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How to setup Networking for Embedded Linux Application Development

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This article helps setting up a dedicated networking environment for Embedded Linux application development.

Having two networks on your development workstation, one to connect to your company network or Internet and one dedicated to connect to your embedded target provides a predicable and stable networking environment for development. You can setup the network to have constant and stable IP addresses in the network towards your target even with several development workstations using the same corporate network. Optionally you can have a TFTP and NFS server on your workstation to implement TFTP/NFS boot as explained here. By isolating the two network you protect your embedded target from being flooded by random traffic and maybe attacks from a public network while on the other hand traffic generated by your device does not load or block your corporate network.

Hardware Requirements

  • Developer Workstation with two Ethernet interfaces:
    • Using a second physical Ethernet adapter (e.g. by using a USB to Ethernet adapter for notebooks)
    • Alternatively reverting to a virtual Ethernet interface in conjunction with a managed switch configured for a separate target network VLAN

Network Setup

Install and configure the second network interface and give it a static IP address. In the example we will use the network address with the workstation having the IP

Install and configure a DHCP server and, depending on requirements, a TFTP and NFS server on your development workstation.

The instructions below have been tested with Ubuntu and Fedora, depending on the exact distribution version packages might be named differently, might need different configuration files or additional changes (such as firewall rules). If below documentation does not work as expected, please also consult your distributions documentation on what packages are needed and how they should be configured.

DHCP Server

Install and configure a DHCP server.

For Ubuntu install DHCP server with the following command:

$ sudo apt-get install isc-dhcp-server

More information about isc-dhcp-server can be found here.

For Fedora use the following command:

$ sudo dnf install dhcp

Edit the DHCP configuration file specifying IP addresses and Ethernet interface (check ip link for the available interfaces). Make sure to choose a network interface which is connected to the module only to avoid disturbing the company network with a rogue DHCP server.

$ sudo vi /etc/dhcp/dhcpd.conf

Sample DHCP Configuration

# dhcpd.conf

# option definitions common to all served networks...
option domain-name "";
option domain-name-servers;

default-lease-time 600;
max-lease-time 7200;

# Use this to enable / disable dynamic dns updates globally.
ddns-update-style none;

# Use this to send dhcp log messages to a different log file (you also
# have to hack syslog.conf to complete the redirection).
log-facility local7;

subnet netmask {
        default-lease-time              86400;
        max-lease-time                  86400;
        option broadcast-address;
        option domain-name              "";
        option domain-name-servers;
        option ip-forwarding            off;
        option routers        ;
        option subnet-mask    ;
        interface                       eth1;
        range                 ;
#MAC address dependent IP assignment, used for the toradex target device
host eval {
        filename                        "zImage";
        fixed-address         ;
        hardware ethernet               00:14:2d:49:79:2c;
        next-server           ;
        option host-name                "colibri";
        option root-path                ",wsize=1024,rsize=1024,v3";

Sample root-path for NFSv4

        option root-path                "rootfs,v4,tcp,clientaddr=";

Note that ‘host eval’ field is used for NFS boot. More information here.

Start and Stop DHCP Service

For Ubuntu use:

$ sudo service isc-dhcp-server start
$ sudo service isc-dhcp-server stop

For Fedora use:

$ systemctl enable dhcpd.service
$ systemctl start dhcpd.service
$ systemctl stop dhcpd.service

After saving changes to file dhcpd.conf, restart the service.

Note: For NFSv4, rootfs as given above is relative to the root path which is where exports has the option "fsid=root" set (see below).

Take care to only answer DHCP requests originating from your development network card. You won't make friends by providing addresses to clients on your corporate network!

TFTP Server

To download files to the module, the Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) is used. U-Boot provides a TFTP Client, therefor the development host need to run a TFTP server.


For Ubuntu, install TFTP Server with the following command:

$ sudo apt-get install tftpd-hpa

Configure the following file as neded:

$ sudo vi /etc/default/tftpd-hpa

Sample TFTP Configuration

# /etc/default/tftpd-hpa


Start and Stop TFTP Service

$ sudo service tftpd-hpa stop
$ sudo service tftpd-hpa start

To reload the configuration use:

$ sudo service tftpd-hpa force-reload

More information about TFTP installation on Ubuntu can be found here.

Create the directory /srv/tftp and change the group as follows:

$ sudo mkdir -p /srv/tftp/
$ sudo chown -R :nogroup /srv/tftp/


To install TFTP Server on Fedora install the following packages:

$ sudo  dnf install tftp-server tftp xinetd

Note: On latest Fedora releases the use of xinetd is discouraged and resp. configuration is located at /lib/systemd/system/tftp.service.

Then edit the configuration file:

$ sudo vi /etc/xinetd.d/tftp

Sample Fedora TFTP Configuration file

service tftp
        socket_type     = dgram
        protocol        = udp
        wait            = yes
        user            = root
        server          = /usr/sbin/in.tftpd
        server_args     = -c -s /srv/tftp
        disable         = no
        per_source      = 11
        cps             = 100 2

Start and Stop Services

systemctl enable xinetd.service
systemctl start xinetd.service
systemctl stop xinetd.service
systemctl enable tftp.socket
systemctl start tftp.socket
systemctl stop tftp.socket
systemctl enable tftp.service
systemctl start tftp.service
systemctl stop tftp.service

Create the directory /srv/tftp and change the group as follows:

$ sudo mkdir -p /srv/tftp/
$ sudo chown -R nobody:nobody /srv/tftp/

NFS Server Configuration

For Ubuntu, install nfs server with the command:

$ sudo apt-get install nfs-kernel-server
NFSv3 Configuration

Create an export configuration:

NFSv4 Configuration

Create an export configuration:

Apply Configuration

Start/restart the relevant daemons e.g. on Ubuntu:

$ sudo service nfs-kernel-server restart

e.g. on Fedora:

$ sudo systemctl restart nfs-server.service

More information on NFS configuration for Ubuntu can be found here.

Routing: Connect the Developer Network to the Internet

If you want to connect your developer network to the Internet do the following steps on your development workstation:

Enable IP forwarding

sudo sysctl -w net.ipv4.ip_forward=1


sudo bash -c "echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forward"

Create new iptables Rule

sudo iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o eth0 -j MASQUERADE


sudo iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o eth0 -j SNAT --to-source

NOTE: eth0 is connected towards the Internet and is the IP address of that interface. NOTE: Search for the keywords NAT and masquerade in your distributions documentation for distro specific information.