Is there an underlying administrative or diagnostic interface to the Linux bonding driver to determine what is going on internally?

I've used link aggregation between Linux boxes and Cisco switches for many years. Periodically I run into a dead-end when setting up new boxes where the Linux side simply does not respond to Cisco LACP packets. I meticulously follow a strict set of instructions for each server, but the results appear to vary.

Whether the bond contains one slave or eight, tcpdump shows LACP packets coming from the switch on all bonded interfaces and no packets are ever transmitted back. In fact, no packets are transmitted period. rx_packets for the interface shows considerable traffic, but tx_packets is zero. There is nothing interesting in the logs regarding MII or bonding. There aren't even any errors.

Presently, I'm dealing with a box that has only two nics. For the moment, I have only eth1 in the bond. Obviously, this is a degenerate configuration. The situation does not change with both eth0 and eth1 in the bond; it just makes it harder to work with the machine when the network stack is completely down. I can reconfigure it for both nics if necessary and go through an administrative interface (DRAC), but I can't copy-paste from the box that way.

Some preliminaries:

  • I tested the nics, ports, and cables. Everything works as expected when the interfaces are not bonded.
  • I have rebooted and confirmed that the modules are loading properly.
  • I have tried this with and without the vlan trunking; it should not matter as link aggregation takes place below that point in the stack.
  • The switch has working, trunked channel-groups going to other Linux boxes. The configurations are more-or-less identical even though the distros, kernels, and hardware of the Linux boxes are not.

This is debian 8.6 downloaded today.

Linux box 3.16.0-4-amd64 #1 SMP Debian 3.16.36-1+deb8u2
    (2016-10-19) x86_64 GNU/Linux

An abbreviated config:

iface eth1 inet manual

auto bond0
iface bond0 inet manual
        slaves eth1
        bond_mode 4
        bond_miimon 100
        bond_downdelay 200
        bond_updelay 200
        bond_xmit_hash_policy layer2+3
        bond_lacp_rate slow

Some state:

# cat /proc/net/bonding/bond0 
Ethernet Channel Bonding Driver: v3.7.1 (April 27, 2011)

Bonding Mode: IEEE 802.3ad Dynamic link aggregation
Transmit Hash Policy: layer2+3 (2)
MII Status: down
MII Polling Interval (ms): 100
Up Delay (ms): 200
Down Delay (ms): 200

802.3ad info
LACP rate: slow
Min links: 0
Aggregator selection policy (ad_select): stable
bond bond0 has no active aggregator

Slave Interface: eth1
MII Status: down
Speed: 1000 Mbps
Duplex: full
Link Failure Count: 0
Permanent HW addr: 78:2b:cb:5a:2b:3e
Aggregator ID: N/A
Slave queue ID: 0

An inbound tcpdump record on eth1 from the switch:

22:18:47.333928   M 44:ad:d9:6c:8d:8f ethertype Slow Protocols (0x8809),
          length 126: LACPv1, length 110
        Actor Information TLV (0x01), length 20
          System 44:ad:d9:6c:8d:80, System Priority 32768, Key 12,
          Port 272, Port Priority 32768
          State Flags [Activity, Aggregation, Synchronization,
            Collecting, Distributing, Default]
        Partner Information TLV (0x02), length 20
          System 00:00:00:00:00:00, System Priority 0, Key 0, Port 0,
            Port Priority 0
          State Flags [none]
        Collector Information TLV (0x03), length 16
          Max Delay 32768
        Terminator TLV (0x00), length 0

The cisco side:

interface GigabitEthernet1/0/15
 switchport trunk allowed vlan 100,101,102
 switchport mode trunk
 channel-group 12 mode active
interface Port-channel12
 switchport trunk allowed vlan 100,101,102
 switchport mode trunk

Eventually, the switch gives up, and the interface goes into "stand-alone" mode. If there are two interfaces in the channel-group, they both go into stand-alone mode.

#show etherchannel 12 sum
Flags:  I - stand-alone

Group  Port-channel  Protocol    Ports
12     Po12(SD)        LACP      Gi1/0/15(I)

I've racked my brain on this all day. I've torn out and rebuilt the Cisco configuration several times. If it wasn't for the tcpdump showing LACPv1 packets arriving on the Linux interface, I'd be looking at the Cisco side. Alas, the Linux kernel appears to be completely ignoring the packets. My next stop is kernel source code and worst case, custom kernel for diagnostics. Hopefully, someone has some insight into the bonding driver and what makes it run correctly.

  • I found an answer to this that is non-obvious. The network configuration section shows "manual" for the bond. This is because I typically place a bridge on top of it for virtual guests to access the network. There is an issue however. The bond MUST have an IP address or it won't work, so the setting should be set to "static" not "manual".
    – jjoganic
    Apr 16, 2018 at 17:03

2 Answers 2


The bonding driver doesn't expose any LACP state machine debugging to userspace, you'd need to know the code and use kernel instrumentation like SystemTap, or write your own debugging into your own bonding module and compile it for your kernel.

However, the problem is that the bonding driver thinks the slave is down:

MII Status: down

You say you're confident the slave has link, so we'll ignore a physical problem.

Either the bond/slave isn't configured properly and the slave is administratively down, or the driver in use doesn't support netif_carrier() style link detection inside the kernel and you need to set use_carrier=0 in the options of your bonding module.


Try set next LACP properties on linux side to:

bond_downdelay 0
bond_updelay 0
bond_xmit_hash_policy layer3+4
bond_lacp_rate fast

On Cisco side, recreate the port-channel and enable fast rate of LACP:

port-channel load-balance src-dst-ip
interface GigabitEthernet1/0/15
    lacp rate fast

If Cisco switch can't set lacp rate fast, then you need to update its IOS.

Cisco works with LACP worse than Linux. Set port-channel load-balance src-dst-port if your Cisco switch can.

  • Thanks for the answer; my tech guys updated the firmware to the latest on 15.x. The lacp rate fast option is not available in that version. They'll upgrade it to 16.x tonight.
    – jjoganic
    Oct 28, 2016 at 18:18
  • Since 15.2(4)E the Cisco 3750-X supports lacp rate fast. Try to use the latest release. Oct 28, 2016 at 20:20

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