I am trying to get port fowarding to work to expose a LXC container, when using ufw on Ubuntu, but to no avail. I have constructed the following workflow from guides around the Internet ([1][2][3]); most notably the section about /etc/ufw/before.rules I see repeated all over the place but .... I cannot get it to work for me.

If anybody follows this guide and finds success.... do let me know (so I may first weep, and then fall back and write my own firewalling tool)

Steps to reproduce/test


  1. Test environment

    • New VM (I used virtualbox) "host1" with both a NAT and NAT Network interface
      • Install Ubuntu server 16.04 - just do a default installation
    • Second VM instance "host2", on same NAT Network
  2. LXC installation on host1 - I am doing this with plain LXC, not introducing LXD setups yet

    • sudo lxc-create -n web -t download -- -d centos -r 7 -a amd64
    • sudo lxc-start -n web
    • sudo lxc-attach -n web
      • yum install httpd ; yum enable httpd ; yum start httpd
      • exit

We assume now that

  • NAT Network interface on host1 is enp0s8 and
  • the container IP on host1 is
  • the IP of host1's enp0s8 is
  • See that with sudo iptables -L -t nat that the masquerading has already been configured by the LXC install

You may want to snapshot this base state.

At this point two routes: A-route with plain iptables, and B-route, the problematic one, with ufw

  1. A - iptables
    • sudo iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -i enp0s8 -p tcp --dport 8080 -j DNAT --to ""
    • On the second host I can wget and this gives me the standard CentOS landing page. Success!

The problem

  1. B - this can be done after a reboot of host1 or, if you snapshotted earlier, just revert. Either way, it behaves the same
    • Edit /etc/default/ufw
      • set MANAGE_BUILTINS=yes
    • Edit /etc/ufw/sysctl.conf
      • uncomment net/ipv4/ip_forward=1
    • Edit /etc/ufw/before.rules
      • Insert the nat lines (see below [4]) under the lead comments, but above the *filter line
      • Adjusting of course for the relevant configurations
    • ufw allow 8080
    • ufw enable
    • At this point, I cannot reach host1 from host2 with wget, firefox, etc - connection cannot be established
    • If I do nc -l 8080 on host1 and try connecting again from host2, I get the HTTP header dump - indicating that no port forwarding is occurring. FAIL!

I've gone over my steps about short of 5 different times now with fresh VMs, digitalOcean droplets and AWS EC2 instances - no luck, always the same.

Can anybody point out what I am doing wrong ...?

  • At this point I actually have written a firewalling script supporting profiles, raw entries and transferable configurations. I think I'll have to abandon using ufw for LXC machines... github.com/taikedz/vefirewall
    – taifwa
    Apr 2, 2017 at 16:20

1 Answer 1


Turns out there are a few more configuration steps that are needed to allow general traffic to flow:

At the top of /etc/ufw/before.rules, before the *filter section

-A PREROUTING -i enp0s8 -p tcp --dport 8080 -j DNAT --to

And near the bottom, before the final COMMIT:

-A FORWARD -o lxcbr0 -j ACCEPT
-A FORWARD -i lxcbr0 -j ACCEPT

-A INPUT -p udp --dport 53 -i enp0s8 -m state --state NEW -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -p tcp --dport 53 -i enp0s8 -m state --state NEW -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -p udp --dport 67 -i enp0s8 -m state --state NEW -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -p tcp --dport 67 -i enp0s8 -m state --state NEW -j ACCEPT

At the top of /etc/ufw/after.rules, before the filter section:


That did it for my test environment, as outlined in the problem description.

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