FreeBSD Jumbo Frames network configuration short how to

FreeBSD Jumbo Frames Howto configure FreeBSD

Recently I wrote a post on how to enable Jumbo Frames on GNU / Linux , therefore I thought it will be useful to write how Jumbo Frames network boost can be achieved on FreeBSD too.

I will skip the details of what is Jumbo Frames, as in the previous article I have thoroughfully explained. Just in short to remind you what is Jumbo Frames and why you might need it? – it is a way to increase network MTU transfer frames from the MTU 1500 to MTU of 9000 bytes

It is interesting to mention that according to specifications, the maximum Jumbo Frames MTU possible for assignment are of MTU=16128
Just like on Linux to be able to take advantage of the bigger Jumbo Frames increase in network thoroughput, you need to have a gigabyt NIC card/s on the router / server.

1. Increasing MTU to 9000 to enable Jumbo Frames "manually"

Just like on Linux, the network tool to use is ifconfig. For those who don't know ifconfig on Linux is part of the net-tools package and rewritten from scratch especially for GNU / Linux OS, whether BSD's ifconfig is based on source code taken from 4.2BSD UNIX

As you know, network interface naming on FreeBSD is different, as there is no strict naming like on Linux (eth0, eth1, eth2), rather the interfaces are named after the name of the NIC card vendor for instance (Intel(R) PRO/1000 NIC is em0), RealTek is rl0 etc.

To set Jumbro Frames Maximum Transmission Units of 9000 on FreeBSD host with a Realtek and Intel gigabyt ethernet cards use:freebsd# /sbin/ifconfig em0 192.168.1.2 mtu 9000
freebsd# /sbin/ifconfig rl0 192.168.2.2 mtu 9000

!! Be very cautious here, as if you're connected to the system remotely over ssh you might loose connection to it because of broken routing.

To prevent routing loss problems, if you're executing the above two commands remotely, you better run them in GNU screen session:

freebsd# screen
freebsd# /sbin/ifconfig em0 192.168.1.2 mtu 9000; /sbin/ifconfig rl0 192.168.1.2 mtu 9000;
/etc/rc.d/netif restart; /etc/rc.d/routed restart

2. Check MTU settings are set to 9000

If everything is fine the commands will return empty output, to check further the MTU is properly set to 9000 issue:

freebsd# /sbin/ifconfig -a|grep -i em0em0: flags=8843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> metric 0 mtu 9000freebsd# /sbin/ifconfig -a|grep -i rl0
rl0: flags=8843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> metric 0 mtu 9000

3. Reset routing for default gateway

If you have some kind of routing assigned for em0 and rl0, network interfaces they will be affected by the MTU change and the routing will be gone. To reset the routing to the previously properly assigned routing, you have to restart the BSD init script taking care for assigning routing on system boot time:

freebsd# /etc/rc.d/routing restart
default 192.168.1.1 done
add net default: gateway 192.168.1.1
Additional routing options: IP gateway=YES.

4. Change MTU settings for NIC card with route command

There is also a way to assign higher MTU without "breaking" the working routing, e.g. avoiding network downtime with bsd route command:

freebsd# grep -i defaultrouter /etc/rc.conf
defaultrouter="192.168.1.1"
freebsd# /sbin/route change 192.168.1.1 -mtu 9000
change host 192.168.1.1

5. Finding the new MTU NIC settings on the FreeBSD host

freebsd# /sbin/route -n get 192.168.1.1
route to: 192.168.1.1
destination: 192.168.1.1
interface: em0
flags: <UP,HOST,DONE,LLINFO,WASCLONED>
recvpipe sendpipe ssthresh rtt,msec rttvar hopcount mtu expire
0 0 0 0 0 0 9000 1009

6. Set Jumbo Frames to load automatically on system load

To make the increased MTU to 9000 for Jumbo Frames support permanent on a FreeBSD system the /etc/rc.conf file is used:

The variable for em0 and rl0 NICs are ifconfig_em0 and ifconfig_rl0.
The lines to place in /etc/rc.conf should be similar to:

ifconfig_em0="inet 192.168.1.1 netmask 255.255.255.0 media 1000baseTX mediaopt half-duplex mtu 9000"
ifconfig_em0="inet 192.168.1.1 netmask 255.255.255.0 media 1000baseTX mediaopt half-duplex mtu 9000"

Change in the above lines the gateway address 192.168.1.1 and the netmask 255.255.255.0 to yours corresponding gw and netmask.
Also in the above example you see the half-duplex ifconfig option is set insetad of full-duplex in order to prevent some duplex mismatches. A full-duplex could be used instead, if you're completely sure on the other side of the host is configured to support full-duplex connections. Otherwise if you try to set full-duplex with other side set to half-duplex or auto-duplex a duplex mismatch will occur. If this happens insetad of taking the advantage of the Increase Jumbo Frames MTU the network connection could become slower than originally with standard ethernet MTU of 1500. One other bad side if you end up with duplex-mismatch could be a high number of loss packets and degraded thoroughout …

7. Setting Jumbo Frames for interfaces assigning dynamic IP via DHCP

If you need to assign an MTU of 9000 for a gigabyt network interfaces, which are receiving its TCP/IP network configuration over DHCP server.
First, tell em0 and rl0 network interfaces to dynamically assign IP addresses via DHCP proto by adding in /etc/rc.conf:

ifconfig_em0="DHCP"
ifconfig_rl0="DHCP"

Secondly make two files /etc/start_if.em0 and /etc/start_if.rl0 and include in each file:

ifconfig em0 media 1000baseTX mediaopt full-duplex mtu 9000
ifconfig rl0 media 1000baseTX mediaopt full-duplex mtu 9000

Copy / paste in root console:

echo 'ifconfig em0 media 1000baseTX mediaopt full-duplex mtu 9000' >> /etc/start_if.em0
echo 'ifconfig rl0 media 1000baseTX mediaopt full-duplex mtu 9000' >> /etc/start_if.rl0

Finally, to load the new MTU for both interfaces, reload the IPs with the increased MTUs:

freebsd# /etc/rc.d/routing restart
default 192.168.1.1 done
add net default: gateway 192.168.1.1

8. Testing if Jumbo Frames is working correctly

To test if an MTU packs are transferred correctly through the network you can use ping or tcpdumpa.) Testing Jumbo Frames enabled packet transfers with tcpdump

freebsd# tcpdump -vvn | grep -i 'length 9000'

You should get output like:

16:40:07.432370 IP (tos 0x0, ttl 50, id 63903, offset 0, flags [DF], proto TCP (6), length 9000) 192.168.1.2.80 > 192.168.1.1.60213: . 85825:87285(1460) ack 668 win 14343
16:40:07.432588 IP (tos 0x0, ttl 50, id 63904, offset 0, flags [DF], proto TCP (6), length 9000) 192.168.1.2.80 > 192.168.1.1.60213: . 87285:88745(1460) ack 668 win 14343
16:40:07.433091 IP (tos 0x0, ttl 50, id 63905, offset 0, flags [DF], proto TCP (6), length 9000) 192.168.1.2.80 > 192.168.1.1.60213: . 23153:24613(1460) ack 668 win 14343
16:40:07.568388 IP (tos 0x0, ttl 50, id 63907, offset 0, flags [DF], proto TCP (6), length 9000) 192.168.1.2.80 > 192.168.1.1.60213: . 88745:90205(1460) ack 668 win 14343
16:40:07.568636 IP (tos 0x0, ttl 50, id 63908, offset 0, flags [DF], proto TCP (6), length 9000) 192.168.1.2.80 > 192.168.1.1.60213: . 90205:91665(1460) ack 668 win 14343
16:40:07.569012 IP (tos 0x0, ttl 50, id 63909, offset 0, flags [DF], proto TCP (6), length 9000) 192.168.1.2.80 > 192.168.1.1.60213: . 91665:93125(1460) ack 668 win 14343
16:40:07.569888 IP (tos 0x0, ttl 50, id 63910, offset 0, flags [DF], proto TCP (6), length 9000) 192.168.1.2.80 > 192.168.1.1.60213: . 93125:94585(1460) ack 668 win 14343

b.) Testing if Jumbo Frames are enabled with ping

- Testing Jumbo Frames with ping command on Linux

linux:~# ping 192.168.1.1 -M do -s 8972
PING 192.168.1.1 (192.168.1.1) 8972(9000) bytes of data.
9000 bytes from 192.168.1.1: icmp_req=1 ttl=52 time=43.7 ms
9000 bytes from 192.168.1.1: icmp_req=2 ttl=52 time=43.3 ms
9000 bytes from 192.168.1.1: icmp_req=3 ttl=52 time=43.5 ms
9000 bytes from 192.168.1.1: icmp_req=4 ttl=52 time=44.6 ms
--- 192.168.0.1 ping statistics ---
4 packets transmitted, 4 received, 0% packet loss, time 3003ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 2.397/2.841/4.066/0.708 ms

If you get insetad an an output like:

From 192.168.1.2 icmp_seq=1 Frag needed and DF set (mtu = 1500)
From 192.168.1.2 icmp_seq=1 Frag needed and DF set (mtu = 1500)
From 192.168.1.2 icmp_seq=1 Frag needed and DF set (mtu = 1500)
From 192.168.1.2 icmp_seq=1 Frag needed and DF set (mtu = 1500)

--- 192.168.1.1 ping statistics ---
0 packets transmitted, 0 received, +4 errors

This means a packets with maximum MTU of 1500 could be transmitted and hence something is not okay with the Jumbo Frames config.
Another helpful command in debugging MTU and showing which host in a hop queue support jumbo frames is Linux's traceroute

To debug a path between host and target, you can use:

linux:~# traceroute --mtu www.google.com
...

If you want to test the Jumbo Frames configuration from a Windows host use ms-windows ping command like so:

C:>ping 192.168.1.2 -f -l 8972
Pinging 192.168.1.2 with 8972 bytes of data:
Reply from 192.168.1.2: bytes=8972 time=2ms TTL=255
Reply from 192.168.1.2: bytes=8972 time=2ms TTL=255
Reply from 192.168.1.2: bytes=8972 time=2ms TTL=255
Reply from 192.168.1.2: bytes=8972 time=2ms TTL=255
Ping statistics for 192.168.1.2:
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 2ms, Maximum = 2ms, Average = 2ms

Here -l 8972 value is actually equal to 9000. 8972 = 9000 – 20 (20 byte IP header) – 8 (ICMP header)

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One Response to “FreeBSD Jumbo Frames network configuration short how to”

  1. admin Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    P.S. Just after writing this article. I’ve red a couple of other articles online. Which are pointing that enabling Jumbo Frames, might not have positive impact on CPU use overhead in busy data transfer servers.

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