Queueing to userspace

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Basic operation

Important note: You require a Linux kernel 3.14 to enqueue packets to userspace using nftables.

Like in iptables, you can use the nfqueue infrastructure to enqueue packet to your userspace application that uses the libnetfilter_queue library.

You can just test this with the example application:

libnetfilter_queue/utils% ./nfqnl_test

After that, you have to add the rule to enqueue packets to userspace. If no queue is specified, the packet are sent to the queue number 0:

% nft add filter input counter queue

Then, you should start seeing packet when generating some traffic:

...
pkt received
hw_protocol=0x0800 hook=1 id=28 hw_src_addr=00:80:48:52:ff:8a indev=3 uid=1000 gid=1000 payload_len=110 
entering callback
pkt received
hw_protocol=0x0800 hook=1 id=29 hw_src_addr=00:80:48:52:ff:8a indev=3 uid=1000 gid=1000 payload_len=98 
entering callback
...

There are up to 65535. You can select a different queue with the following command:

% nft add filter input counter queue num 3

Then, you have to launch the test application including the argument that indicates the queue number to listen for packets:

libnetfilter_queue/utils% ./nfqnl_test 3

Important note: If there is no userspace application listening to that queue, then all packets will be dropped.

A bit more advanced configuration

You can also enable the bypass option which will skip the enqueue of the packet to userspace if no application is listening to the queue. The rule will behave as an accept rule if there is no application waiting for packet.

% nft add filter input counter queue num 0 bypass

You can also load balance traffic to several queues:

% nft add filter input counter queue num 0-3

Thus, the queue number from 0 to 3 will be used for this. You can run four instances of nfqnl_test to test this.

libnetfilter_queue/utils% ./nfqnl_test 0 &
libnetfilter_queue/utils% ./nfqnl_test 1 &
libnetfilter_queue/utils% ./nfqnl_test 2 &
libnetfilter_queue/utils% ./nfqnl_test 3 &

When doing load balancing, you can optionally use the fanout option to use the CPU ID as an index to map packets to the queues. The idea is that you can improve performance if there's a queue/userspace application per CPU:

% nft add filter input counter queue num 0-3 fanout

Of course, the options can be combined, so you can for example use:

% nft add filter input counter queue num 0-3 fanout,bypass