Route BGP with BIRD



BGP isn't new, but having it be this accessible is! Leveraging dynamic hosting for a cluster of servers at a particular data center offers your workloads a safe, effective, and quick failover channel. In this guide, we'll walk you through configuring Local BGP using BIRD so that you can broadcast a specific local IP address to a host of your choice.

Getting Started

If you haven't already requested that BGP be added to your account you'll need to get that sorted before continuing with this guide - see more info about getting started here.

For this guide, we're deploying a Tiny But Mighty server with Ubuntu 16, and BIRD to broadcast a local IP with BGP.

Step 1 - Choose an IP to Broadcast

Navigate over to IPs & Networks in your BGP enabled project and click on Manage Block for the IPv4 block in the data center location that corresponds with your server deployment. Choose an available IP that will act as your broadcast IP. In this guide, we'll be using

Step 2 - Update Network Interface

Update the network interfaces with a virtual loopback interface.

  echo 'auto lo:0
  iface lo:0 inet static
  netmask' >> /etc/network/interfaces

Step 3 - Bring Up the Interface

ifup lo:0

Step 4 - Installing BIRD

BIRD is an open source implementation for routing Internet Protocol packets on Unix-like operating systems. 

apt-get install bird

Step 5 - Configure IP Forwarding, optional

If you'll be using this server as a gateway/proxy and performing NAT to other internal devices, you need to allow IPv4 forwarding:

For IPv4:

sysctl net.ipv4.ip_forward=1

Step 6 - Edit the BIRD Configuration File

Backup the original file, because that's the right thing to do ; )

mv /etc/bird/bird.conf /etc/bird/bird.conf.original
vim /etc/bird/bird.conf

filter packetdns {
  # IPs to announce ( in this case)
  # Doesn't have to be /32. Can be lower
  if net = then accept;

# your (Private) bond0 IP
router id;

protocol direct {
  interface "lo"; # Restrict network interfaces BIRD works with

protocol kernel {
  persist; # Don't remove routes on bird shutdown
  scan time 20; # Scan kernel routing table every 20 seconds
  import all; # Default is import all
  export all; # Default is export none

# This pseudo-protocol watches all interface up/down events.
protocol device {
  scan time 10; # Scan interfaces every 10 seconds

# Your default gateway IP below here, in this case that's
protocol bgp {
  export filter packetdns;
  local as 65000;
  neighbor as 65530;


You'll probably want to automate a setup like this using user data. That way you can provision your servers and configure their network without ever having to SSH into the server! To do that you would hit the metadata service and parse the response using something like jq. For example:

router=$(echo $json | jq -r ".network.addresses[] | select(.public == false) | .address")
gateway=$(echo $json | jq -r ".network.addresses[] | select(.public == false) | .gateway")

Note that we're specifically looking for the servers private addresses.

Step 7 - Restart BIRD

service bird restart

Step 8 - Enable BGP

Enable BGP for the server in the portal via the server detail page.

Finishing Up

If you log into your server via SSH you can check the status of your BIRD daemon by accessing the bird console with the birdc command. In the BIRD console execute show protocols all bgp1

If the peering was successful you'll see this:

bird> show protocols all bgp1
name proto table state since info
bgp1 BGP master up 18:06:06 Established
 Preference: 100
 Input filter: ACCEPT
 Output filter: packetdns
 Routes: 0 imported, 1 exported, 0 preferred
 Route change stats: received rejected filtered ignored accepted
Import updates: 0 0 0 0 0
Import withdraws: 0 0 --- 0 0
Export updates: 1 0 0 --- 1
Export withdraws: 0 --- --- --- 0
 BGP state: Established
Neighbor address:
Neighbor AS: 65530
Neighbor ID:
Neighbor caps: refresh restart-aware AS4
Session: external AS4
Source address:
Hold timer: 85/90
Keepalive timer: 26/30

As you can see, the BGP state is Established and we are exporting 1 route.

If you check the server detail page, you will also see the learned route.

To test, you can ping the IP address in a command line - ping Remember this is Local BGP so you'll have to be connected to the private network for the data center you're running Local BGP in. You can do that by SSHing into another server in that data center or by connected to Doorman, Packet's private VPN.

Congratulations! You've just configured a BGP routing protocol.