OF-DPA Client Tools

These tools enable you to interact with the OF-DPA layer and can be used to cross-check controller behavior and configuration. The following commands can be used to show the flow, group tables and ports, respectively:


ACL table entry management

The access-control list (ACL) table, i.e. table 60, is internally used by baseboxd to handle special types of traffic, such as flooded ARP or LLDP packets. However, this table supports OpenFlow byte and packet counters for each existing table entry (contrary to the other OFDPA tables, where those are not available). These statistics can be seen by using the -s flag in the client_flowtable_dump tool:

client_flowtable_dump -s 60

The visualization of these statistics enables users to monitor network traffic by creating fine-grained OpenFlow match-based flow entries. These table entries can be installed without any action on matched packets (for passive statistics collection) or they can be configured to be sent to the controller (baseboxd).

Packets sent to the controller can be seen in the kernel space, e.g. when using tcpdump on the created Linux tap interfaces, as they are not directly forwarded through their egress port. However, these packets are still forwarded to its egress destination by the controller.

Warning: Forwarding packets to controller comes with the cost of adding two additional bandwidth-limited and slower hops on the packets’ path (when compared to the switch ASIC). While testing, we observed an increase of latency per packet by two orders of magnitude, as well as the increase of the switch CPU load.

The ofdpa_acl_flow_cli.py tool can be used to manage the traffic monitoring ACL table entries. This tool receives as command line arguments the flow match fields and respective values, alongside with the add/delete operation identifier, -a/--add and -d/--delete, respectively. A list of all the supported fields can be consulted through the --help option:

ofdpa_acl_flow_cli.py --help

The controller attribute adds the send to controller instruction to new flows. Moreover, to easily identify the installed flows, the cookie attribute can be set on each flow. This allows the deletion of table entries by only specifying its cookie identifier (instead of all matching attributes). Yet, this attribute needs to be uniquely set for each flow, as it will not be possible to delete two or more flows with the identifier.

Warning: Do not forget to delete flows sent to controller after they are not needed anymore. Packets sent to controller are processed through the switch CPU and not the ASIC, leading to higher latency and limited bandwidth.

Each packet can only be matched on one flow entry, so the table flow rules need to be correctly defined. In addition, when adding/deleting table entries, the OFDPA table type pattern (TTP) guidelines must be followed, as previously mentioned in the Basebox introductory section. For example, adding the following entry will result an error:

ofdpa_acl_flow_cli.py -a --ipProto 0x01

In this case, since the L2 etherType is not defined, it is not possible to match L3 fields in a flow entry. Adding the IPv4 etherType in the match, for example, will make the flow entry valid:

ofdpa_acl_flow_cli.py -a --etherType 0x0800 --ipProto 0x01


Adding flows

# Ingress traffic on port 7. The ingress port mask must be set, otherwise this field is seen as a wildcard.
ofdpa_acl_flow_cli.py -a --inPort 7 --inPortMask 0xffffffff

# IPv4 traffic from the subnet. Flow cookie is set to 10000
ofdpa_acl_flow_cli.py -a --etherType 0x800 --sourceIp4 --sourceIp4Mask --cookie 10000

# IPv6 UDP traffic with destination port 5000 from VLAN 10 with an exact VLAN mask.
# Note the VLAN_VID_PRESENT flag (0x1000) on both VLAN ID/mask values, according to the OFDPA specification.
# Cookie is set to 10001.
ofdpa_acl_flow_cli.py -a --etherType 0x86dd --ipProto 0x11 --destL4Port 5000 --vlanId 0x100a --vlanIdMask 0x1fff --cookie 10001

# Send ingress traffic from port 8 to the controller
ofdpa_acl_flow_cli.py -a --inPort 8 --inPortMask 0xffffffff --controller --cookie 10002

Deleting flows

The following commands delete the previously created flows:

ofdpa_acl_flow_cli.py -d --inPort 7 --inPortMask 0xffffffff
ofdpa_acl_flow_cli.py -d --cookie 10000
ofdpa_acl_flow_cli.py -d --cookie 10001
ofdpa_acl_flow_cli.py -d --cookie 10002


Failure on following the TTP guidelines will result in error messages in the ofdpa_acl_flow_cli.py tool. To troubleshoot errors on flow operations, the verbose setting from the OFDB module from ofdpa must be increased. This is done by editing the OPTIONS variable in the /etc/default/ofdpa file:

### Configuration options for ofdpa
# Set the component for debugging (can be added multiple times),
# valid components are:
#        1 = API
#        2 = Mapping
#        3 = RPC
#        4 = OFDB
#        5 = Datapath
#        6 = G8131
#        7 = Y1731
# e.g. (API and Mapping):
# -c 1 -c 2
# debug level 0..4 (all components)
# -d 2
# example:
# OPTIONS="-c 1 -c 2 -d 2"
OPTIONS="-c 4 -d 4"

These changes are applied by restarting the ofdpa service:

sudo systemctl restart ofdpa

With the new verbose option, error messages regarding the creation of new flows can be followed using journalctl, e.g.:

sudo journalctl -fu ofdpa
Apr 14 12:37:59 agema-ag7648 ofdpa[10452]: ofdbFlowPolicyAclEntryValidate: Invalid ethertype for IPv6 match fields.

Traffic capture with tcpdump

The switch_tcpdump tool allows users to capture ingress traffic on the switch port network interfaces created by baseboxd seen in BISDN Linux, e.g. port1. Internally, this is done by adding an ACL table entry matching on the desired ingress port with the ACL table entry management tool and sending its traffic to controller, capturing traffic with tcpdump, and then deleting the created entry from the ACL table.

Since captured traffic is sent to controller, matched packets are not routed directly through the ASIC, therefore we do not recommend doing performance measurements with this tool.

The output of the traffic capture can be written to a file or printed it directly in the command line. In addition, it is possible to filter captured traffic using the same filter syntax as tcpdump.

Note: This tool needs to be executed with super user privileges.


Capturing traffic in port2 without writing to a file until user interruption (e.g. until the user presses CTRL-C):

switch_tcpdump --inPort port2 --stdout

Capture ICMP traffic in port2 and write the output to icmp_traffic.pcap until this file reaches 100 MB:

switch_tcpdump --inPort port2 --filePath icmp_traffic.pcap --maxSize 100 --filters icmp

Capture TCP traffic in port2 and write the output to tcp_traffic.pcap during 10 seconds:

switch_tcpdump --inPort port2 --filePath tcp_traffic.pcap --timeout 10 --filters tcp


To enforce quality of service (QoS) mechanisms, incoming switch traffic can be classified by assigning different traffic classes and colors to processed packets according to the DiffServ model. This traffic classification can be configured by setting policies according to the packet/byte rate of each flow, which is done with meters in OFDPA. Meters can then change the color of packets to green, yellow, or red, depending on its configuration. It is then possible to configure actions that are applied to each color, such as modifying packet headers or dropping packets.

This functionality is described in detail in Section 3.8 in the OFDPA TTP guidelines.

Meters can be applied by using the set meter instruction in the ACL policy table. To apply rules for each traffic color, packets must be sent from the ACL policy table to the Color-based Actions table (after setting up forwarding rules accordingly).

This section describes how to set up and use meters by a) using a meter CLI to manage OFDPA meters, b) configure flow rules for different traffic colors, and c) send traffic from the ACL policy table to a meter and to the color-based actions table.

Meter command line tool

Meters can be managed by the ofdpa_meter_cli.py tool. This CLI can be used to add, delete, list, or retrieve information from existing meters. Its syntax can be consulted through the --help option:

ofdpa_meter_cli.py --help

Adding a meter

Meters are added through the -a option, followed by the desired meter id. The meter type, rate unit, and band rate/burst size can then be specified as input:

Parameters for new meter

  --mode {trtcm,srtcm,mtrtcm}
                        Meter Mode (default srtcm)
  --color               Color aware meter (default is color blind)
  --unit {kbps,pps}     Meter rate unit (default kbps)
  --cir YELLOWRATE      CIR
  --pir REDRATE         PIR
  --pbs REDBURST        PBS

The following example adds a two rate three color meter (TrTCM) with ID 20000 measured in Kbps, with a CIR of 100000 Kbps (100 Mbps), a CBS of 3000 KB, a PIR of 900000 Kbps (900 Mbps), and a PBS of 5000 KB:

ofdpa_meter_cli.py -a 20000 --color --mode trtcm --cir 100000 --cbs 3000 --pir 900000 --pbs 5000

Existing meters can be seen with the -g option. If no meter ID is provided, all meters are printed. To print the previously created meter with ID 20000 the following command can be used:

ofdpa_meter_cli.py -g 20000

Deleting a meter

Meters can be deleted with the -d option, followed by a meter ID or by the --all option to delete all the meters:

# Delete meter 20000
ofdpa_meter_cli.py -d 20000

# Delete all meters
ofdpa_meter_cli.py -d --all

Color-based actions table configuration

The color-based actions table allows the creation of rules matching incoming packet colors, as well as a specified color index (by default, if not specified, this index is 0). This table can be configured with the ofdpa_color_table_cli.py tool.

The matching color and index can be defined with the --color and --index options, respectively:

Match fields (add/delete):
  --color color         Packet color (green/yellow/red)
  --index INDEX         Color actions index

If no instruction is defined, matching packets are not affected through the rest of the processing pipeline. The following instructions are supported in this table:

Instruction fields (add):
  --clearAction         Clear flow action set
  --controller          Send packets to controller
  --trafficClass TRAFFICCLASS
                        Set traffic class
  --vlanPcp VLANPCP     Set VLAN PCP
  --ecn ECN             Set ECN
  --dscp DSCP           Set DSCP

Adding new entries

New table entries can be added with the -a option. The following example creates a rule for each traffic color with the default color index (0). Green traffic is not modified, yellow traffic has its DSCP value set to 4, and red traffic has its actions cleared:

# Green traffic is not affected
ofdpa_color_table_cli.py -a --color green
# Yellow traffic gets its DSCP value set to 4
ofdpa_color_table_cli.py -a --color yellow --dscp 4
# Red traffic is dropped
ofdpa_color_table_cli.py -a --color red --clearAction

Deleting existing entries

Existing table entries can be deleted individually, by matching their color and index, or as a group, by matching an index. In the latter case, all green/yellow/red flows with the given index are deleted.

Flows are deleted using the -d option:

# Deleting an entry matching incoming red traffic on index 0
ofdpa_color_table_cli.py -d --color red

# Deleting all flows from index 1
ofdpa_color_table_cli.py -d --index 1 --all

# The following commands are equivalent to the one above (using --all)
ofdpa_color_table_cli.py -d --color green --index 1
ofdpa_color_table_cli.py -d --color yellow --index 1
ofdpa_color_table_cli.py -d --color red --index 1

Send traffic to meters

To send traffic to a meter, flow entries in the policy ACL table must be configured with the set meter instruction, which is set by the --meterId option in the ofdpa_acl_flow_cli.py. In addition, to enable color-marked packets to be processed accordingly, they also need to be sent to the color-based actions table (65), using the --gotoTable option.

The following example matches IPv4 traffic from the address, sends it to meter 20000 and to the color-based actions table:

ofdpa_acl_flow_cli.py -a --cookie 10000 --etherType 0x800 --sourceIp4 --sourceIp4Mask --meterId 20000 --gotoTable 65


client_drivshell provides access to the Broadcom Shell (also called bcm-shell), and prints the output. client_drivshell help will print a list of available commands, and client_drivshell help <command> will print the usage of a certain command.

WARNING: client_drivshell accesses the internal switch state and modifying it may break proper operation of the switch until reboot