For many years, Linux users used the old familiar network configuration text file located (usually) at ‘/etc/network/interfaces’ to configure IP addresses, DNS settings, gateway settings, and the like. It was even possible to create a virtual (read: loopback) interface with no associated physical interface using this file. While desktop versions of Ubuntu have used Network Manager for a long time to make things easier from a GUI, the CLI-only nature of an Ubuntu Server doesn’t need all the overhead of Network Manager.
Recent versions of Ubuntu Server (starting with 18.04) have moved to a new network configuration method, using a software package called “Netplan” developed by Ubuntu’s maintainer, Canonical. I’ve read the Ubuntu developers’ reasoning for making this switch, and to make a long story short, their decision was…. justified. The old method had many shortcomings. And while Netplan has a cool new and modern feel including configuration from a YAML file, the one thing that’s missing from it (best I can tell) is a way to create a loopback adapter. I scoured the Intertubes looking for a way to create one via Netplan but finally came to the conclusion that it doesn’t really have one. Others in the Ubuntu community seemed to agree but I could find no official documentation… if you know of some please leave a comment or send me an email, I’d love to know. I’ll update this article if loopback functionality is added to Netplan.
In any case, I’ve been using a method to create loopback adapters on Ubuntu Server and Desktop well before Netplan came along, simply because it’s the way I learned and it seems to work no matter what distribution or version I’m using. Loopback adapters are useful for all sorts of stuff in networking. You can create one, give it an IP address and advertise it in a routing protocol like OSPF, for example. Unlike physical interfaces, loopback adapters are much, much less likely to “go down”.
Nothing mind-blowing, we have a simple 10.0.0.0/24 network here. My Ubuntu Server 18.04 box will have a physical IP of 10.0.0.1/24 and a loopback adapter with IP address of 18.104.22.168/32. The Cisco IOSv box will have a physical address of 10.0.0.2/24 and a loopback adapter with IP address 22.214.171.124/32. Remember, neither of these boxes “knows” about the other’s loopack address, so we’ll have to do some sort of routing. Static routes are a simple solution, but most networking peeps are going to be looking to do a routing protocol. I’ll do OSPF just for kicks.
Since there’s no external software or packages to install, I’ll jump right into configuration. This blog post assumes you have IPv4 routing enabled on both the Ubuntu Server and the Cisco router, and you have configured the network interfaces for 10.0.0.0/24.
On Ubuntu 18.04, you can add a “dummy” adapter with a single command like this:
$ip link add name loop1 type dummy
Then turn it on and give it an IP address:
$ip link set loop1 up $ip addr add 126.96.36.199/32 dev loop1
And you’re done. Keep in mind these commands don’t stick when you reboot. You can put these commands in a startup script, I’ll cover that in a another post.
Creating a loopback adapter on a Cisco IOS is simple as well, although I will say it would be nice if it supported CIDR notation (like other Cisco OS’s). Go into config mode and issue these commands:
Router(config)#int loop1 Router(config-if)#ip add 188.8.131.52 255.255.255.255
A good old fashion ping from the Ubuntu box to its own loopback adapter will tell you if it’s up:
$ping 184.108.40.206 64 bytes from 220.127.116.11: icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=0.038 ms 64 bytes from 18.104.22.168: icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=0.049 ms
The “ip route” command won’t show your /32, so try issuing the “ip addr show” command. To just show your loop1 adapter, add that on the end:
$ip addr show loop1 4: loop1: <BROADCAST,NOARP,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 1500 qdisc noqueue state UNKNOWN group default qlen 1000 link/ether de:9d:7c:37:7a:c2 brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff inet 22.214.171.124/32 scope global loop1 valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever inet6 fe80::dc9d:7cff:fe37:7ac2/64 scope link valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever
From enabled mode you can just issue “show ip int brief”:
Router#show ip int bri Interface IP-Address OK? Method Status Protocol GigabitEthernet0/0 10.0.0.2 YES manual up up GigabitEthernet0/1 unassigned YES NVRAM administratively down down GigabitEthernet0/2 unassigned YES NVRAM administratively down down GigabitEthernet0/3 unassigned YES NVRAM administratively down down Loopback1 126.96.36.199 YES manual up up
Optional – Static Routing
A static route is a quick and easy way (but not very scalable) to make the loopback adapters reachable across the network.
On Ubuntu, just issue a single command to add a static route to reach the Cisco router’s loopback. Make :
$ip route add 188.8.131.52/32 via 10.0.0.2
You can now ping it:
ping 184.108.40.206 64 bytes from 220.127.116.11: icmp_seq=1 ttl=255 time=1.36 ms 64 bytes from 18.104.22.168: icmp_seq=2 ttl=255 time=1.72 ms
It’s also a single command on the Cisco router’s configuration mode to add a static route to reach the Ubuntu box’s loopback adapter. You should be able to ping after adding it:
Router(config)#ip route 22.214.171.124 255.255.255.255 10.0.0.1 Router(config)#end Router#ping 126.96.36.199 Type escape sequence to abort. Sending 5, 100-byte ICMP Echos to 188.8.131.52, timeout is 2 seconds: !!!!! Success rate is 100 percent (5/5), round-trip min/avg/max = 1/1/1 ms
Optional – OSPF Routing
I have removed the static routes, so routing is no longer in place.
For setting up OSPF routing on Ubuntu, please see my post on that. It’s not too bad, just some commands to install Cumulus Linux Free Range Routing (FRR) from the Canonical Snap Store. Assuming you got that done, jump into the FRR CLI:
$/snap/bin/frr.vtysh frr#conf t frr(config)#router ospf frr(config-router)#network 10.0.0.0/24 area 0 frr(config-router)#network 184.108.40.206/32 area 0 frr(config-router)#end frr#show ip route O 220.127.116.11/32 [110/10] via 0.0.0.0, loop1 onlink, 00:02:16 C>* 18.104.22.168/32 is directly connected, loop1, 00:19:40 O>* 22.214.171.124/32 [110/101] via 10.0.0.2, eth0, 00:00:08 O 10.0.0.0/24 [110/100] is directly connected, eth0, 00:03:14 C>* 10.0.0.0/24 is directly connected, eth0, 00:20:25
You’ll get the above route output as soon as the OSPF neighborship is up. You should be able to ping the Cisco’s loopback at 126.96.36.199.
On a Cisco IOS router, OSPF is of course already installed, firing it up is just a couple commands in config mode. Once again, CIDR notation would be nice. Does the world really need wildcard masks? They probably keep it that way to support automated systems that use it, but they could add CIDR notation support. Just sayin’.
Router(config)#router ospf 1 Router(config-router)#network 10.0.0.0 0.0.0.255 area 0 Router(config-router)#network 188.8.131.52 0.0.0.0 area 0 Router(config-router)#end Router#show ip route 184.108.40.206/32 is subnetted, 1 subnets O 220.127.116.11 [110/11] via 10.0.0.1, 00:00:35, GigabitEthernet0/0 18.104.22.168/32 is subnetted, 1 subnets C 22.214.171.124 is directly connected, Loopback1 10.0.0.0/8 is variably subnetted, 2 subnets, 2 masks C 10.0.0.0/24 is directly connected, GigabitEthernet0/0 L 10.0.0.2/32 is directly connected, GigabitEthernet0/0
You should now be able to ping 126.96.36.199 from the Ubuntu box, and ping 188.8.131.52 from the Cisco router.
As I mentioned earlier, your “ip” commands won’t survive a reboot.