Open Shortest Path First

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Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) is a link-state, hierarchical Interior Gateway Protocol (IGP) routing protocol. The well-known Dijkstra's algorithm is used to calculate the shortest path tree. It uses cost as its routing metric. A link state database is constructed of the network topology which is identical on all routers in the area.

OSPF is perhaps the most widely used IGP in large networks. It can operate securely, using MD5 to authenticate peers before forming adjacencies, and before accepting link-state advertisements. A natural successor to RIP, it was VLSM capable or classless from its inception. A newer version of OSPF (OSPFv3) now supports IPv6 as well. Multicast extensions to OSPF (MOSPF) have been defined, however these are not widely used. OSPF can "tag" routes, and propagate these tags along with the routes.

An OSPF network can be broken up into smaller networks. A special area called the backbone area forms the core of the network, and other areas are connected to it. Intra-area routing goes via the backbone. All areas must connect to the backbone; if no direct connection is possible, a virtual link may be established.

Routers in the same broadcast domain or at each end of a point to point link form adjacencies when they have discovered each other. The routers elect a designated router (DR) and backup designated router (BDR) which act as hub to reduce traffic between routers. OSPF uses both unicast and multicast to send 'hello packets' and link state updates. Multicast addresses and are used. In contrast to RIP or BGP, OSPF does not use TCP or UDP but uses IP directly, using IP protocol 89.


Area types

An OSPF network is divided into areas. These are logical groupings of routers whose information may be summarized towards the rest of the network. Several "special" area types are defined:

Backbone area

The backbone area (also known as area zero) forms the core of an OSPF network. All other areas are connected to it, and intra-area routing happens via a router connected to the backbone area.

Stub area

A stub area is an area which doesn't receive external routes. External routers are defined as routes which were distributed in OSPF via another routing protocol. Therefore, stub areas typically need to rely on a default route to send traffic to routes outside the stub.

Not-so-stubby area

Also referred to as NSSA, a not-so-stubby area is a type of stub area that can import AS external routes, but within certain limits

OSPF router types

OSPF defines various router types. These are logical definitions, and a router that uses OSPF may be classified as more than one of the following types. For example, a router that is connected to more than one area, and which receives routes from a BGP process connected to another AS, is both an ABR and an ASBR.

Area Border Router

An Area Border Router (ABR) is a router that connects one or more OSPF areas to the main backbone network. It is considered a member of all areas it is connected to. An ABR keeps multiple copies of the link-state database in memory, one for each area.

Autonomous System Border Router

An ASBR is a router connected to more than one autonomous system (AS), and which exchanges routing information with routers in other ASs. ASBRs typically also run a non-IGP routing protocol, such as BGP. An ASBR is used to distribute routes received from another ASs throughout its own AS.

Internal Router

A router is called an Internal Router (IR) if it only has OSPF adjacencies with routers in the same area.

Backbone Router

A Backbone Router (BR) is a router with an interface in to the backbone area. An ABR would be a BR, although the reverse need not be true.

RFC history

  • 1989, October - First put forward as a proposed standard as RFC 1131.
  • 1994, The OSPF NSSA Option, RFC 1587.
  • 1994, March - Multicast extensions to OSPF proposed as RFC 1584.
  • 1997, July - OSPF version 2, as proposed in RFC 2178
  • 1998, April - OSPF version 2, updated in RFC 2328, standard 54.
  • 1999, December - OSPFv3, IPv6, RFC 2740.
  • 2003, January - The OSPF NSSA Option updated, RFC 3101.

External links

fr:Open shortest path first pl:OSPF pt:Open Shortest Path First fi:OSPF zh:开放式最短路径优先


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