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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
    11. Features at a glance
    12. Basic performance evaluation
  2. Software requirements
  3. Build instructions
  4. Overview of the software components
    41. Kernel modules
    42. Userspace IPCPs daemon
    43. Libraries
    44. Administration tools
    45. Other tools
    46. Python bindings
  5. Tutorials
    51. Using the demonstrator
    52. Hands-on tutorial #1: normal-over-shim-eth
    53. Hands-on tutorial #2: normal-over-shim-udp4
    54. Hands-on tutorial #3: normal-over-shim-wifi
    55. Using configen
  6. Configuration of IPC Processes
    61. shim-eth IPC Process
    62. shim-udp4 IPC Process
    63. shim-tcp4 IPC Process
    64. shim-loopback IPC Process
    65. Normal IPC Process
    651. IPCP local parameters
    652. IPCP flavours to support different data transfer constants
    653. Available policies and parameters
    654. PDU scheduler configuration
  7. Tools
    71. rina-gw
    72. iporinad
    73. rinaperf
    74. rina-echo-async
  8. Developer workflow
    81. Demonstrator-driven verification
  9. RINA API documentation
    91. Server-side operations
    92. Client-side operations
    93. API specification
    94. Mapping sockets API to RINA API
    941. Client-side mapping
    942. Server-side mapping

1. Introduction

The rlite project provides a lightweight Free and Open Source implementation of the Recursive InterNetwork Architecture (RINA) for GNU/Linux operating systems. For information about RINA, including many introductions, presentations and articles, visit

The main goal of rlite is to become a baseline implementation for RINA systems to be used in production. In order to achieve this goal, rlite focuses on robustness and performance by leveraging on a clean keep-it-simple design. The current implementation includes about 30 Klocs of C/C++ code, split between kernel-space and user-space.

Considerable attention is devoted to provide a POSIX-like API for applications that can be easily assimilated by programmers used to the socket API, while additionally offering the QoS awareness built into RINA. The application API can be found in the include/rina/api.h header file.

While the rlite software can be used to build RINA-only, IP-free networks, it also provides tools to interoperate RINA networks with existing IP networks in many different ways. The shim-udp4 (section 6.2) enables RINA over IP; iporinad (section 7.2) allows IP over RINA with an MPLS-like architecture; finally, rina-gw (section 7.1) allows to deploy RINA next to IP.

1.1. Features at a glance

The prototype supports the following features (and more):

  • Arbitrary composition and stacking of IPC layers (DIFs).
  • Programmability of the layer constants (e.g. bit-width of addresses, sequence numbers and other protocol fields).
  • Programmability of some layer components (i.e. support for policies).
  • Ability to run over legacy media like Ethernet, WiFi or UDP.
  • Enrollment procedure for a node to join an existing layer; the new member receives the layer configuration (e.g. policies and other parameters) and the current dynamic information.
  • Support for flow control and retransmission control.
  • Inspection tools to show current status of a layer, e.g., the current configuration and dynamic information (RIB contents), the active flows, the locally registered applications, etc.
  • A POSIX-like C API for network applications, plus the associated bindings for the Python scripting language.
  • Tools to interoperate with IP networks.
  • Example applications, including throughput and latency benchmarking.
  • A simple tool to realize the RINA configuration specified by a given configuration file.
  • An implementation of the CDAP protocol.
  • Support for integration tests and tests based on emulated networks.

1.2. Basic performance evaluation

This section reports the results of some experiments to evaluate the performance of the current implementation.

The following figure shows throughput experiments between two hosts directly connected through a 40Gbit cable. Both hosts are 8-core single-socket machines (4 physical cores, 8 hyperthreads in total) with i7 processors (i7-3770K CPU at 3.5 GHz) and 1.33 GHz DDR3 memory. The hosts run Linux 4.13. The NIC is an Intel XL710 (40 Gbit/s) with 8 PCIe-v3 lanes at 8Gbit/s each. The plots show the throughput of a single (rinaperf) flow for different packet sizes, using reliable flows or unreliable flows. When using unreliable flows we show the throughput measured at the sender (first plot) and the goodput measured at the receiver (second plot), as there can be packet loss. For reliable flows throughput and goodput are the same, so we show a single plot. Each test combination is repeated 10 times, computing the average (shown in the plot) and the standard deviation (not shown as less than 3%). For reproducibility of the tests, rinaperf is pinned to a core and CPU frequency scaling is disabled.

Throughput performance between two hosts with 40Gbit NIC

2. Software requirements

This section lists the software packages required to build and run rlite on GNU/Linux operating systems. Only Ubuntu, Debian, Archlinux and CentOS are explicitly indicated here, but using other distributions should be equally straightforward.

The software has been developed and tested on Linux (vanilla) kernels starting from the 4.1 series up to the most recent ones. Using older Linux versions is possible down to 3.11 kernels, as the ./configure script is able to detect some of the differences in the internal API that change across Linux versions. The 3.10 kernels and older ones are not supported. In any case it is recommended to use recent versions (e.g. from 4.1 onward) where possible.

Ubuntu 14.04 (or higher) and Debian 8 (or higher)

List of required packages:

  • gcc
  • g++
  • libprotobuf-dev
  • protobuf-compiler
  • cmake
  • linux-headers-$(uname -r)
  • python, swig [optional, for python bindings]
  • wpasupplicant, hostapd [optional, for shim-wifi]

Example command:

$ sudo apt-get install gcc g++ libprotobuf-dev protobuf-compiler cmake linux-headers-$(uname -r) python swig wpasupplicant hostapd


List of required packages:

  • gcc
  • cmake
  • protobuf
  • linux-headers
  • python, swig [optional, for python bindings]
  • wpa_supplicant, hostapd [optional, for shim-wifi]

Example command:

$ sudo pacman -S gcc cmake protobuf linux-headers python swig wpa_supplicant hostapd

On Archlinux rlite is available from the AUR repository. It can be installed using yaourt or pacaur:

$ pacaur --noconfirm -S rlite-git

CentOS 7

List of required packages:

  • gcc
  • gcc-c++
  • protobuf
  • protobuf-compiler
  • protobuf-devel
  • kernel-devel
  • cmake
  • python, swig [optional, for python bindings]
  • wpa_supplicant, hostapd [optional, for shim-wifi]

3. Build instructions

Download the repo and enter the root directory

$ git clone
$ cd rlite

Run the configure script (as a normal user)

$ ./configure

Build both kernel-space and user-space software (as a normal user)

$ make

Install rlite on the system (as root user)

# make install depmod

4. Overview of the software components

This section briefly describes the software components of rlite.

4.1. Kernel modules

A main kernel module rlite which implements core functionalities:

  • A control device for managing IPCPs, flows, registrations, etc.
  • An I/O device to read()/write() SDU and synchronize (poll(), select()), etc).
  • IPCP factories

A separate module for each type of IPCP:

  • rlite-normal: Implements the kernel-space part of the regular IPCPs. Includes EFCP and RMT.
  • rlite-shim-eth: Implements the shim IPCP over Ethernet. The same datapath is also used by the shim-wifi.
  • rlite-shim-udp4: Implements the kernel-space part of the shim IPCP over UDP and IPv4.
  • rlite-shim-tcp4: Implements the kernel-space part of the shim IPCP over TCP and IPv4. This follows an older specification and it is deprecated in favour of the UDP shim IPCP.
  • rlite-shim-loopback: Implements a loopback shim IPCP.

4.2. Userspace IPCPs daemon

A daemon program, rlite-uipcps, which implements the user-space part of the normal IPCP, the shim-udp4, and shim-tcp4. A main thread listens on a UNIX socket to serve incoming requests from the rlite-ctl control tool. A different thread is used for each IPCP running in the system.

For the normal IPCP, uipcps daemon implements the following components:

  • Enrollment, a procedure by which an IPCP (the enrollee) joins an existing DIF, using a second IPCP (the enroller, which is already part of the DIF) as an access point.
  • Routing, forwarding, and management of lower flows (i.e. N-1-flows) and neighbors.
  • Application registration and unregistration.
  • Flow allocation with support for QoS.
  • Address allocation for the DIF members.


# rlite-uipcps -h

to see the available options.

4.3. Libraries

The following libraries are available:

  • rina-api, the main library, which wraps the control device and I/O device to provide the RINA POSIX-like API. This is the library used by applications to register names and allocate flows.
  • cdap, a C++ implementation of the CDAP protocol.
  • rlite-conf: implements the management and monitoring functionalities of rlite, such as IPCP creation, removal and configuration, flow monitoring, etc. This library is the backend of the rlite-ctl tool.

4.4. Administration tools

The rlite-ctl command line tool is used for the administration of the rlite stack, in the same way as the iproute2 tool is used to administer the Linux TCP/IP stack.

Available commands:

  • reset: Destroy all the IPCPs of the system.
  • terminate: Stop the rlite-uipcps daemon.
  • ipcp-create: Create a new IPCP in the system.
  • ipcp-destroy: Destroy an existing IPCP.
  • ipcp-config: Configure an IPCP.
  • ipcp-config-get: Get IPCP configuration parameter.
  • ipcp-register: Register an N-IPCP into an N-1-DIF.
  • ipcp-unregister: Unregister an N-IPCP from an N-1-DIF.
  • ipcp-enroller-enable: Enable an IPCP to act as enroller for its DIF. This is needed for the first IPCP of a DIF, that does not enroll to another IPCP.
  • ipcp-enroller-disable: Disable an IPCP to act as enroller for its DIF.
  • ipcp-enroll: Enroll an N-IPCP into an N-DIF.
  • ipcp-lower-flow-alloc: Setup an N-1-flow with a DIF member, without enrolling.
  • ipcp-neigh-disconnect: Deallocate an N-1-flow towards a neighbor.
  • ipcp-route-add: Add or update a routing rule for a local IPCP; valid for the static routing policy.
  • ipcp-route-del: Remove a routing rule from a local IPCP; valid for the static routing policy.
  • ipcp-sched-config: Configure the PDU scheduler of an IPCP. The configuration parameters depend on the specific scheduler (see Section 6.5.4).
  • ipcps-show: Show the list of IPCPs that are currently running in the system.
  • ipcp-stats: Show data transfer statistics for an IPCP running in the system.
  • uipcp-stats-show: Show management layer statistics for an IPCP running in the system.
  • dif-rib-show: Show the RIB of a DIF running in the system.
  • dif-routing-show: Show the routing table for an IPCP running in the system.
  • dif-rib-paths-show: Show the RIB paths exposed by a local IPCP.
  • dif-policy-mod: Modify a policy for a DIF running in the system.
  • dif-policy-list: Show current and available policies for a DIF.
  • dif-policy-param-mod: Modify a policy parameter for a DIF running in the system.
  • dif-policy-param-list: Show DIF parameters together with their current values.
  • flows-show: Show the allocated N-flows that have a local N-IPCP as one of the endpoints.
  • flows-dump: Show the detailed DTP/DTCP state of a given flow.
  • regs-show: Show all the (N+1)names registered to any of the local N-IPCPs.

To show the available commands and the corresponding usage, run

$ rlite-ctl -h

The rlite-node-config tool can be used to run a sequence of rlite-ctl commands specified by a configuration file (the initscript). This is particularly useful to setup the IPCPs once a machine boots. The initscript is a list of commands that are executed sequentially, e.g.:

ipcp-create e1.IPCP shim-eth e.DIF
ipcp-create n1.IPCP normal n.DIF
ipcp-create m1.IPCP normal m.DIF
ipcp-register n1.IPCP e.DIF
ipcp-register m1.IPCP n.DIF
ipcp-config e1.IPCP netdev ens4
ipcp-enroll n1.IPCP n.DIF e.DIF n2.IPCP
ipcp-enroll m1.IPCP m.DIF n.DIF m2.IPCP

The node configurator aborts immediately if a non-enrollment command fails, as such a failure happens on misconfiguration or lack of system resources. If an enrollment command fails, conversely, it is likely that the remote enroller node is not up yet, or network is temporarily down; for this reason, on failure the program waits for a few seconds and tries again, as many times as it is necessary. When the current enrollment succeeds, it proceeds to the next one, until all the enrollments have completed. By default rlite-node-config starts with a reset operation to remove all the existing IPCPs, and then reads the initscript stored at /etc/rina/initscript.

Note that the .DIF and .IPCP suffixes are not required for DIF and IPCP names; however, they are widely used in the following examples and tutorial with the only purpose of clarify which names refer to IPC processes and which ones refer to DIFs.

4.5. Other tools

Other programs are available for testing and deployment:

  • rinaperf, a multi-threaded client/server application for network throughput and latency performance measurement. Use rinaperf -h to see the available commands. This program is described in section 7.3.
  • rina-echo-async, a single-threaded client/server application implementing a echo service using only non-blocking I/O. This application is able to allocate and manage multiple flows in parallel, without using blocking allocation or blocking I/O. This program is described in section 7.4.
  • rina-gw, a daemon program implementing a gateway between a TCP/IP network and a RINA network.
  • iporinad, a daemon program which is able to tunnel IP traffic over a RINA network
  • rina-toy, a simple echo program written using the Python bindings.

Examples of rinaperf usage

Run the server, registering on a DIF called n.DIF (if no DIF name is specified, the system will chose the one with the higher rank):

$ rinaperf -l -d n.DIF

Note that rinaperf is multi-threaded, and can serve multiple requests concurrently.

Run the client in ping mode with the default 2-bytes size, asking a DIF called n.DIF to allocate three flows in parallel:

$ rinaperf -p 3 -t ping -d n.DIF

Run the client in perf mode, asking a DIF called n.DIF to allocate a flow, using 1200 bytes sized SDUs (if no size is specified, in perf mode rinaperf will use the maximum SDU size):

$ rinaperf -t perf -d -n.DIF -s 1200

4.6. Python bindings

If your system supports Python, you can write applications using the rlite Python bindings, which are a wrapper for the POSIX-like API exported by the rina-api library. Run

>>> import rina
>>> help(rina)

in the Python interpreter, in order to see the available functionalities. The rina-toy script is a trivial example written using these bindings.

5. Tutorials

5.1 Using the demonstrator

The demonstrator is a tool written in Python which allows you to deploy arbitrarily complex RINA networks, within your PC, using light Virtual Machines (VMs). The tool is conceived to run directly on your physical machine/laptop. All it does is to create QEMU VMs, TAP interfaces and software bridges, so it does not harm your computer nor it installs any files. Make sure QEMU is installed on your machine and kernel/processor support KVM (Intel VT-x or AMD-V).

Enter the demo directory in the repository and run

$ ./ -h

to see the available options and features.

The rlite demonstrator is compatible with the one available at, which means that the configuration files are interchangeable. The documentation contained in the file of the latter repository is still valid, with some differences:

  1. The policy and appmap directives are not supported
  2. The name of eth instances does not need to be a valid VLAN id

Note that the rlite demonstrator has some features that are not currently supported by the IRATI demonstrator.

5.1.1 Mini-tutorial

Enter the demo directory and run

$ ./ -c demo.conf

to generate the bootstrap ( and teardown ( scripts for a RINA network of three nodes. More examples are available in the demo/examples directory.

Run the bootstrap script and wait for it to finish (it will take 10-20 seconds):

$ ./

Access node a and run rinaperf in server mode:

$ ./ a
# rlite-ctl ipcps-show  # Show the IPCPs in the system
# rinaperf -l -d n1.DIF

Using another terminal, access node c and run rinaperf in client request/response (rr) mode:

$ ./ c
# rlite-ctl ipcps-show  # Show the IPCPs in the system
# rinaperf -t rr -d n1.DIF -c 1000 -s 460

This will produce 1000 request/response transactions between client and server, and the client will report the average round trip time.

To look at the RIB of the normal DIF (n1.DIF), use the following command:

# rlite-ctl dif-rib-show n1.DIF

In the DFT (Directory Forwarding Table) part of the RIB you can see an entry for the rinaperf application registered on node a.

Always in the same terminal, you can run rinaperf in ping mode with the following command:

# rinaperf -d n1.DIF

Exit the node shell and teardown the scenario:

$ ./

5.2 Hands-on tutorial #1: normal-over-shim-eth

This tutorial shows how to manually reproduce the configuration described in demo/demo.conf, assuming that rlite is installed on all the three nodes. The nodes can be realized either with physical or virtual machines.

In the demo.conf configuration, three nodes (A, B and C) are connected through Ethernet links to form a linear topology:

A <---eth---> B <---eth---> C

and a single normal DIF is stacked over the link-to-link shim DIFs.

In the following, we will assume the following local names for nodes network interfaces:

  • On node A, the interface towards B is named eth0
  • On node B, the interface towards A is named eth0, while the interface towards C is named eth1
  • On node C, the interface towards B is named eth0

On all the three nodes, load the kernel modules and run the userspace daemon (in the example the daemon is run in foreground):

$ sudo modprobe rlite
$ sudo modprobe rlite-normal
$ sudo modprobe rlite-shim-eth
$ sudo rlite-uipcps

On node A, set-up the interface towards B and create a shim IPCP over Ethernet:

$ sudo ip link set eth0 up
$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-create ethAB.IPCP shim-eth ethAB.DIF

Bind the shim IPCP to eth0, so that the network interface will be used to send and receive packets:

$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-config ethAB.IPCP netdev eth0

Create a normal IPCP in the normal DIF:

$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-create a.IPCP normal n.DIF

Let the normal IPCP register to the shim DIF:

$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-register a.IPCP ethAB.DIF

On node B, similar operations are carried out for both the interfaces:

$ sudo ip link set eth0 up
$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-create ethAB.IPCP shim-eth ethAB.DIF
$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-config ethAB.IPCP netdev eth0
$ sudo ip link set eth1 up
$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-create ethBC.IPCP shim-eth ethBC.DIF
$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-config ethBC.IPCP netdev eth1
$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-create b.IPCP normal n.DIF
$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-register b.IPCP ethAB.DIF
$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-register b.IPCP ethBC.DIF

On node C:

$ sudo ip link set eth0 up
$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-create ethBC.IPCP shim-eth ethBC.DIF
$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-config ethBC.IPCP netdev eth0
$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-create c.IPCP normal n.DIF
$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-register c.IPCP ethBC.DIF

Once the IPCPs are set up, we have to carry out the enrollments in the normal DIF. Among the possible strategies, we can enroll A and C against B, so that B will be the initial node in the DIF.

On node B, enable b.IPCP to act as an enroller even if it is not enrolled to any other node (as it is the first node):

$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-enroller-enable b.IPCP

On node A, enroll a.IPCP into n.DIF using ethAB.DIF as a supporting DIF and b.IPCP as a neighbor:

$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-enroll a.IPCP n.DIF ethAB.DIF b.IPCP

On node C, enroll c.IPCP into n.DIF using ethBC.DIF as a supporting DIF and b.IPCP as a neighbor:

$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-enroll c.IPCP n.DIF ethBC.DIF b.IPCP

On any node, you can check the standard output of the userspace daemon, to check that the previous operations have completed with success. Also the kernel log (dmesg) contains valuable log information.

It is also possible to check the list of IPCPs running in the local system:

$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcps-show

or see the flows allocated in the local system (in this case the 0-flows provided by the shim DIFs, which are being used by the normal DIF):

$ sudo rlite-ctl flows-show

At this point, the setup is complete, and it is possible to run applications on top of the normal DIF. As an example, we may run the rinaperf application in server mode on node A, and the same application in client perf mode on node C, while B will forward the traffic.

On node A:

$ rinaperf -l -d n.DIF

On node C:

$ rinaperf -d n.DIF -t perf -s 1400 -c 100000

5.3 Hands-on tutorial #2: normal-over-shim-udp4

This tutorial illustrates a simple example of deploying the shim-udp4 to allow two RINA networks to communicate over an IP network like the Internet or a LAN. Using the shim-udp4, the RINA traffic between the two RINA networks is transported through an UDP tunnel.

NETWORK_X <---udp-tunnel---> NETWORK_Y

A normal DIF is also stacked over the shim over UDP, in order to provide reliable flows (that UDP cannot provide) and all the services of a fully-featured DIF.

Also this tutorial can be easily realized by using two physical machines on the same LAN or two VMs on the same emulated LAN, once rlite is installed in both machines.

To keep the example simple (and without loss of generality w.r.t. the configuration) here we will assume that each network is composed by only one node; let X be the node of the first network and Y the node of the second network. In a real deployment, of course, X and Y would be just the edge nodes of a bigger RINA network (e.g. with nodes physically connected through shim-eth DIFs like shown in section 5.2), and act as a gateway towards the IP network.

We will assume that IP connectivity has been setup properly between X and Y. In this particular example, we also assume that X and Y are on the same IP subnet, with the IP address of X being and the IP address of Y being Before going ahead, check that there is IP connectivity, e.g. trying to ping X from Y

$ ping

As a first step, access both machine X and Y and append the following lines to /etc/hosts (making sure that they do not clash with other entries):      xnorm.IPCP     ynorm.IPCP

On both X and Y, load rlite kernel modules and run the rlite-uipcps daemon (in foreground in the example)

$ sudo modprobe rlite
$ sudo modprobe rlite-normal
$ sudo modprobe rlite-shim-udp4
$ sudo rlite-uipcps

On machine X, create a shim-udp4 IPCP and a normal IPCP, and register the normal IPCP in the shim-udp4 DIF:

$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-create xipgateway.IPCP shim-udp4 udptunnel.DIF
$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-create xnorm.IPCP normal normal.DIF
$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-register xnorm.IPCP udptunnel.DIF

Carry out similar operations on node Y:

$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-create yipgateway.IPCP shim-udp4 udptunnel.DIF
$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-create ynorm.IPCP normal normal.DIF
$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-register ynorm.IPCP udptunnel.DIF

Finally, enable Y to be the first enroller for the normal DIF (you may ignore failures related to registration of DAF names)

$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-enroller-enable ynorm.IPCP

and access X and enroll X with Y in the normal DIF:

$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-enroll xnorm.IPCP normal.DIF udptunnel.DIF ynorm.IPCP

The setup is now complete and your RINA applications on X can talk with applications running on Y, with the traffic being forwarded through the UDP shim DIF. As an example, run a rinaperf server on X (the normal DIF will be automatically selected):

$ rinaperf -l

Access Y and run the rinaperf client (in ping mode):

$ rinaperf

5.4 Hands-on tutorial #3: normal-over-shim-wifi

This tutorial shows how to deploy RINA over a WiFi wireless LAN. One of the nodes is configured in Access Point (AP) mode, while the others can associate to the AP. The association to an AP is mapped to a RINA enrollment procedure. The shim-wifi implementation uses the hostapd software to implement the AP functionalities of the enroller IPCP; similarly, wpa_supplicant is used for the enrollee IPCP. These daemons need their configuration that must be prepared by the administrator in addition to the RINA configuration.

For the sake of simplicity, in this tutorial we use only two nodes, each having its own WiFI NIC; one of them acts as an AP, while the other is a client station. On top of the shim-wifi DIF we stack a normal DIF to provide complete services to the applications; the shim-wifi inherits the limitations of the shim-eth (e.g. only a single flow supported between two nodes in the DIF), that is used to implement its datapath.

On both nodes, load the kernel modules and run the userspace daemon (in the example the daemon is run in background):

$ sudo modprobe rlite
$ sudo modprobe rlite-normal
$ sudo modprobe rlite-shim-eth
$ sudo rlite-uipcps -d

On the AP side, the following hostapd configuration file can be stored in /etc/hostapd/rlite.conf:

wpa_pairwise=TKIP CCMP

In the configuration file above you should replace wlp2s0 with your local WiFi interface name. In this tutorial we assume that the NIC supports AP mode (a.k.a. master mode); you should make sure that this is the case also for your hardware. On the client side, the following wpa_supplicant configuration file can be stored in /etc/wpa_supplicant/rlite.conf



On both client and AP nodes, make sure that no additional wpa_supplicant or network manager software is running, to avoid conflicts on the WiFI NIC.

On the AP node, we use the following RINA configuration (specified as configuration for rlite-node-config):

# Create a shim-wifi IPCP
ipcp-create x.IPCP shim-wifi rinawlanpwd.DIF
# Configure the IPCP with the interface name (needed by the shim-eth
# kernel module to bind to the network interface)
ipcp-config x.IPCP netdev wlp2s0
# Enable AP mode, running hostapd
ipcp-enroller-enable x.IPCP
# Create a normal IPCP, register into the shim-wifi DIF, and
# enable as enroller.
ipcp-create nx.IPCP normal n.DIF
ipcp-register nx.IPCP rinawlanpwd.DIF
ipcp-enroller-enable nx.IPCP

On the client node, we use the following RINA configuration (assuming wlp3s0 is the name of the WiFi network interface):

# Create a shim-wifi IPCP
ipcp-create y.IPCP shim-wifi rinawlanpwd.DIF
# Configure the IPCP with the interface name (needed by the shim-eth
# kernel module to bind to the network interface)
ipcp-config y.IPCP netdev wlp3s0
# Create a normal IPCP and register into the shim-wifi DIF
ipcp-create ny.IPCP normal n.DIF
ipcp-register ny.IPCP rinawlanpwd.DIF
# Enroll the shim-wifi IPCP to rinawlanpwd.DIF
ipcp-enroll y.IPCP rinawlanpwd.DIF null
# Enroll to the normal DIF
ipcp-enroll ny.IPCP n.DIF rinawlanpwd.DIF nx.IPCP

On both nodes, the RINA configuration can be realized with the following command:

$ sudo rlite-node-config -vd

To test connectivity, you can run a rinaperf server on one of the two nodes (it will register on the normal DIF by default):

(node A)$ rinaperf -l

while the other node runs the client in ping mode

(node B)$ rinaperf

5.5 Using configen

The configen tool, located in demo/, can generate initscripts for rlite-node-config, using similar configuration files as the demonstrator. However, this tool is meant to be used with physical machines, and so the eth directive has different syntax and semantics: it gives instructions to create a shim-eth IPCP and bind it to a given network interface.

The new syntax for the eth directive is the following:


where NODE is the name of the node where the IPCP will be created, IPCP and DIF are the names of the shim-eth IPCP and DIF, and NETDEV is the name of the network interface to bind.

An example of configen configuration (corresponding to the example reported in 5.2) is the following:

eth A ethAB ethAB eth0
eth B ethAB ethAB eth0
eth B ethBC ethBC eth1
eth C ethBC ethBC eth0
dif n A ethAB
dif n B ethAB ethBC
dif n C ethBC

6. Configuration of IPC Processes

Each type of IPC Process has different configuration needs. shim IPC Processes, in particular, wrap a legacy transport technology; their configuration is closely related to the corresponding technology.

6.1. shim-eth IPC Process

The shim DIF over Ethernet wraps an L2 Ethernet network. A shim-eth IPCP must be configured with the O.S. name of the Ethernet Network Interface Card (NIC) that is attached to the network.

In the following example

$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-config ether3 netdev eth2

a shim IPCP called ether3 is assigned a network interface called eth2.

6.2. shim-udp4 IPC Process

The shim DIF over UDP/IPv4 wraps an arbitrary IPv4 network that supports UDP as a transport protocol. As a lower level mechanisms, regular UDP sockets are used to transmit/receive PDUs. For an application to use (register, allocate flows) this shim DIF, a mapping must be defined between IP addresses and application name. Each IP address univocally identifies a network interface of a node in the shim IPCP, and therefore it also univocally identifies the node itself. An IP address must be mapped to a single application name, so that all flow allocation requests (UDP packets) arriving to that IP are forwarded to that application. The mappings must be stored in the standard /etc/hosts file of each node taking part in the shim DIF, or in a DNS server.

An example of /etc/hosts configuration is the following:       localhost.localdomain   localhost
::1             localhost.localdomain   localhost     asd63

In this example, the IP is mapped to an application called, while the IP is mapped to another application called asd63. This means that this shim UDP implements a tunnel between two nodes. The first endpoint node has a network interface configured with the address (with some netmask), and a RINA application called can register to the local shim UDP IPCP. The other endpoint node has a network interface configured with the address, and a RINA application called asd63 can register to the local shim UDP IPCP.

Note that while an IP address corresponds to one and only one application name, an application name may correspond to multiple IP addresses. This simply means that the same application is available at different network interfaces (which could be useful for load balancing and high availability).

The /etc/hosts file (or DNS records) must be configured before any application registration or flow allocation operation can be performed. The current implementation does not dynamically update the /etc/hosts file nor the DNS servers. Configuration has to be done statically. This is not usually a real limitation, since you may probably want to use the shim UDP to create a tunnel (over the Internet) between two or a few RINA-only networks, in a VPN-like fashion. In this case a few lines in /etc/hosts on each host which act as a tunnel endpoints will suffice.

Note that because of its nature, a single shim UDP IPCP for each node is enough for any need. In other words, creating more shim IPCPs on the same node is pointless.

6.3. shim-tcp4 IPC Process

In spite of the name being similar, the shim DIF over TCP/IPv4 is fundamentally different from its UDP counterpart. While the name of an application running over the shim UDP is mapped to an IP address, the name of an application running over the shim TCP is mapped to a couple (IP address, TCP port). The difference is explained by the fact that the shim UDP automatically allocates a new local UDP port for each flow to allocate. Nevertheless, both shims use sockets as an underlying transport technology, and the use cases are similar.

As a consequence, the configuration for the shim TCP is not specified using a standard configuration file (e.g. /etc/hosts). An ad-hoc configuration file is stored at /etc/rina/shim-tcp4-dir.

An example configuration is the following:

rinaperf-data|client 6789 i.DIF
rinaperf-data|server 6788 i.DIF

where the application named rinaperf-data|client is mapped (bound) to the TCP socket with address and rinaperf-data|server is mapped to the TCP socket These mappings are valid for a shim DIF called i.DIF.

Note that the shim DIF over UDP should be preferred over the TCP one, for two reasons: - Configuration does not use a standard file, and allocation of TCP ports must be done statically. - SDU serialization is needed, since TCP is not message (datagram) oriented, but stream oriented; SDU length has to be encoded in the stream, and this adds overhead and is more error prone - TCP handshake, retransmission and flow control mechanism add overhead and latency, introduces latency; moreover, these tasks should be carried out by EFCP.

In conclusion, the shim TCP is to be considered legacy, and future developments are not expected to focus on it. It is strongly recommended to always use the UDP shim when interfacing rlite with IP networks.

6.4. shim-loopback IPC Process

The shim-loopback conceptually wraps a loopback network device. SDUs sent on a flow supported by this shim are forwarded to another flow supported by the same shim. It is mostly used for testing purpose and as a stub module for the other software components, since the normal IPCP support the same functionalities (i.e. self-flows). However, it may be used for local IPC without the need of the uipcp server.

It supports two configuration parameter:

  • queued: if 0, SDUs written are immediately forwarded (e.g. in process context to the destination flow; if different from 0, SDUs written are forwarded in a deferred context (a Linux workqueue in the current implementation).
  • drop-fract: if different from 0, an SDU packet is dropped every drop-fract SDUs.

6.5. Normal IPC Process

A normal IPC Process can be configured with local parameters, flavours and policies. Local parameters only affect the behaviour of a local IPCP. Flavours define the data transfer constants that the IPCP is using within its DIF, and must agree with the data transfer constants of the other (remote) IPCPs in the same DIF. Policies define the variable behaviours of each IPCP component, and they are normally set consistently (or disseminated through enrollment) across all the IPCPs in a DIF.

6.5.1. IPCP local parameters

The following table contains the local parameters of a normal IPCP, which can be modified using the ipcp-config command:

Parameter name Description
address IPCP address in its DIF. It should be changed only with static address allocation policy.
ttl Initial value for the TTL (Time To Live) field in the PDU header (default 64).
csum Checksum to perform on each PDU: possible values are "none" (default, no checksum) or "inet" (Internet checksum).
flow-del-wait-ms How much to postpone flow removal, to allow for inflight packets to arrive (default 4000 ms).
sched PDU scheduler to use for transmission: possible values are "none" (default), "pfifo" or "wrr".

As an example, a normal IPC Process can be manually configured with an address unique in its DIF. This step is not usually necessary, since a simple default policy for distributed address allocation is already available. To deactivate automatic address allocation, you need to set the static policy for the addralloc component using rlite-ctl program, and configure addresses manually like in the following example:

$ sudo rlite-ctl dif-policy-mod n.DIF address-allocator static
$ sudo rlite-ctl ipcp-config normal1.IPCP address 7382

where a normal IPCP called normal1.IPCP is given the address 7382 to be used in its DIF.

6.5.2. IPCP flavours to support different data transfer constants

The data transfer constants of the normal IPCP (e.g. size of EFCP sequence numbers, addresses, CEP-ids, ...) are hardcoded in the normal.ko kernel module, for better performance and (way) simpler code structure. However, it is possible to generate (by recompilation) multiple flavours of the normal IPCP with different combinations of the constants. In this sense, rlite supports a form of programmability of the EFCP header. The flavours are specified at configure time, so that the build system can create the necessary kernel modules in addition to the default one. The management part of the normal IPCP process, implemented by the rlite-uipcps daemon, is instead used by all the flavours. The flavours.conf file in the root directory contains the flavours specification, where each line has the following syntax

flavourname    addr=x seq=y pdulen=z cepid=w qosid=u

with x,y,z,w, and u in {1,2,4,8}. By default, a tiny flavour is specified as follows:

tiny    addr=1 seq=2 pdulen=2 cepid=1 qosid=1

which can be used for very small DIFs. A kernel module called normal-tiny.ko is built and can be used as it were a completely separate IPCP type (i.e. w.r.t. the default normal.ko). Actually, it is just the same code (normal.c) recompiled with different values of some macros. You are free to add/modify flavours depending on your needs, and use the different flavours together.

6.5.3. Available policies and parameters

The following table reports policies that are available for the internal components of a normal IPCP process:

Component Policy name Description
addralloc static Static address allocation
addralloc distributed Automated address allocation
addralloc centralized-fault-tolerant Allocation handled by a fault-tolerant cluster of replicas
dft fully-replicated Every node has a full copy of the DFT
dft centralized-fault-tolerant DFT stored in a fault-tolerant cluster of replicas
routing link-state Link state routing algorithm
routing link-state-lfa Link state enhanced with Loop Free Alternate
routing static Statically configured routing rules

This is an example of how to change the routing policy of the IPCP in a local DIF

# rlite-ctl dif-policy-mod n.DIF routing link-state-lfa

The following table reports parameters that can be changed for the components of a normal IPCP process:

Component Policy Parameter Description
addralloc distributed nack-wait Time to wait for a NACK before deciding that the address is good.
addralloc centralized-fault-tolerant replicas Names of the IPCPs that constitute the fault-tolerant cluster.
addralloc centralized-fault-tolerant cli-timeout Timeout for the client request to the replicas.
dft centralized-fault-tolerant replicas Names of the IPCPs that constitute the fault-tolerant cluster.
dft centralized-fault-tolerant cli-timeout Timeout for the client request to the replicas.
enrollment * timeout Enrollment timeout.
enrollment * keepalive Neighbor keepalive timeout (0 to disable).
enrollment * keepalive-thresh Number of allowed unacked keepalive requests. If exceeded, the N-1 low is pruned.
enrollment * auto-reconnect Automatically re-enroll to neighbors pruned because unresponsive.
flowalloc local force-flow-control If false, flow control is used only with reliable flows. If true, flow control is always used.
flowalloc local max-rtxq-len Maximum size of the retransmission queue (in PDUs).
flowalloc local initial-rtx-timeout Initial value for the DTCP retransmission timer.
flowalloc local initial-a Initial value for the DTCP A timer.
flowalloc local initial-credit Initial size of the DTCP flow control window (in PDUs).
flowalloc local max-cwq-len Maximum size of the DTCP closed window queue (in PDUs).
resalloc * reliable-flows Use dedicated reliable N-1-flows for management traffic rather than reusing kernel-bound unreliable N-1 flows if possible (boolean).
resalloc * reliable-n-flows Use dedicated reliable N-flows if reliable N-1-flows are not available (boolean).
resalloc * broadcast-enroller Let the IPCP register the name of the DIF (DAF name) in addition to the IPCP name (boolean).
ribd * refresh-intval Time interval between two consecutive periodic RIB synchronizations.
routing * age-incr-intval Time interval between two consecutive increments of the age of LFDB entries.
routing * age-incr-max Maximum age allowed for an LFDB entry before being discarded.

This is an example of how to change the nack-wait parameter of the distributed address allocation policy of a normal IPCP process

# rlite-ctl dif-policy-param-mod n.DIF addralloc nack-wait 4

This is an example how to enable reliable flows in the resource allocator

# rlite-ctl dif-policy-param-mod n.DIF resalloc reliable-flows true

6.5.4. PDU scheduler configuration

By default, IPCPs do not perform any PDU scheduling in the kernel-space datapath. However, PDU scheduling is supported and can be configured. The first step is to choose a scheduling algorithm among the available ones. We currently support priority fifo (pfifo) and weighted round robin (wrr). Queues are numbered from 0 to N-1, where the number of queues N can be configured in an algorithm-specific way. A PDU with QoS id i will be enqueued to the queue with number min(i, N-1). Example of assigning a PDU scheduler to an IPCP:

# rlite-ctl ipcp-config myipcp sched pfifo

The pfifo scheduler can configured with the number of priority levels and per-queue max size (in bytes). Each priority level corresponds to a different queue. PDUs are dequeued from lower priority queues only when higher priority ones are empty. Example of pfifo configuration:

# rlite-ctl ipcp-sched-config myipcp pfifo qsize 65535 levels 3

The wrr scheduler can be configured with a quantum (in bytes), the weights to assign to each queue, and per-queue maximum size (in bytes). Example of wrr configuration with 4 queues:

# rlite-ctl ipcp-sched-config myipcp wrr qsize 65535 quantum 1600 weights 2,4,9,5

7. Tools

This section documents useful programs that are part of the rlite software, but they are not part of the stack implementation.

7.1. rina-gw

The rina-gw program is a C++ daemon that acts as a proxy/gateway between a TCP/IP network and a RINA network, as depicted in the following figure.

RINA/TCP gateway

On the one side, the gateway accepts TCP connections coming from a TCP/IP network and proxies them by allocating RINA flows towards the proper server applications in the RINA network. On the other side, the gateway accepts flow allocation requests coming from the RINA network and proxies them to a TCP server by means of new TCP connections.

The proxy needs therefore to be configured with a mapping between TCP/IP names (IP and ports) and RINA names (DIF and application names). In the current prototype, the mapping can be specified only with a configuration file that rina-gw reads at startup; future versions may implement a mechanism to allow for dynamic reconfiguration. Each line in the configuration file specifies a single mapping. Two types of mappings are possible, one for each direction: an I2R directive maps TCP clients to RINA servers, whereas an R2I directive maps RINA clients to TCP servers.

In the following configuration file example

I2R serv.DIF rinaservice2 9063
R2I vpn3.DIF tcpservice1 8729

the first directive configures rina-gw to proxy incoming connections on destination port 9063 (on any host interface) towards the rinaservice2 application running in serv.DIF; the second directive asks rina-gw to proxy incoming flow allocation requests for the destination application tcpservice1 (on DIF vpn3.DIF) towards a TCP server on host on port 8279.

The rina-gw program has been designed as a multi-threaded event-loop based application. The RINA API is used in non-blocking mode together with the socket API. The main thread event-loop is responsible for the TCP connection setup and RINA flow allocation, while the data forwarding -- i.e. reading data from a TCP socket and writing it on a RINA flow and the other way around -- happens within dedicated worker threads. It is worth observing that the only data structure that worker threads use is a map that maps each file descriptor into another file descriptor. As a consequence, the worker thread is generic code that is not aware of what kind of network I/O is using -- TCP sockets, RINA flows, or others. This transparency property is possible because of the file descriptor abstraction provided by the new RINA API. In the current prototype, only a single worker thread is used to handle all the active sessions; future versions are expected to use multiple worker threads to scale up with the number of sessions.

At startup, the main thread reads the configuration file and issues all the bind()/listen() and rina_register() calls that are necessary to listen for incoming TCP connection (I2R) or RINA incoming flow requests (R2I). The main poll-based event-loop waits for any of the four event types that can happen:

  • A flow allocation request comes from the RINA network, matching one of the R2I directives. A TCP connection is initiated towards the mapped IP and port, calling connect() in non-blocking mode.
  • A TCP connection comes from the TCP/IP network, matching one of the I2R directives. A RINA flow allocation is initiated towards the mapped DIF and application name, using rina_flow_alloc() with the {RINA_F_NOWAIT} set.
  • A flow allocation response comes, matching one of the proxied TCP connections associated to an I2R directive. The rina_flow_alloc_wait() function is called to complete the flow allocation and the new session is dispatched to a worker thread.
  • A TCP connection handshake completes for one of the proxied flow allocations associated to an R2I directive. The new session is is dispatched to a worker thread.

The main event-loop uses some data structures to keep track of the ongoing connection setups.

7.2 iporinad

The iporinad program is a C++ daemon that tunnels IP traffic over a RINA network. Such a RINA network has a role similar to MPLS within traditional IP/MPLS deployments. The daemon runs in the edge nodes at the boundary between the IP network and the RINA network, encapsulating or decapsulating IP packets into/from RINA flows.

Each RINA flow operates as an IP tunnel between two iporinad instances running on two different edge nodes. On the IP side, each tunnel endpoint is implemented using a tun device. The iporinad programs implements the encapsulation and decapsulation by forwarding the IP traffic from the tun device towards the associated RINA flow endpoint, and the other way around.

The iporinad daemon creates tunnels towards its peers and advertises IP routes according to its configuration file. In the following example, two iporinad daemons run on different edge nodes that belong to the same DIF n.DIF. In this case, n.DIF is the RINA network that provides the IP tunnels. Each daemon is configured to register within RINA, connect to the other peer, and advertise to the peer some routes that are reachable on its side.

# Configuration file for the first iporina daemon
# Application name and DIF names for this daemon, used
# for name registrations
local       iporina1        n.DIF

# Information about remote tunnel endpoints, with application name
# (and DIF name) for flow allocation, and IP subnet to be used
# for the point-to-point IP tunnel.
remote      iporina2        n.DIF

# Routes that are locally reachable, which are going to be advertised
# to the remote endpoints

The local directive (which must be unique) specifies the daemon name and the DIFs to register to. Each remote directive specifies application and DIF name of a remote iporina daemon to connect to, together with an IP subnet to use for the IP tunnel (a /30 is preferable, as only two IP addresses are needed). Many remote directives are possible, one for each peer. A different tun device will be created for each remote peer. The route directive specifies a locally reachable route that the daemon will advertise to all its peers. When an iporina daemon receives a route from a peer, it adds an entry in the local IP routing table to forward IP traffic for that destination towards the tun device associated to the peer.

# Configuration file for the second iporina daemon
# Application name and DIF names for this daemon, used
# for name registrations
local       iporina2        n.DIF

# Information about remote tunnel endpoints, with application name
# (and DIF name) for flow allocation, and IP subnet to be used
# for the point-to-point IP tunnel.
remote      iporina1        n.DIF

# Routes that are locally reachable, which are going to be advertised
# to the remote endpoints

In the current iporinad prototype peers do not perform any routing or dissemination protocol. As an example, if node A specifies B in its remotes, A will send its local routes to B (and B will send its own to A at a later time). If B has a remote C that A does not have, then the routes received by B from A will not be disseminated to C. It follows that the iporinad user is normally expected to specify a full mesh in the configuration files (e.g., A specifies B and C, B specifies A and C, and C specifies A and B). Note that a proper routing protocol is anyway used by the DIF that supports the tunnel, so it may be that when A tunnels an IP packet towards C, the encapsulated RINA packet is routed to B to reach C.

7.3 rinaperf

The rinaperf program is a simple multi-threaded client/server application that is able to measure network throughput and latency. It aims at providing basic performance measurement functionalities akin to those provided by the popular netperf [12] and iperf [13] tools. In particular, rinaperf tries to imitate netperf. In addition to that, rinaperf can also be seen as an example program showing the usage of the RINA API in blocking mode. When the -l option is used, rinaperf runs in server mode, otherwise it runs in client mode. The server main thread runs a loop to accept new flow requests (rina_flow_accept()), and each request is handled by a dedicated worker thread created on-demand. The main loop is also responsible for joining the worker threads that finished serving their requests. A limit on the total number of worker threads at each moment is used to keep the memory usage under control. In client mode, rinaperf uses rina_flow_alloc() to allocate a flow, and then uses blocking I/O to perform the test. The -p option can be specified to provide the number of flows that the client is asked to allocate in parallel. Each flow is allocated and handled by a dedicated thread. The default value for the -p option is 1, so that by default rinaperf allocates only one flow (using the main thread). The client can specify various options to customize the performance test, including the number of packets to send (or transactions to perform), the packet size, the flow QoS, the DIF to use, the inter-packet transmission interval, the burst size, etc. To date, three test types are supported:

  • ping, implementing a simple ping functionality for quick connectivity checks.
  • perf, which provides an unidirectional throughput test, similar to netperf UDP STREAM or TCP STREAM tests.
  • rr, which measures the average latency of request/response transactions, similar to netperf TCP RR or UDP RR tests.

For both client and server, each thread manages the I/O for a single flow, blocking on the I/O calls when necessary. Concurrency is therefore achieved by means of multithreading. Running rinaperf with the -h option will list all the available options. As an example, the following rinaperf invocation will perform request-response tests with a million transactions of 400 bytes packets:

user@host ˜/rina # rinaperf -c 1000000 -t rr -s 400
Starting request-response test; message size: 400, number of messages: 1000000, duration: inf
        Transactions    Kpps        Mbps        Latency (ns)
Sender  1000000         145.569     465.821     6869

while the following performs a five seconds long undirectional throughput test with 1460 bytes packets:

user@host ˜/rina # rinaperf -t perf -s 1460 -D 5
Starting unidirectional throughput test; message size: 1460, number of messages: inf, duration: 5 secs
            Packets     Kpps        Mbps
Sender      6790377     1358.417    15866.311
Receiver    5037989     988.051     11540.436

7.4 rina-echo-async

The rina-echo-async program is a single-threaded client/server application that implements an echo service using only non-blocking I/O. Differently from rinaperf, rina-echo-async is meant to be used for functional testing only; nevertheless, it is a compact educational example that shows all the features of the RINA API in non-blocking mode. When the -l option is used, rinaperf runs in server mode, otherwise it runs in client mode. Both client and server are able to manage multiple flows in parallel, using a single thread and without blocking on allocation, registration, accept or I/O. To achieve concurrency with a single thread, the program is structured as an event-loop that manages an array of state machines. The client state machine is illustrated in Figure 5. The edges in the graph show the pre-conditions for the state transition (if any) and the actions to be performed when the transition happens. After completing the flow allocation, the client writes a message to the server and receives the echoed response coming back. In client mode, rina-echo-async keeps an array of independent client state machines, to handle multiple concurrent echo sessions. The -p option can be used to specify how many flows (sessions) to create and handle; by default, only a single flow is created.

Client state machine

The server state machines are illustrated in Figure 6. After completing the registration, the server starts accepting new sessions, denying them if the number of ongoing sessions grows beyond a limit (128 in the current implementation). A new state machine is created for each accepted session. The server therefore manages two types of state machines: one to accept new requests (top of Figure 6), and the other one to serve a single client (bottom of Figure 6). There is one instance of the first kind and multiple instance of the second, one per client. The per-client state machine just receives the echo request and sends the echo response back to the client.

Server state machine

8. Developer workflow

The rlite project provides a few verification procedures that developers must follow after any code modification. These procedures minimize the risk of breaking functionality when implementing new features or refactoring existing code.

The first and most important verification step consists in running the suite of unit tests and integration tests. There are only a few unit tests for the moment being, covering the CDAP library, the Raft consensus algorithm and the Dijkstra implementation. To run the the unit tests, use the following commands from the repository root directory (assuming ./configure has already been run)

$ make test

and the output will report about tests succeeding or failing, e.g.

100% tests passed, 0 tests failed out of 3

Integration tests are more plentiful, and cover most of the rlite functionalities. To run them all, use the following command from the repository root directory:

$ sudo make intest

The execution of the whole test suite should take between 1 and 2 minutes. The tests are available in the tests/integration/ directory. Some of the integration tests are actually multi-node (e.g. to test enrollment, LFA routing policies, centralized fault tolerant policies, ...), although they don't use virtual machines. Each node is implemented as a separate network namespace; this is possible because rlite has support for the Linux network namespaces, and will provide an independent RINA network stack for each namespace. Integration tests have great code coverage, but they do not test the software at scale, because each test does not setup more than 4-5 RINA nodes. Large scale testing is however possible with the demonstrator, as explained in Section 8.1.

8.1 Demonstrator-driven verification

Development and verification workflow

The demonstrator (demo/ and buildroot ( can also be used to quickly verify the correctness of any software modification, as explained in the following (and illustrated in the diagram above). The demonstrator allows functional verification at scale, up to 1000 nodes.

To prepare your verification environment, first step is to download a clone of buildroot, modified with rlite support, changing the last line of (before running it), as indicated by the comments inside the script itself:

$ git clone
$ cd buildroot
$ vi  # change the last line to specify the path of your local rlite repo
$ ./   # step 8 (make buildroot image)

Note that the first time you run the ./ script, it will download and build a complete GNU/Linux system from source; it may take hours, depending on the speed of your internet connection and the computing power of your machine. Subsequent invocations will only rebuild rlite, which does not usually take more than 40 seconds. The script will also copy the generated images to the buildroot/ directory inside your rlite local repo. This is necessary to let the demonstrator use your generated images rather than the default ones.

By default, buildroot builds the rlite code from the master branch of the github repository ( However, you almost always want to test a modified version of the code contained in your local repository. To do so, modify the package/rlite/ file, setting RLITE_SITE_METHOD to local and RLITE_SITE to point to your local repo, as suggested by the comments in the .mk file itself.

$ cd buildroot
$ vi package/rlite/

At this point you can run ./ after any modification to your local repo, to create an updated version of the buildroot images.

Once you have built the images (kernel and ramdisk) from the code you want to test, you can run the demonstrator to check that your code works as expected.

$ cd demo
$ ./ -c examples/two-layers.conf -r
$ ./

You usually want to use the -r option to let each node register (in each DIF) an instance of rina-echo-async server. Once the script terminates correctly, you can check that all the DIFs provide connectivity, using the rina-echo-async client to try to reach all the nodes (for each DIF). This is done automatically by the scripted (generated by the demonstrator tool).

$ ./

The demonstrator is also able to simulate random rinaperf clients on all the nodes, running the rlite-rand-clients script on each node:

$ ./ -c examples/two-layers.conf -s

The -M, -T, -D and -I options can be used to tune the simulator behaviour (see ./ -h).

To quickly carry out tests at scale, you can use the --ring option rather than specifying a demonstrator configuration file

$ ./ --tree 200 -r -k 0

so that the demonstrator will automatically define a network of 200 nodes arranged in a tree, with a single normal DIF including them all. On a machine with 64 GB of RAM it is possible to deploy a ring of 350 nodes, when giving each node the default amount of memory.

To scale even more, it is necessary to switch from fully isolated Virtual Machines to Linux network namespaces. In this way all the nodes will share the same kernel (although with separate IPCPs and uipcps), but it is possible to scale up to 1000 nodes or more. To use namespaces instead of VMs, it is sufficient to add the -C option to any demonstrator invocation, e.g.

$ ./ -Crk0 --tree 800

On, the demonstrator will setup network namespaces instead of spawning VMs.

9. RINA API documentation

A convenient way to introduce the RINA API is to show how a simple application would use the client-side and server-side API calls. This also eases the comparison with sockets, where a similar walkthrough is often presented. Note that in this context the term client simply refers to the initiator of the flow allocation procedure (or TCP connection), while the term server refers to the other peer. The discussion here, in other words, does not imply that the client/server paradigm must be applied; the walkthrough is more general, being valid also for other distributed application paradigms (e.g. peer-to-peer). The workflow presented in this subsection refers to the case of blocking operation, that is the API calls may block waiting for asynchronous events; moreover, for the sake of exposition, we assume that the operations do not fail.

RINA API workflow for blocking operation

Non-blocking operations and errors are however covered by the API specification (section 9.3) and the examples (sections 7.3 and 7.4).

9.1 Server-side operations

The first operation needed by the server, (1) the figure above, is rina_open, which takes no arguments and returns a listening file descriptor (an integer, as usual) to be used for subsequent server-side calls. This file descriptor is the handler for an instance of a RINA control device which acts as a receiver for incoming flow allocation requests. At (2), the server calls rina_register to register a name with the RINA control device, specifying the associated listening file descriptor (lfd), the name of the DIF to register to (dif) and the name to be registered (appl). The DIF argument is optional and advisory: the API implementation may choose to ignore it, and use some namespace management strategy to decide into which DIF the name should be registered. After a successful registration, the server can receive flow allocation requests, by calling rina_flow_accept on the listening file descriptor (3). Since the listening file descriptor was not put in non-blocking mode, this call will block until a flow request arrives. When this happens, the function returns a new file descriptor (cfd), the name of the remote application (src) and the QoS granted to the flow. The returned file descriptor is an handler for an instance of a RINA I/O device, to be used for data I/O. At this point (4) flow allocation is complete, and the server can exchange SDUs with the client, using the write and read blocking calls or working in non-blocking mode (possibly mutliplexing with other I/O devices, sockets, etc.) by means of poll or select. This I/O phase is completely analogous to the I/O exchange that happens with TCP or UDP sockets, only the QoS may be different. Once the I/O session ends, the server can close the flow, triggering flow deallocation through the close system call (5). The server can then decide whether to terminate or accept another flow allocation request (3).

9.2 Client-side operations

Client operation is straightforward; the client calls rina_flow_alloc (1) to issue a flow allocation request, passing as arguments the name of the DIF that is asked to support the flow (dif), the name of the client (src, i.e. the source application name), the name of the destination application (dst, i.e. the server name) and the required QoS for the flow (qos). The call will block until the flow allocation completes successfully, returning an file descriptor (fd) to be used for data I/O. At this point the client can exchange SDUs with the server (2), using the I/O file descriptor either in blocking or non-blocking mode, similarly to what is possible to do with sockets. When the I/O session terminates, the client can deallocate the flow with the close system call.

9.3 API specification

In the following, the API calls are listed and documented in depth. Some general considerations:

  • The API functions typically return 0 or a positive value on success. On error, -1 is returned with the errno variable set accordingly to the specific error.
  • Each application name is specified using a C string, where the name’s components (Application Process Name, Application Process Instance, Application Entity Name and Applicatiion Entity Instance) are separated by the | separator (pipe). The separator can be omitted if it is only used to separate empty strings or a non-empty string from an empty string. Valid strings are for instance "aa|bb|cc|dd", "aa|bb||", "aa|bb", "aa".
int rina_open(void)

This function opens a RINA control device that can be used to register/unregister names, and manage incoming flow allocation requests. On success, it returns a file descriptor that can be later passed to rina_register(), rina_unregister(), rina_flow_accept(), and rina_flow_respond(). On error -1 is returned with errno set properly. Applications typically call this function as a first step to implement server-side functionalities.

int rina_register(int fd, const char *dif, const char *appl, int flags)

This function registers the application name appl to a DIF in the system. After a successful registration, flow allocation requests can be received on fd by means of rina_flow_accept(). If dif is not NULL, the system may register the application to dif. However, the dif argument is only advisory and the implementation is free to ignore it. If DIF is NULL, the system au- tonomously decide to which DIF appl will be registered to. If RINA_F_NOWAIT is not specified in flags, this function will block the caller until the operation completes, and 0 is returned on success. If RINA_F_NOWAIT is specified in flags, the function returns a file descriptor (different from fd) which can be used to wait for the operation to complete (e.g. using POLLIN with poll() or select()). In this case the operation can be completed by a subsequent call to rina_register wait(). On error -1 is returned, with the errno code properly set.

int rina_unregister(int fd, const char *dif, const char *appl, int flags)

This function unregisters the application name appl from the DIF where it was registered to. The dif argument must match the one passed to rina_register(). After a successful unregistration, flow allocation requests can no longer be received on fd. The meaning of the RINA_F_NOWAIT flag is the same as in rina_register(), allowing non-blocking unregistration, to be later completed by calling rina_register_wait(). Returns 0 on success, -1 on error, with the errno code properly set.

int rina_register_wait(int fd, int wfd)

This function is called to wait for the completion of a (un)registration procedure previously initiated with a call to rina_register() or rina_unregister on fd which had the RINA_F_NOWAIT flag set. The wfd file descriptor must match the one that was returned by rina[un]register(). It returns 0 on success, -1 error, with the errno code properly set.

int rina_flow_accept(int fd, char **remote_appl,
                    struct rina_flow_spec *spec, unsigned int flags)

This function is called to accept an incoming flow request arrived on fd. If flags does not contain RINA_F_NORESP, it also sends a positive response to the requesting application; otherwise, the response (positive or negative) can be sent by a subsequent call to the rina_flow_respond(). On success, the char* pointed by remote appl, if not NULL, is assigned the name of the requesting application. The memory for the requestor name is allocated by the callee and must be freed by the caller. Moreover, if spec is not NULL, the referenced data structure is filled with the QoS specification specified by the requesting application. If flags does not contain RINA_F_NORESP, on success this function returns a file descriptor that can be subsequently used with standard I/O system calls (write(), read(), select()...) to exchange SDUs on the flow and synchronize. If flags does contain RINA_F_NORESP, on success a positive number is returned as an handle to be passed to a subsequent call to rina_flow_respond(). Hence the code

cfd = rina_flow_accept(fd, &x, flags &  RINA_F_NORESP)

is functionally equivalent to

h = rina_flow_accept(sfd, &x, flags | RINA_F_NORESP);
cfd = rina_flow_respond(sfd, h, 0 /* positive response */);

On error -1 is returned, with the errno code properly set.

int rina_flow_respond(int fd, int handle, int response)

This function is called to emit a verdict on the flow allocation request identified by handle, that was previously received on fd by calling rina_flow_accept() with the RINA_F_NORESP flag set. A zero response indicates a positive response, which completes the flow allocation procedure. A non-zero response indicates that the flow allocation request is denied. In both cases response is sent to the requesting application to inform it about the verdict. When the response is positive, on success this function returns a file descriptor that can be subsequently used with standard I/O system calls to exchange SDUs on the flow and synchronize. When the response is negative, 0 is returned on success. In any case, -1 is returned on error, with the errno code properly set.

int rina_flow_alloc(const char *dif, const char *local_appl,
                    const char *remote_appl,
                    const struct rina_flow_spec *flowspec,
                    unsigned int flags);

This function is called to issue a flow allocation request towards the destination application called remote appl, using local appl as a source application name. If flowspec is not NULL, it specifies the QoS parameters to be used for the flow, should the flow allocation request be successful. If it is NULL, an implementation-specific default QoS will be assumed instead (which typically corresponds to a best-effort QoS). If dif is not NULL the system may look for remote appl in a DIF called dif. However, the dif argument is only advisory and the system is free to ignore it and take an autonomous decision. If flags specifies RINA_F_NOWAIT, a call to this function does not wait until the completion of the flow allocation procedure; on success, it just returns a control file descriptor that can be subsequently fed to rina_flow_alloc_wait() to wait for completion and obtain the flow I/O file descriptor. Moreover, the control file descriptor can be used with poll(), select() and similar. If flags does not specify RINA_F_NOWAIT, a call to this function waits until the flow allocation procedure is complete. On success, it returns a file descriptor that can be subsequently used with standard I/O system calls to exchange SDUs on the flow and synchronize. In any case, -1 is returned on error, with the errno code properly set.

int rina_flow_alloc_wait(int wfd)

This function waits for the completion of a flow allocation procedure previously initiated with a call to rina_flow_alloc() with the RINA_F_NOWAIT flag set. The wfd file descriptor must match the one returned by rina_flow_alloc(). On success, it returns a file descriptor that can be subsequently used with standard I/O system calls to exchange SDUs on the flow and synchronize. On error -1 is returned, with the errno code properly set.

struct rina_flow_spec {
    uint64_t max_sdu_gap; /* in SDUs */
    uint64_t avg_bandwidth; /* in bits per second */
    uint32_t max_delay; /* in microseconds */
    uint16_t max_loss; /* percentage */
    uint32_t max_jitter; /* in microseconds */
    uint8_t in_order_delivery; /* boolean */
    uint8_t msg_boundaries; /* boolean */
void rina_flow_spec_unreliable(struct rina_flow_spec *spec)

This function fills in the provided spec with an implementation-specific default QoS, which should correspond to a best-effort QoS. The fields of the rina flow spec data structure specify the QoS of a RINA flow as follows:

  • max sdu gap specifies the maximum number of consecutive SDUs that can be lost without violating the QoS. Specifying -1 means that there is no maximum, and so the flow is unreliable; 0 means that no SDU can be lost and so the flow is reliable.
  • avg bandwidth specifies the maximum bandwidth that should be guaranteed on this flow, in bits per second.
  • max delay specifies the maximum one-way latency that can be experienced by SDUs of this flow without violating the QoS, expressed in microseconds.
  • max loss specifies the maximum percentage of SDUs that can be lost on this flow without violating the QoS.
  • max jitter specifies the maximum jitter that can be experienced by SDUs on this flow without violating the QoS.
  • in order delivery, if true requires that the SDUs are delivered in order on this flow (no SDU reordering is allowed).
  • msg boundaries: if true, the flow is stream-oriented, like TCP; a stream-oriented flow does not preserve message boundaries, and therefore write() and read() system calls are used to exchange a stream of bytes, and the granularity of the exchange is the byte. If false, the flow is datagram-oriented, like UDP, and does preserve message boundaries. The I/O system calls are used to exchanges messages (SDUs), and the granularity of the exchange is the message.

9.4 Mapping sockets API to RINA API

The walkthough presented in sections 9.1 and 9.2 highlights the strong relationship between the RINA POSIX API and the socket API. In this section we will explore this relationship in depth, in order to

  • Define a clear mapping from socket calls to RINA calls, that can be used as a reference strategy to port existing socket applications to RINA; it can never be stressed enough how important the availability of real-world applications is to attract people to RINA.
  • Highlight the functionalities in the RINA API that are left outside the mapping, as there is no corresponding functionality in the socket API.

The mapping is illustrated separately for client-side operations and server-side ones. Moreover, for the sake of simplicity, it refers to Internet sockets, i.e. sockets belonging to the AF INET and AF INET6 family.

Mapping to the socket API

9.4.1 Client-side mapping

The typical workflow of a TCP or UDP client – w.r.t socket calls – starts by creating a kernel socket with the socket() system call; the arguments specify the type of socket to be created, i.e. the address family (usually internet addresses over IPv4 or IPv6) and the contract with the application (stream-oriented or datagram-oriented socket). The system call returns a file descriptor that is passed to subsequent API and I/O calls. The client can optionally bind a local name to the socket, that is a name for the local endpoint (e.g. source IP address and/or source UDP/TCP port); this operation can be performed with the bind() system call. Afterwards, the client can specify the name of the remote endpoint (e.g. destination IP address and destination UDP/TCP port), using the connect() system call. This step is mandatory for TCP sockets since it is also used to perform (or at least initiate) the TCP handshake, whereas it is only optional for UDP sockets. A connected UDP socket can be useful when there is a single remote endpoint, so that the client can use the write(), send(), read() and recv() system calls that do not require the address of the remote address as an argument. If multiple endpoints are possible (and the the client does not want to use multiple connected UDP sockets) a single not-connected socket can be used with the sendmsg, sendto, recvmsg, recvfrom variants to specify the address of the remote endpoint at each I/O operation. If the socket file descriptor is set in non-blocking mode, the connect() system call on a TCP socket will not block waiting for the TCP handshake to complete, but return immediately; the client can then feed the file descriptor to select() (or poll()) waiting for it to become writable, and when this happens it means that the TCP handshake is complete. Once the client-side operations are done, I/O can start with the standard I/O system calls (write, read) or socketspecific ones (recv(), send(), ...). When the session ends, the client closes the socket with close(). The corresponding client-side operations can be done with the RINA API through rina_flow_alloc and rina_flow_alloc_wait. In detail, rina_flow_alloc replaces the socket(), bind() and connect() calls:

  • The name of the local endpoint is specified by the local appl argument.
  • The name of the remote endpoint is specified by the remote appl argument.
  • The return value is a file descriptor that can be used for flow I/O, so that there is no need for a specific call to create the file descriptor (like socket()).

The non-blocking connect functionality is supported by passing the RINA_F_NOWAIT flag to rina_flow_alloc; when this happens, the function does not wait for flow allocation to complete, but returns a control file descriptor that can then be used with select/poll to wait; when the control file descriptor becomes readable, it means that the flow allocation procedure is complete and the client can call rina_flow_alloc_wait to receive the I/O file descriptor. This analysis outlines the capabilities that the RINA API offers and that are not available through the socket API:

  • In RINA the client can optionally specify the layer (i.e. the DIF) where the flow allocation should happen, while with sockets the layer is implicit.
  • In RINA the client can specify the QoS required for the flow.
  • RINA has a complete naming scheme that is valid for any network application, whereas sockets have multiple families with different (incomplete) naming schemes like IPv4+TCP/UDP, IPv6+TCP/UDP, etc.

9.4.2 Server-side mapping

Server-side socket operations start with the creation of a socket to be used to listen for incoming requests. Similarly to the client, this is done with the socket system call and the returned file descriptor is used for subsequent operations. The server then binds a local name to the socket, using the bind() system call; differently from the client case, this step is mandatory, as the server must indicate on what IP address and ports it is available to receive incoming TCP connections or UDP datagrams. If the socket is UDP, at this point the server can start receiving and sending datagrams, using the recvfrom, recvmsg, sendto and sendmsg system calls. It could also optionally bind a remote name with connect(), if it is going to serve only a client (the considerations about connected UDP sockets reported in section 9.4.1 are also valid here). If the socket is TCP, the server needs to call the listen() system call to indicate that is going to accept incoming TCP connection on the address and port bound to the socket, indicating the size of the backlog queue as a parameter. This operation puts the socket in listening mode. Afterwards, the server can invoke the accept() system call to wait for the next TCP connection to come from a client. The accept() function returns a new file descriptor and the name of the remote endpoint (that is the address and port of the client). The file descriptor can then be used to perform the I/O with the client, using read(), write(), send(), recv(), etc., and possibly using I/O multiplexing (select and poll). Moreover, if the listening socket is set in non-blocking mode, the server can use select() or poll() to wait for the socket to become readable, which indicates a new TCP connection has arrived and can be accepted with accept(). When the I/O session ends, the server closes the client socket with close(). Similar server-side operations can be performed with the RINA API. A RINA control device to receive incoming flow request is open with rina_open, similarly to the socket() call. This function returns a file descriptor that can be used to register names and accept requests. The rina_register function is called to register an application name, possibly specifying a DIF name; the control file descriptor is passed as a first parameter, so that the file descriptor can be used to accept requests for the registered name. The rina_register operations corresponds therefore to the combined effect of bind and listen for sockets. It is possible to call rina_register multiple times to register multiple names. At this point the server can start accepting incoming flow allocation requests by calling rina_flow_accept on the control file descriptor (passed as first argument). When the RINA_F_NOWAIT flag is not specified, this operation has the same meaning of the socket accept call. In detail:

  • The function blocks until a flow allocation request comes, and the request is implicitly accepted.
  • A file descriptor is returned to be used for flow I/O.
  • The name of the remote application can be obtained through the remote appl output argument.
  • The QoS of the new flow (specified by the remote application) can be obtained through the spec output argument.

Non-blocking accept is also possible, since the control file descriptor can be set in non-blocking mode and passed to poll/select. The control file descriptor becomes readable when there is a pending flow allocation request ready to be accepted. Also the server-side analysis, summarized in the figure abovev, uncovers some capabilities of the RINA API that are not possible with the socket API:

  • When the RINA_F_NOWAIT flag is passed to rina_flow_accept, the application can decide whether to accept or deny the flow allocation request, possibly taking into account the flow QoS, the remote application name and the server internal state. The verdict is emitted using the rina_flow_respond call.
  • The server can use the QoS to customize its action (e.g. a video streaming server application could choose among different encodings).


rlite is a community-driven project partially supported by the EU FP7 projects PRISTINE and ARCFIRE.

Author: Vincenzo Maffione

Contributors: Michal Koutenský


A light RINA implementation. Documentation is available in (see below).




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