Conditional SLAAC with bird – Only advertise default route if one is present on the router

When people want to deploy a Linux box as a 1st hop router in an IPv6 network RAdvd usually is the first choice for sending out Router Advertisments. The configuration is rather straight forward and on most distributions extensive example configuration files exist. Once configured RAdvd will silently do it’s job and happilly send out periodic RAs and answer any Router Solicitations, even thought the router itself may not have any network connectivity (anymore).

While designing the Freifunk Hochstift Backbone a while back I was looking for a way to only send out RAs with a default route if the router actually has one itself to prevent clients from getting broken IPv6 connectivity (and people complaining).

I found that the Bird Internet Routing Daemon – which already was in use for OSPF/BGP – also provides a ravd protocol which does what I wanted using a trigger. The following configuration will keep sending out RAs but will zero the router lifetime, which will allow clients to configure an IP address from this prefix but not use this router as default gateway, which is OK for my particular setup.

protocol radv {
    # ONLY advertise prefix, IF default route is available
    import all;
    export all;
    trigger ::/0;

    interface "vlan0815" {
        default lifetime 600 sensitive yes;

        prefix 2001:db8:23:42::/64 {
        preferred lifetime 3600;

This is the default behaviour of the radv trigger but it can be fine tuned to your requirements:

trigger prefix

RAdv protocol could be configured to change its behavior based on availability of routes. When this option is used, the protocol waits in suppressed state until a trigger route (for the specified network) is exported to the protocol, the protocol also returns to suppressed state if the trigger route disappears. Note that route export depends on specified export filter, as usual. This option could be used, e.g., for handling failover in multihoming scenarios.

During suppressed state, router advertisements are generated, but with some fields zeroed. Exact behavior depends on which fields are zeroed, this can be configured by sensitive option for appropriate fields. By default, just default lifetime (also called router lifetime) is zeroed, which means hosts cannot use the router as a default router. preferred lifetime and valid lifetime could also be configured as sensitive for a prefix, which would cause autoconfigured IPs to be deprecated or even removed.

The radv protocol has a long list of knobs and switches for fine tuning, see the bird 1.6 and 2.0 documentation for further details.

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