NETLINK

NAME
SYNOPSIS
DESCRIPTION
ADDRESS FORMATS
BUGS
NOTES
VERSIONS
SEE ALSO

NAME

netlink, PF_NETLINK − Communication between kernel and user.

SYNOPSIS

#include <asm/types.h>
#include <sys/socket.h>
#include <linux/netlink.h>

netlink_socket = socket(PF_NETLINK, socket_type, netlink_family);

DESCRIPTION

Netlink is used to transfer information between kernel modules and user space processes. It consists of a standard sockets based interface for user processes and an internal kernel API for kernel modules. The internal kernel interface is not documented in this man page. Also there is an obsolete netlink interface via netlink character devices, this interface is not documented here and is only provided for backwards compatibility.

Netlink is a datagram oriented service. Both SOCK_RAW and SOCK_DGRAM are valid values for socket_type; however the netlink protocol does not distinguish between datagram and raw sockets.

netlink_family selects the kernel module or netlink group to communicate with. The currently assigned netlink families are:

NETLINK_ROUTE

Receives routing updates and may be used to modify the IPv4 routing table (see rtnetlink(7)).

NETLINK_FIREWALL

Receives packets sent by the IPv4 firewall code.

NETLINK_ARPD

For managing the arp table in user space.

NETLINK_ROUTE6

Receives and sends IPv6 routing table updates.

NETLINK_IP6_FW

to receive packets that failed the IPv6 firewall checks (currently not implemented).

NETLINK_TAPBASE...NETLINK_TAPBASE+15

are the instances of the ethertap device. Ethertap is a pseudo network tunnel device that allows an ethernet driver to be simulated from user space.

NETLINK_SKIP

Reserved for ENskip.

NETLINK_USERSOCK

is reserved for future user space protocols.

Netlink messages consist of a byte stream with one or multiple nlmsghdr headers and associated payload. For multipart messages the first and all following headers have the NLM_F_MULTI flag set, except for the last header which has the type NLMSG_DONE. The byte stream should only be accessed with the standard NLMSG_* macros, see netlink(3).

Netlink is not a reliable protocol. It tries its best to deliver a message to its destination(s), but may drop messages when an out of memory condition or other error occurs. For reliable transfer the sender can request an acknowledgement from the receiver by setting the NLM_F_ACK flag. An acknowledgment is an NLMSG_ERROR packet with the error field set to 0. The application must generate acks for received messages itself. The kernel tries to send an NLMSG_ERROR message for every failed packet. A user process should follow this convention too.

Each netlink family has a set of 32 multicast groups. When bind(2) is called on the socket, the nl_groups field in the sockaddr_nl should be set to a bitmask of the groups which it wishes to listen to. The default value for this field is zero which means that no multicasts will be received. A socket may multicast messages to any of the multicast groups by setting nl_groups to a bitmask of the groups it wishes to send to when it calls sendmsg(2) or does a connect(2). Only users with an effective uid of 0 or the CAP_NET_ADMIN capability may send or listen to a netlink multicast group. Any replies to a message received for a multicast group should be sent back to the sending pid and the multicast group.

struct nlmsghdr
{

__u32

nlmsg_len;

/* Length of message including header */

__u16

nlmsg_type;

/* Message content */

__u16

nlmsg_flags;/* Additional flags */

__u32

nlmsg_seq;

/* Sequence number */

__u32

nlmsg_pid;

/* Sending process PID */

};

struct nlmsgerr
{

int

error;

/* negative errno or 0 for acks. */

struct nlmsghdr msg;

/* message header that caused the error */

};

After each nlmsghdr the payload follows. nlmsg_type can be one of the standard message types: NLMSG_NOOP message is to be ignored, NLMSG_ERROR the message signals an error and the payload contains a nlmsgerr structure, NLMSG_DONE message terminates a multipart message,

A netlink family usually specifies more message types, see the appropiate man pages for that, e.g. rtnetlink(7) for NETLINK_ROUTE.

Note that NLM_F_ATOMIC requires CAP_NET_ADMIN or super user rights.

ADDRESS FORMATS

The sockaddr_nl structure describes a netlink client in user space or in the kernel. A sockaddr_nl can be either unicast (only send to one peer) or send to netlink groups (nl_groups not equal 0).

struct sockaddr_nl
{
    sa_family_t nl_family;    /* AF_NETLINK */
    unsigned short nl_pad;    /* zero */
    pid_t       nl_pid;       /* process pid */
    __u32       nl_groups;    /* multicast groups mask */
};

nl_pid is the pid of the user space netlink, or 0 if the destination is in the kernel. nl_groups is a bitmask with every bit representing a netlink group number.

BUGS

This man page is not complete.

NOTES

It is often better to use netlink via libnetlink than via the low level kernel interface.

VERSIONS

The socket interface to netlink is a new feature of Linux 2.2

Linux 2.0 supported a more primitive device based netlink interface (which is still available as a compatibility option). This obsolete interface is not described here.

SEE ALSO

cmsg(3), rtnetlink(7), netlink(3).

ftp://ftp.inr.ac.ru/ip-routing/iproute2* for libnetlink