FRRouting Claims IBGP Loopbacks Are Inaccessible

Last week, I explained the differences between FRRouting and more traditional networking operating systems in scenarios where OSPF and IBGP advertise the same prefix:

  • Traditional networking operating systems enter only the OSPF route into the IP routing table.
  • FRRouting enters OSPF and IBGP routes into the IP routing table.
  • On all platforms I’ve tested, only the OSPF route gets into the forwarding table1.

One could conclude that it’s perfectly safe to advertise the same prefixes in OSPF and IBGP. The OSPF routes will be used within the autonomous system, and the IBGP routes will be propagated over EBGP to adjacent networks. Well, one would be surprised 🤦‍♂️

You REALLY SHOULD HAVE read the previous blog post describing the network topology. Here’s the topology diagram in case you didn’t do that:

│                                         │
│                  ┌────────┐  ┌────────┐ │
│ ┌─────────────┐  │   R1   │  │   R2   │ │
│ │├──┤├──┤│ │
│ └─────────────┘  └────────┘  └────────┘ │
│ AS 65000                                │

Back to BGP

First, there’s the ancient question, “Should a router advertise a BGP route if it’s not using it?” I never understood what the big deal was2; if someone decided a prefix is worth advertising in BGP, and the current router knows how to send traffic to that prefix, there’s little harm in advertising the prefix. Anyway, Cisco IOS gets nervous, and old Arista EOS releases refused to advertise the prefix to other BGP neighbors3; you had to calm them down with the bgp advertise-inactive incantation.

FRRouting has no such qualms. The IBGP routes are the best BGP routes it knows; BGP ignores OSPF routes (both routes get in the routing table anyway), and life goes on. Well, not exactly. FRRouting running on R2 refuses to accept the IBGP route for the R1’s loopback prefix. The prefix is in the BGP table (R1 is advertising it), but it’s not the best BGP route for

r2# show ip bgp
BGP table version is 2, local router ID is, vrf id 0
Default local pref 100, local AS 65000
Status codes:  s suppressed, d damped, h history, * valid, > best, = multipath,
               i internal, r RIB-failure, S Stale, R Removed
Nexthop codes: @NNN nexthop's vrf id, < announce-nh-self
Origin codes:  i - IGP, e - EGP, ? - incomplete
RPKI validation codes: V valid, I invalid, N Not found

    Network          Next Hop            Metric LocPrf Weight Path
   i10.0.0.1/32             0    100      0 i
 *>              0         32768 i
 *>i172.16.0.0/24             0    100      0 i

The explanation is bizarre: the next hop is supposedly inaccessible while it happily hums along in the IP routing table:

r2# show ip bgp
BGP routing table entry for, version 0
Paths: (1 available, no best path)
  Not advertised to any peer
  Local (inaccessible, import-check enabled) from r1( (
      Origin IGP, metric 0, localpref 100, invalid, internal
      Last update: Thu Mar  7 16:36:09 2024

r2# show ip route
Codes: K - kernel route, C - connected, S - static, R - RIP,
       O - OSPF, I - IS-IS, B - BGP, E - EIGRP, N - NHRP,
       T - Table, v - VNC, V - VNC-Direct, A - Babel, F - PBR,
       f - OpenFabric,
       > - selected route, * - FIB route, q - queued, r - rejected, b - backup
       t - trapped, o - offload failure

K>* [0/0] via, eth0, 00:16:45
O>* [110/20] via, eth1, weight 1, 00:16:31
O [110/10] via, lo0 onlink, weight 1, 00:16:41
C>* is directly connected, lo0, 00:16:43
O [110/10] is directly connected, eth1, weight 1, 00:16:41
C>* is directly connected, eth1, 00:16:43
B [200/0] via (recursive), weight 1, 00:16:30
                            via, eth1, weight 1, 00:16:30
O>* [110/20] via, eth1, weight 1, 00:16:31
C>* is directly connected, eth0, 00:16:45

It is true that a BGP update saying “the prefix has the BGP next hop” looks funky when considered in isolation. Still, we have a perfectly valid OSPF route for in the IP routing table and the IP forwarding table, and we know that BGP checks the IP routing table when evaluating the viability of BGP next hops.

The only explanation I could come up with is that we’re experiencing a side effect of a too-aggressive recursive routing prevention logic. We have a severe problem if the best route for has as the next hop, and it makes perfect sense to refuse such an entry. However, in our case, the best route for is an OSPF route, not an IBGP route.

I tried to figure out what scenario could make an IBGP route for an IBGP loopback the best route in the IP routing table. The only one I could come up with was the EVPN IBGP-over-EBGP design pushed by too many vendors. You get the horrendous mess you deserve if you use it and enable (or forget to disable) the IPv4 address family on an IBGP session running between IPv4 loopbacks advertised over the EBGP IPv4 address family4.

The correct “solution” to that problem should be to tell the cargo cult followers, “You’re not experienced enough to use that design,” but we know no vendor would ever do that. It seems someone took the easy way out and broke otherwise reasonable designs in the name of supporting stuff BGP was never supposed to deal with. Still, I remain an eternal optimist, hoping I missed something obvious. Please write a comment if I did.

  1. To be fair, we’re in the “probably, but who knows” territory ;) While OSPF and BGP report different next hops for the same prefix, the directly adjacent next hop is the same. ↩︎

  2. If you have more information, please write a comment. ↩︎

  3. While the Arista EOS documentation still describes the bgp advertise-inactive command, it looks like that behavior has changed (or at least I couldn’t reproduce it). ↩︎

  4. Trust me, I tried it once. ↩︎


  1. The advertise inactive requirement was a ribd thing. The multi-agent model will always advertise the BGP-RIB winner, even if it is not the RIB winner (i.e. bgp advertise-inactive is implicitly enabled in multi-agent model and can't be disabled). You can still configure it but "show bgp configuration unsupported" will flag it.

  2. >>First, there’s the ancient question, “Should a router advertise a BGP route if it’s not using it?” I never understood what the big deal was

    BGP RFC 4271 quote:

    "A route SHALL NOT be installed in the Adj-Rib-Out unless the destination, and NEXT_HOP described by this route, may be forwarded appropriately by the Routing Table"

    I think, if we will look at the network as distributed database which is used to forward packets this rule looks valid. In order to preserve forwarding consistency within the network routers should not advertise the routes that cannot be used locally for forwarding (by default).

    1. Well, that's a no-brainer, but the real question is, "Should the route in the routing table be a BGP route, or is any route to the destination good enough?"

    2. Any route is good enough because the RFC does not specify the explicit type or types. Even a BGP one, yes. The quote says "forwarding", which means it must be installed in the forwarding table. FIB is absent a route type. But vendors are free to implement any resolution schemes/filters, the Standard does not restrict them here either. And we can see it in the wild.

      Having a BGP route NH resolved over another BGP route is not something "bizarre" when we consider that there are actually different address families. There is nothing wrong with resolving a BGP IPv4 unicast (1/1) route over a BGP IPv4 labeled unicast (1/4) one, for example.

      If we speak about IPv4 unicast over IPv4 unicast, yes, this is a less popular choice. For example, SR-OS requires you to explicitly enable this feature (use-bgp-routes knob. By default, a BGP route is not resolvable by another BGP route). In other words, you can still do it, if you know why.

      > > First, there’s the ancient question, “Should a router advertise a BGP route if it’s not using it?” I never understood what the big deal was

      My point here is RFC 4271 does not allow this explicitly. The only notion of "inactive" I could find is RFC 4277, Section 11. Despite this memo being informal, it highlights the common experience. Section 11 starts with:

      "[RFC4271] states "Any local policy which results in routes being added to an Adj-RIB-Out without also being added to the local BGP speaker's forwarding table, is outside the scope of this document"."

      Here we can see a forwarding table mentioned, not routing. So, it does not matter which route (BGP, IGP, static, etc.). A tricky point is whether a current record in FIB has a next-hop to an interface that is not the same as an interface of the original BGP route. It could lead to a potential loop, but there is no good reference, every vendor is free to implement "advertise-inactive" in their own way.

    3. >>Should the route in the routing table be a BGP route, or is any route to the destination good enough?

      Routes to be installed in particular Adj-RIB-Out table are BGP Routes, it may be received from other BGP speakers or generated locally or redistributed from the other protocols, but they have to be in Loc-RIB first.

      So, yes, it should be a "BGP route", that's no-brainer for me.

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