VRRP. CARP. Open Standards and royalties on LC Connectors

This is a great article on the nature of “open protocols” and a working example of why ‘open source’ is not always practical or the smart option. Sometimes a community of talented people can still produce a dumb result.

The Network Protocol Battle – ACM Queue

Plus, I finally learned where CARP came from. Here the the key part for me:

The OpenBSD team, led as always by their Glorious Leader (their words, not mine), decided that a RAND license just wasn’t free enough for them. They wrote their own protocol, which was completely incompatible with VRRP. Well, you say, that’s not so bad; that’s competition, and we all know that competition is good and brings better products, and it’s the glorious triumph of Capitalism. But there is one last little nit to this story. The new protocol dubbed CARP (Common Address Redundancy Protocol) uses the exact same IP number as VRRP (112). Most people, and KV includes himself in this group, think this was a jerk move. “Why would they do this?” I hear you cry. Well, it turns out that they believe themselves to be in a war with the enemies of open source, as well as with those opposed to motherhood and apple pie. Stomping on the same protocol number was, in their minds, a strike against their enemies and all for the good. Of course, it makes operating devices with both protocols in the same network difficult, and it makes debugging the software that implements the protocol nearly impossible. tweet

In the end the same thing is going to happen as happens when your four-year-old niece up-ends the checkers game in frustration. She runs away crying, and you’re left to pick up the pieces. A few of us now have to take this protocol and actually get it a proper protocol number and then deal with the fact that legacy devices are still using the old, incompatible protocol. tweet

I’m a believer in open protocols and standards. But blindly opening new protocol does not make technology more open. I remember CARP causing a lot of problems in adoption of VRRP at the time. In one sense, open technologies are truly available to everyone. But technologies that are adopted and used are also important.

LC Connector is not ‘Free’ or ‘Open’.

For example, the LC fibre optic connector is owned by OFS Optics (I think as part of a patent pool) at the LC Alliance who collect royalties from manufacturers.

LC Fibre Optic Connector

Do you know ? Do you now care that the LC connector is not free and open ? Will you now start a campaign to reject the use of LC connectors ?

I will fight for open standards but only where it makes sense, but sometimes I think we need to accept that technology in use, with minimal encumbrance, is OK. Sorry if that sounds practical.

Pass me the LC patch lead will you.

About Greg Ferro

Greg Ferro is a Network Engineer/Architect, mostly focussed on Data Centre, Security Infrastructure, and recently Virtualization. He has over 20 years in IT, in wide range of employers working as a freelance consultant including Finance, Service Providers and Online Companies. He is CCIE#6920 and has a few ideas about the world, but not enough to really count.

He is a host on the Packet Pushers Podcast, blogger at EtherealMind.com and on Twitter @etherealmind and Google Plus

You can contact Greg via the site contact page.

  • Will

    LC sucks !!!  Try flipping it.  If you dont bleed, you’re lucky.  Try flipping 48 of them.  

    At least SC didnt make you bleed.  ST and RC(? cant remember the one you screw in that no one ever used) you didn’t even need to break em apart.  

    When will someone invent the SFP equivalent of MDIX?  I hate flipping fiber and I really really hate flipping LC because it makes me bleed.

    Lol and now that I know it’s not open standards…..I can see why.  The board bled all over the standards paperwork and didnt pass it since it was illegible.

    I also know who I can sue now for my scarred fingers.


  • Wes Felter

    To be fair, many people make a distinction between hardware and software. A ten-cent connector can afford to pay an extra cent for licensing, but for open source software simply doing the accounting would be a big burden.

    There are definitely a lot of open source people who think that NIH doesn’t apply to them and are going around creating new protocols that aren’t needed, though.

  • Cop_olodum

    OpenBSD team did request an IP protocol number to the IANA when they were developing CARP but it was rejected.

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