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OVSDB Integration:Mininet OVSDB Tutorial

This needs to be updated. Please bear that in mind when reading the content and feel free to help update it.

Pre-Requisite Environment

See the OVSDB YouTube Channel for getting started videos and other tutorials:

OVSDB Overview

The OVSDB protocol uses JSON/RPC calls to manipulate a physical or virtual switch that has OVSDB attached to it. nearly all vendors support OVSDB in various hardware platforms. The OpenDaylight controller uses our native OVSDB implementation to manipulate the Open vSwitch database. Mininet is a great tool for students, researchers and devlopers alike. A critical component of Mininet is Open vSwitch(OVS) datapath running. This is a vanilla OVS implementation. Among other things, it differetiates from vanilla OVS by using namespaces to emulates an L3 host endpoint for reachability testing. This is an actual virtual namespace container so it is possible to run services for test/dev needs.

OpenDaylight and OVSDB functionality

This tutorial is for developers, those learning the OpenDaylight controller or just SDN in general. The following example uses the Northbound API to perform some basic management plane functions as follows:

  • Add/modify/delete Bridges (switches/datapaths).
  • Add/modify/delete ports/interfaces which attach to bridges. Ports can be provisioned with any supported characteristics such as VLANs, Tunnel Encaps [GRE, VXLAN, (CAPWAP] Tags, Trunks, LACP, external_id etc.

(Note: CAPWAP is depreciated in OVS but still supported in the OVSDB project as long as it is in upstream OVS)

  • Attach ports to a datapath (bridge). In mininet this will create a link between two emulated switches.
  • Add/modify/delete the OVSDB manager and the OpenFlow controller managing the OVS implementation.

Get and unpack the ODL Virtualization Distribution

curl -O http://nexus.opendaylight.org/content/repositories/opendaylight.release/org/opendaylight/integration/distributions-virtualization/0.1.1/distributions-virtualization-0.1.1-osgipackage.zip
unzip distributions-virtualization-0.1.1-osgipackage.zip

Run OpenDaylight OVSDB Plugin with OpenFlow v1.0

cd opendaylight

OpenDaylight OVSDB Plugin with OpenFlow v1.3

First edit opendaylight/configuration/config.ini and uncomment the line: # ovsdb.of.version=1.3


  cd ..
 ./run.sh -Xmx2048m -XX:MaxPermSize=512m -virt ovsdb -of13

Download a Test VM or Mininet

  • Download pre-built ODL VM

OpenDaylight Image Downloads

  • Download Mininet


  • VirtualBox is free if you need a hypervisor to run the Mininet image. There are various disk image formats available for most popular platforms.

VirtualBox.org We recommend using Postman for making API calls as you can download the same APIs we are using.

Postman API Collections

Please watch the following video for an example of using Postman for OVSDB API calls.

OVSDB YouTube Channel

Setting up the OVS Manager

The following is the simple topology which is created by Mininet. In this tutorial we will modify the data path using the OVSDB plugin.


In the mininet CLI the only provisioning needed is to enable remote management of Open vSwitch. There are two options:

1. Passive Listener - In the passive management mode, the controller will initiate a connection to the OVS element that is listening on a specified port using the ovs-vsctl client. ovs-vsctl set-manager ptcp:6640

This configuration in the OVS client will appear as follows:

mininet-vm:~# ovs-vsctl show
    Manager "ptcp:6640"

2. Active Manager - The OVS element can be set to attach to an active Daylight management controller. In this model, the controller is listening on a specified port. The IANA registered port for OVS is 6640.

sudo ovs-vsctl set-manager tcp:

After the host is connected to the controller. The OVS configuration will reflect the established connection with a boolean value in the "Manager" table in the "is_connected" column of "true".

root@mininet-vm:~# ovs-vsctl show
    Manager "tcp:"
        is_connected: true

In both scenarios, the initiator sends an echo request in order to establish a persistent connection. This connection is refreshed every 5 seconds. If an echo request times out, the persistent connection will be disconnected. The OVS switch will continue to initialize a channel to the OVSDB manager using echo requests every 5 seconds as long as the manager table is configured to do so.

Start and Attach Mininet

Mininet topologies consist of the following:

  • Mininet will build a topology using OVS bridges for dataplane that appear as an standlone switch.
  • OVS patch ports and virtual Ethernet (veth) ports can be used to interconnect the switches (dataplanes). Each link is a shared Ethernet segment resembeling a hub.
  • Hosts are run
Start with the following to spin up 2 hosts and 2 switches. 
mn --controller=remote,ip= --topo=linear,2

You should now see a topology of two hosts in the OF controller like so:


Enable OpenDaylight Forwarding

Next enable a dynamic forwarding app such as the one in the ODL controller. Point your browser at (or any bound address). Below the the topology in the picture above is the "Add Gateway IP Address" button. Click that an add into the configuration.

  • Warning this will proxy all ARP requests that it receives so ensure it is not configured to answer for a production network that falls into the network address range of the IP prefix entered.


  • After you define the gateway proxy address, you should then be able to ping between host 1 and host 2 using:


pingpair h1 h2
  • Output should resemble the following:
mininet> pingall
Ping: testing ping reachability
h1 -> h2 
h2 -> h1 
Results: 0% dropped (0/2 lost)

More examples on the simple forwarding application here Using the OpenDaylight Simple Forwarding Application

We have 2 options to send management commands via OpenDaylight's OVSDB plugin. 1. Preferred : Using REST-API 2. For debugging/troubleshooting only : internal OSGi commands

Connecting to the OVSDB-SERVER

  • REST
PUT http://localhost:8080/controller/nb/v2/connectionmanager/node/MINI1/address/
  • OSGi cli :
osgi> ovsconnect MINI1 6640
connecting to ovsdb server : ... 
Node Name: OVS|MINI1

view the bridges defined in the OVSDB tables

  • REST
GET http://localhost:8080/controller/nb/v2/connectionmanager/bridge/OVS/MINI1
  • OSGi CLI
osgi> getBridgeDomains "OVS|MINI1"
Existing Bridges: [s1, s2, br1]

Delete connection between s1 and s2

Next we will delete the connections between switch 1 (s1) and switch 2 (s2) and the connections to the host endpoints as the following diagram outlines:

  • REST
DELETE http://localhost:8080/controller/nb/v2/networkconfig/bridgedomain/port/OVS/MINI1/s1/s1-eth2
  • OSGi cli

Using the CLI delete the ports that call the methods located in OVSDB project's ConfigurationService.java file.

deletePort "OVS|MINI1" s1 s1-eth2
deletePort "OVS|MINI1" s2 s2-eth2 
deletePort "OVS|MINI1" s1 s1-eth1
deletePort "OVS|MINI1" s2 s2-eth1

The configuration diff between the OVSDB client output (ovs-vsctl show) of the Mininet created ports and the ports added back into the OVSDB tables are as follows.


  • Now try pinging from host1 to host2. This will fail since the link has been torn down:
mininet> pingpair h1 h2
h1 -> 
h2 -> X 
 Results: 100% dropped (2/2 lost)
      • Next add the ports back to restablish the detapath between the two switches (s1 and s2):
addPort "OVS|MINI1" s1 s1-eth1
addPort "OVS|MINI1" s2 s2-eth1 
addPort "OVS|MINI1" s1 s1-eth2
addPort "OVS|MINI1" s2 s2-eth2
*Note* if after you add the ports back to the vSwitch you may need to remove the "Subnet Gateway Configuration" and reapply it the network again. This is being investigated. 
  • Finally attempt to ping all of the hosts once again:
mininet> pingall
 Ping: testing ping reachability
h1 -> h2 
h2 -> h1 
 Results: 0% dropped (0/2 lost)
  • More example commands that can be run against the switch running OVSDB are the following:
ovsconnect MINI1 6640
addBridge "OVS|MINI1" br0
addPort "OVS|MINI1" br0 vnic0
deletePort "OVS|MINI1" s1 s1-eth1
deletePort "OVS|MINI1" br0 vnic0 
getBridgeDomains "OVS|MINI1"
  • For a complete list of the CLI this can be found using the "help" command on the CLI console.
ovsconnect <ConnectionName> <ip-address>                        - Connect to OVSDB\n");
addBridge <Node> <BridgeName>                                   - Add Bridge\n");
getBridgeDomains <Node>                                         - Get Bridges\n");
addPort <Node> <BridgeName> <PortName> <type> <options pairs>   - Add Port\n");
delPort <Node> <BridgeName> <PortName>                          - Delete Port\n");
addPortVlan <Node> <BridgeName> <PortName> <vlan>               - Add Port, Vlan\n");
addTunnel <Node> <Bridge> <Port> <tunnel-type> <remote-ip>      - Add Tunnel\n");
printCache <Node>                                               - Prints Table Cache");

For any assistance please join the IRC channel #opendaylight-ovsdb on irc.freenode.net or email the ovsdb-dev listserv at ovsdb-dev@lists.opendaylight.org