AIX types of ethernet interfaces

AIX shows a lot of different info in different places.  This is because AIX predates the time when everyone had RJ45 ethernet ports.

HBA represents a high-function PCI adapter that contains multiple protocols, and which can sometimes be configured to provide ENT devices.  Primary candidates are “Integrated Virtual Ethernet” on POWER5 and POWER6 servers, as well as ROCE adapters, which are “RDMA Over Converged Ethernet”, with RDMA being “Remote Direct Memory Addressing” or “Access”.  Basically, Infiniband adapters which can use ethernet at the link layer.

ENT represents the “physical port”, though that is not always the case.  I’ll explain more later.  There is one one of these for every Ethernet port visible to the operating system.

EN represents the “ETHERNET II” protocol device for IP communication.  This is the standard today, also known as “DIX Etehrnet”, named after DEC, Intel, Xerox.  This is where you will normally put your IP address.  There is one of these for every ENT device.

ET represents an IEEE 802.3 protocol device.  This would have been used in the days of Novel Networking, or with SNA protocol.  Almost no-one uses this anymore, but I’m sure there’s an AIX 3.2.5U2 microchannel server running with this somewhere in the bottom of an old government facility, with coaxial cables and barrell terminators.  Really, I don’t know why this still is needed on anything produced in the last 20 years.  There is one of these for every ENT device.

INET is for config options that affect the entire TCP/IP stack, such as persistent routes, the hostname, and whether you are bypassing ODM for config of your network (rare).  There is only one of these per system, and it is always inet0 unless someone gets cheeky.

There are other ways to get IP devices, such as IP over Fibre Channel, IP over Infiniband, IP over ATM, over FDDI, over serial or parallel, etc.  These are less common, so I’m not going into them here.

Generally, you may have a stack like this:

ent0    physical ethernet port
ent1    physical ethernet port
ent2    Etherchannel (Static, or LACP bond created out of both of the above)
ent3    Virtual Ethernet (Connects to a virtual, firmware-only switch)
ent4    Shared Ethernet (VIO server only, a software bridge between a virtual physical)
ent5    VLAN (an additional VLAN port configured off of any of the above)
en0     IP interface – unused because we give ENT0 as a backing device to ENT3
en1     IP interface – also unused for the same reason
en2     IP Interface – also unused, because this is the backing device for the SEA
en3     IP interface – Also unused because this is a backing device for the SEA.
en4     IP interface hanging off of ENT4 – this can be skipped, and a virtual ethernet used
en5     IP interface hanging off of ENT5 – this can be skipped, and a virtual ethernet used

Each device has its own type of parameters.  You can use “lsattr -El $device”, “netstat -in”, and “entstat -d $device” to get details of this.  Note that entstat wants to be on the top device, not the bottom device.  Start with where the IP address is assigned, and it will show the subdevices, virtual connections, etc.


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