How to set up OVN with Incus

See the following sections for how to set up a basic OVN network, either as a standalone network or to host a small Incus cluster.

Set up a standalone OVN network

Complete the following steps to create a standalone OVN network that is connected to a managed Incus parent bridge network (for example, incusbr0) for outbound connectivity.

  1. Install the OVN tools on the local server:

    sudo apt install ovn-host ovn-central
  2. Configure the OVN integration bridge:

    sudo ovs-vsctl set open_vswitch . \
       external_ids:ovn-remote=unix:/var/run/ovn/ovnsb_db.sock \
       external_ids:ovn-encap-type=geneve \
  3. Create an OVN network:

    incus network set <parent_network> ipv4.dhcp.ranges=<IP_range> ipv4.ovn.ranges=<IP_range>
    incus network create ovntest --type=ovn network=<parent_network>
  4. Create an instance that uses the ovntest network:

    incus init images:ubuntu/22.04 c1
    incus config device override c1 eth0 network=ovntest
    incus start c1
  5. Run incus list to show the instance information:

    user@host:~$ incus list
    +------+---------+---------------------+----------------------------------------------+-----------+-----------+| NAME |  STATE  |        IPV4         |                     IPV6                     |   TYPE    | SNAPSHOTS |+------+---------+---------------------+----------------------------------------------+-----------+-----------+| c1   | RUNNING | (eth0)    | 2001:db8:cff3:5089:216:3eff:fef0:549f (eth0) | CONTAINER | 0         |+------+---------+---------------------+----------------------------------------------+-----------+-----------+

Set up an Incus cluster on OVN

Complete the following steps to set up an Incus cluster that uses an OVN network.

Just like Incus, the distributed database for OVN must be run on a cluster that consists of an odd number of members. The following instructions use the minimum of three servers, which run both the distributed database for OVN and the OVN controller. In addition, you can add any number of servers to the Incus cluster that run only the OVN controller.

  1. Complete the following steps on the three machines that you want to run the distributed database for OVN:

    1. Install the OVN tools:

      sudo apt install ovn-central ovn-host
    2. Mark the OVN services as enabled to ensure that they are started when the machine boots:

       systemctl enable ovn-central
       systemctl enable ovn-host
    3. Stop OVN for now:

      systemctl stop ovn-central
    4. Note down the IP address of the machine:

      ip -4 a
    5. Open /etc/default/ovn-central for editing.

    6. Paste in one of the following configurations (replace <server_1>, <server_2> and <server_3> with the IP addresses of the respective machines, and <local> with the IP address of the machine that you are on).

      • For the first machine:

        OVN_CTL_OPTS=" \
             --db-nb-addr=<local> \
             --db-nb-create-insecure-remote=yes \
             --db-sb-addr=<local> \
             --db-sb-create-insecure-remote=yes \
             --db-nb-cluster-local-addr=<local> \
             --db-sb-cluster-local-addr=<local> \
             --ovn-northd-nb-db=tcp:<server_1>:6641,tcp:<server_2>:6641,tcp:<server_3>:6641 \
      • For the second and third machine:

        OVN_CTL_OPTS=" \
              --db-nb-addr=<local> \
             --db-nb-cluster-remote-addr=<server_1> \
             --db-nb-create-insecure-remote=yes \
             --db-sb-addr=<local> \
             --db-sb-cluster-remote-addr=<server_1> \
             --db-sb-create-insecure-remote=yes \
             --db-nb-cluster-local-addr=<local> \
             --db-sb-cluster-local-addr=<local> \
             --ovn-northd-nb-db=tcp:<server_1>:6641,tcp:<server_2>:6641,tcp:<server_3>:6641 \
    7. Start OVN:

      systemctl start ovn-central
  2. On the remaining machines, install only ovn-host and make sure it is enabled:

    sudo apt install ovn-host
    systemctl enable ovn-host
  3. On all machines, configure Open vSwitch (replace the variables as described above):

    sudo ovs-vsctl set open_vswitch . \
       external_ids:ovn-remote=tcp:<server_1>:6642,tcp:<server_2>:6642,tcp:<server_3>:6642 \
       external_ids:ovn-encap-type=geneve \
  4. Create an Incus cluster by running incus admin init on all machines. On the first machine, create the cluster. Then join the other machines with tokens by running incus cluster add <machine_name> on the first machine and specifying the token when initializing Incus on the other machine.

  5. On the first machine, create and configure the uplink network:

    incus network create UPLINK --type=physical parent=<uplink_interface> --target=<machine_name_1>
    incus network create UPLINK --type=physical parent=<uplink_interface> --target=<machine_name_2>
    incus network create UPLINK --type=physical parent=<uplink_interface> --target=<machine_name_3>
    incus network create UPLINK --type=physical parent=<uplink_interface> --target=<machine_name_4>
    incus network create UPLINK --type=physical \
       ipv4.ovn.ranges=<IP_range> \
       ipv6.ovn.ranges=<IP_range> \
       ipv4.gateway=<gateway> \
       ipv6.gateway=<gateway> \

    To determine the required values:

    Uplink interface

    A high availability OVN cluster requires a shared layer 2 network, so that the active OVN chassis can move between cluster members (which effectively allows the OVN router’s external IP to be reachable from a different host).

    Therefore, you must specify either an unmanaged bridge interface or an unused physical interface as the parent for the physical network that is used for OVN uplink. The instructions assume that you are using a manually created unmanaged bridge. See How to configure network bridges for instructions on how to set up this bridge.


    Run ip -4 route show default and ip -6 route show default.

    Name server

    Run resolvectl.

    IP ranges

    Use suitable IP ranges based on the assigned IPs.

  6. Still on the first machine, configure Incus to be able to communicate with the OVN DB cluster. To do so, find the value for ovn-northd-nb-db in /etc/default/ovn-central and provide it to Incus with the following command:

    incus config set network.ovn.northbound_connection <ovn-northd-nb-db>
  7. Finally, create the actual OVN network (on the first machine):

    incus network create my-ovn --type=ovn
  8. To test the OVN network, create some instances and check the network connectivity:

    incus launch images:ubuntu/22.04 c1 --network my-ovn
    incus launch images:ubuntu/22.04 c2 --network my-ovn
    incus launch images:ubuntu/22.04 c3 --network my-ovn
    incus launch images:ubuntu/22.04 c4 --network my-ovn
    incus list
    incus exec c4 -- bash
    ping <IP of c1>
    ping <nameserver>
    ping6 -n

Send OVN logs to Incus

Complete the following steps to have the OVN controller send its logs to Incus.

  1. Enable the syslog socket:

    incus config set core.syslog_socket=true
  2. Open /etc/default/ovn-host for editing.

  3. Paste the following configuration:

    OVN_CTL_OPTS=" \
           --ovn-controller-log='-vsyslog:info --syslog-method=unix:/var/lib/incus/syslog.socket'"
  4. Restart the OVN controller:

    systemctl restart ovn-controller.service

You can now use incus monitor to see logged network ACL traffic from the OVN controller:

incus monitor --type=network-acls

You can also send the logs to Loki. To do so, add the network-acl value to the loki.types configuration key, for example:

incus config set loki.types=network-acl


You can include logs for OVN northd, OVN north-bound ovsdb-server, and OVN south-bound ovsdb-server as well. To do so, edit /etc/default/ovn-central:

   --ovn-northd-log='-vsyslog:info --syslog-method=unix:/var/lib/incus/syslog.socket' \
   --ovn-nb-log='-vsyslog:info --syslog-method=unix:/var/lib/incus/syslog.socket' \
   --ovn-sb-log='-vsyslog:info --syslog-method=unix:/var/lib/incus/syslog.socket'"

sudo systemctl restart ovn-central.service