Open vSwitch Project Ideas

This file lists a number of project ideas for Open vSwitch. The ideas here overlap somewhat with those in the [OPENFLOW-1.1+.md] file.

Programming Project Ideas

Each of these projects would ideally result in a patch or a short series of them posted to ovs-dev.

Please read [CONTRIBUTING.md] and [CodingStyle.md] in the top of the source tree before you begin work. The [OPENFLOW-1.1+.md] file also has an introduction to how OpenFlow is implemented in Open vSwitch. It is also a good idea to look around the source tree for related code, and back through the Git history for commits on related subjects, to allow you to follow existing patterns and conventions.

Meters

Open vSwitch has OpenFlow protocol support for meters, but it does not have an implementation in the kernel or userspace datapaths. An implementation was proposed some time ago (I recommend looking for the discussion in the ovs-dev mailing list archives), but for a few different reasons it was not accepted. Some of those reasons apply only to a kernel implementation of meters. At the time, a userspace implementation wasn't as interesting, because the userspace switch did not perform at a production speed, but with the advent of multithreaded forwarding and, now, DPDK support, userspace-only meters would be a great way to get started.

Improve SSL/TLS Security

Open vSwitch allows some weak ciphers to be used for its secure connections. Security audits often suggest that the project remove those ciphers, but there's not a clean way to modify the acceptable ciphers. At the very least, the cipher list should be audited, but it would be nice to make it configurable.

Open vSwitch does not insist on perfect forward security via ephemeral Diffie-Hellman key exchange when it establishes an SSL/TLS connection. Given the wiretapping revelations over the last year, it seems wise to turn this on. (This would probably amount to finding the right OpenSSL function to call or just reducing the acceptable ciphers further.)

These changes might have backward-compatibility implications; one would have to test the behavior of the reduced cipher list OVS against older versions.

Bash Command Completion

ovs-vsctl and other programs would be easier to use if bash command completion (with ``tab'', etc.) were supported. Alex Wang alexw@nicira.com is leading a team for this project.

Auxiliary Connections

Auxiliary connections are a feature of OpenFlow 1.3 and later that allow OpenFlow messages to be carried over datagram channels such as UDP or DTLS. One place to start would be to implement a datagram abstraction library for OVS analogous to the ``stream'' library that already abstracts TCP, SSL, and other stream protocols.

Basic OpenFlow 1.4 support

Some basic support for OpenFlow 1.4 is missing and needs to be implemented. These can be found by looking through lib/ofp-util.c for mentions of OFP14VERSION followed by a call to OVSNOT_REACHED (which aborts the program).

OpenFlow 1.4: Flow monitoring

OpenFlow 1.4 introduces OFPMPFLOWMONITOR for notifying a controller of changes to selected flow tables. This feature is based on NXSTFLOWMONITOR that is already part of Open vSwitch, so to implement this feature would be to extend that code to handle the OpenFlow 1.4 wire protocol.

OpenFlow 1.3 also includes this feature as a ONF-defined extension, so ideally OVS would support that too.

OpenFlow 1.4 Role Status Message

OpenFlow 1.4 section 7.4.4 ``Controller Role Status Message'' defines a new message sent by a switch to notify the controller that its role (whether it is a master or a slave) has changed. OVS should implement this.

OpenFlow 1.3 also includes this feature as a ONF-defined extension, so ideally OVS would support that too.

OpenFlow 1.4 Vacancy Events

OpenFlow 1.4 section 7.4.5 ``Table Status Message'' defines a new message sent by a switch to notify the controller that a flow table is close to filling up (or that it is no longer close to filling up). OVS should implement this.

OpenFlow 1.3 also includes this feature as a ONF-defined extension, so ideally OVS would support that too.

OpenFlow 1.4 Group and Meter Change Notification

OpenFlow 1.4 adds a feature whereby a controller can ask the switch to send it copies of messages that change groups and meters. (This is only useful in the presence of multiple controllers.) OVS should implement this.

OpenFlow 1.3 also includes this feature as a ONF-defined extension, so ideally OVS would support that too.

Testing Project Ideas

Each of these projects would ideally result in confirmation that features work or bug reports explaining how they do not. Please sent bug reports to dev at openvswitch.org, with as many details as you have.

ONF Plugfest Results Analysis

Ben Pfaff has a collection of files reporting Open vSwitch conformance to OpenFlow 1.3 provided by one of the vendors at the ONF plugfest last year. Some of the reported failures have been fixed, some of the other failures probably result from differing interpretations of OpenFlow 1.3, and others are probably genuine bugs in Open vSwitch. Open vSwitch has also improved in the meantime. Ben can provide the results, privately, to some person or team who wishes to check them out and try to pick out the genuine bugs.

OpenFlow Fuzzer

Build a ``fuzzer'' for the OpenFlow protocol (or use an existing one, if there is one) and run it against the Open vSwitch implementation. One could also build a fuzzer for the OSVDB protocol.

Ryu Certification Tests Analysis

The Ryu controller comes with a suite of ``certification tests'' that check the correctness of a switch's implementation of various OpenFlow 1.3 features. The INSTALL file in the OVS source tree has a section that explains how to easily run these tests against an OVS source tree. Run the tests and figure out whether any tests fail but should pass. (Some tests fail and should fail because OVS does not implement the particular feature; for example, OVS does not implement PBB encapsulation, so related tests fail.)

OFTest Results Analysis

OFTest is a test suite for OpenFlow 1.0 compliance. The INSTALL file in the OVS source tree has a section that explains how to easily run these tests against an OVS source tree. Run the tests and figure out whether any tests fail but should pass, and ideally why. OFTest is not particularly well vetted--in the past, at least, some tests have failed against OVS due to bugs in OFTest, not in OVS--so some care is warranted.

Documentation Project Ideas

Each of these projects would ideally result in creating some new documentation for users. Some documentation might be suitable to accompany Open vSwitch as part of its source tree most likely either in plain text or ``nroff'' (manpage) format.

OpenFlow Basics Tutorial

Open vSwitch has a tutorial that covers its advanced features, but it does not have a basic tutorial. There are several tutorials on the Internet already, so a new tutorial would have to distinguish itself in some way. One way would be to use the Open vSwitch ``sandbox'' environment already used in the advanced tutorial. The sandbox does not require any real network or even supervisor privilege on the machine where it runs, and thus it is easy to use with hardly any up-front setup, so it is a gentle way to get started.

FlowVisor via patch ports

FlowVisor is a proxy that sits between OpenFlow controllers and a switch. It divides up switch resources, allowing each controller to control a ``slice'' of the network. For example, it can break up a network based on VLAN, allowing different controllers to handle packets with different VLANs.

It seems that Open vSwitch has features that allow it to implement at least simple forms of FlowVisor control without any need for FlowVisor. Consider an Open vSwitch instance with three bridges. Bridge br0 has physical ports eth0 and eth1. Bridge v9 has no physical ports, but it has two ``patch ports'' that connect it to br0. Bridge v11 has the same setup. Flows in br0 match packets received on vlan 9, strip the vlan header, and direct them to the appropriate patch port leading to v9. Additional flows in br0 match packets received from v9, attach a VLAN 9 tag to them, and direct them out eth0 or eth1 as appropriate. Other flows in br0 treat packets on VLAN 11 similarly. Controllers attached to bridge v9 or v11 may thus work as if they had full control of a network.

It seems to me that this is a good example of the power of OpenFlow and Open vSwitch. The point of this project is to explain how to do this, with detailed examples, in case someone finds it handy and to open eyes toward the generality of Open vSwitch usefulness.

``Cookbooks''

The Open vSwitch website has a few ``cookbook'' entries that describe how to use Open vSwitch in a few scenarios. There are only a few of these and all of them are dated. It would be a good idea to come up with ideas for some more and write them. These could be added to the Open vSwitch website or the source tree or somewhere else.

Demos

Record a demo of Open vSwitch functionality in use (or something else relevant) and post it to youtube or another video site so that we can link to it from openvswitch.org.

How to contribute

If you plan to contribute code for a feature, please let everyone know on ovs-dev before you start work. This will help avoid duplicating work.

Please consider the following:

Bug Reporting

Please report problems to bugs@openvswitch.org.

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