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Debian GNU/Linux Reference Guide
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10.6.1 High level network configuration using ifupdown

In order to make network configuration easier Debian provides a standard high level network configuration tool consisting of the ifup and ifdown programs and the /etc/network/interfaces file. [ 56] If you choose to use ifupdown to do your network configuration then normally you should not use low-level commands too. This means also that you should not use other high level configuration tools such as whereami, divine, intuitively, etc., that call low level configuration tools. The ifupdown program was written with the intent that it alone be used to configure and deconfigure network interfaces.

To update interface configuration do this:

     # ifdown eth0
     # editor /etc/network/interfaces  # tweak as you wish
     # ifup eth0

For more information see interfaces(5), /usr/share/doc/ifupdown/examples/network-interfaces.gz, and ifup(8). Configuring an interface with a static IP address

Suppose you want to configure an Ethernet interface such that it has a fixed IP address of This address begins with 192.168.0 so it must be on a LAN. Suppose further that is the address of the LAN's gateway to the Internet. Edit /etc/network/interfaces so that it includes a stanza like this:

     iface eth0 inet static

You can configure other aspects of the interface or perform other actions after the interface is brought up or before it is brought down by specifying appropriate commands on "up" and "down" lines.

     iface eth0 inet static
             up route add -net netmask gw dev $IFACE
             down route del -net netmask gw dev $IFACE
             up echo Interface $IFACE going up | /usr/bin/logger -t ifup
             down echo Interface $IFACE Going down | /usr/bin/logger -t ifdown

Alternatively, commands can be inserted into scripts in the /etc/network/if-up.d and /etc/network/if-down.d directories. Such scripts can also implement extended options. See interfaces(5) for details. For example, the resolvconf package includes scripts that allow you to add options specifying DNS information to be included in /etc/resolv.conf while the interface is up:

     iface eth0 inet static

The argument of the dns-search option corresponds to the argument of a search option in resolv.conf(5). The arguments and of the dns-nameservers option correspond to the arguments of nameserver options. Other recognized options are dns-domain and dns-sortlist. See Managing nameserver information – resolvconf, Section 10.4.2. Configuring an interface using DHCP

To configure an interface using DHCP edit /etc/network/interfaces so that it includes a stanza like this:

     iface eth0 inet dhcp

In order for this to work you must have installed one of the DHCP clients mentioned in Configuring network interfaces using DHCP, Section 10.5. Configuring a Wi-Fi interface

The wireless-tools package includes a hook script /etc/network/if-pre-up.d/wireless-tools which makes it possible to configure Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g) hardware before the interface is brought up. Configuration is done using the iwconfig program; see iwconfig(8). For each possible command parameter of iwconfig you can include an option in /etc/network/interfaces named like that parameter with a "wireless-" prefix. For example, to set the ESSID of eth0 to myessid and the encryption key to 123456789e prior to bringing eth0 up using DHCP, edit /etc/network/interfaces so that it includes a stanza like this:

     iface eth0 inet dhcp
             wireless-essid myessid
             wireless-key 123456789e

Note that you should not use this method of setting the ESSID and key if you are running waproamd for this interface. By the time ifup is run waproamd has already set the ESSID and key. See Triggering network configuration – waproamd, Section 10.8.4. Configuring a PPP interface

The ifup and ifdown programs use pon and poff to add and remove PPP interfaces so first read Configuring a PPP interface, Section 10.2.4.

Suppose you have set up PPP to work with peer myisp. Edit /etc/network/interfaces so that it includes a stanza like this:

     iface ppp0 inet ppp
             provider myisp

With this stanza in place, ifup ppp0 does

     pon myisp

Unfortunately it is currently not possible to provide additional pppd options in a ppp stanza in /etc/network/interfaces. [ 57]

It is currently not possible to use ifupdown to perform auxiliary configuration of PPP interfaces. Because pon exits before pppd has finished making the connection, ifup runs up scripts before the PPP interface is ready for use. Until this bug [ 58] is fixed it remains necessary to do auxiliary configuration in /etc/ppp/ip-up or /etc/ppp/ip-up.d/. Configuring a PPPoE interface

Many broadband Internet Service Providers (ISPs) use PPP to negotiate connections even though customer machines are connected to them through Ethernet and/or ATM networks. This is accomplished by means of PPP over Ethernet (PPPoE) which is a technique for the encapsulation of PPP streams inside of Ethernet frames. Suppose your ISP is called myisp. First configure PPP and PPPoE for peer myisp. The easiest way to do this is to install the pppoeconf package and to run pppoeconf from the console. Then edit /etc/network/interfaces so that it includes a stanza like this:

     iface eth0 inet ppp
             provider myisp

There are sometimes Maximum Transmit Unit (MTU) issues with PPPoE over Digital Subscriber Line (DSL). See DSL-HOWTO for details.

Note that if your broadband modem contains a router then the modem/router handles the PPPoE connection itself and appears on the LAN side as a simple Ethernet gateway to the Internet. Configuring multiple Ethernet interfaces for a gateway

Suppose eth0 is connected to the Internet with a DHCP-configured IP address and eth1 is connected to the LAN with static IP address Edit /etc/network/interfaces so that it includes stanzas like these:

     iface eth0 inet dhcp
     iface eth1 inet static

If you activate NAT on this host as described in Building a gateway router, Section 10.12 then you can share the Internet connection with all the hosts on the LAN. Configuring virtual interfaces

Using virtual interfaces you can configure a single Ethernet card to be an interface to several IP subnetworks. For example, suppose your host is on LAN network 192.168.0.x/24. You want to connect the host to the Internet using a public IP address provided via DHCP using your existing Ethernet card. Edit /etc/network/interfaces so that it includes stanzas like these:

     iface eth0 inet static
     iface eth0:0 inet dhcp

The interface eth0:0 is a virtual interface. When it is brought up, so will its parent eth0.

Debian GNU/Linux Reference Guide
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