OpenRC notebook roaming How-To

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This article has some todo items:

This article shows how to set up OpenRC to act as a convenient, transparent, and flexible networking client which supports roaming as an alternative to other roaming solutions often used on notebooks.


The currently stable version of these packages are all that is needed (no *kit software required):

  • OpenRC (sys-apps/openrc) - management of services
    • have the netifrc USE flag enabled if you want the good old net.* style network management
  • wpa_supplicant — a Wi-Fi supplicant(net-wireless/wpa_supplicant)
    • enable the qt5 USE flag if you want to have a GUI for the Wi-FI client
  • sys-apps/ifplugd - for hotplugging of ethernet interfaces
    • sys-apps/netplug can be used as an alternative, but development has been discontinued
  • dhcpcd — a popular DHCP client capable of handling both IPv4 and IPv6 configuration. (net-misc/dhcpcd)
    • other compatible DHCP clients exist (dhclient provided by net-misc/dhcp or udhcp provided by sys-apps/busybox), but dhcpcd is the recommended solution as it works well with often reconfigured wireless interfaces (so the wireless interface doesn't need hotplugging)

Configuration and setup

Before you start configuring the interfaces, make sure that they work (meaning you have the required drivers installed) and that you know their names. A convenient way is to make a Udev rule to give them human-readable names like ethernet0, wireless0.

OpenRC service management

For each interface an init script must be created for OpenRC to manage that interface by making a symlink to net.lo

root #ln -s /etc/init.d/net.lo /etc/init.d/net.${INTERFACE_NAME}

where ${INTERFACE_NAME} is the name of the interface, e.g. eth0, wlan0, ethernet0, wireless0

If simple roaming is required, any network interface will satisfy the virtual net service. Therefore it is recommended to set rc_depend_strict="NO" in /etc/rc.conf.

FILE /etc/rc.conf

The services responsible for managing the interfaces must be added to one or more runlevel. This makes it possible to have network profiles by having most services in the default runlevel and then adding the interfaces to stacked runlevels and having different configuration files in /etc/conf.d/ for each runlevel as /etc/conf.d/net.${RUNELEVEL}

The options and syntax of /etc/conf.d/net is described in the Gentoo Handbook which shows how to set up more complicated networks (this how-to assumes that all connections are initiated via DHCP)

Suspend to RAM example

With most services in the default runlevel and network services in a runlevel "network", which is stacked on top of the default runlevel, a PM hook for sys-power/pm-utils can be crated which transparently stops network services before suspending, thus preventing timeouts and other problems.

root #mkdir /etc/runlevels/network/
root #rc-update --stack add default network # include init scripts form the default runlevel in the network runelvel
root #rc-update del net.ethernet0 default # remove networking scripts from the default runlevel
root #rc-update add net.ethernet0 network # and add them to the network runlevel
root #rc-update del net.wireless0 default
root #rc-update add net.wireless0 network
root #rc-update del netmount default # remove dependent networking services from the default runlevel
root #rc-update add netmount network # which would start the networking scripts because of "need net" stanza
FILE /etc/pm/sleep.d/00networkPM hook example

# properly stop and start the network

if [ -r "${PM_FUNCTIONS}" ]; then
    . "${PM_FUNCTIONS}" 
elif [ -r "${FUNCTIONS}" ]; then
    . "${FUNCTIONS}"
# pm-utils version is too old, or something else is wrong
    exit $NA

case "$1" in
		exec rc default
		exec rc network
	*) exit $NA

The hook must be executable:

root #chmod a+x /etc/pm/sleep.d/00network

To boot into the network runlevel rather than the default one, /etc/inittab must be changed as explained in the Handbook

FILE /etc/inittab
# Default runlevel.
id:4:initdefault:         #was 3 - can still be 3, it only depends which runlevel is assigned to network below

l0:0:wait:/sbin/rc shutdown 
l0s:0:wait:/sbin/halt -dhp
l1:1:wait:/sbin/rc single
l2:2:wait:/sbin/rc nonetwork
l3:3:wait:/sbin/rc default
l4:4:wait:/sbin/rc network      # was default
l5:5:wait:/sbin/rc default
l6:6:wait:/sbin/rc reboot
l6r:6:wait:/sbin/reboot -dk

The bootloader can also support multiple options for different setups:

FILE /boot/grub/grub.confGrub v1 example
default 0
timeout 30

title Gentoo Linux 2.6.24-r5 with network
root (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/kernel-genkernel-x86-2.6.24-gentoo-r5 root=/dev/sda3
initrd /boot/initramfs-genkernel-x86-2.6.24-gentoo-r5

title Gentoo Linux 2.6.24-r5 no network
root (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/kernel-genkernel-x86-2.6.24-gentoo-r5 root=/dev/sda3 3
initrd /boot/initramfs-genkernel-x86-2.6.24-gentoo-r5

Exclusive network interface example

It may be desirable to have always only one networking interface configured. This can be done by the postup or postdown functions defined in /etc/conf.d/net[1]

FILE /etc/conf.d/net
postup_wireless0() {
     rc-service net.ethernet0 stop

postup_ethernet0() {
     rc-service net.wireless0 stop

postdown_wireless0() {
     rc-service net.ethernet0 start

postdown_ethernet0() {
     rc-service net.wireless0 start

Network specific log-in procedure example

The postup or postup_${ESSID} (this function would be triggered only after successful connection to the given ${ESSID}) functions defined in /etc/conf.d/net[1] can be used to submit data to e.g. a web log-in form.

FILE /etc/conf.d/net
postup_someESSID() {
     wget --save-cookies cookies.txt \
                        --post-data 'user=foo&password=bar' \

WiFi management

See wpa_supplicant.

Ethernet management

OpenRC automatically hotplugs all interfaces if configured in /etc/rc.conf:

FILE /etc/rc.conf

so the respective services will be started if that interface becomes available and ifplugd will be automatically started for every ethernet interface to ensure that the device gets configured when a carrier is acquired (e.g. a cable is plugged in). ifplugd will emit beeps on state change which can be disabled in /etc/conf.d/net

FILE /etc/conf.d/netdisabling ifplugd beeping for interface ethernet0