12.6. Virtual Hosts

A common use of FreeBSD is virtual site hosting, where one server appears to the network as many servers. This is achieved by assigning multiple network addresses to a single interface.

A given network interface has one real address, and may have any number of alias addresses. These aliases are normally added by placing alias entries in /etc/rc.conf, as seen in this example:

ifconfig_fxp0_alias0="inet xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx netmask xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx"

Alias entries must start with alias0 using a sequential number such as alias0, alias1, and so on. The configuration process will stop at the first missing number.

The calculation of alias netmasks is important. For a given interface, there must be one address which correctly represents the network's netmask. Any other addresses which fall within this network must have a netmask of all 1s, expressed as either 255.255.255.255 or 0xffffffff.

For example, consider the case where the fxp0 interface is connected to two networks: 10.1.1.0 with a netmask of 255.255.255.0 and 202.0.75.16 with a netmask of 255.255.255.240. The system is to be configured to appear in the ranges 10.1.1.1 through 10.1.1.5 and 202.0.75.17 through 202.0.75.20. Only the first address in a given network range should have a real netmask. All the rest (10.1.1.2 through 10.1.1.5 and 202.0.75.18 through 202.0.75.20) must be configured with a netmask of 255.255.255.255.

The following /etc/rc.conf entries configure the adapter correctly for this scenario:

ifconfig_fxp0="inet 10.1.1.1 netmask 255.255.255.0"
ifconfig_fxp0_alias0="inet 10.1.1.2 netmask 255.255.255.255"
ifconfig_fxp0_alias1="inet 10.1.1.3 netmask 255.255.255.255"
ifconfig_fxp0_alias2="inet 10.1.1.4 netmask 255.255.255.255"
ifconfig_fxp0_alias3="inet 10.1.1.5 netmask 255.255.255.255"
ifconfig_fxp0_alias4="inet 202.0.75.17 netmask 255.255.255.240"
ifconfig_fxp0_alias5="inet 202.0.75.18 netmask 255.255.255.255"
ifconfig_fxp0_alias6="inet 202.0.75.19 netmask 255.255.255.255"
ifconfig_fxp0_alias7="inet 202.0.75.20 netmask 255.255.255.255"

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