OpenSwitch in an OVA


First, disclaimer: I’m an HPE employee. Hewlett Packard Enterprise is a major contributor to the OpenSwitch project. Just thought you should know in case you think that affects my opinion here.

If you need more info on the OpenSwitch project, you can check out the other post in this series here and here

Network Engineers Don’t Like Learning New Things

Got your attention, didn’t I?  After the first couple of posts on OpenSwitch and a lot of discussions about this cool new project at some recent events, there was one piece of feedback that came back fairly consistently from the traditional engineers. OpenSwitch is hard to get running because there’s so many new things to learn.

When released in November of last year, the initial demonstration environment was actually pretty simple and streamlined to get up and running, as long as you’re a developer.  

The process involved the standard set of dev tools:

  • Virtual Box
  • Vagrant
  • DockerToolbox
  • Docker

 For anyone involved in a development environment, these tools are like an old hoody on a cold winter day. Welcome and familiar. 

But for the majority of network engineers who are far more comfortable with a console cable and a telnet session, it appears that the barrier to entry was just too high for people to start getting their hands dirty. 


I was able to bring this feedback to the OpenSwitch engineering team and I’m happy to bring the news that OpenSwich is now available in a OVA format that you can run natively on VirtualBox. 


Read the Docs

I’m going to go the long way around to get this up and running, but I’ve heard that the OVA file may be prebuilt and available on the OpenSwitch website in the near future. *I’ll try and come back to edit this post with a direct link if that happens*

The build process for OpenSwitch is actually well documented here.  Depending on the OS you’re running, there are some specific dependencies that are well documented. I won’t cover those since they are already there, but make sure you do check the docs carefully when you’re creating you’re build system as it won’t work unless you follow them.

Getting the Code

Since we’re going to be simply creating an OVA image, we don’t need the entire OPS GIT repo, we only need the ops-build portion. The first thing we’re going to do is to get to a terminal window on your linux ubuntu 14.04 host, create a directory called opsova and then GIT clone the ops-build repository using the following command. This command will copy the contents of the ops-build directory on GITHUB into a local directory called ops-build on your local machine.

git clone

 Selecting the Build

Now that we’ve cloned the necessary code to our local machines. We’re going to select the type of OpenSwitch build that we’d like to create. If you were pushing this to a supported white box switch you would use the following commands

make configure genericx86-64

But since we’re going to be creating an OVA so that we can import directly into Oracle Virtual box (Because it’s free!) we’re going to configure the appliance build

make configure appliance

Creating the OVA

Now for the final-ish step of the build. We’re going to run the make command to actually create the OVA file.

Warning: If you’re doing this in a VM. You want to give it lots of CPU for this step or it could take quite a long time. Remember burning CD’s on a 1x speed burner? Yeah… it feels like that. 


Running the OVA

Now that we’ve successfully created the OVA, the next step is to move it out of the VM to the host machine where you have Oracle VirtualBox installed.. This, of course, is assuming that you followed my example and you were doing this in a Ubuntu VM rather than a bare metal machine. From here, we follow a typical deployment and import the OVA using the following steps.

Finding the OVA

Once the make process, finishes ( there may be a couple of warnings, but it should build successfully  ), you will navigate to the ./images folder where you will find a symbolic link to OVA file. Following the symbolic link, the actual OVA was located in ./ops-build/build/tmp/deploy/images/appliance.  

Screen Shot 2016 01 19 at 1 14 15 PM

Now you need to get it off of your VM host and move it over to the machine where you are running VirtualBox.  ( I’m assuming you are comfortable with moving files between two machines and I’m not covering that here. Please feel free to point out in the comments if I’ve made a false assumption ).

Importting the OVA into Virtual Box


Now that we’ve moved this over to the host machine where you’re running VirtualBox, you simply choose File\import Appliance and navigate to the directory where you stored the OVA click next a couple of times and you should be good to go.

Screen Shot 2016 01 19 at 1 18 25 PM


Logging into OpenSwitch

In the last part of this post, we’re going to login to the OPS image.  The default username for the appliance build is root with no password.  Simply type in the username and you should be in the system

If you want to jump ahead of the next post, you would now type vtysh at the command prompt to pop into the quagga network shell which is where us network types will find ourselves most at home.



Screen Shot 2016 01 19 at 1 24 48 PM

What’s Next

In the next post, I’ll be looking at some basic configuration tasks, like adding an IP address and establishing basic network connectivity. If you have any issues getting this running, please feel free to post in the comments below, or even better, get involved in the OPS community by using the mailing list or the IRC Channels ( You can find information on all the ways to participate in the OPS community here




3 thoughts on “OpenSwitch in an OVA

  1. I’m having issues to let OPS appliance start as expected, in particular ops-sysd fais to start correctly, this happens with both downloaded OVA file and directly built with “make configure appliance”.

    2016-04-09T19:42:27Z|00005|sysd_util|DBG|Management Interface read successfully: eth0
    2016-04-09T19:42:27Z|00006|sysd_util|DBG|manufacturer=Generic-x86 product_name=X86-64
    2016-04-09T19:42:27Z|00007|sysd_util|INFO|Location to HW descrptor files: /etc/openswitch/platform/Generic-x86/X86-64
    2016-04-09T19:42:27Z|00008|fru|INFO|Getting fru info from EEPROM
    2016-04-09T19:42:27Z|00009|cfg_yaml|ERR|Failed to read FRU header.
    2016-04-09T19:42:27Z|00010|fru|ERR|Error reading FRU EEPROM Header
    2016-04-09T19:42:27Z|00011|ops_sysd|ERR|Failed to read FRU data from base system.
    2016-04-09T19:42:27Z|00012|ops_sysd|ERR|Unable to enumerate subsystems in the system.

    The 3 appliance interfaces are not created

    I see you used a quite old openswitch OVA image (jan 2016) maybe the issue was introduced later..?


  2. hello.i have exactly done what you have instructed here.
    problem is that, i can not find any OVA in the mentioned folder or anywhere else. all i see are 3 bzImage.bin kind of file plus 2 archives.
    have i done anything wrong?

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