Manual browser: in_getifa(9)

IN_GETIFA(9) Kernel Developer's Manual IN_GETIFA(9)


in_getifaLook up the IPv4 source address best matching an IPv4 destination


options IPSELSRC
#include <netinet/in_selsrc.h>

struct ifaddr *
in_getifa(struct ifaddr *ifa, const struct sockaddr *dst0);


in_getifa enforces the IPv4 source-address selection policy. Add the source-address selection policy mechanism to your kernel with options IPSELSRC. options IPSELSRC lets the operator set the policy for choosing the source address of any socket bound to the “wildcard” address, INADDR_ANY. Note that the policy is applied after the kernel makes its forwarding decision, thereby choosing the output interface; in other words, this mechanism does not affect whether or not NetBSD is a “strong ES”.

An operator affects the source-address selection using sysctl(8) and ifconfig(8). Operators set policies with sysctl(8). Some policies consider the “preference number” of an address. An operator may set preference numbers for each address with ifconfig(8).

A source-address policy is a priority-ordered list of source-address ranking functions. A ranking function maps its arguments, (source address, source index, source preference, destination address), to integers. The source index is the position of source address in the interface address list; the index of the first address is 0. The source preference is the preference number the operator assigned to source address. The destination address is the socket peer / packet destination.

Presently, there are four ranking functions to choose from:

ranks by source index; lower indices are ranked more highly.
ranks by source preference; higher preference numbers are ranked more highly.
ranks each source address by the length of the longest prefix it has in common with destination address; longer common prefixes rank more highly.
determines the "categories" of source and destination address. A category is one of private, link-local, or other. If the categories exactly match, same-category assigns a rank of 2. Some sources are ranked 1 by category: a link-local source with a private destination, a private source with a link-local destination, and a private source with an other destination rank 1. All other sources rank 0.

Categories are defined as follows.

RFC1918 networks, 192.168/16, 172.16/12, and 10/8
169.254/16, 224/24
all other networks---i.e., not private, not link-local

To apply a policy, the kernel applies all ranking functions in the policy to every source address, producing a vector of ranks for each source. The kernel sorts the sources in descending, lexicographical order by their rank-vector, and chooses the highest-ranking (first) source. The kernel breaks ties by choosing the source with the least source index.

The operator may set a policy on individual interfaces. The operator may also set a global policy that applies to all interfaces whose policy he does not set individually.

Here is the sysctl tree for the policy at system startup:

net.inet.ip.selectsrc.default = index 
net.inet.ip.interfaces.ath0.selectsrc = 
net.inet.ip.interfaces.sip0.selectsrc = 
net.inet.ip.interfaces.sip1.selectsrc = 
net.inet.ip.interfaces.lo0.selectsrc = 
net.inet.ip.interfaces.pflog0.selectsrc =

The policy on every interface is the “empty” policy, so the default policy applies. The default policy, index, is the “historical” policy in NetBSD.

The operator may override the default policy on ath0,

	# sysctl -w net.inet.ip.interfaces.ath0.selectsrc=same-category,common-prefix-len,preference

yielding this policy:

net.inet.ip.selectsrc.default = index 
net.inet.ip.interfaces.ath0.selectsrc = same-category,common-prefix-len,preference

The operator may set a new default,

# sysctl -w net.inet.ip.selectsrc.debug=> same-category,common-prefix-len,preference 
# sysctl -w net.inet.ip.interfaces.ath0.selectsrc=

yielding this policy:

net.inet.ip.selectsrc.default = same-category,common-prefix-len,preference 
net.inet.ip.interfaces.ath0.selectsrc =

In a number of applications, the policy above will usually pick suitable source addresses if ath0 is configured in this way:

# ifconfig ath0 inet 
# ifconfig ath0 inet 
# ifconfig ath0 inet 
# ifconfig ath0 inet preference 5 
# ifconfig ath0 inet preference 9
A sysctl, net.inet.ip.selectsrc.debug, turns on and off debug messages concerned with source selection. You may set it to 0 (no messages) or 1.


The family of IPv6 source-address selection policies defined by RFC3484 resembles the family of IPv4 policies that in_getifa enforces.


David Young <>


With options IPSELSRC, a new interface ioctl(2), SIOCSIFADDRPREF, was introduced. It ought to be documented in inet(4). Also, options(4) ought to cross-reference this manual page.

This work should be used to set IPv6 source-address selection policies, especially the family of policies defined by RFC3484.

February 22, 2007 NetBSD 7.0