Linux bridge forward EAPOL 8021x frames

XenClient is no different from other Xen configurations in that the networking hardware is shared between guests through a bridge hosted in dom0 (or a network driver domain in the case of XenClient XT). For most use cases the standard Linux bridge will route your traffic as expected. We ran into an interesting problem however when a customer doing a pilot on XenClient XT tried to authenticate their guest VMs using EAPOL (8021x auth over ethernet). The bridge gobbled up their packets and we got some pretty strange bug reports as a result.

Just throwing “linux bridge EAPOL 8021x” into a search engine will return a number of hits from various mailing lists where users report similar issues. The fix is literally a one line change that drops a check on the destination MAC address. This check is to ensure compliance with the 8021d standard which requires layer 2 bridges to drop packets from the “bridge filter MAC address group“. Since XenClient is a commercial product and the fix is in code that is responsible for our guest networking (which is pretty important) we wanted to code up a way to selectively enable this feature on a per-bridge basis using a sysfs node. We / I also tested the hell out of it for a few days straight.

The end result is a neat little patch that allows users to selectively pass EAPOL packets from their guests across the layer 2 bridge in dom0 / ndvm and out to their authentication infrastructure. The patch is available opensource just like the kernel and is available on the XenClient source CD. It’s also available here for your convenience 🙂

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