Our monitoring system is indicating transmit errors on the IPsec VTIs on our Vyatta Core routers when they are under high load. They only appear fairly occasionally, and don't appear to seriously impact performance (we're getting pretty close to 100 Mbps on a 100 Mbps link), but there seems to be very little information out there about what constitutes a transmit error on a VTI. I'm sure the information exists in the kernel sources, but having no kernel development experience, it could take me days or weeks to understand it enough to answer the question. Where can I find more information about this?

2 Answers 2


The transmit errors on VTI interfaces (and other tunneling interfaces) have special meanings. Unfortunately it's poorly documented and I've looked into the source code of kernel to investigate this (see the /net/ipv4/ip_vti.c file).

To list the categories of TX errors use the ip -s -s -d link show [ dev <vti-iface> ] command.

TX carrier errors and troubleshooting:

  • No suitable route was found - check it with the ip route get <dst> command
  • No suitable policy was found - check the policies with the ip xfrm policy get ... command
  • No suitable SA was found - check the SA status with the ip xfrm state get ... command
  • The SA isn't in the tunnel mode - check the SA mode with the ip xfrm state show or the ip xfrm state get ... commands

TX collision errors:

  • Routing loop found - after transformation a packet should be sent through the same VTI interface - check the SA configuration and the routing configuration.
  • Also try this: cat /proc/net/xfrm_stat | grep -v "\<0$" which prints IPsec errors. But I believe that all ip-xfrm errors that are counted as link errors will show up as mentioned in this answer. Mar 14 at 20:57

The errors that you're seeing can happen for a number of reasons. My suggestion would be to dig through your logs for a message that looks like:

Nov 25 21:18:00.000 UTC: ISAKMP (0:1): deleting node ######## error TRUE reason "[the answer you seek is likely in this string]"

I'd take a look at this link for troubleshooting IPSec VPNs. Normally, I'd summarize as links can go down for any reason, but without knowing more specifics, you want to generally look for troubleshooting guides not relating to initial configuration (as you have a working setup -- only occasional errors). Which is to say, the answers to your question likely live as a string in your logfiles.

More generally, transmit errors can occur for any number of reasons - mangled checksums, mangled authentication headers, need to retransmit due to congestion or dropped packets, really any error in any of the layers of the IPSec affected network stack can bubble up.

  • I can understand how mangled checksums & authentication headers could happen on receive (due to corruption in transmission), but the sender calculates the checksums/MACs and inserts them into the packets - how could it go wrong (except perhaps for local memory corruption, which is very unlikely to be detected by the sender)? Retransmissions due to congestion or bad links make more sense, but why would they be showing up at the link layer rather than the transport layer? A VTI shows up as an ordinary point-to-point interface on Linux.
    – Paul Gear
    Nov 26, 2013 at 22:21
  • I guess the main likelihood here is that the lower level Ethernet device is detecting that the medium is busy (through CSMA/CD), and pushing that back to the VTI.
    – Paul Gear
    Nov 26, 2013 at 22:24
  • When you say that you get these errors under high load, do you mean high network load or is it correlated with other constraints (CPU/mem)? Nov 27, 2013 at 13:21
  • Can you get more detailed information from your monitoring system? Nov 27, 2013 at 13:36
  • Sanity check: are you on the most recent stable version? If not, is there anything in the changelogs for intermediate versions that would suggest a now-handled bug? Nov 27, 2013 at 14:35

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