path: root/Documentation/isdn/README.concap
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authorLinus Torvalds <>2005-04-16 15:20:36 -0700
committerLinus Torvalds <>2005-04-16 15:20:36 -0700
commit1da177e4c3f41524e886b7f1b8a0c1fc7321cac2 (patch)
tree0bba044c4ce775e45a88a51686b5d9f90697ea9d /Documentation/isdn/README.concap
Initial git repository build. I'm not bothering with the full history, even though we have it. We can create a separate "historical" git archive of that later if we want to, and in the meantime it's about 3.2GB when imported into git - space that would just make the early git days unnecessarily complicated, when we don't have a lot of good infrastructure for it. Let it rip!
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+Description of the "concap" encapsulation protocol interface
+The "concap" interface is intended to be used by network device
+drivers that need to process an encapsulation protocol.
+It is assumed that the protocol interacts with a linux network device by
+- data transmission
+- connection control (establish, release)
+Thus, the mnemonic: "CONnection CONtrolling eNCAPsulation Protocol".
+This is currently only used inside the isdn subsystem. But it might
+also be useful to other kinds of network devices. Thus, if you want
+to suggest changes that improve usability or performance of the
+interface, please let me know. I'm willing to include them in future
+releases (even if I needed to adapt the current isdn code to the
+changed interface).
+Why is this useful?
+The encapsulation protocol used on top of WAN connections or permanent
+point-to-point links are frequently chosen upon bilateral agreement.
+Thus, a device driver for a certain type of hardware must support
+several different encapsulation protocols at once.
+The isdn device driver did already support several different
+encapsulation protocols. The encapsulation protocol is configured by a
+user space utility (isdnctrl). The isdn network interface code then
+uses several case statements which select appropriate actions
+depending on the currently configured encapsulation protocol.
+In contrast, LAN network interfaces always used a single encapsulation
+protocol which is unique to the hardware type of the interface. The LAN
+encapsulation is usually done by just sticking a header on the data. Thus,
+traditional linux network device drivers used to process the
+encapsulation protocol directly (usually by just providing a hard_header()
+method in the device structure) using some hardware type specific support
+functions. This is simple, direct and efficient. But it doesn't fit all
+the requirements for complex WAN encapsulations.
+ The configurability of the encapsulation protocol to be used
+ makes isdn network interfaces more flexible, but also much more
+ complex than traditional lan network interfaces.
+Many Encapsulation protocols used on top of WAN connections will not just
+stick a header on the data. They also might need to set up or release
+the WAN connection. They also might want to send other data for their
+private purpose over the wire, e.g. ppp does a lot of link level
+negotiation before the first piece of user data can be transmitted.
+Such encapsulation protocols for WAN devices are typically more complex
+than encapsulation protocols for lan devices. Thus, network interface
+code for typical WAN devices also tends to be more complex.
+In order to support Linux' x25 PLP implementation on top of
+isdn network interfaces I could have introduced yet another branch to
+the various case statements inside drivers/isdn/isdn_net.c.
+This eventually made isdn_net.c even more complex. In addition, it made
+isdn_net.c harder to maintain. Thus, by identifying an abstract
+interface between the network interface code and the encapsulation
+protocol, complexity could be reduced and maintainability could be
+Likewise, a similar encapsulation protocol will frequently be needed by
+several different interfaces of even different hardware type, e.g. the
+synchronous ppp implementation used by the isdn driver and the
+asynchronous ppp implementation used by the ppp driver have a lot of
+similar code in them. By cleanly separating the encapsulation protocol
+from the hardware specific interface stuff such code could be shared
+better in future.
+When operating over dial-up-connections (e.g. telephone lines via modem,
+non-permanent virtual circuits of wide area networks, ISDN) many
+encapsulation protocols will need to control the connection. Therefore,
+some basic connection control primitives are supported. The type and
+semantics of the connection (i.e the ISO layer where connection service
+is provided) is outside our scope and might be different depending on
+the encapsulation protocol used, e.g. for a ppp module using our service
+on top of a modem connection a connect_request will result in dialing
+a (somewhere else configured) remote phone number. For an X25-interface
+module (LAPB semantics, as defined in Documentation/networking/x25-iface.txt)
+a connect_request will ask for establishing a reliable lapb
+datalink connection.
+The encapsulation protocol currently provides the following
+service primitives to the network device.
+- create a new encapsulation protocol instance
+- delete encapsulation protocol instance and free all its resources
+- initialize (open) the encapsulation protocol instance for use.
+- deactivate (close) an encapsulation protocol instance.
+- process (xmit) data handed down by upper protocol layer
+- receive data from lower (hardware) layer
+- process connect indication from lower (hardware) layer
+- process disconnect indication from lower (hardware) layer
+The network interface driver accesses those primitives via callbacks
+provided by the encapsulation protocol instance within a
+struct concap_proto_ops.
+struct concap_proto_ops{
+ /* create a new encapsulation protocol instance of same type */
+ struct concap_proto * (*proto_new) (void);
+ /* delete encapsulation protocol instance and free all its resources.
+ cprot may no loger be referenced after calling this */
+ void (*proto_del)(struct concap_proto *cprot);
+ /* initialize the protocol's data. To be called at interface startup
+ or when the device driver resets the interface. All services of the
+ encapsulation protocol may be used after this*/
+ int (*restart)(struct concap_proto *cprot,
+ struct net_device *ndev,
+ struct concap_device_ops *dops);
+ /* deactivate an encapsulation protocol instance. The encapsulation
+ protocol may not call any *dops methods after this. */
+ int (*close)(struct concap_proto *cprot);
+ /* process a frame handed down to us by upper layer */
+ int (*encap_and_xmit)(struct concap_proto *cprot, struct sk_buff *skb);
+ /* to be called for each data entity received from lower layer*/
+ int (*data_ind)(struct concap_proto *cprot, struct sk_buff *skb);
+ /* to be called when a connection was set up/down.
+ Protocols that don't process these primitives might fill in
+ dummy methods here */
+ int (*connect_ind)(struct concap_proto *cprot);
+ int (*disconn_ind)(struct concap_proto *cprot);
+The data structures are defined in the header file include/linux/concap.h.
+A Network interface using encapsulation protocols must also provide
+some service primitives to the encapsulation protocol:
+- request data being submitted by lower layer (device hardware)
+- request a connection being set up by lower layer
+- request a connection being released by lower layer
+The encapsulation protocol accesses those primitives via callbacks
+provided by the network interface within a struct concap_device_ops.
+struct concap_device_ops{
+ /* to request data be submitted by device */
+ int (*data_req)(struct concap_proto *, struct sk_buff *);
+ /* Control methods must be set to NULL by devices which do not
+ support connection control. */
+ /* to request a connection be set up */
+ int (*connect_req)(struct concap_proto *);
+ /* to request a connection be released */
+ int (*disconn_req)(struct concap_proto *);
+The network interface does not explicitly provide a receive service
+because the encapsulation protocol directly calls netif_rx().
+An encapsulation protocol itself is actually the
+struct concap_proto{
+ struct net_device *net_dev; /* net device using our service */
+ struct concap_device_ops *dops; /* callbacks provided by device */
+ struct concap_proto_ops *pops; /* callbacks provided by us */
+ int flags;
+ void *proto_data; /* protocol specific private data, to
+ be accessed via *pops methods only*/
+ /*
+ :
+ whatever
+ :
+ */
+Most of this is filled in when the device requests the protocol to
+be reset (opend). The network interface must provide the net_dev and
+dops pointers. Other concap_proto members should be considered private
+data that are only accessed by the pops callback functions. Likewise,
+a concap proto should access the network device's private data
+only by means of the callbacks referred to by the dops pointer.
+A possible extended device structure which uses the connection controlling
+encapsulation services could look like this:
+struct concap_device{
+ struct net_device net_dev;
+ struct my_priv /* device->local stuff */
+ /* the my_priv struct might contain a
+ struct concap_device_ops *dops;
+ to provide the device specific callbacks
+ */
+ struct concap_proto *cprot; /* callbacks provided by protocol */
+Misc Thoughts
+The concept of the concap proto might help to reuse protocol code and
+reduce the complexity of certain network interface implementations.
+The trade off is that it introduces yet another procedure call layer
+when processing the protocol. This has of course some impact on
+performance. However, typically the concap interface will be used by
+devices attached to slow lines (like telephone, isdn, leased synchronous
+lines). For such slow lines, the overhead is probably negligible.
+This might no longer hold for certain high speed WAN links (like
+If general linux network interfaces explicitly supported concap
+protocols (e.g. by a member struct concap_proto* in struct net_device)
+then the interface of the service function could be changed
+by passing a pointer of type (struct net_device*) instead of
+type (struct concap_proto*). Doing so would make many of the service
+functions compatible to network device support functions.
+e.g. instead of the concap protocol's service function
+ int (*encap_and_xmit)(struct concap_proto *cprot, struct sk_buff *skb);
+we could have
+ int (*encap_and_xmit)(struct net_device *ndev, struct sk_buff *skb);
+As this is compatible to the dev->hard_start_xmit() method, the device
+driver could directly register the concap protocol's encap_and_xmit()
+function as its hard_start_xmit() method. This would eliminate one
+procedure call layer.
+The device's data request function could also be defined as
+ int (*data_req)(struct net_device *ndev, struct sk_buff *skb);
+This might even allow for some protocol stacking. And the network
+interface might even register the same data_req() function directly
+as its hard_start_xmit() method when a zero layer encapsulation
+protocol is configured. Thus, eliminating the performance penalty
+of the concap interface when a trivial concap protocol is used.
+Nevertheless, the device remains able to support encapsulation
+protocol configuration.