Posts Tagged ‘BT Infinity’

OpenBSD PPPoE and RFC 4638

Friday, January 20th, 2012

I upgraded my Internet connection from ADSL 2+ to FTTC a while ago. I’m with Eclipse as an ISP, but it’s basically the same product as BT Infinity, right down to the Openreach-branded modem, (a Huawei Echolife HG612 to be exact).

With this modem, you need to use a router or some software that can do RFC 2516 PPPoE so I simply kept using OpenBSD on my trusty Soekris net4501 and set up a pppoe(4) interface, job done. However what became apparent is the 133 MHz AMD Elan CPU couldn’t fully utilise the 40 Mb/s bandwidth I now had, at best I could get 16-20 Mb/s with a favourable wind. An upgrade was needed.

Given I’d had around 8 years of flawless service from the net4501, another Soekris board was the way to go. Enter the net6501 with comparatively loads more CPU grunt, RAM and interestingly Gigabit NIC chips; not necessarily for the faster speed, but because they can naturally handle a larger MTU.

The reason for this was that I had read that the Huawei modem and BT FTTC network fully supported RFC 4638, which means you can have an MTU of 1,500 bytes on your PPPoE connection which matches what you’ll have on your internal network. Traditionally a PPPoE connection only allowed 1,492 bytes on account of the overhead of 8 bytes of PPPoE headers in every Ethernet frame payload. Because of this it was almost mandatory to perform MSS clamping on traffic to prevent problems. So having an MTU of 1,500 bytes should avoid the need for any clamping trickery, but means your Ethernet interface needs to cope with an MTU of 1,508 bytes, hence the Gigabit NIC (which can accommodate an MTU of 9,000 bytes with no problems).

One small problem remained, pppoe(4) on OpenBSD 5.0 didn’t support RFC 4638. While I sat down and started to add support I noticed someone had added this to the NetBSD driver already, (which is where the OpenBSD driver originated from), so based on their changes I created a similar patch and with some necessary improvements based on feedback from OpenBSD developers it has now been committed to CVS in time for the 5.1 release.

To make use of the larger MTU is fairly obvious, simply set the MTU explicitly on both the Ethernet and PPPoE interfaces to 8 bytes higher than their default. As an example, my /etc/hostname.em0 now contains:

mtu 1508 up

And similarly my /etc/hostname.pppoe0 contains:

inet NONE mtu 1500 \
        pppoedev em0 authproto chap \
        authname 'user' authkey 'secret' up
!/sbin/route add default -ifp \$if

I also added support to tcpdump(8) to display the additional PPPoE tag used to negotiate the larger MTU, so when you bring the interface up, watch for PPP-Max-Payload tags going back and forth during the discovery phase.

With that done the remaining step is to remove any scrub max-mss rules in pf.conf(5) as with any luck they should no longer be required.