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The gen_switch behaviour

The gen_switch is a behaviour that defines set of callbacks that one has to provide in order to implement the switch. Currently there is only one implementation of gen_switch behaviour – linc_us3 which is a purely userspace, Erlang implementation of OFP 1.2 switch. One can think of various other backends to implement, like:

  • hardware based switch,
  • userspace implementation in other programming language (like C),
  • interfacing with openvswitch.ko Linux kernel module.


gen_switch consists of the following callbacks:

  • start/1
  • stop/1
  • ofp_flow_mod/2
  • ofp_table_mod/2
  • ofp_port_mod/2
  • ofp_group_mod/2
  • ofp_packet_out/2
  • ofp_echo_request/2
  • ofp_barrier_request/2
  • ofp_desc_stats_request/2
  • ofp_flow_stats_request/2
  • ofp_aggregate_stats_request/2
  • ofp_table_stats_request/2
  • ofp_port_stats_request/2
  • ofp_queue_stats_request/2
  • ofp_group_stats_request/2
  • ofp_group_desc_stats_request/2
  • ofp_group_features_stats_request/2

Specs for the callbacks are in the gen_switch.erl file.

The start function takes a single argument of backend-specific type and returns {ok, State} tuple. The stop function takes State as an argument, it's return value is ignored.

All the callbacks whose names start with ofp_ are called when approperiate packet is received. Thay all have similar API: they take two arguments – state and packet and, on success, return either {ok, NewState} or {ok, Reply, NewState} function, depending on if the packet is one that requires response or not. In case of failure those callbacks can either return {error, OfpError, NewState} tuple, or throw #ofp_error{} record. In the latter case the state stays unchanged. In both cases the error is delivered to the sender.


One thing to note is that implementation of ofp_flow_mod should only modify flow. If it contains packet to be sent, upper layers will call backend's ofp_packet_out callback.

There is no support for experimenter messages yet.

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