VintageNet - A new network configuration library for Nerves

VintageNet is new network configuration library built specifically for Nerves Project devices. It addresses shortcomings with NervesNetwork that made that library difficult to maintain and extend.

We’ve been working on VintageNet for a while and we’re finally ready for more people to try it out.

Currently, the library supports:

  1. Configuration for wired Ethernet, WiFi, and direct connections (to support USB gadget mode networking)
  2. WiFi AP mode use
  3. Network status and events via a simple get/subscribe interface
  4. Saving and restoring network configurations across reboots (you can turn this off if your application wants to take care of this)
  5. Connection monitoring and automatic switching between working interfaces. For example, you could set it up to prefer WiFi/Ethernet for internet access, but fail over to a metered connection should they not work.

If you would like to learn more about VintageNet, take a look at the following posts:

VintageNet is currently in production use. It is not yet in the Nerves documentation, examples, and new project generator. We will be working on making it easier to use in your projects over the coming months.

There are some caveats:

  1. VintageNet is not compatible with the nerves_init_gadget project. See nerves_pack for something similar.
  2. VintageNet requires minor Linux kernel and Busybox updates. We’ve updated the official Nerves systems, but if you’ve made a custom system, please see these notes. The error messages if you’re missing the updates are not easy to understand.
  3. Networking is harder than it looks especially when you need it to work unattended. If something seems weird or wrong, let us know. It could be in an area we haven’t verified (for example, WPA-EAP has a LOT of options and we’ve only deployed to two types of WPA-EAP setups so far).
  4. While not specifically VintageNet, if you’re using mDNS for discovery and it doesn’t work on WiFi, please check if your admin disabled multicast.

I’ve been wanting to update NervesNetwork for years, but it took SmartRent having a business need to make it happen. Thanks also to Connor Rigby, Matt Ludwigs, Jon Carstens and Justin Schneck, and also thanks to Le Tote and FarmBot who both put VintageNet into production early on and provided useful feedback.

Stay tuned for updates and let us know if you want to collaborate on supporting new types of networks or features.

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I’m currently using the not yet release VintageNetLTE and I’m wondering how VintageNet is supposed to handle detachable devices (if so). Currently I’m simply polling usb devices and if a certain id comes up use it as ppp modem (after a modeswitch). Once I even had the raspberry pi in a short restart loop, while the usb stick was not attached at boot.

I think the short answer for VintageNetLTE (probably will get renamed since we’ve been using it with non-LTE technologies too) is we haven’t figured that part out yet.

For Ethernet, WiFi and USB virtual Ethernet connections, the core VintageNet will watch the availability of their corresponding network interfaces to react to hot-plug events. That doesn’t work with cellular modems, but at the moment, both projects that I knew of that are using VintageNetLTE have non-removable modems and hadn’t hit that issue yet.

Would it be possible for you to post your polling code in a GitHub issue? We will need to resolve this and having a working reference for people to use in the meantime would be really helpful.

We’ve made quite a bit of progress since the previous VintageNet. The current release is 0.7.7. While it’s currently pre-1.0, it is being used in production and API changes are expected to be small in the future. With the Nerves 1.6 release, it became the default network configuration library for new projects.

Since the previous announcement, the following are new:

  1. Cellular modem support via vintage_net_mobile - Several modems are supported out-of-the-box including ones supporting LTE CAT M1 and NB1 service. That’s the “IoT” form of LTE (basically slower and less expensive than the data service that you get on your phone).
  2. Enterprise WiFi support (WPA-EAP PEAP) in vintage_net_wifi and vintage_net_wizard
  3. WiFi captive portal creation - This is the network side. You’ll need to supply the webserver. The vintage_net_wizard is an example.
  4. Bug fixes and reliability improvements throughout

While the project README.md’s have the primary documentation, if you’re looking for copy-and-paste configuration examples, check out the cookbook.md.

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