a distributed VM management tool

Creating routers with minimega


minirouter is a simple tool, run in a VM, that orchestrates various router functions such as DHCP, DNS, IPv4/IPv6 assignments, and, of course, routing. The minirouter tool is interfaced by minimega's router API, described below, and the minimega distribution provides a prebuilt minirouter container image.

minirouter currently supports several protocols and capabilities including DHCP, DNS, router advertisements, OSPF, and static routes. It can route in excess of 40 gigabits per second when running as a container.

Obtaining a minirouter image

minirouter can run on bare metal, as a container, or a KVM image.

Prebuilt container image

A prebuilt, busybox-based, container image is available here. This image can be built using the build script in misc/minirouter in the minimega repo. The minirouter image is configured to start miniccc and minirouter at startup.

Building a KVM image

You can also build a disk image for booting in KVM using vmbetter (see the vmbetter tutorial for more information)

$ ./bin/vmbetter -branch stable -level debug misc/vmbetter_configs/minirouter.conf

Running minirouter without an image

minirouter is simply a Linux binary that can run on any Linux system. You do not specifically need to build an image to run it, although it is more convenient.

To use minirouter, you must have the miniccc agent running, and minirouter must be able to access the miniccc tool and files directory (see minirouter -h for default paths).

minirouter uses iptool, dnsmasq, dhclient, and bird, all of which must be installed but not already running. minirouter must run as root.

Beyond these few requirements, minirouter should run on most linux systems.

Starting minirouter

VMs running the minirouter tool must have miniccc running as well (this is already configured in the prebuilt minirouter image). Configuring a minirouter image is similar to describing and launching a VM in minimega. One first describes the router parameters, and then commits the configuration, which causes the minirouter tool to set IPs and start other necessary tools on the router VM. minirouter VMs must be running before configuring the router, and configurations can be updated at runtime.

The router API requires a VM name or ID when configuring a router. For example, to set a static IP on a running minirouter VM named 'foo':

minimega$ router foo interface 0
minimega$ router foo commit

While the first command above sets the configuration for the router image, the second line actually commits the configuration by sending commands to minirouter over the command and control layer in minimega. Multiple configuration commands can be issued and then later committed with a single commit command.


Routers often have statically assigned IP addresses and minirouter supports both IPv4 and IPv6 address specification using the interface API. For example, to add the IP to the second interface on a minirouter VM:

minimega$ vm config net a b

# add an ip to interface b (index 1)
minimega$ router foo interface 1

Multiple addresses can be added to the same interface as well:

minimega$ router foo interface 0
minimega$ router foo interface 0 2001:1::1/64

minirouter can also assign loopback interfaces. These types of interfaces are useful in routing processes (i.e. OSPF)

minimega$ router foo interface 1 lo


We use dnsmasq to provide DHCP, router advertisements, and DNS capabilities in minirouter. dnsmasq has extensive support for various DHCP and DNS options, and minirouter uses a subset of common capabilities.


minirouter supports DHCP assignment of connected clients and supports both IP range and static IP assignment. minirouter also supports several DHCP options such as setting the default gateway and nameserver.

For example, to serve the IP range - on a network, specify the network prefix and DHCP range:

minimega$ router foo dhcp range

You can also specify static IP assignments with a MAC/IP address pair:

minimega$ router foo dhcp static 00:11:22:33:44:55

Additionally, you can specify the default gateway and nameserver:

minimega$ router foo dhcp router
minimega$ router foo dhcp dns

All of these DHCP options can be used together in a single DHCP specification, and multiple DHCP servers can be specified on a single minirouter instance (for serving DHCP on multiple interfaces/networks).

IPv6 Router Advertisements

minirouter supports IPv6 router advertisements using the Neighbor Discovery Protocol to enable SLAAC addressing. To enable route advertisements simply provide the subnet. Only the subnet prefix is required as SLAAC addressing requires a /64 and is implied.

minimega$ router foo ra 2001:1:2:3::


minirouter provides a simple mechanism to add A or AAAA records for any host/IP (including IPv6) pair. Simply specify the host and IP address of the record:

minimega$ router foo dns


minirouter uses the bird routing daemon to provide routing using a variety of protocols. Currently, minirouter only supports static, OSPF and bgp routes.

Bird is a lightweight routing daemon that scales well. In our tests we were able to scale minirouter with bird to at least 40 gigabit.

Static routes

minirouter makes possible adding IPv4 or IPv6 static routes by simply specifying the destination network and net-hop IP. For example, to add a static IPv4 route for the network via

minimega$ router foo route static

Or to specify a default route:

minimega$ router foo route static

IPv6 routes are added in the same way:

minimega$ router foo route static 2001:1:2:3::/64 2001:1:2:3::1

You can also give names to static routes so you can combine multple routes under a single name. By doing so you can create simple filter or advertise this route in routing processes like OSPF and BGP. For example, setting a static route with the name bar-route

minimega$ router foo route static bar-route


minirouter provides basic support for OSPF and OSPFv3 (IPv6 enabled OSPF) by specifying the OSPF area and interface to include in the area. OSPF generally supports specifying networks and many other options, which minirouter may add in the future. Specifying an interface (and all of the networks on that interface) is provided. Both OSPF and OSPFv3 are enabled by minirouter. You can also specify specific networks or static routes into the OSPF process.

Interfaces are identified by the index in which they were added by the vm config net API. For example, to add the first and third network of the router VM to area 0 in an OSPF route:

minimega$ vm config net a b c

# add interface 'a', index 0
minimega$ router foo route ospf 0 0

# add interface 'c', index 2
minimega$ router foo route ospf 0 2

Now lets say you want to advertise a network that is on index 1 but you do not want interface 1 to participate in OSPF (i.e. its an Internet facing interface)

# advertise network in OSPF area 0
minimega$router foo route ospf 0 export

Say you want to advertise a specific static route(s) into the ospf process. The export command provides this functionality

# advertise network default route in OSPF area 0
minimega$router foo route static default-route
minimega$router foo route ospf export default-route


‘minirouter’ provides basic support for BGP on IPv4 Networks. Each BGP peering relationship or process needs to have a name, local information, neighbor information and whats being exported. The local and neighbor information will be IP address and AS numbers. You can additionally set up whats being exported i.e. all learned routes or just routes specified. The filter keyword allows you to use named static routes for simple route filtering. More advanced route filtering is planned. Route reflection can also be configured if you want to configure a particular router to be a route reflector server by default all routers are BGP route clients.

For example R1 has an ip of in AS 100 and R2 has an IP of in AS 20. We would like R1 just to announce the network to R2 while on R2 we want to advertise all learned routes. We could also optionally add additional routes by adding more export statements to R2

To configure BGP:

#Set up routes to be advertised by BGP
minimega$router R1 route static 0 bar-route

#BGP Config    
minimega$router R1 route bgp BgpToR2 local 100
minimega$router R1 route bgp BgpToR2 neighbor 200
minimega$router R1 route bgp BgpToR2 export filter bar-route

minimega$router R2 route bgp BgpToR1 local 200
minimega$router R2 route bgp BgpToR1 neighbor 100
minimega$router R2 route bgp BgpToR1 export all

To configure route reflection:

minimega$router R2 route bgp BgpToR1 rrclient


The minimega authors

11 July 2016