Let’s start with a note to self: when copying virtual machines, be sure to generate the MAC addresses again, otherwise you may end up with two virtual machines sharing the same MAC address. That explains why CARP wouldn’t run at the first try.

But what is CARP? It stands for Common Address Redundancy Protocol, and works the same as HRSP, VRRP and GLBP: it allows several routers to share a virtual IP which acts as the gateway for connected hosts. When one of the routers fails, another takes over the virtual IP so network connectivity for the hosts remains.

CARP has quite a history, which you can read in detail on Wikipedia. Because of it, CARP uses the same IP protocol as VRRP (112) and thus will show up as VRRP in Wireshark.

Configuration, with persistence between reboots, is similar to the interface configuration and bridging setup: CARP uses a special interface which, you guessed it, is created at boot if the file /etc/hostname.carp0 is found. However, I was unable to find the correct syntax in the file for OpenBSD 5.0, and the ones suggested in the manuals don’t work. However, just having the file already creates the interface, and everything with an exclamation mark in front of it inside a hostname file will be executed as a command, so the following line works:

  • !ifconfig carp0 vhid number ip-address netmask subnetmask
  • The vhid number is the CARP group. You can have more than one CARP group per interface, but for a given group, the configuration has to be the same on all devices.
  • ip-address is the virtual IP that can be used as gateway for the hosts on the subnet.
  • Optionally, you can add ‘pass password‘ in the command to secure the CARP packets with a password.
  • Also optional, ‘advskew number‘ is a value between 0 and 254. The OpenBSD CARP with the lowest advskew value becomes the master.

Other options are possible, but these are the most important to get everything going. If things don’t work yet, it’s likely that pf is blocking the CARP packets. ‘pass in quick on em0 proto carp’ and ‘pass out quick on em0 proto carp’ solve this. Keep in mind all filtering still has to be done on the physical interface, filtering anything on ‘carp0’ will not take effect.

Finally, just like with the other gateway redundancy protocols, there’s a preempt option. When preempt is disabled, the first active OpenBSD will become master, even if other OpenBSD’s with a lower advskew value become active. When it’s enabled, the OpenBSD with the lowest advskew value will become master, whether the currently active OpenBSD has failed or not. The value can be manipulated in /etc/sysctl.conf, where net.inet.carp.preempt has to be set to ‘1’ (or just remove the ‘#’ if it’s already present but commented out).

Since I’ve covered enough for a complete setup, my next post will not be about OpenBSD anymore. Stay tuned!

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