Native Open vSwitch firewall driver

Historically, Open vSwitch (OVS) could not interact directly with iptables to implement security groups. Thus, the OVS agent and Compute service use a Linux bridge between each instance (VM) and the OVS integration bridge br-int to implement security groups. The Linux bridge device contains the iptables rules pertaining to the instance. In general, additional components between instances and physical network infrastructure cause scalability and performance problems. To alleviate such problems, the OVS agent includes an optional firewall driver that natively implements security groups as flows in OVS rather than the Linux bridge device and iptables. This increases scalability and performance.

Configuring heterogeneous firewall drivers

L2 agents can be configured to use differing firewall drivers. There is no requirement that they all be the same. If an agent lacks a firewall driver configuration, it will default to what is configured on its server. This also means there is no requirement that the server has any firewall driver configured at all, as long as the agents are configured correctly.


The native OVS firewall implementation requires kernel and user space support for conntrack, thus requiring minimum versions of the Linux kernel and Open vSwitch. All cases require Open vSwitch version 2.5 or newer.

  • Kernel version 4.3 or newer includes conntrack support.

  • Kernel version 3.3, but less than 4.3, does not include conntrack support and requires building the OVS modules.

Enable the native OVS firewall driver

  • On nodes running the Open vSwitch agent, edit the openvswitch_agent.ini file and enable the firewall driver.

    firewall_driver = openvswitch

For more information, see the Open vSwitch Firewall Driver and the video.

Using GRE tunnels inside VMs with OVS firewall driver

If GRE tunnels from VM to VM are going to be used, the native OVS firewall implementation requires nf_conntrack_proto_gre module to be loaded in the kernel on nodes running the Open vSwitch agent. It can be loaded with the command:

# modprobe nf_conntrack_proto_gre

Some Linux distributions have files that can be used to automatically load kernel modules at boot time, for example, /etc/modules. Check with your distribution for further information.

This isn’t necessary to use gre tunnel network type Neutron.