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Linux sysadmin basics: Start NIC at boot

If you've ever booted a Red Hat-based system and have no network connectivity, you'll appreciate this quick fix.

It might surprise you to know that if you forget to flip the network interface card (NIC) switch to the ON position (shown in the image below) during installation, your Red Hat-based system will boot with the NIC disconnected:

Image
Figure 1: Setting the NIC to the ON position
Setting the NIC to the ON position during installation.

But, don't worry, in this article I'll show you how to set the NIC to connect on every boot and I'll show you how to disable/enable your NIC on demand.

If your NIC isn't enabled at startup, you have to edit the /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-NIC_name file, where NIC_name is your system's NIC device name. In my case, it's enp0s3. Yours might be eth0, eth1, em1, etc. List your network devices and their IP addresses with the ip addr command:

$ ip addr

1: lo: <LOOPBACK,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 65536 qdisc noqueue state UNKNOWN group default qlen 1000
    link/loopback 00:00:00:00:00:00 brd 00:00:00:00:00:00
    inet 127.0.0.1/8 scope host lo
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever
    inet6 ::1/128 scope host 
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever
2: enp0s3: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 1500 qdisc fq_codel state UP group default qlen 1000
    link/ether 08:00:27:81:d0:2d brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff
3: virbr0: <NO-CARRIER,BROADCAST,MULTICAST,UP> mtu 1500 qdisc noqueue state DOWN group default qlen 1000
    link/ether 52:54:00:4e:69:84 brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff
    inet 192.168.122.1/24 brd 192.168.122.255 scope global virbr0
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever
4: virbr0-nic: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST> mtu 1500 qdisc fq_codel master virbr0 state DOWN group default qlen 1000
    link/ether 52:54:00:4e:69:84 brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff

Note that my primary NIC (enp0s3) has no assigned IP address. I have virtual NICs because my Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 system is a VirtualBox virtual machine. After you've figured out what your physical NIC's name is, you can now edit its interface configuration file:

$ sudo vi /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-enp0s3

and change the ONBOOT="no" entry to ONBOOT="yes" as shown below:

TYPE="Ethernet"
PROXY_METHOD="none"
BROWSER_ONLY="no"
BOOTPROTO="dhcp"
DEFROUTE="yes"
IPV4_FAILURE_FATAL="no"
IPV6INIT="yes"
IPV6_AUTOCONF="yes"
IPV6_DEFROUTE="yes"
IPV6_FAILURE_FATAL="no"
IPV6_ADDR_GEN_MODE="stable-privacy"
NAME="enp0s3"
UUID="77cb083f-2ad3-42e2-9070-697cb24edf94"
DEVICE="enp0s3"
ONBOOT="yes"

Save and exit the file.

You don't need to reboot to start the NIC, but after you make this change, the primary NIC will be on and connected upon all subsequent boots.

To enable the NIC, use the ifup command:

ifup enp0s3

Connection successfully activated (D-Bus active path: /org/freedesktop/NetworkManager/ActiveConnection/5)

Now the ip addr command displays the enp0s3 device with an IP address:

$ ip addr

1: lo: <LOOPBACK,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 65536 qdisc noqueue state UNKNOWN group default qlen 1000
    link/loopback 00:00:00:00:00:00 brd 00:00:00:00:00:00
    inet 127.0.0.1/8 scope host lo
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever
    inet6 ::1/128 scope host 
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever
2: enp0s3: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 1500 qdisc fq_codel state UP group default qlen 1000
    link/ether 08:00:27:81:d0:2d brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff
    inet 192.168.1.64/24 brd 192.168.1.255 scope global dynamic noprefixroute enp0s3
       valid_lft 86266sec preferred_lft 86266sec
    inet6 2600:1702:a40:88b0:c30:ce7e:9319:9fe0/64 scope global dynamic noprefixroute 
       valid_lft 3467sec preferred_lft 3467sec
    inet6 fe80::9b21:3498:b83c:f3d4/64 scope link noprefixroute 
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever
3: virbr0: <NO-CARRIER,BROADCAST,MULTICAST,UP> mtu 1500 qdisc noqueue state DOWN group default qlen 1000
    link/ether 52:54:00:4e:69:84 brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff
    inet 192.168.122.1/24 brd 192.168.122.255 scope global virbr0
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever
4: virbr0-nic: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST> mtu 1500 qdisc fq_codel master virbr0 state DOWN group default qlen 1000
    link/ether 52:54:00:4e:69:84 brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff

To disable a NIC, use the ifdown command. Please note that issuing this command from a remote system will terminate your session:

ifdown enp0s3

Connection 'enp0s3' successfully deactivated (D-Bus active path: /org/freedesktop/NetworkManager/ActiveConnection/5)

That's a wrap

It's frustrating to encounter a Linux system that has no network connection. It's more frustrating to have to connect to a virtual KVM or to walk up to the console to fix it. It's easy to miss the switch during installation, I've missed it myself. Now you know how to fix the problem and have your system network-connected on every boot, so before you drive yourself crazy with troubleshooting steps, try the ifup command to see if that's your easy fix.

Takeaways: ifup, ifdown, /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-NIC_name

[Want to try out Red Hat Enterprise Linux? Download it now for free.]

Topics:   Linux   Networking  
Author’s photo

Ken Hess

Ken Hess is an Enable SysAdmin Community Manager and an Enable SysAdmin contributor. Ken has used Red Hat Linux since 1996 and has written ebooks, whitepapers, actual books, thousands of exam review questions, and hundreds of articles on open source and other topics. More about me

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