Configuring Cumulus Linux and FRRouting

Most networking devices1 use a configuration command line interface (CLI) to interact with the end-user. The CLI usually provides show commands to inspect the state of the device and a configuration mode that allows the user to configure the device.

Cumulus Linux and FRRouting are different. They are implemented as an application/management layer on top of Linux and use Linux shell as the initial CLI. To configure them, you have to:

The Linux interfaces and IP addresses will be configured automatically if you start the BGP labs with the netlab up command. You will have to start the routing protocol daemons if you plan to use Cumulus Linux or FRRouting as the user routers, and you might have to execute show commands on Cumulus Linux or FRRouting acting as the external routers. You’ll practice both in this lab exercise.

Lab topology

Start the Lab

Assuming you already set up your lab infrastructure:

  • Change directory to basic/0-frrouting
  • Execute netlab up to start a lab with two Cumulus Linux or FRR virtual machines or containers (depending on your lab setup).


The lab topology uses Cumulus Linux virtual machines or containers but switches to FRR containers if you’re running the labs on an ARM CPU (for example, on Macbooks using Apple silicon).

  • Log into the devices (rtr and x1) with the netlab connect command.

Start the BGP Daemon

Most network devices start routing daemons when you configure them through the configuration CLI or API. FRRouting (the routing daemons used in Cumulus Linux) is different: you have to enable the desired routing daemons in a configuration file and restart the top-level FRRouting process.


You can skip this step if you use NVUE CLI to configure routing on Cumulus Linux 5.x – it automatically enables FRR daemons before configuring them.


You cannot restart the top-level FRRouting process in an FRR container. When you use FRRouting containers in your labs, netlab always enables the BGP daemon.

You can check the FRR daemons running on your device with the ps -ef|grep frr command. This is the printout you could get before enabling the BGP daemon:

rtr(bash)#ps -ef|grep frr
frr       1827     1  0 10:46 ?        00:00:00 /usr/lib/frr/zebra -d -F datacenter -M cumulus_mlag -M snmp -A -s 90000000
frr       1841     1  0 10:46 ?        00:00:00 /usr/lib/frr/staticd -d -F datacenter -A
root      2291     1  0 10:46 ?        00:00:00 /usr/lib/frr/watchfrr -d -F datacenter zebra staticd
root      2340  2325  0 10:47 pts/1    00:00:00 grep frr

To enable the FRRouting BGP daemon, you have to:

  • Add the bgpd=yes line to the /etc/frrouting/daemons file.
  • Restart FRRouting with the sudo systemctl restart frr.service command (see also: using sudo)


See Configuring FRRouting Cumulus Linux documentation for more details.

You could add the required line to the FRRouting daemons file with any text editor or use the following trick:

  • Use sudo bash to start another Linux shell as the root user
  • Use the echo command with output redirection to add a line to the /etc/frrrouting/daemons file.
rtr(bash)#sudo bash
root@rtr:/# echo 'bgpd=yes' >>/etc/frr/daemons
root@rtr:/# exit

After enabling the BGP daemon and restarting FRR, you should see the bgpd process in the ps -ef printout:

root      2543     1  0 10:52 ?        00:00:00 /usr/lib/frr/watchfrr -d -F datacenter zebra bgpd staticd
frr       2566     1  0 10:52 ?        00:00:00 /usr/lib/frr/zebra -d -F datacenter -M cumulus_mlag -M snmp -A -s 90000000
frr       2580     1  0 10:52 ?        00:00:00 /usr/lib/frr/bgpd -d -F datacenter -M snmp -A
frr       2586     1  0 10:52 ?        00:00:00 /usr/lib/frr/staticd -d -F datacenter -A
root      2594  2325  0 10:52 pts/1    00:00:00 grep frr

Work with the FRRouting CLI

FRRouting suite includes a virtual shell (vtysh) closely resembling industry-standard CLI2. It has to be started from the Linux command line with the vtysh command. The vtysh CLI has to run as the root user unless you change the FRR-related permissions to allow a regular user to use it. The usual command to start the vtysh is thus sudo vtysh (but see also To Sudo Or Not to Sudo).

rtr(bash)#sudo vtysh

Hello, this is FRRouting (version 7.5+cl4.4.0u4).
Copyright 1996-2005 Kunihiro Ishiguro, et al.


Once you started vtysh, you can execute show commands to inspect the device state, for example:

x1(bash)#sudo vtysh

Hello, this is FRRouting (version 7.5+cl4.4.0u4).
Copyright 1996-2005 Kunihiro Ishiguro, et al.

x1# show ip bgp
BGP table version is 1, local router ID is, vrf id 0
Default local pref 100, local AS 65100
Status codes:  s suppressed, d damped, h history, * valid, > best, = multipath,
               i internal, r RIB-failure, S Stale, R Removed
Nexthop codes: @NNN nexthop's vrf id, < announce-nh-self
Origin codes:  i - IGP, e - EGP, ? - incomplete

   Network          Next Hop            Metric LocPrf Weight Path
*>                  0         32768 i

Displayed  1 routes and 1 total paths

To configure FRRouting daemons, use the configure vtysh command and enter configuration commands similar to those you’d use on Cisco IOS or Arista EOS:

x1(bash)#sudo vtysh

Hello, this is FRRouting (version 7.5+cl4.4.0u4).
Copyright 1996-2005 Kunihiro Ishiguro, et al.

x1# configure
x1(config)# router bgp 65100

To Sudo Or Not to Sudo

The vtysh usually has to run as the root user, so you should start it with the sudo vtysh command. Unfortunately, things are never as simple as they look:

  • When using SSH, you log into Cumulus Linux or FRRouting virtual machines as a regular user (user vagrant in netlab-created labs) and have to use the sudo command to start vtysh.
  • Cumulus Linux and FRR containers run as the root user, and you connect to them as the root user with the docker exec or netlab connect commands. When working with containers, you can start vtysh without using the sudo command.
  • You can execute sudo vtysh as a root user on Cumulus Linux, but not within an FRR container – the FRR container does not include the sudo command.

Long story short:

  • Use sudo vtysh whenever possible to burn it into your muscle memory.
  • Use vtysh if you use FRRouting containers as the lab devices.

Using Output Filters

Unlike many other network operating systems, FRR vtysh does not have output filters. You probably don’t need them as you’ll be running FRR on top of a Unix-like operating system that supports pipes, but it might be a bit convoluted to use vtysh in a pipe.

To use the vtysh output in a pipe, you have to execute vtysh and get the results of a show command in a single command:

  • You could use sudo vtysh -c 'show command' when you’re in the bash shell of a lab device, for example:
$ sudo vtysh -c 'show ip bgp' | grep 32768
*>                  0         32768 i
  • Alternatively, you could use the netlab connect --show command to execute a vtysh show command on a lab device:
$ netlab connect x1 --show ip bgp | grep 32768
Connecting to container clab-originate-x1, executing sudo vtysh -c "show ip bgp"
*>                  0         32768 i


Use netlab connect --quiet --show to omit the Connecting to... message.

The following table contains a mapping between common network operating system filters and Linux CLI commands:

NOS filter Linux CLI command
include grep
exclude grep -v
begin grep -A 100003
end grep -B 10000
section no equivalent

  1. Including devices based on Linux like Arista EOS, Cisco Nexus OS, or Nokia SR Linux 

  2. An euphemism for Cisco IOS CLI that is used when you try to avoid nasty encounters with Cisco’s legal team. 

  3. The ‘10000’ parameter specifies the number of lines after the match. Increase it for very long printouts ;)