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interfaces(5) File Formats Manual interfaces(5)


/etc/network/interfaces - interface configuration database


The /etc/network/interfaces file is used to specify how network interfaces are configured. The file is processed by ifquery(8), ifup(8) and ifdown(8) to introspect and change system state.

In most cases, syntax from legacy implementations is supported as well, but that syntax is not discussed in detail here.


The interface configuration database is composed of a series of stanzas. Hash symbols designate comments, which are ignored by the system.

A stanza is a collection of triples, where a triple is a key and value combination that is related to an object. Triples which are not associated with an object are considered to be part of the root of the configuration tree.

All keywords are case-sensitive and are expected to be lower-case.

The following is a simple example of a stanza:

auto eth0
iface eth0


This stanza defines an interface named eth0 which is configured with an address of and gateway of


auto object

Designates that object should be automatically configured by the system when appropriate.

iface object

Begins a new declaration for object. Any child keyword associated with the declaration will be stored inside object.

source filename

Includes the file filename as configuration data.

source-directory directory

Includes the files in directory as configuration data.

template object

Begins a new declaration for object, like iface, except that object is defined as a template.


Any keyword may be used inside an interface declaration block, but the system will only respond to certain keywords by default:

address address

Associates an IPv4 or IPv6 address in CIDR notation with the parent interface. If an IP address without a prefix length is given a given netmask attribute is used if present. If neither a prefix length nor a netmask are given a /24 or /64 prefix length is presumed for IPv4 / IPv6 as of compatibility reasons to classic ifupdown.

netmask netmask

Associates a fallback netmask with the parent interface for addresses which do not have a CIDR length set. This option is for backwards compatibility and should not be used in new deployments.

point-to-point address

Sets the given IPv4 address as the peer address on the interface. This setting only takes effect for the IPv4 address familiy and only makes sense in combination with a /32 netmask. For compatiblity with ifupdown and ifupdown2, pointopoint is an alias for this parameter.

gateway address

Associates an IPv4 or IPv6 address with the parent interface for use as a default route (gateway). This usually is given once for IPv4 and once for IPv6 (in a Dual-Stack setup).

link-type link-type

Denotes the link-type of the interface. When set to dummy, the interface is created as a virtual dummy interfaces. When set to veth the interface is created as virtual veth interface (pair).

veth-peer-name peer-name

Denotes the name of the veth peer interfaces. If not set the kernel will name the veth peer interface as vethN with N being an integer number.

alias alias

Sets the given alias on the interface.

requires interfaces...

Designates one or more required interfaces that must be brought up before configuration of the parent interface. Interfaces associated with the parent are taken down at the same time as the parent.

inherit object

Designates that the configured interface should inherit configuration data from object. Normally object must be a template.

use executor

Designates that an executor should be used. See EXECUTORS section for more information on executors.

pre-down command

Runs command before taking the interface down.

down command

Runs command when the interface is taken down.

post-down command

Runs command after taking the interface down.

pre-up command

Runs command before bringing the interface up.

up command

Runs command when the interface is brought up.

post-up command

Runs command after bringing the interface up.

Additional packages such as bonding, bridge, tunnel, vrf and vxlan add additional keywords to this vocabulary.


The use keyword designates that an executor should be used. This system is extendable by additional packages, but the most common executors are:


The interface is a B.A.T.M.A.N. adv. mesh interface. Configuration of B.A.T.M.A.N. adv. interfaces requires the batctl untiliy to be installed.


The interface is a bonded interface. Configuration of bonded interfaces requires the bonding package to be installed.


The interface is an ethernet bridge. Configuration of ethernet bridges requires the bridge package to be installed.


Use a DHCP client to learn the IPv4 address of an interface.


Configures forwarding settings on the interface.


Designates the interface as a loopback device.


Designates the interface as a PPP device. Configuration of PPP interfaces require the ppp and probably the pppoe packages to be installed.


The interface is a tunnel. Configuration of tunnels requires the tunnel package to be installed on Alpine Linux.


The interface is a VRF. Configuration of VRFs requires the vrf package to be installed.


The interface is a Virtual Extensible LAN (VXLAN) tunnel endpoint.


The interface is a Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11) client interface. Configuration of the WiFi client interface requires the wireless-tools package to be installed. The wpa_supplicant package must also be installed to connect to hotspots using WPA-based security.


The interface is a Wireguard VPN tunnel endpoint.

Check interfaces-<executor>(5) for further informaton about a given executor and available configuration parameters.

If the auto_executor_selection ifupdown-ng.conf option is enabled, use statements will automatically be added for executors when their configuration statements are present in the interfaces file.


Configure a bridge interface br0 with bond0 attached to it, which is a failover between eth0 and eth1. This requires the bonding and bridge packages to be installed:

auto br0
iface br0

use bridge
requires bond0
gateway iface bond0
use bond
requires eth0 eth1
bond-mode 802.3ad
bond-xmit-hash-policy layer2+3

Configure a network interface to use DHCP to learn its IPv4 address:

auto eth0
iface eth0

use dhcp


ifstate(5) ifupdown-ng.conf(5) ifup(8) ifdown(8) ifquery(8) ifctrstat(8) interfaces-batman(5) interfaces-bond(5) interfaces-bridge(5) interfaces-forward(5) interfaces-mpls(5) interfaces-ppp(5) interfaces-tunnel(5) interfaces-vrf(5) interfaces-vxlan(5) interfaces-wifi(5) interfaces-wireguard(5)


Ariadne Conill <>
Maximilian Wilhelm <>