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TAP(4)                 FreeBSD Kernel Interfaces Manual                 TAP(4)

     tap - Ethernet tunnel software network interface

     device tap

     The tap interface is a software loopback mechanism that can be loosely
     described as the network interface analog of the pty(4), that is, tap
     does for network interfaces what the pty driver does for terminals.

     The tap driver, like the pty driver, provides two interfaces: an
     interface like the usual facility it is simulating (an Ethernet network
     interface in the case of tap, or a terminal for pty), and a character-
     special device ``control'' interface.

     The network interfaces are named ``tap0'', ``tap1'', etc., one for each
     control device that has been opened.  These Ethernet network interfaces
     persist until if_tap.ko module is unloaded, or until removed with
     "ifconfig destroy" (see below).

     tap devices are created using interface cloning.  This is done using the
     ``ifconfig tapN create'' command.  This is the preferred method of
     creating tap devices.  The same method allows removal of interfaces.  For
     this, use the ``ifconfig tapN destroy'' command.

     If the sysctl(8) variable is non-zero, the tap
     interface permits opens on the special control device /dev/tap.  When
     this device is opened, tap will return a handle for the lowest unused tap
     device (use devname(3) to determine which).

     Disabling the legacy devfs cloning functionality may break existing
     applications which use tap, such as VMware and ssh(1).  It therefore
     defaults to being enabled until further notice.

     Control devices (once successfully opened) persist until if_tap.ko is
     unloaded or the interface is destroyed.

     Each interface supports the usual Ethernet network interface ioctl(2)s,
     such as SIOCSIFADDR and SIOCSIFNETMASK, and thus can be used with
     ifconfig(8) like any other Ethernet interface.  When the system chooses
     to transmit an Ethernet frame on the network interface, the frame can be
     read from the control device (it appears as ``input'' there); writing an
     Ethernet frame to the control device generates an input frame on the
     network interface, as if the (non-existent) hardware had just received

     The Ethernet tunnel device, normally /dev/tapN, is exclusive-open (it
     cannot be opened if it is already open) and is restricted to the super-
     user, unless the sysctl(8) variable is non-zero.
     If the sysctl(8) variable is non-zero, the tunnel
     device will be marked ``up'' when the control device is opened.  A read()
     call will return an error (EHOSTDOWN) if the interface is not ``ready''.
     Once the interface is ready, read() will return an Ethernet frame if one
     is available; if not, it will either block until one is or return
     EWOULDBLOCK, depending on whether non-blocking I/O has been enabled.  If
     the frame is longer than is allowed for in the buffer passed to read(),
     the extra data will be silently dropped.

     A write(2) call passes an Ethernet frame in to be ``received'' on the
     pseudo-interface.  Each write() call supplies exactly one frame; the
     frame length is taken from the amount of data provided to write().
     Writes will not block; if the frame cannot be accepted for a transient
     reason (e.g., no buffer space available), it is silently dropped; if the
     reason is not transient (e.g., frame too large), an error is returned.
     The following ioctl(2) calls are supported (defined in <net/if_tap.h>):

     TAPSDEBUG            The argument should be a pointer to an int; this
                          sets the internal debugging variable to that value.
                          What, if anything, this variable controls is not
                          documented here; see the source code.

     TAPGDEBUG            The argument should be a pointer to an int; this
                          stores the internal debugging variable's value into

     FIONBIO              Turn non-blocking I/O for reads off or on, according
                          as the argument int's value is or is not zero
                          (Writes are always nonblocking).

     FIOASYNC             Turn asynchronous I/O for reads (i.e., generation of
                          SIGIO when data is available to be read) off or on,
                          according as the argument int's value is or is not

     FIONREAD             If any frames are queued to be read, store the size
                          of the first one into the argument int; otherwise,
                          store zero.

     TIOCSPGRP            Set the process group to receive SIGIO signals, when
                          asynchronous I/O is enabled, to the argument int

     TIOCGPGRP            Retrieve the process group value for SIGIO signals
                          into the argument int value.

     SIOCGIFADDR          Retrieve the Media Access Control (MAC) address of
                          the ``remote'' side.  This command is used by the
                          VMware port and expected to be executed on
                          descriptor, associated with control device (usually
                          /dev/vmnetN or /dev/tapN).  The buffer, which is
                          passed as the argument, is expected to have enough
                          space to store the MAC address.  At the open time
                          both ``local'' and ``remote'' MAC addresses are the
                          same, so this command could be used to retrieve the
                          ``local'' MAC address.

     SIOCSIFADDR          Set the Media Access Control (MAC) address of the
                          ``remote'' side.  This command is used by VMware
                          port and expected to be executed on a descriptor,
                          associated with control device (usually

     The control device also supports select(2) for read; selecting for write
     is pointless, and always succeeds, since writes are always non-blocking.

     On the last close of the data device, the interface is brought down (as
     if with ``ifconfig tapN down'') unless the device is a VMnet device.  All
     queued frames are thrown away.  If the interface is up when the data
     device is not open, output frames are thrown away rather than letting
     them pile up.

     The tap device can also be used with the VMware port as a replacement for
     the old VMnet device driver.  The driver uses the minor number to select
     between tap and vmnet devices.  VMnet minor numbers begin at 0x800000 +
     N; where N is a VMnet unit number.  In this case the control device is
     expected to be /dev/vmnetN, and the network interface will be vmnetN.
     Additionally, VMnet devices do not ifconfig(8) themselves down when the
     control device is closed.  Everything else is the same.

     In addition to the above mentioned ioctl(2) calls, there is an additional
     one for the VMware port.


     inet(4), intro(4)

FreeBSD 11.0-PRERELEASE         March 19, 2007         FreeBSD 11.0-PRERELEASE


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