Cumulus Networks recommends you use a VLAN-aware bridge on your switch. You use traditional mode bridges only if you need to run more than one bridge on the switch or if you need to use PVSTP+.


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Creating a Traditional Mode Bridge

You configure traditional mode bridges in /etc/network/interfaces file. To create a traditional mode bridge:

  1. Open the /etc/network/interfaces file in a text editor.
  2. Add a new stanza to create the bridge, and save the file. The example below creates a bridge with STP enabled and the MAC address ageing timer configured to a lower value than the default:

    auto my_bridge
    iface my_bridge
        bridge-ports bond0 swp5 swp6
        bridge-ageing 150
        bridge-stp on
    Configuration OptionDescriptionDefault Value
    bridge-portsList of logical and physical ports belonging to the logical bridge.N/A
    bridge-ageingMaximum amount of time before a MAC addresses learned on the bridge expires from the bridge MAC cache.1800 seconds

    Enables spanning tree protocol on this bridge. The default spanning tree mode is Per VLAN Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol (PVRST).

    For more information on spanning-tree configurations see the configuration section: Spanning Tree and Rapid Spanning Tree.


    The name of the bridge must be:

    • Compliant with Linux interface naming conventions.
    • Unique within the switch.
    Do not try to bridge the management port, eth0, with any switch ports (like swp0, swp1, and so forth). For example, if you created a bridge with eth0 and swp1, it will not work.
  3. Reload the network configuration using the ifreload command:

    cumulus@switch:~$ sudo ifreload -a

You can configure multiple bridges, in order to logically divide a switch into multiple layer 2 domains. This allows for hosts to communicate with other hosts in the same domain, while separating them fro hosts in other domains. 

You can create only one VLAN-aware bridge on a switch.

The diagram below shows a multiple bridge configuration, where host-1 and host-2 are connected to bridge-A, while host-3 and host-4 are connected to bridge-B. This means that:

  • host-1 and host-2 can communicate with each other.
  • host-3 and host-4 can communicate with each other.
  • host-1 and host-2 cannot communicate with host-3 and host-4.

This example configuration looks like this in the /etc/network/interfaces file:

auto bridge-A
iface bridge-A
    bridge-ports swp1 swp2
    bridge-stp on

auto bridge-B
iface bridge-B
    bridge-ports swp3 swp4
    bridge-stp on

Using Trunks in Traditional Bridge Mode

The IEEE standard for trunking is 802.1Q. The 802.1Q specification adds a 4 byte header within the Ethernet frame that identifies the VLAN of which the frame is a member.

802.1Q also identifies an  untagged frame as belonging to the native VLAN (most network devices default their native VLAN to 1). The concept of native, non-native, tagged or untagged has generated confusion due to mixed terminology and vendor-specific implementations. Some clarification is in order:

  • A  trunk port is a switch port configured to send and receive 802.1Q tagged frames.
  • A switch sending an untagged (bare Ethernet) frame on a trunk port is sending from the native VLAN defined on the trunk port.
  • A switch sending a tagged frame on a trunk port is sending to the VLAN identified by the 802.1Q tag.
  • A switch receiving an untagged (bare Ethernet) frame on a trunk port places that frame in the native VLAN defined on the trunk port.
  • A switch receiving a tagged frame on a trunk port places that frame in the VLAN identified by the 802.1Q tag.

A bridge in traditional mode has no concept of trunks, just tagged or untagged frames. With a trunk of 200 VLANs, there would need to be 199 bridges, each containing a tagged physical interface, and one bridge containing the native untagged VLAN. See the examples below for more information.

The interaction of tagged and un-tagged frames on the same trunk often leads to undesired and unexpected behavior. A switch that uses VLAN 1 for the native VLAN may send frames to a switch that uses VLAN 2 for the native VLAN, thus merging those two VLANs and their spanning tree state.

Trunk Example

To create the above example, add the following configuration to the /etc/network/interfaces file:

auto br-VLAN100
iface br-VLAN100
 bridge-ports swp1.100 swp2.100
 bridge-stp on

auto br-VLAN200
iface br-VLAN200
 bridge-ports swp1.200 swp2.200
 bridge-stp on

VLAN Tagging Examples

You can find more examples of VLAN tagging in this chapter.

Configuring ARP Timers

Cumulus Linux does not often interact directly with end systems as much as end systems interact with one another. Thus, after a successful address resolution protocol (ARP) places a neighbor into a reachable state, Cumulus Linux may not interact with the client again for a long enough period of time for the neighbor to move into a stale state. To keep neighbors in the reachable state, Cumulus Linux includes a background process (/usr/bin/arp_refresh) that tracks neighbors that move into a stale, delay or probe state, and attempts to refresh their state ahead of any removal from the Linux kernel, and thus before it would be removed from the hardware forwarding.

The ARP refresh timer defaults to 1080 seconds (18 minutes). You can change this setting by following the procedures outlined in this knowledge base article.