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Consistent Network Device Naming


Change the network device naming scheme from ethX to a physical location-based name for easy identification and use.


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Previous Owner:

Current status

  • Targeted release: Fedora 15
  • Last updated: 2010-12-03
  • Percentage of completion: 90%

Detailed Description

Systems, particularly servers, with multiple network ports, name the ports ethX in a non-deterministic order, and are therefore not useful for system administrators.

The proposal is as follows:

Benefit to Fedora

System Administrators can then use BIOS-provided names, which are consistent and not arbitrarily named, for their network ports. This eliminates the confusion that non-deterministic naming brings, and eliminates the use of hard-coded MAC address based port renaming which a) is racy and error-prone, and b) introduces state into an otherwise stateless system.

This change affects most desktop, notebook, and server-class systems.


Not all add-in cards have a method to expose their Linux interface name(s) to external port mapping. biosdevname may provide incorrect names for such. Discussions are ongoing on the netdev mailing list to standardize a method of exposing such mapping.


  • See above

How To Test

  • System-Under-Test can be just about any system. Systems that expose SMBIOS 2.6 Type 9 and Type 41 fields are preferred, but the code will work on systems that expose the legacy PCI IRQ Routing Table as well.
  • biosdevname must be installed on the target system.
  • erase /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules file. This is where naming is persisted across reboots.
  • reboot the system
  • Following reboot:
    • /sbin/ifconfig -a must show LAN-on-Motherboard ports named em[1234]
    • em[1234] must correspond to the chassis labels. Verify using ethtool -p em[1234] and watch the lights blink.
  • Installing using Anaconda:
    • anaconda should present network devices to use, having the new naming convention.

User Experience

Ethernet NICs embedded on the motherboard will be named em[1234] rather than ethX. PCI add-in card NICs will be named p<slot>p<port>_<vf>.

Linux guests running under virtualization platforms such as KVM, Xen, VMware Workstation or ESX, or Microsoft Hyper-V will not have their devices renamed.

System Administrators may disable this feature by passing "biosdevname=0" on the kernel command line.



Contingency Plan

None necessary, revert to previous release behaviour.


Release Notes

  • Servers often have multiple Ethernet ports, either embedded on the motherboard, or on add-in PCI cards. Linux has traditionally named these ports ethX, but there has been no correlation of the ethX names to the chassis labels - the ethX names are non-deterministic. Starting in Fedora 15, Ethernet ports will have a new naming scheme corresponding to physical locations, rather than ethX. Ethernet ports embedded on server motherboards will be named em<port_number>, while ports on PCI cards will be named p<slot_number>p<port_number>, corresponding to the chassis labels. Additionally, if the network device is an SR-IOV Virtual Function or has Network Partitioning (NPAR) capability, the name will have a suffix of _<virtual_function> or _<partition>.

By changing the naming convention, system administrators will no longer have to guess at the ethX to physical port mapping, or invoke workarounds on each system to rename them into some "sane" order.

This feature affects all physical systems that expose network port naming information in SMBIOS 2.6 or later (specifically field types 9 and 41). Dell PowerEdge 10G and newer servers (PowerEdge 1950 III family, PowerEdge R710 family, and newer), and HP ProLiant G6 servers and newer are known to expose this information, as do some newer desktop models. Furthermore, most older systems expose some information in the PCI IRQ Routing Table, which will be consulted if information is not provided by SMBIOS.

Fedora running as a guest virtual machine will continue to use the ethX names.

Existing installations upgraded to Fedora 15 will not see a change in names unless /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules is deleted and the HWADDR lines are removed from all /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-* files, and those files are renamed to use the new device names.

You may continue to write rules in /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules to change the device names to anything you wish. Such will take precedence over this physical location naming scheme. Such rules may look like:

SUBSYSTEM=="net", ACTION=="add", DRIVERS=="?*", ATTR{address}=="00:11:22:33:44:55", ATTR{type}=="1", KERNEL=="eth*", NAME="public"

This feature may be disabled by passing "biosdevname=0" on the kernel command line, in which case, behavior will revert to using ethX names.

Upgrading from an earlier version of Fedora (including 15-Alpha or -Beta) to Fedora 15 may result in a change of network device names from an earlier biosdevname naming scheme to the final naming scheme described here. Configuration files must be manually adjusted accordingly.

Comments and Discussion