Understanding Routing Information Protocol (RIP)

Understanding Routing Information Protocol (RIP)

This chapter covers the following key topics about Routing Information Protocol (RIP):

  • Metric
  • Timers
  • Split horizon
  • Split horizon with poison reverse
  • RIP-1 packet format
  • RIP behavior
  • Why RIP doesn’t support discontiguous networks
  • Why RIP doesn’t support variable-length subnet masking (VLSM)
  • Default routes and RIP
  • Protocol extension to RIP
  • Compatibility issues

RIP is a distance vector protocol that uses hop count as its metric. This protocol is very simple and was intended for small networks. RIP is similar to gated, which was distributed by the FreeBSD version of UNIX. Before the RFC for RIP Version 1 (RIP-1) was written, several versions of RIP were floating around.

NOTE
Hop count refers to the number of routers being traversed. For example, a hop count of 2 means that the destination is two routers away.

RIP is a classful protocol, which means that it doesn’t carry subnet mask information in its routing update. Because it doesn’t carry any subnet mask information, it is incapable of supporting variable-length subnet masking (VLSM) and discontiguous networks. RIP enables devices to exchange information about networks that they are directly connected to, as well as any other networks that they have learned from other RIP devices.

RIP sends its routing information every 30 seconds, which is the default update timer. This timer is configurable. The hold-down timer determines how long a router should wait before flushing the information from the routing table.

RFC 1058 was written to provide a standard for RIP, which uses the Bellman-Ford algo-rithm to compute its metric.

Metric

The RIP metric is based on hop count and can be between 1 and 15. The metric 16 is used for infinity, which means that if the route is unreachable, a metric of 16 is displayed. The question is, why was the metric chosen as 16? Why not 17 or 18? The metric filed in RIP-1 packet format clearly shows that it is 32 bits long. This means that, theoretically, RIP can support 232 hops. Although this is a large number, the metric of 15 was chosen to avoid a count to infinity problem. (This is also referred to as a routing loop.) In a large network with a few hundred routers, a routing loop results in a long time for convergence if the metric for infinity has a large value. The number 16 was chosen to get a shorter convergence time.

The 15-hop limit was chosen also because RIP was intentionally designed for small networks. It was not intended for the large networks that potentially can have more than 15 hops.

Timers

Like any distance vector protocol, RIP periodically sends an update every 30 seconds. This update consists of a broadcast of the entire routing table. The update timer controls this 30-second period. RIP uses the following timers:

  • Update— The time between each update interval. This value is set to 30 seconds, by default, and is configurable.
  • Invalid— The time after which a suspect route becomes invalid. This is set to 180 seconds, by default.
  • Hold-down— The time used to suppress the possibility of defective routes being installed in the routing table. The default time is 180 seconds.
  • Flush— The time after which a route is removed from the routing table. This is set to 240 seconds, by default.

Split Horizon

Split horizon is a technique used to avoid routing loops. With split horizon, when a route is learned on an interface, that route is not advertised back out on the same interface. For ex-ample, in Figure 2-1, Router 1 receives an update about Network X with a metric of 1 from the neighboring Router 2. Router 1 will not advertise Network X back to Router 2 if split horizon is enabled. If split horizon is disabled, however, Router 1 will advertise Network X with a metric of 2 to Router 2. If Network X fails, Router 2 will think that Router 1 has a better way to get to X, so it will send the packet destined to Network X toward Router 1, creating a black hole.

Understanding Routing Information Protocol (RIP)fig2.1

Split Horizon with Poison Reverse

Another technique used to avoid routing loops is split horizon with poison reverse. With this technique, routes learned on an interface are advertised back on the same interface, but they are poisoned, which means that they have a metric of 16 (unreachable). In Figure 2-1, Router 1 receives an update about Network X with a metric of 1 from neighboring Router 2. In the case of split horizon with poison reverse, Router 1 will advertise Network X back to Router 2, but with a metric of 16, which indicates infinity.

Split horizon with poison reverse is used only when a link failure occurs. It also can be used in a normal situation, but it is discouraged because it can potentially increase the size of the routing table.

RIP-1 Packet Format

The maximum datagram size in RIP is 512 octets. The first byte is used for commands such as rip update request and rip update response. The next byte is used for the Version field, which is set to 1 for RIP-1. The next 2 bytes must be 0. The 2-byte field after this is used for the address family identifier; the next 14 bytes are allocated for the network address, as shown in Figure 2-2. In the case of IP, only 4 bytes of those 14 are used for the IP address. The remaining 10 bytes are unused in RIP-1, although they are used in the RIP Version 2 (RIP-2) packet format. The next 4 bytes are used for the RIP metric, which can be up to 16. The portion from the address family identifier up to the Metric field can be repeated 25 times, to yield the maximum RIP packet size of 512 bytes.

Understanding Routing Information Protocol (RIP)fig2.2

RIP Behavior

RIP follows certain rules when it sends and receives updates. This section covers the rules for sending and receiving updates.

RIP Rules for Sending Updates

When RIP sends an update, it performs several checks. In Figure 2-3, two routers are running RIP together. Router 1 is connected to two majornets, 131.108.0.0/16 and 137.99.0.0/16.

Understanding Routing Information Protocol (RIP)fig2.3

The majornet 131.108.0.0 is further divided into two subnets: 131.108.5.0/24 and 131.108.2.0/24, which is actually connected to Router 2.

Before Router 1 sends a RIP update to Router 2, it performs the check as shown in Figure 2-4.

Understanding Routing Information Protocol (RIP)fig2.4

When RIP sends the update, it checks to see whether the advertised network or subnet is on the same major network as the interface that is sourcing the RIP packet. If the advertised network or subnet is on a different major network from the interface sourcing the RIP packet, the net-work is autosummarized. In other words, RIP sends only the majornet information in its routing update. For example, in Figure 2-3, when Router 1 sends the RIP update to Router 2, it auto-summarizes the subnet 137.99.88.0 into 137.99.0.0. If the advertised network or subnet is on the same major network as the router’s interface sourcing the RIP packet, RIP determines whether the advertised subnet has the same mask as the interface that is sourcing the RIP update. If it has the same mask, RIP advertises that network; otherwise, RIP drops that network.

RIP Rules for Receiving Updates

When the receiving side gets an update from RIP, the update can contain either a subnet number, a host address, a network number, or all 0s (indicating the default route):

  • Subnet number (such as 131.108.1.0)
  • Host address (such as 131.108.1.1)
  • Network number (such as 131.108.0.0)
  • Default route (such as 0.0.0.0)

Figure 2-5 illustrates the checks performed by RIP on the receiving side.

Understanding Routing Information Protocol (RIP)fig2.5

When RIP receives the update, it determines whether the subnet received in the update belongs to the same major network as the receiving interface. If so, Router 2 applies the mask of the receiving interface. If the host bits are set in the host portion of the RIP update, the receiving router applies the host mask.

If that subnet belongs to a different major network, RIP checks whether any subnets of this major network already exist in the routing table and determines whether they are known from interfaces other than the one that received the update. Note that the network in this update should be a major network. If the answer is “yes,” Router 2 ignores the update. If the answer is “no,” Router 2 applies a classful mask.

If the update came across an unnumbered link, it might contain subnet information (bits in the subnet portion of the network address are set). Router 2 then applies a host mask. If the update carries subnet broadcast—for example, 131.108.5.127/25 or Class D or E—the RIP update must be ignored.

Example of Sending Updates

This section shows an example explaining RIP behavior when it sends an update. In Figure 2-6, two routers are running RIP. The link between Router 1 and Router 2 is in 131.108.0.0. The Ethernet interface on Router 1 is in 131.108.0.0 as well. Router 1 is also connected to another major network, which is 137.99.0.0.

Understanding Routing Information Protocol (RIP)fig2.6

In Figure 2-6, when Router 1 sends an update to Router 2, it performs these checks:

  1. Is 131.108.5.0/24 part of the same major network as 131.108.2.0/24, which is sourcing the update?
  2. Yes. Does 131.108.5.0/24 have the same subnet mask 131.108.2.0/24, which is sourcing the update?
  3. Yes. Router 1 advertises the network.
  4. Is 137.99.88.0/24 part of the same major network as 131.108.2.0/24, which is sourcing the update?
  5. No. Router 1 summarizes 137.99.88.0/24 at the major network boundary and advertises the route as 137.99.0.0.

This process results in Router 1 including 131.108.5.0 and 137.99.0.0 in its update to Router 2. You can see this in the output displayed using the debug ip rip command on Router 1, as demonstrated in Example 2-1.

Example 2-1 debug ip rip Command Output Reveals RIP Update Information Sent

Example 2-2 debug ip rip Command Output Reveals RIP Update Information Received

Router 2 in Figure 2-6 performs the following checks to determine what mask to apply on a received network:

  1. Is the received major network 137.99.0.0 the same as 131.108.2.0, which is the address assigned to the interface that received the update?
  2. No. Do any subnets of this major network already exist in the routing table known from other interfaces?
  3. No. Router 2 applies the natural mask (/16) because 137.99.0.0 is a Class B address.
  4. Does subnet 131.108.5.0 belong to the same major network as subnet 131.108.2.0, which is the interface that received the update?
  5. Yes. Router 2 applies the mask /24, which is the mask of the interface that received the update.

This process results in the networks and masks in Router 2’s routing table, displayed using the show ip route command (see Example 2-3).

Example 2-3 show ip route Command Output Reveals the Networks and Masks in Router 2’s Routing Table

Why RIP Doesn’t Support Discontiguous Networks

A discontiguous network is comprised of a major network separated by another major network. In Figure 2-7, network 131.108.0.0 is separated by a subnet of network 137.99.0.0; here, 131.108.0.0 is a discontiguous network.

Understanding Routing Information Protocol (RIP)fig2.7

RIP is a classful protocol. Whenever RIP advertises a network across a different major network boundary, RIP summarizes the advertised network at the major network boundary. In Figure 2-7, when Router 1 sends an update containing 131.108.5.0 to Router 2 across 137.99.88.0, it converts 131.108.5.0/24 into 131.108.0.0/16. This process is called autosummarization.

Router 1 takes the following steps before sending an update to Router 2:

  1. Is 131.108.5.0/24 part of the same major network as 137.99.88.0/24, which is the subnet assigned to the interface that’s sourcing the update?
  2. No. Router 1 summarizes 131.108.5.0/24 and advertises the route 131.108.0.0/16.

The debug ip rip command output on Router 1 shows the update sent by Router 1, as demonstrated in Example 2-4.

Example 2-4 debug ip rip Command Output Reveals RIP Update Information Sent by Router 1 in Figure 2-7

Router 2 goes through the following steps before accepting the update from Router 1:

  1. Is the major network received (131.108.0.0) the same as the major network of 137.99.88.0/24, which is the subnet assigned to the interface that received the update?
  2. No. Do any subnets of this major network already exist in the routing table known from interfaces other than that which received the update?
  3. Yes. Router 2 ignores the update.

Again, debug ip rip command output on Router 2 shows the update received by Router 2, as demonstrated in Example 2-5.

Example 2-5 debug ip rip Command Output Reveals RIP Update Information Received by Router 2 in Figure 2-7

The routing table of Router 2, as demonstrated in the show ip route command output in Example 2-6, shows that the update was ignored. The only entry for any subnetwork or network on 131.108.0.0 is the one directly connected to Ethernet0.

Example 2-6 show ip route Command Output Reveals That the Routing Table for Router 2 in Figure 2-7 Does Not Reflect the Advertised Route Sent by Router 1

To avoid having updates ignored, configure a static route on both routers that points toward the specific subnets. For example, on Router 1, configure the following:

On Router 2, configure the following:

Why RIP Doesn’t Support Variable-Length Subnet Masking

The capability to specify a different subnet mask for the same network number is called variable-length subnet masking (VLSM). RIP and IGRP are classful protocols and are incapable of carrying subnet mask information in their updates. Before RIP or IGRP sends an update, it performs a check against the subnet mask of the network that is about to be advertised, with the subnet mask of the interface sourcing the update. If the two subnet masks don’t match, the update gets dropped.

The following example demonstrates this concept. In Figure 2-8, Router 1 has three subnets with two different masks (/24 and /30).

Understanding Routing Information Protocol (RIP)fig2.8

Router 1 goes through the following steps before sending an update to Router 2:

  1. Router 1 checks to see if 131.108.5.0/24 is part of the same major network as 131.108.6.0/30, which is the network assigned to the interface that is sourcing the update.
  2. It is part of the same major network, so Router 1 determines whether 131.108.5.0/24 has the same subnet mask as 131.108.6.0/30.
  3. Because the subnet masks are not the same, Router 1 drops the network and doesn’t advertise the route.
  4. Router 1 now determines whether 131.108.7.0/30 is part of the same major network as 131.108.6.0/30, which is the network assigned to the interface that is sourcing the update.
  5. It is part of the same major network, so Router 1 next determines whether 131.108.7.0/30 has the same subnet mask as 131.108.6.0/30.
  6. Because the two subnet masks are the same, Router 1 advertises the network.

The preceding procedure determined that Router 1 includes only 131.108.7.0 in its update that is sent to Router 2. The debug ip rip command in Example 2-7 actually shows the update sent by Router 1.

Example 2-7 debug ip rip Command Output Reveals RIP Update Information Sent by Router 1 to Router 2, as Illustrated in Figure 2-8

Notice in the output in Example 2-7 that the only subnet included in the update is 131.108.7.0. The subnet 131.108.5.0 is not included because it has a different subnet mask.

This results in the following entry in Router 2’s routing table displayed by the show ip route command (see Example 2-8).

Example 2-8 show ip route Command Output Reveals That the Subnet 131.108.5.0/25 Is Missing from Router 2’s Routing Table

To avoid eliminating subnets from routing updates, either use the same subnet mask over the entire RIP network or use static routes for networks with different subnet masks.

Default Routes and RIP

Cisco’s RIP implementation supports the propagation of a default route, also known as 0.0.0.0/0. When RIP finds a default route in its routing table, it automatically advertises this in the RIP update.

One important thing to remember here is that the default route must have a valid metric. For example, if the default route is learned through OSPF and the metric is 20, RIP will advertise this router with a metric of infinity (16). So, for this situation, the default-metric command must be used under the router rip command to ensure that the proper metric is assigned to the update.

Classless and classful IP routing concepts play an important role, especially with default routes. With classful IP routing, if the router receives a packet destined for a subnet that it does not recognize and the network default route is missing in the routing table, the router discards the packet. Figure 2-9 explains this behavior.

Here, Host X is sending traffic to the 131.108.3.0/24 subnet. Router R1 will discard these packets because it does not have a route for 131.108.3.0/24. Traffic will not be send to the default route because of the classful nature of routing.

If R1 enables IP classless routing, R1 will forward traffic to the default route.

Enabling IP classless routing is recommended when default network or default routes are used.

Protocol Extension to RIP

RIP Version 2 (RIP-2) made some improvements and enhancements to RIP-1. RIP-2 supports VLSM and discontiguous networks, and it offers the following enhancements:

  • Route tag
  • Subnet mask
  • Next-hop metric
  • Multicast capability
  • Authentication

Figure 2-10 shows the RIP-2 packet format. The sections that follow discuss each of the enhancements and new packet fields in greater detail.

Understanding Routing Information Protocol (RIP)fig2.10

Route Tag

The Route Tag field is a 2-byte field that allows RIP routes to be assigned with a unique integer value. The routing table display shows the route tag for each RIP route, if assigned. This route tag plays an important role during redistribution with RIP. Any route that is redistributed into RIP gets tagged, to distinguish between internal RIP information and external RIP information.

When redistributed routes in RIP are assigned with route tags, it becomes easier to control redistribution of tagged routes into other protocols. Instead of matching against each route when redistributing into other protocols, RIP routes can simply be matched against the tag that they were assigned.

For example, consider that 10 static routes in a router are redistributed in RIP and are assigned a tag of 20. These static routes will be advertised in RIP as external routes with a tag of 20. If in some other router RIP is being redistributed into OSPF and OSPF wants only those 10 static routes to be redistributed, OSPF can simply match the tag information instead of listing each static route in its redistribution commands. In addition, if OSPF is being redistributed back into RIP at some other router, RIP should deny any routes that are tagged with 20. Matching against tags thus avoids IP routing loops as well.

Subnet Mask

Unlike RIP-1, RIP-2 carries subnet mask information along with the IP network number. If an IP network is variably subnetted, RIP-2 picks the subnet mask of each subnet and advertises to RIP-2 neighbors. RIP-2 routers in the network install routes with their respective subnets though a variable length of, say, /8, /15/, /24, and so on.

Support of VLSM also enables RIP-2 to understand discontiguous networks. In a discontiguous network, the IP supernet is divided by another IP block. Because RIP-2 can carry subnet mask information, each RIP-2 router has a route with the actual mask and routers can forward traffic properly.

Next Hop

The Next Hop field was added to avoid an extra hop during packet forwarding. For those familiar with OSPF, the Next Hop field holds nearly the same role as the forwarding address for OSPF external routes.

In Figure 2-11, OSPF is enabled between Router 2 and Router 5. RIP is enabled on Router 2, Router 3, and all the other routers behind Router 2 and Router 3. Router 2 is doing redistribution between OSPF and RIP. Now when a packet from Router 1 is destined for OSPF networks and arrives at Router 2, it is forwarded to Router 5.

Understanding Routing Information Protocol (RIP)fig2.11

When a packet from Router 4 destined to the OSPF network arrives at Router 3, if there is no next-hop information (in case of RIP-1), Router 3 forwards the packet to the originator, Router 2. Then Router 2 forwards it to Router 5. This is an extra hop that Router 3 must take to get to the OSPF network. With the Next Hop field in the RIP packet, when a packet destined to the OSPF network arrives at Router 3, the RIP route for the destination network has its next hop set to Router 5 instead of Router 2. As a result, Router 3 does not forward the packet to Router 2—instead, it forwards the packet straight to Router 5.

Multicast Capability

RIP-2 uses multicast when sending an update to all its neighbors. This reduces unnecessary broadcast flooding on the wire. The multicast address that RIP-2 uses is 224.0.0.9.

All devices on the wire running RIP-2 listen for RIP-2 multicast packets on 224.0.0.9 at a multicast MAC address (01-00-5E-00-00-09). Devices not running RIP-2 simply discard RIP-2 messages on the wire, reducing unnecessary load.

Authentication

RIP-2 supports simple password authentication, to validate trusted RIP-2 neighbors. RIP-2 speakers determine whether authentication is used by looking at the address family identifier (AFI) in RIP-2 packet. AFI in RIP-2 header indicates what kind of addresses are present in the rest of the packet.

If the AFI value is 0xFFFF, this means that the remainder of the entire RIP packet contains authentication information.

Figure 2-12 shows the packet format when authentication is used.
Understanding Routing Information Protocol (RIP)fig2.12

Compatibility Issues

RIP-1 and RIP-2 can be run together in a network. You should be aware of a few things when running both protocols in your network:

  • Autosummarization— RIP-1 and RIP-2 can be run together in a network. RFC 1723 for RIP-2 recommends disabling the autosummarization feature when using both RIP-1 and RIP-2.
  • Subnet advertisement— If a more specific subnet is advertised to a RIP-1 router, the router might mistakenly take it as a host route update.
  • Queries— When a RIP-2 router receives a query request from a RIP-1 router, it responds with a RIP-1 message. If the router is configured to send only RIP-2 messages, such a query request must be ignored.
  • Version field— The Version field in the RIP packet determines how to handle RIP-1 and RIP-2 packets:
    • If version = 0 in the RIP packet, the packet is discarded, regardless of what version the receiving router is running.
    • If version = 1 in the RIP packet, all the “must be zero fields” are checked (refer to Figure 2-9). If the version is nonzero, the packet is discarded, regardless of what version the receiving router is running.
    • If version = 2 in the RIP packet and the receiving router is running RIP-1, the receiving router should look at only the related information in the packet. All the “must be zero fields” are ignored.

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