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System Administration Guide: IP Services
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IPQoS Architecture and the Diffserv Model

This section describes the IPQoS architecture and how IPQoS implements the differentiated services (Diffserv) model that is defined inRFC 2475, An Architecture for Differentiated Services. The following elements of the Diffserv model are included in IPQoS:

  • Classifier

  • Meter

  • Marker

In addition, IPQoS includes the flow-accounting module and the dlcosmk marker for use with virtual local area network (VLAN) devices.

Classifier Module

In the Diffserv model, the classifier is responsible for organizing selected traffic flows into groups on which to apply different service levels. The classifiers that are defined in RFC 2475 were originally designed for boundary routers. In contrast, the IPQoS classifier ipgpc is designed to handle traffic flows on hosts that are internal to the local network. Therefore, a network with both IPQoS systems and a Diffserv router can provide a greater degree of differentiated services. For a technical description of ipgpc, refer to the ipgpc(7ipp) man page.

The ipgpc classifier does the following:

  1. Selects traffic flows that meet the criteria specified in the IPQoS configuration file on the IPQoS-enabled system

    The QoS policy defines various criteria that must be present in packet headers. These criteria are called selectors. The ipgpc classifier compares these selectors against the headers of packets that are received by the IPQoS system. ipgpc then selects all matching packets.

  2. Separates the packet flows into classes, network traffic with the same characteristics, as defined in the IPQoS configuration file

  3. Examines the value in the packet's differentiated service (DS) field for the presence of a differentiated services codepoint (DSCP)

    The presence of the DSCP indicates whether the incoming traffic has been marked by the sender with a forwarding behavior.

  4. Determines what further action is specified in the IPQoS configuration file for packets of a particular class

  5. Passes the packets to the next IPQoS module specified in the IPQoS configuration file, or returns the packets to the network stream

For an overview of the classifier, refer to Classifier (ipgpc) Overview. For information on invoking the classifier in the IPQoS configuration file, refer to IPQoS Configuration File.

IPQoS Selectors

The ipgpc classifier supports a variety of selectors that you can use in the filter clause of the IPQoS configuration file. When you define a filter, always use the minimum number of selectors that are needed to successfully retrieve traffic of a particular class. The number of filters you define can impact IPQoS performance.

The next table lists the selectors that are available for ipgpc.

Table 37-1 Filter Selectors for the IPQoS Classifier



Information Selected


IP address number.

Source address.


IP address number.

Destination address.


Either a port number or service name, as defined in /etc/services.

Source port from which a traffic class originated.


Either a port number or service name, as defined in /etc/services.

Destination port to which a traffic class is bound.


Either a protocol number or protocol name, as defined in /etc/protocols.

Protocol to be used by this traffic class.


DS codepoint (DSCP) with a value of 0–63.

DSCP, which defines any forwarding behavior to be applied to the packet. If this parameter is specified, the dsfield_mask parameter must also be specified.


Bit mask with a value of 0–255.

Used in tandem with the dsfield selector. dsfield_mask is applied to the dsfield selector to determine which of its bits to match against.


Interface name.

Interface to be used for either incoming or outgoing traffic of a particular class.


Interface group name.

Interface group to be used for either incoming or outgoing traffic of a particular class.


Number of the UNIX user ID or user name to be selected. If no user ID or user name is on the packet, the default –1 is used.

User ID that is supplied to an application.


Number of the project ID to be selected.

Project ID that is supplied to an application.


Priority number. Lowest priority is 0.

Priority that is given to packets of this class. Priority is used to order the importance of filters for the same class.


Argument can be one of the following:

Direction of packet flow on the IPQoS machine.


Input traffic local to the IPQoS system.


Output traffic local to the IPQoS system.


Input traffic to be forwarded.


Output traffic to be forwarded.


Precedence value. Highest precedence is 0.

Precedence is used to order filters with the same priority.


V4 or V6

Addressing scheme that is used by the packets, either IPv4 or IPv6.

Meter Module

The meter tracks the transmission rate of flows on a per-packet basis. The meter then determines whether the packet conforms to the configured parameters. The meter module determines the next action for a packet from a set of actions that depend on packet size, configured parameters, and flow rate.

The meter consists of two metering modules, tokenmt and tswtclmt, which you configure in the IPQoS configuration file. You can configure either module or both modules for a class.

When you configure a metering module, you can define two parameters for rate:

  • committed-rate – Defines the acceptable transmission rate in bits per second for packets of a particular class

  • peak-rate – Defines the maximum transmission rate in bits per second that is allowable for packets of a particular class

A metering action on a packet can result in one of three outcomes:

  • green – The packet causes the flow to remain within its committed rate.

  • yellow – The packet causes the flow to exceed its committed rate but not its peak rate.

  • red – The packet causes the flow to exceed its peak rate.

You can configure each outcome with different actions in the IPQoS configuration file. Committed rate and peak rate are explained in the next section.

tokenmt Metering Module

The tokenmt module uses token buckets to measure the transmission rate of a flow. You can configure tokenmt to operate as a single-rate or two-rate meter. A tokenmt action instance maintains two token buckets that determine whether the traffic flow conforms to configured parameters.

The tokenmt(7ipp) man page explains how IPQoS implements the token meter paradigm. You can find more general information about token buckets in Kalevi Kilkki's Differentiated Services for the Internet and on a number of web sites.

Configuration parameters for tokenmt are as follows:

  • committed_rate – Specifies the committed rate of the flow in bits per second.

  • committed_burst – Specifies the committed burst size in bits. The committed_burst parameter defines how many outgoing packets of a particular class can pass onto the network at the committed rate.

  • peak_rate – Specifies the peak rate in bits per second.

  • peak_burst – Specifies the peak or excess burst size in bits. The peak_burst parameter grants to a traffic class a peak-burst size that exceeds the committed rate.

  • color_aware – Turns on awareness mode for tokenmt.

  • color_map – Defines an integer array that maps DSCP values to green, yellow, or red.

Configuring tokenmt as a Single-Rate Meter

To configure tokenmt as a single-rate meter, do not specify a peak_rate parameter for tokenmt in the IPQoS configuration file. To configure a single-rate tokenmt instance to have a red, green, or a yellow outcome, you must specify the peak_burst parameter. If you do not use the peak_burst parameter, you can configure tokenmt to have only a red outcome or green outcome. For an example of a single-rate tokenmt with two outcomes, see Example 34-3.

When tokenmt operates as a single-rate meter, the peak_burst parameter is actually the excess burst size. committed_rate, and either committed_burst or peak_burst, must be nonzero positive integers.

Configuring tokenmt as a Two-Rate Meter

To configure tokenmt as a two-rate meter, specify a peak_rate parameter for the tokenmt action in the IPQoS configuration file. A two-rate tokenmt always has the three outcomes, red, yellow, and green. The committed_rate, committed_burst, and peak_burst parameters must be nonzero positive integers.

Configuring tokenmt to Be Color Aware

To configure a two-rate tokenmt to be color aware, you must add parameters to specifically add “color awareness.” The following is an example action statement that configures tokenmt to be color aware.

Example 37-1 Color-Aware tokenmt Action for the IPQoS Configuration File
action {
    module tokenmt
    name meter1
    params {
          committed_rate 4000000
          peak_rate 8000000
          committed_burst 4000000
          peak_burst 8000000
          global_stats true
          red_action_name continue
          yellow_action_name continue
          green_action_name continue
          color_aware true
          color_map {0-20,22:GREEN;21,23-42:RED;43-63:YELLOW}

You turn on color awareness by setting the color_aware parameter to true. As a color-aware meter, tokenmt assumes that the packet has already been marked as red, yellow, or green by a previous tokenmt action. Color-aware tokenmt evaluates a packet by using the DSCP in the packet header in addition to the parameters for a two-rate meter.

The color_map parameter contains an array into which the DSCP in the packet header is mapped. Consider the following color_map array:

color_map {0-20,22:GREEN;21,23-42:RED;43-63:YELLOW}

Packets with a DSCP of 0–20 and 22 are mapped to green. Packets with a DSCP of 21 and 23–42 are mapped to red. Packets with a DSCP of 43–63 are mapped to yellow. tokenmt maintains a default color map. However, you can change the default as needed by using the color_map parameters.

In the color_action_name parameters, you can specify continue to complete processing of the packet. Or, you can add an argument to send the packet to a marker action, for example, yellow_action_name mark22.

tswtclmt Metering Module

The tswtclmt metering module estimates average bandwidth for a traffic class by using a time-based rate estimator. tswtclmt always operates as a three-outcome meter. The rate estimator provides an estimate of the flow's arrival rate. This rate should approximate the running average bandwidth of the traffic stream over a specific period or time, its time window. The rate estimation algorithm is taken from RFC 2859, A Time Sliding Window Three Colour Marker.

You use the following parameters to configure tswtclmt:

  • committed_rate – Specifies the committed rate in bits per second

  • peak_rate – Specifies the peak rate in bits per second

  • window – Defines the time window, in milliseconds over which history of average bandwidth is kept

For technical details on tswtclmt, refer to thetswtclmt(7ipp) man page. For general information on rate shapers that are similar to tswtclmt, see RFC 2963, A Rate Adaptive Shaper for Differentiated Services.

Marker Module

IPQoS includes two marker modules, dscpmk and dlcosmk. This section contains information for using both markers. Normally, you should use dscpmk because dlcosmk is only available for IPQoS systems with VLAN devices.

For technical information about dscpmk, refer to the dscpmk(7ipp) man page. For technical information about dlcosmk, refer to the dlcosmk(7ipp) man page.

Using the dscpmk Marker for Forwarding Packets

The marker receives traffic flows after the flows are processed by the classifier or by the metering modules. The marker marks the traffic with a forwarding behavior. This forwarding behavior is the action to be taken on the flows after the flows leaving the IPQoS system. Forwarding behavior to be taken on a traffic class is defined in the per-hop behavior (PHB). The PHB assigns a priority to a traffic class, which indicates the precedence flows of that class in relation to other traffic classes. PHBs only govern forwarding behaviors on the IPQoS system's contiguous network. For more information on PHBs, refer to Per-Hop Behaviors.

Packet forwarding is the process of sending traffic of a particular class to its next destination on a network. For a host such as an IPQoS system, a packet is forwarded from the host to the local network stream. For a Diffserv router, a packet is forwarded from the local network to the router's next hop.

The marker marks the DS field in the packet header with a well-known forwarding behavior that is defined in the IPQoS configuration file. Thereafter, the IPQoS system and subsequent Diffserv-aware systems forward the traffic as indicated in the DS field until the mark changes. To assign a PHB, the IPQoS system marks a value in the DS field of the packet header. This value is called the differentiated services codepoint (DSCP). The Diffserv architecture defines two types of forwarding behaviors, EF and AF, which use different DSCPs. For overview information about DSCPs, refer to DS Codepoint.

The IPQoS system reads the DSCP for the traffic flow and evaluates the flow's precedence in relation to other outgoing traffic flows. The IPQoS system then prioritizes all concurrent traffic flows and releases each flow onto the network by its priority.

The Diffserv router receives the outgoing traffic flows and reads the DS field in the packet headers. The DSCP enables the router to prioritize and schedule the concurrent traffic flows. The router forwards each flow by the priority that is indicated by the PHB. Note that the PHB cannot apply beyond the boundary router of the network unless Diffserv-aware systems on subsequent hops also recognize the same PHB.

Expedited Forwarding (EF) PHB

Expedited forwarding (EF) guarantees that packets with the recommended EF codepoint 46 (101110) receive the best treatment that is available on release to the network. Expedited forwarding is often compared to a leased line. Packets with the 46 (101110) codepoint are guaranteed preferential treatment by all Diffserv routers en route to the packets' destination. For technical information about EF, refer to RFC 2598, An Expedited Forwarding PHB.

Assured Forwarding (AF) PHB

Assured forwarding (AF) provides four different classes of forwarding behaviors that you can specify to the marker. The next table shows the classes, the three drop precedences that are provided with each class, and the recommended DSCPs that are associated with each precedence. Each DSCP is represented by its AF value, its value in decimal, and its value in binary.

Table 37-2 Assured Forwarding Codepoints

Class 1

Class 2

Class 3

Class 4

Low-Drop Precedence

AF11 =

10 (001010)

AF21 =

18 (010010)

AF31 =

26 (011010)

AF41 =

34 (100010)

Medium-Drop Precedence

AF12 =

12 (001100)

AF22 =

20 (010100)

AF32 =

28 (011100)

AF42 =

36 (100100)

High-Drop Precedence

AF13 =

14 (001110)

AF23 =

22 (010110)

AF33 =

30 (011110)

AF43 =

38 (100110)

Any Diffserv-aware system can use the AF codepoint as a guide for providing differentiated forwarding behaviors to different classes of traffic.

When these packets reach a Diffserv router, the router evaluates the packets' codepoints along with DSCPs of other traffic in the queue. The router then forwards or drops packets, depending on the available bandwidth and the priorities that are assigned by the packets' DSCPs. Note that packets that are marked with the EF PHB are guaranteed bandwidth over packets that are marked with the various AF PHBs.

Coordinate packet marking between any IPQoS systems on your network and the Diffserv router to ensure that packets are forwarded as expected. For example, suppose IPQoS systems on your network mark packets with AF21 (010010), AF13 (001110), AF43 (100110), and EF (101110) codepoints. You then need to add the AF21, AF13, AF43, and EF DSCPs to the appropriate file on the Diffserv router.

For a technical explanation of the AF codepoint table, refer to RFC 2597. Router manufacturers Cisco Systems and Juniper Networks have detailed information about setting the AF PHB on their web sites. You can use this information to define AF PHBs for IPQoS systems as well as routers. Additionally, router manufacturers' documentation contains instructions for setting DS codepoints on their equipment.

Supplying a DSCP to the Marker

The DSCP is 6 bits in length. The DS field is 1 byte long. When you define a DSCP, the marker marks the first 6 significant bits of the packet header with the DS codepoint. The remaining 2 least-significant bits are unused.

To define a DSCP, you use the following parameter within a marker action statement:


The dscp_map parameter is a 64-element array, which you populate with the (DSCP) value. dscp_map is used to map incoming DSCPs to outgoing DSCPs that are applied by the dscpmk marker.

You must specify the DSCP value to dscp_map in decimal notation. For example, you must translate the EF codepoint of 101110 into the decimal value 46, which results in dscp_map{0-63:46}. For AF codepoints, you must translate the various codepoints that are shown in Table 37-2 to decimal notation for use with dscp_map.

Using the dlcosmk Marker With VLAN Devices

The dlcosmk marker module marks a forwarding behavior in the MAC header of a datagram. You can use dlcosmk only on an IPQoS system with a VLAN interface.

dlcosmk adds four bytes, which are known as the VLAN tag, to the MAC header. The VLAN tag includes a 3-bit user-priority value, which is defined by the IEEE 801.D standard. Diffserv-aware switches that understand VLAN can read the user-priority field in a datagram. The 801.D user priority values implement the class-of-service (CoS) marks, which are well known and understood by commercial switches.

You can use the user-priority values in the dlcosmk marker action by defining the class of service marks that are listed in the next table.

Table 37-3 801.D User-Priority Values

Class of Service



Best effort






Excellent effort


Controlled load


Video less than 100ms latency


Video less than 10ms latency


Network control

For more information on dlcosmk, refer to the dlcosmk(7ipp) man page.

IPQoS Configuration for Systems With VLAN Devices

This section introduces a simple network scenario that shows how to implement IPQoS on systems with VLAN devices. The scenario includes two IPQoS systems, machine1 and machine2, that are connected by a switch. The VLAN device on machine1 has the IP address The VLAN device on machine2 has the IP address

The following IPQoS configuration file for machine1 shows a simple solution for marking traffic through the switch to machine2.

Example 37-2 IPQoS Configuration File for a System With a VLAN Device
fmt_version 1.0
action {
        module ipgpc
          name ipgpc.classify

        filter {
                name myfilter2
                class myclass

        class {
                name myclass
                next_action mark4

action {
        name mark4
        module dlcosmk
        params {
                cos 4
                next_action continue
        global_stats true

In this configuration, all traffic from machine1 that is destined for the VLAN device on machine2 is passed to the dlcosmk marker. The mark4 marker action instructs dlcosmk to add a VLAN mark to datagrams of class myclass with a CoS of 4. The user-priority value of 4 indicates that the switch between the two machines should give controlled load forwarding to myclass traffic flows from machine1.

flowacct Module

The IPQoS flowacct module records information about traffic flows, a process that is referred to as flow accounting. Flow accounting produces data that can be used for billing customers or for evaluating the amount of traffic to a particular class.

Flow accounting is optional. flowacct is typically the final module that metered or marked traffic flows might encounter before release onto the network stream. For an illustration of flowacct's position in the Diffserv model, see Figure 32-1. For detailed technical information about flowacct, refer to the flowacct(7ipp) man page.

To enable flow accounting, you need to use the Solaris exacct accounting facility and the acctadm command, as well as flowacct. For the overall steps in setting up flow accounting, refer to Setting Up Flow Accounting (Task Map).

flowacct Parameters

The flowacct module gathers information about flows in a flow table that is composed of flow records. Each entry in the table contains one flow record. You cannot display a flow table.

In the IPQoS configuration file, you define the following flowacct parameters to measure flow records and to write the records to the flow table:

  • timer – Defines an interval, in milliseconds, when timed-out flows are removed from the flow table and written to the file that is created by acctadm

  • timeout – Defines an interval, in milliseconds, which specifies how long a packet flow must be inactive before the flow times out

    Note - You can configure timer and timeout to have different values.

  • max_limit – Places an upper limit on the number of flow records that can be stored in the flow table

For an example of how flowacct parameters are used in the IPQoS configuration file, refer to How to Configure Flow Control in the IPQoS Configuration File.

Flow Table

The flowacct module maintains a flow table that records all packet flows that are seen by a flowacct instance. A flow is identified by the following parameters, which include the flowacct 8–tuple:

  • Source address

  • Destination address

  • Source port

  • Destination port

  • DSCP

  • User ID

  • Project ID

  • Protocol Number

If all the parameters of the 8–tuple for a flow remain the same, the flow table contains only one entry. The max_limit parameter determines the number of entries that a flow table can contain.

The flow table is scanned at the interval that is specified in the IPQoS configuration file for the timer parameter. The default is 15 seconds. A flow “times out” when its packets are not seen by the IPQoS system for at least the timeout interval in the IPQoS configuration file. The default time out interval is 60 seconds. Entries that have timed out are then written to the accounting file that is created with the acctadm command.

flowacct Records

A flowacct record contains the attributes described in the following table.

Table 37-4 Attributes of a flowacct Record

Attribute Name

Attribute Contents



Source address of the originator. address-type is either v4 for IPv4 or v6 for IPv6, as specified in the IPQoS configuration file.



Destination address for the packets. address-type is either v4 for IPv4 or v6 for IPv6, as specified in the IPQoS configuration file.



Source port from which the flow originated.



Destination port number to which this flow is bound.



Protocol number for the flow.



Number of packets in the flow.



Number of bytes in the flow.



Name of the flowacct action that recorded this flow.



First time that a packet is seen for the flow by flowacct.

Extended only


Last time that a packet of the flow was seen.

Extended only


DSCP in the outgoing packet headers of the flow.

Extended only


Either a UNIX User ID or user name, which is obtained from the application.

Extended only


Project ID, which is obtained from the application.

Extended only

Using acctadm with the flowacct Module

You use the acctadm command to create a file in which to store the various flow records that are generated by flowacct. acctadm works in conjunction with the extended accounting facility. For technical information about acctadm, refer to the acctadm(1M) man page.

The flowacct module observes flows and fills the flow table with flow records. flowacct then evaluates its parameters and attributes in the interval that is specified by timer. When a packet is not seen for at least the last_seen plus timeout values, the packet times out. All timed-out entries are deleted from the flow table. These entries are then written to the accounting file each time the interval that is specified in the timer parameter elapses.

To invoke acctadm for use with the flowacct module, use the following syntax:

acctadm -e file-type -f filename flow
acctadm -e

Invokes acctadm with the -e option. The -e indicates that a resource list follows.


Specifies the attributes to be gathered. file-type must be replaced by either basic or extended. For a list of attributes in each file type, refer to Table 37-4.


Creates the filefile-name to hold the flow records.


Indicates that acctadm is to be run with IPQoS.

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  Published under the terms fo the Public Documentation License Version 1.01. Design by Interspire