Shorewall IPv6 Support

Tom Eastep

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover, and with no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.



This article applies to Shorewall 4.3 and later. If you are running a version of Shorewall earlier than Shorewall 4.3.5 then please see the documentation for that release.


Beginning with Shorewall 4.2.4, support for firewalling IPv6 is included as part of Shorewall.


In order to use Shorewall with IPv6, your firewall must meet the following prerequisites:

  1. Kernel 2.6.24 or later.

  2. Iptables 1.4.0 or later ( is strongly recommended)

  3. If you wish to include DNS names in your IPv6 configuration files, you must have Perl 5.10 and must install the Perl Socket6 library.


Shorewall IPv6 support introduced two new packages:

  1. Shorewall6. This package provides /sbin/shorewall6 which is the IPv6 equivalent of /sbin/shorewall. /sbin/shorewall only handles IPv4 while /sbin/shorewall6 handles only IPv6.. Shorewall6 depends on Shorewall. The Shorewall6 configuration is stored in /etc/shorewall6.

  2. Shorewall6 Lite. This package is to IPv6 what Shorewall Lite is to IPv4. The package stores its configuration in /etc/shorewall6-lite. As with Shorewall Lite, Shorewall6 Lite usually requires no configuration changes on the firewall system.

IPv4/IPv6 Interaction

IP connections are either IPv4 or IPv6; there is no such thing as a mixed IPv4/6 connecton. IPv4 connections are controlled by Shorewall (or Shorewall-lite); IPv6 connections are controlled by Shorewall6 (or Shorewall6-lite). Starting and stopping the firewall for one address family has no effect on the other address family.

As a consequence, there is very little interaction between Shorewall and Shorewall6.


An obvious area where the configuration of Shorewall affects Shorewall6 is the DISABLE_IPV6 setting in /etc/shorewall/shorewall.conf. When configuring Shorewall6, you will want to set DISABLE_IPV6=No and restart Shorewall or Shorewall-lite.


Another area where their configurations overlap is in traffic shaping; the tcdevices and tcclasses files do exactly the same thing in both Shorewall and Shorewall6. Consequently, you will have TC_ENABLED=Internal in Shorewall or in Shorewall6 and TC_ENABLED=No in the other product. Also, you will want CLEAR_TC=No in the configuration with TC_ENABLED=No.

Regardless of which product has TC_ENABLED=Internal:

  • IPv4 packet marking is controlled by /etc/shorewall/mangle (Shorewall 4.6.0 and later) or by /etc/shorewall/tcrules

  • IPv6 packet marking is controlled by /etc/shorewall6/mangle (Shorewall 4.6.0 and later) or by /etc/shorewall6/tcrules


Multi-ISP users will need to be aware of this one. When there are entries in the providers file, Shorewall normally installs a modified /etc/iproute2/rt_tables during shorewall start and shorewall restart and restores a default file during shorewall stop. Setting KEEP_RT_TABLES=Yes in shorewall.conf(5) stops Shorewall (Shorewall lite) from modifying /etc/iproute2/rt_tables.

Shorewall6 is also capable of modifying /etc/iproute2/rt_tables in a similar way.

Our recommendation to Multi-ISP users is to:

These setting allow Shorewall to control the contents of /etc/iproute2/rt_tables.


If you are using a 6to4 tunnel for your IPv6 connectivity, you need an entry in /etc/shorewall/tunnels.

#TYPE                   ZONE            GATEWAY                 GATEWAY_ZONE
6to4                    net

Shorewall6 Differences from Shorewall

Configuring and operating Shorewall6 is very similar to configuring Shorewall with some notable exceptions:

Default Zone Type

The default zone type in Shorewall6 is ipv6. It is suggested that you specify ipv6 in the TYPE column of /etc/shorewall6/zones and a type of ipv4 in /etc/shorewall/zones; that way, if you run the wrong utility on a configuration, you will get an instant error.

Interface Options

The following interface options are available in /etc/shorewall6/interfaces:


Same as in Shorewall


Same as in Shorewall


Interface is assigned by IPv6 DHCP or the firewall hosts an IPv6 DHCP server on the interface.


Same as in Shorewall


Checks the source IP address of packets arriving on the interface and drops packets whose SOURCE address is:

  • An IPv6 multicast address

  • The subnet-router anycast address for any of the global unicast addresses assigned to the interface.

  • An RFC 2526 anycast address for any of the global unicast addresses assigned to the interface.


Same as in Shorewall


Same as in Shorewall


Same as in Shorewall


Same as in Shorewall


Same as in Shorewall


Override the setting of IP_FORWARDING in shorewall6.conf with respect to how the system behaves on this interface. If 1, behave as a router; if 0, behave as a host.

Host Options

The following host options are available in /etc/shorewall6/hosts:


Same as in Shorewall


Same as in Shorewall


Same as in Shorewall


Same as in Shorewall

Specifying Addresses

Shorewall follows the usual convention of distinguishing IPv6 address by enclosing them in square brackets ("[" and "]").

Anywhere that an address or address list follows a colon (":"), the address or list may be enclosed in square brackets to improve readability.

Example (/etc/shorewall6/rules):

#ACTION         SOURCE          DEST                    PROTO   DPORT


ACCEPT          net             $FW:[2002:ce7c:92b4::3] tcp     22

When the colon is preceeded by an interface name, the angle brackets are required. This is true even when the address is a MAC address in Shorewall format.

Example (/etc/shorewall6/rules):

#ACTION         SOURCE                          DEST            PROTO   DPORT


ACCEPT          net:wlan0:[2002:ce7c:92b4::3]   $FW             tcp     22

Prior to Shorewall 4.5.4, angled brackets ("<" and ">") were used. While these are still accepted, their use is deprecated in favor of square brackets.

Example (/etc/shorewall6/rules):

#ACTION         SOURCE                          DEST            PROTO   DPORT


ACCEPT          net:wlan0:<2002:ce7c:92b4::3>   $FW             tcp     22

Prior to Shorewall 4.5.9, network addresses were required to be enclosed in either angle brackets or square brackets (e.g. [2001:470:b:787::/64]). Beginning with Shorewall 4.5.9, the more common representation that places the VLSM outside the brackets is accepted and preferred (e.g., [2001:470:b:787::]/64).

Beginning with Shorewall 4.5.14, the rules compiler translates "<" and ">" to "[" and "]" respectively before parsing. So square brackets may appear in error messages even when angled brackets were used.

Stopped State

When Shorewall6 or Shorewall6 Lite is in the stopped state, the following traffic is still allowed.

  • Traffic with a multicast destination IP address (ff00::/8).

  • Traffic with a link local source address (ff800::/8)

  • Traffic with a link local destination address.


The Linux IPv6 stack does not support balancing (multi-hop) routes. Thehe balance and fallback options in shorewall6-providers(5) and USE_DEFAULT_RT=Yes in shorewall6.conf(5) are supported, but at most one provider can have the balance option and at most one provider can have the fallback option.

/sbin/shorewall6 and /sbin/shorewall6-lite Commands

Several commands supported by /sbin/shorewall and /sbin/shorewall-lite are not supported by /sbin/shorewall6 and /sbin/shorewall6-lite:

  • hits

  • ipcalc

  • iprange


The Shorewall6 package depends on Shorewall for application macros. Only certain address-family specific macros such as macro.AllowICMPs are included in Shorewall6. As a consequence, /usr/share/shorewall/ is included in the default Shorewall6 CONFIG_PATH.

Installing IPv6 Support

You will need at least the following packages:

  • Shorewall 4.3.5 or later.

  • Shorewall6 4.3.5 or later.

You may also with to install Shorewall6-lite 4.3.5 or later on your remote firewalls to allow for central IPv6 firewall administration.

Shared Shorewall/Shorewall6 Configuration Files

Normally, the configuration files for Shorewall are kept in /etc/shorewall/ and those for Shorewall6 are kept in /etc/shorewall6/. It is possible, however, to share almost all of those files as shown in this article.

More information about IPv6

I strongly suggest that you read the Linux IPv6 HOWTO. The 6to4 Tunnels page also includes instructions for setting up your first IPv6 environment.

In addition to the Linux IPv6 HOWTO, I have found the following two books to be useful:

  • IPv6 Essentials, Silvia Hagen, 2002, O'Reilly Media, Inc, ISBN 0-596-00125-8.

    O'Reilly published a second edition of this book in 2006.

  • IPV6 Theory, Protocol, and Practice, Second Edition, Pete Loshin, 2004, Morgan-Kaufmann Publishers, IBSN 1-55860-820-9


Frequently Used Articles

- FAQs - Manpages - Configuration File Basics - Beginner Documentation - Troubleshooting

Shorewall 4.4/4.5/4.6 Documentation

Shorewall 4.0/4.2 Documentation

Shorewall 5.0/5.1/5.2 HOWTOs and Other Articles

- 6to4 and 6in4 Tunnels - Accounting - Actions - Aliased (virtual) Interfaces (e.g., eth0:0) - Anatomy of Shorewall - Anti-Spoofing Measures - AUDIT Target support - Bandwidth Control - Blacklisting/Whitelisting - Bridge/Firewall - Building Shorewall from GIT - Commands - Compiled Programs - Configuration File Basics - DHCP - DNAT - Docker - Dynamic Zones - ECN Disabling by host or subnet - Events - Extension Scripts - Fallback/Uninstall - FAQs - Features - Fool's Firewall - Forwarding Traffic on the Same Interface - FTP and Shorewall - Helpers/Helper Modules - Installation/Upgrade - IPP2P - IPSEC - Ipsets - IPv6 Support - ISO 3661 Country Codes - Kazaa Filtering - Kernel Configuration - KVM (Kernel-mode Virtual Machine) - Limiting Connection Rates - Linux Containers (LXC) - Linux-vserver - Logging - Macros - MAC Verification - Manpages - Manual Chains - Masquerading - Multiple Internet Connections from a Single Firewall - Multiple Zones Through One Interface - My Shorewall Configuration - Netfilter Overview - Network Mapping - No firewalling of traffic between bridge port - One-to-one NAT - Operating Shorewall - OpenVPN - OpenVZ - Packet Marking - Packet Processing in a Shorewall-based Firewall - 'Ping' Management - Port Forwarding - Port Information - Port Knocking (deprecated) - Port Knocking, Auto Blacklisting and Other Uses of the 'Recent Match' - PPTP - Proxy ARP - QuickStart Guides - Release Model - Requirements - Routing and Shorewall - Routing on One Interface - Samba - Shared Shorewall/Shorewall6 Configuration - Shorewall Events - Shorewall Init - Shorewall Lite - Shorewall on a Laptop - Shorewall Perl - Shorewall Setup Guide - SMB - SNAT - Split DNS the Easy Way - Squid with Shorewall - Starting/stopping the Firewall - Static (one-to-one) NAT - Support - Tips and Hints - Traffic Shaping/QOS - Simple - Traffic Shaping/QOS - Complex - Transparent Proxy - UPnP - Upgrade Issues - Upgrading to Shorewall 4.4 (Upgrading Debian Lenny to Squeeze) - VPN - VPN Passthrough - White List Creation - Xen - Shorewall in a Bridged Xen DomU - Xen - Shorewall in Routed Xen Dom0

Top of Page