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shorewall-names - Man Page

Shorewall object names


When you define an object in Shorewall (Zone[1], Logical Interface, ipsets[2], Actions[3], etc., you give it a name. Shorewall names start with a letter and consist of letters, digits or underscores ("_"). Except for Zone names, Shorewall does not impose a limit on name length.

When an ipset is referenced, the name must be preceded by a plus sign ("+").

The last character of an interface may also be a plus sign to indicate a wildcard name.

Physical interface names match names shown by 'ip link ls'; if the name includes an at sign ("@"), do not include that character or any character that follows. For example, "sit1@NONE" is referred to as simply 'sit1".

Zone and Chain Names

For a pair of zones, Shorewall creates two Netfilter chains; one for connections in each direction. The names of these chains are formed by separating the names of the two zones by either "2" or "-".

Example: Traffic from zone A to zone B would go through chain A2B (think "A to B") or "A-B".

In Shorewall 4.6, the default separator is "-" but you can override that by setting ZONE_SEPARATOR="2" in shorewall.conf[4] (5).


Prior to Shorewall 4.6, the default separator was "2".

Zones themselves have names that begin with a letter and are composed of letters, numerals, and "_". The maximum length of a name is dependent on the setting of LOGFORMAT in shorewall.conf[4] (5). See shorewall-zones[1] (5) for details.

Using DNS Names


I personally recommend strongly against using DNS names in Shorewall configuration files. If you use DNS names and you are called out of bed at 2:00AM because Shorewall won't start as a result of DNS problems then don't say that you were not forewarned.

Host addresses in Shorewall configuration files may be specified as either IP addresses or DNS Names.

DNS names in iptables rules aren't nearly as useful as they first appear. When a DNS name appears in a rule, the iptables utility resolves the name to one or more IP addresses and inserts those addresses into the rule. So changes in the DNS->IP address relationship that occur after the firewall has started have absolutely no effect on the firewall's rule set.

For some sites, using DNS names is very risky. Here's an example:

teastep@ursa:~$ dig pop.gmail.com

; <<>> DiG 9.4.2-P1 <<>> pop.gmail.com
;; global options:  printcmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 1774
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 3, AUTHORITY: 7, ADDITIONAL: 0

;pop.gmail.com.               IN A

pop.gmail.com.          300   IN CNAME gmail-pop.l.google.com.
gmail-pop.l.google.com. 300   IN A
gmail-pop.l.google.com. 300   IN A

Note that the TTL is 300 -- 300 seconds is only 5 minutes. So five minutes later, the answer may change!

So this rule may work for five minutes then suddently stop working:

#ACTION        SOURCE               DEST              PROTO             DPORT
POP(ACCEPT)    loc                  net:pop.gmail.com

There are two options in shorewall[6].conf(5)[4] that affect the use of DNS names in Shorewall[6] config files:

So by setting AUTOMAKE=Yes, and DEFER_DNS_RESOLUTION=No, compilation will only take place at boot time if a change had been make to the config but no restart or reload had taken place. This is clearly spelled out in the shorewall.conf manpage. So with these settings, so long as a 'reload' or 'restart' takes place after the Shorewall configuration is changes, there should be no DNS-related problems at boot time.


When DEFER_DNS_RESOLUTION=No and AUTOMAKE=Yes and a DNS change makes it necessary to recompile an existing firewall script, the -c option must be used with the reload or restart command to force recompilation.

If your firewall rules include DNS names then, even if DEFER_DNS_RESOLUTION=No and AUTOMAKE=Yes:

Each DNS name must be fully qualified and include a minimum of two periods (although one may be trailing). This restriction is imposed by Shorewall to insure backward compatibility with existing configuration files.

Example 1. Valid DNS Names

Example 2. Invalid DNS Names

DNS names may not be used as:


These restrictions are imposed by Netfilter and not by Shorewall.

Logical Interface Names

When dealing with a complex configuration, it is often awkward to use physical interface names in the Shorewall configuration.

Beginning with Shorewall 4.4.4, you can use logical interface names which are mapped to the actual interface using the physical option in shorewall-interfaces[5] (5).

Here is an example:

net    COM_IF     dhcp,blacklist,tcpflags,optional,upnp,routefilter=0,nosmurfs,logmartians=0,physical=eth0
net    EXT_IF     dhcp,blacklist,tcpflags,optional,routefilter=0,nosmurfs,logmartians=0,proxyarp=1,physical=eth2
loc    INT_IF     dhcp,logmartians=1,routefilter=1,tcpflags,nets=,physical=eth1
dmz    VPS_IF     logmartians=1,routefilter=0,routeback,physical=venet0
loc    TUN_IF     physical=tun+

In this example, COM_IF is a logical interface name that refers to Ethernet interface eth0, EXT_IF is a logical interface name that refers to Ethernet interface eth2, and so on.

Here are a couple of more files from the same configuration:

shorewall-masq[6] (5):

#INTERFACE SOURCE                    ADDRESS

COMMENT Masquerade Local Network
EXT_IF     !

shorewall-providers[7] (5)

Avvanta 1        0x10000 main       EXT_IF loose,fallback        INT_IF,VPS_IF,TUN_IF
Comcast 2        0x20000 main       COM_IF     detect          balance               INT_IF,VPS_IF,TUN_IF

Note in particular that Shorewall translates TUN_IF to tun* in the COPY column.


  1. Zone
  2. ipsets
  3. Actions
  4. shorewall.conf
  5. shorewall-interfaces
  6. shorewall-masq
  7. shorewall-providers

Referenced By


09/24/2020 Configuration Files