DHCP, LXC, phy-less (?) bridges, and checksums

tl;dr: if your lxc container on a bridged/veth network is randomly failing to get a dhcp address, you can probably fix it with `ethtool br0 x off  tx off` (br0 being the bridge interface).

With my home DSL acting up quite a bit lately (“lately” == month and a half now. “acting up” == ground fault, and waiting for the telco to fix it..), I’ve been doing a lot of sandboxing work on my microserver at home. But because of its resource scarcity (2GB RAM, and I just haven’t bought more yet), I’ve been giving LXC a go[0] (where I’d normally just do libvirt’d kvm). It’s pretty easy to get started (check this post for pretty all much info you need), but I did deviate from the norm slightly.

I like my eth interfaces a server like this to be non-bridged, mostly because of a lack of ipmi (but also because brctl is a clown sometimes). So my setup for this at home looks like so:

auto lxc0
iface lxc0 inet static
  bridge_stp on
  pre-up /sbin/brctl addbr lxc0
  post-down /sbin/brctl delbr lxc0

I’ve also got dnsmasq listening on everything, although I hadn’t had it doing dhcp on that interface yet. Today I decided to change that, which is what led me to discovering this: (afaict) if you don’t have a phy interface attached to your bridge, checksum offloading behaviour on that bridge appears to be fucked-by-default.

How this manifested in my case was that lxc containers couldn’t succesfully DHCP (mostly silent failure), but doing a pcap or dhcpdump on the inside interface would show responses actually getting to your container. After some various derpery with dhclient’s options and applying enough patience, I finally managed to see a message: ‘5 bad udp checksums in 5 packets’. Some quick searching revealed people advising doing `iptables -A POSTROUTING -t mangle -p udp –dport bootpc -j CHECKSUM –checksum-fill` to fix this. Not just liking magic patches, I did check into why this is the case, and as mentioned earlier, it seems that this happens when you don’t have a phy attached to the bridge[0].

My network config for that interface now has a `post-up /sbin/ethtool tor0 rx off tx off` in it, and things seem dandy.

[0] – Mostly works pretty well. On debian wheezy you need some backported stuff for the various cgroups support. I think I got them from sid.
[1] – “seems”, because a) I don’t feel like testing this by attach a real phy to the bridge now, and b) I haven’t run into this before when using various other things (KVM usually) that were running on phy-attached bridges so I can only guess this is what happens. Feel free to test and let me know.