Basics for Administering Physical Interfaces
Network interfaces provide the connection between a system and a network. A Solaris OS-based
system can have two types of interfaces, physical and logical. Physical interfaces consist of a
software driver and a connector into which you connect network media, such as
an Ethernet cable. Physical interfaces can be grouped for administrative or availability purposes.
Logical interfaces are configured onto existing physical interfaces, usually for adding addresses and creating tunnel
endpoints on the physical interfaces.
Note - Logical network interfaces are described in the tasks where they are used: IPv6
tasks, IPMP tasks, DHCP tasks, and others.
Most computer systems have at least one physical interface that is built-in by
the manufacturer on the main system board. Some systems can also have more
than one built-in interface.
In addition to built-in interfaces, you can add separately purchased interfaces to a
system. A separately purchased interface is known as a network interface card (NIC). You
physically install a NIC according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Note - NICs are also referred to as network adapters.
During system installation, the Solaris installation program detects any interfaces that are
physically installed and displays each interface's name. You must configure at least one
interface from the list of interfaces. The first interface to be configured during
installation becomes the primary network interface. The IP address of the primary network interface is
associated with the configured host name of the system, which is stored in
the /etc/nodename file. However, you can configure any additional interfaces during installation or
Network Interface Names
Each physical interface is identified by a unique device name. Device names have
the following syntax:
Driver names on Solaris systems could include ce, hme, bge, e1000g and
many other driver names. The variable instance-number can have a value from zero to
n, depending on how many interfaces of that driver type are installed on
For example, consider a 100BASE-TX Fast Ethernet interface, which is often used as
the primary network interface on both host systems and server systems. Some typical
driver names for this interface are eri, qfe, and hme. When used
as the primary network interface, the Fast Ethernet interface has a device name
such as eri0 or qfe0.
NICs such as eri and hme have only one interface. However, many brands
of NICs have multiple interfaces. For example, the Quad Fast Ethernet (qfe) card
has four interfaces, qfe0 through qfe3.
Plumbing an Interface
An interface must be plumbed before it can pass traffic between the system
and the network. The plumbing process involves associating an interface with a device
name. Then, streams are set up so that the interface can be used
by the IP protocol. Both physical interfaces and logical interfaces must be plumbed.
Interfaces are plumbed either as part of the boot sequence or explicitly, with
the appropriate syntax of the ifconfig command.
When you configure an interface during installation, the interface is automatically plumbed. If
you decide during installation not to configure the additional interfaces on the system,
those interfaces are not plumbed.
Solaris OS Interface Types
The Solaris OS supports the following two types of interfaces:
Legacy interfaces – These interfaces are DLPI interfaces and GLDv2 interfaces. Some legacy interface types are eri, qfe, and ce. When you check interface status with the dladm show-link command, these interfaces are reported as “legacy.”
Non-VLAN interfaces – These interfaces are GLDv3 interfaces.
Note - Currently GLDv3 is supported on the following interface types: bge, xge, and e1000g.