8.2. Running pppd

When you want to connect to the Internet through a PPP link, you have to set up basic networking capabilities, such as the loopback device and the resolver. Both have been covered in Chapter 5, and Chapter 6. You can simply configure the name server of your Internet Service Provider in the /etc/resolv.conf file, but this will mean that every DNS request is sent across your serial link. This situation is not optimal; the closer (network-wise) you are to your name server, the faster the name lookups will be. An alternative solution is to configure a caching-only name server at a host on your network. This means that the first time you make a DNS query for a particular host, your request will be sent across your serial link, but every subsequent request will be answered directly by your local name server, and will be much faster. This configuration is described in Chapter 6, in Section 6.3.4.”

As an introductory example of how to establish a PPP connection with pppd, assume you are at vlager again. First, dial in to the PPP server c3po and log in to the ppp account. c3po will execute its PPP driver. After exiting the communications program you used for dialing, execute the following command, substituting the name of the serial device you used for the ttyS3 shown here:
# pppd /dev/ttyS3 38400 crtscts defaultroute

This command flips the serial line ttyS3 to the PPP line discipline and negotiates an IP link with c3po. The transfer speed used on the serial port will be 38,400 bps. The crtscts option turns on hardware handshake on the port, which is an absolute must at speeds above 9,600 bps.

The first thing pppd does after starting up is negotiate several link characteristics with the remote end using LCP. Usually, the default set of options pppd tries to negotiate will work, so we won't go into this here. Expect to say that part of this negotiation involves requesting or assigning the IP addresses at each end of the link.

For the time being, we also assume that c3po doesn't require any authentication from us, so the configuration phase is completed successfully.

pppd will then negotiate the IP parameters with its peer using IPCP, the IP control protocol. Since we didn't specify any particular IP address to pppd earlier, it will try to use the address obtained by having the resolver look up the local hostname. Both will then announce their addresses to each other.

Usually, there's nothing wrong with these defaults. Even if your machine is on an Ethernet, you can use the same IP address for both the Ethernet and the PPP interface. Nevertheless, pppd allows you to use a different address, or even to ask your peer to use some specific address. These options are discussed later in the Section 8.5” section.

After going through the IPCP setup phase, pppd will prepare your host's networking layer to use the PPP link. It first configures the PPP network interface as a point-to-point link, using ppp0 for the first PPP link that is active, ppp1 for the second, and so on. Next, it sets up a routing table entry that points to the host at the other end of the link. In the previous example, pppd made the default network route point to c3po, because we gave it the defaultroute option.[1] The default route simplifies your routing by causing any IP datagram destined to a nonlocal host to be sent to c3po; this makes sense since it is the only way they can be reached. There are a number of different routing schemes pppd supports, which we will cover in detail later in this chapter.



The default network route is installed only if none is already present.