnodes 3:0,4:0,6:100
The advskew value of the last node is set to 100, so that this node is
designated to the BACKUP state. It will only become MASTER if all nodes
with a lower advskew value have failed. By varying this value throughout
the machines in the cluster it is possible to decide which share of the
network load each node receives. Therefore, all carp interfaces in the
cluster are configured identically, except for a different advskew value
within the carpnodes specification.
IP balancing works by utilizing the network itself to distribute incoming
traffic to all carp nodes in the cluster. Each packet is filtered on the
incoming carp interface so that only one node in the cluster accepts the
packet. All the other nodes will just silently drop it. The filtering
function uses a hash over the source and destination address of the IPv4
or IPv6 packet and compares the result against the state of the carpnode.
IP balancing is activated by setting the balancing mode to ip. This is
the recommended default setting. In this mode, carp uses a multicast MAC
address, so that a switch sends incoming traffic towards all nodes.
However, there are a few OS and routers that do not accept a multicast
MAC address being mapped to a unicast IP. This can be resolved by using
one of the following unicast options. For scenarios where a hub is used
it is not necessary to use a multicast MAC and it is safe to use the
ip-unicast mode. Manageable switches can usually be tricked into
forwarding unicast traffic to all cluster nodes ports by configuring them
into some sort of monitoring mode. If this is not possible, using the
ip-stealth mode is another option, which should work on most switches.
In this mode carp never sends packets with its virtual MAC address as
source. Stealth mode prevents a switch from learning the virtual MAC
address, so that it has to flood the traffic to all its ports. Please
note that activating stealth mode on a carp interface that has already
been running might not work instantly. As a workaround the VHID of the
first carpnode can be changed to a previously unused one, or just wait
until the MAC table entry in the switch times out. Some layer 3 switches
do port learning based on ARP packets. Therefore the stealth mode cannot
hide the virtual MAC address from these kind of devices.
If IP balancing is being used on a firewall, it is recommended to
configure the carpnodes in a symmetrical manner. This is achieved by
simply using the same carpnodes list on all sides of the firewall. This
ensures that packets of one connection will pass in and out on the same
host and are not routed asymmetrically.
For most scenarios it is desirable to have a well-defined master,
achieved by enabling the preempt option. Enable it on both host A and B:
# sysctl net.inet.carp.preempt=1
Assume that host A is the preferred master and carp should run on the
physical interfaces em0 with the network 192.168.1.0/24 and em1 with
network 192.168.2.0/24. This is the setup for host A:
# ifconfig carp0 192.168.1.1/24 carpdev em0 vhid 1
# ifconfig carp1 192.168.2.1/24 carpdev em1 vhid 2
The setup for host B is identical, but it has a higher advskew:
# ifconfig carp0 192.168.1.1/24 carpdev em0 vhid 1 advskew 100
# ifconfig carp1 192.168.2.1/24 carpdev em1 vhid 2 advskew 100
In order to set up a load balanced virtual host, it is necessary to
configure one carpnodes entry for each physical host. In the following
example, two physical hosts are configured to provide balancing and
failover for the IP address 192.168.1.10.
First the carp interface on Host A is configured. The advskew of 100 on
the second carpnode entry means that its advertisements will be sent out
slightly less frequently and will therefore become the designated backup.
# ifconfig carp0 192.168.1.10 carpdev em0 carpnodes 1:0,2:100 \
The configuration for host B is identical, except the skew is on the
carpnode entry with virtual host 1 rather than virtual host 2.
# ifconfig carp0 192.168.1.10 carpdev em0 carpnodes 1:100,2:0 \
If a different mode of load balancing is desired the balancing mode can
be adjusted accordingly.
sysctl(2), inet(4), pfsync(4), hostname.if(5), ifconfig(8), ifstated(8),
The carp device first appeared in OpenBSD 3.5.
If load balancing is used in setups where the carpdev does not share an
IP in the same subnet as carp, it is not possible to use the IP of the
carp interface for self originated traffic. This is because the return
packets are also subject to load balancing and might end up on any other
node in the cluster.
If an IPv6 load balanced carp interface is taken down manually, it will
accept all incoming packets for its address. This will lead to
OpenBSD 6.4 January 12, 2018 OpenBSD 6.4
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