Disable libvirt networking

Most OpenStack deployments use the libvirt toolkit for interacting with the hypervisor. Specifically, OpenStack Compute uses libvirt for tasks such as booting and terminating virtual machine instances. When OpenStack Compute boots a new instance, libvirt provides OpenStack with the VIF associated with the instance, and OpenStack Compute plugs the VIF into a virtual device provided by OpenStack Network. The libvirt toolkit itself does not provide any networking functionality in OpenStack deployments.

However, libvirt is capable of providing networking services to the virtual machines that it manages. In particular, libvirt can be configured to provide networking functionality akin to a simplified, single-node version of OpenStack. Users can use libvirt to create layer 2 networks that are similar to OpenStack Networking’s networks, confined to a single node.

libvirt network implementation

By default, libvirt’s networking functionality is enabled, and libvirt creates a network when the system boots. To implement this network, libvirt leverages some of the same technologies that OpenStack Network does. In particular, libvirt uses:

  • Linux bridging for implementing a layer 2 network

  • dnsmasq for providing IP addresses to virtual machines using DHCP

  • iptables to implement SNAT so instances can connect out to the public internet, and to ensure that virtual machines are permitted to communicate with dnsmasq using DHCP

By default, libvirt creates a network named default. The details of this network may vary by distribution; on Ubuntu this network involves:

  • a Linux bridge named virbr0 with an IP address of

  • a dnsmasq process that listens on the virbr0 interface and hands out IP addresses in the range

  • a set of iptables rules

When libvirt boots a virtual machine, it places the machine’s VIF in the bridge virbr0 unless explicitly told not to.

On Ubuntu, the iptables ruleset that libvirt creates includes the following rules:

-A POSTROUTING -s ! -d -p tcp -j MASQUERADE --to-ports 1024-65535
-A POSTROUTING -s ! -d -p udp -j MASQUERADE --to-ports 1024-65535
-A POSTROUTING -o virbr0 -p udp -m udp --dport 68 -j CHECKSUM --checksum-fill
-A INPUT -i virbr0 -p udp -m udp --dport 53 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -i virbr0 -p tcp -m tcp --dport 53 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -i virbr0 -p udp -m udp --dport 67 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -i virbr0 -p tcp -m tcp --dport 67 -j ACCEPT
-A FORWARD -d -o virbr0 -m conntrack --ctstate RELATED,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
-A FORWARD -s -i virbr0 -j ACCEPT
-A FORWARD -i virbr0 -o virbr0 -j ACCEPT
-A FORWARD -o virbr0 -j REJECT --reject-with icmp-port-unreachable
-A FORWARD -i virbr0 -j REJECT --reject-with icmp-port-unreachable
-A OUTPUT -o virbr0 -p udp -m udp --dport 68 -j ACCEPT

The following shows the dnsmasq process that libvirt manages as it appears in the output of ps:

2881 ?        S      0:00 /usr/sbin/dnsmasq --conf-file=/var/lib/libvirt/dnsmasq/default.conf

How to disable libvirt networks

Although OpenStack does not make use of libvirt’s networking, this networking will not interfere with OpenStack’s behavior, and can be safely left enabled. However, libvirt’s networking can be a nuisance when debugging OpenStack networking issues. Because libvirt creates an additional bridge, dnsmasq process, and iptables ruleset, these may distract an operator engaged in network troubleshooting. Unless you need to start up virtual machines using libvirt directly, you can safely disable libvirt’s network.

To view the defined libvirt networks and their state:

# virsh net-list
 Name                 State      Autostart     Persistent
 default              active     yes           yes

To deactivate the libvirt network named default:

# virsh net-destroy default

Deactivating the network will remove the virbr0 bridge, terminate the dnsmasq process, and remove the iptables rules.

To prevent the network from automatically starting on boot:

# virsh net-autostart --network default --disable

To activate the network after it has been deactivated:

# virsh net-start default