How to make your LXD containers get IP addresses from your LAN using macvlan

Update 22 June 2020 I have updated this post to be compatible with LXD 4.0. I also adapted it in order to create an empty profile that does only the macvlan stuff and is independent of the default profile. Finally, I am calling the profile macvlan (previous name: lanprofile).

WARNING #1: By using macvlan, your computer’s network interface will appear on the network to have more than one MAC address. This is fine for Ethernet networks. However, if your interface is a Wireless interface (with security like WPA/WPA2), then the access point will reject any other MAC addresses coming from your computer. Therefore, all these will not work in that specific case.

WARNING #2: If your host is in a virtual machine, then it is likely that the VM software will block the DHCP requests of the containers. There are options on both VMWare and Virtualbox to allow Promiscuous mode (somewhere in their Network settings). You need to enable that. Keep in mind that people reported success only on VMWare. Currently, on VirtualBox, you need to switch the network interface on the host into the PROMISC mode, as a workaround.

In LXD terminology, you have the host and then you have the many containers on this host. The host is the computer where LXD is running. By default, all containers run hidden in a private network on the host. The containers are not accessible from the local network, nor from the Internet. However, they have network access to the Internet through the host. This is NAT networking.

How can we get some containers to receive an IP address from the LAN and be accessible on the LAN?

This can be achieved using macvlan (L2) virtual network interfaces, a feature provided by the Linux kernel.

In this post, we are going to create a new LXD profile and configure macvlan in it. Then, we launch new containers under the new profile, or attach existing containers to the new profile (so they get as well a LAN IP address).

Creating a new LXD profile for macvlan

Let’s see what LXD profiles are available.

$ lxc profile list
| NAME       | USED BY |
| default    | 11      |

There is a single profile, called default, the default profile. It is used by 11 LXD containers on this system.

We create a new profile. The new profile is called macvlan.

$ lxc profile create macvlan
Profile macvlan created
$ lxc profile list
| NAME       | USED BY |
| default    | 11      |
| macvlan    | 0       |

What are the default settings of a new profile?

$ lxc profile show macvlan
config: {}
description: ""
devices: {}
name: macvlan
used_by: []

We need to add a nic with nictype macvlan and parent to the appropriate network interface on the host and we are then ready to go. Let’s identify the correct parent, using the ip route command. This command shows the default network route. It also shows the name of the device (dev), which is in this case enp5s12. (Before systemd, those used to be eth0 or wlan0. Now, the name varies depending on the specific network cards).

$ ip route show default
default via dev enp5s12 proto static metric 100

Now we are ready to add the appropriate device to the macvlan LXD profile. We use the lxc profile device add command to add a device eth0 to the profile lanprofile. We set nictype to macvlan, and parent to enp5s12.

$ lxc profile device add macvlan eth0 nic nictype=macvlan parent=enp5s12
Device eth0 added to macvlan
$ lxc profile show macvlan
config: {}
description: ""
    nictype: macvlan
    parent: enp5s12
    type: nic
name: macvlan
used_by: []

Well, that’s it. We are now ready to launch containers using this new profile, and they will get an IP address from the DHCP server of the LAN.

Launching LXD containers with the new profile

Let’s launch two containers using the new macvlan profile and then check their IP address. We need to specify first the default profile, and then the macvlan profile. By doing this, the container will get the appropriate base configuration from the first profile, and then the networking will be overridden by the macvlan profile.

$ lxc launch ubuntu:18.04 net1 --profile default --profile macvlan
Creating net1
Starting net1
$ lxc launch ubuntu:18.04 net2 --profile default --profile macvlan
Creating net2
Starting net2
$ lxc list
| NAME |  STATE  |        IPV4         | IPV6 |   TYPE    | SNAPSHOTS |
| net1 | RUNNING | (eth0)  |      | CONTAINER | 0         |
| net2 | RUNNING | (eth0)  |      | CONTAINER | 0         |

Both containers got their IP address from the LAN router. Here is the router administration screen that shows the two containers. I edited the names by adding LXD in the front to make them look nicer. The containers look and feel as just like new LAN computers!

Let’s ping from one container to the other.

$ lxc exec net1 -- ping -c 3
PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=0.064 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=0.067 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=3 ttl=64 time=0.082 ms

--- ping statistics ---
3 packets transmitted, 3 received, 0% packet loss, time 2036ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 0.064/0.071/0.082/0.007 ms

You can ping these containers from other computers on your LAN! But the host and these macvlan containers cannot communicate over the network. This has to do with how macvlan works in the Linux kernel.


Help! I cannot ping between the host and the containers!

To be able to get the host and containers to communicate with each other, you need some additional changes to the host in order to get added to the macvlan as well. It discusses it here, though I did not test because I do not need communication of the containers with the host. If you test it, please report below.

Help! I do not get anymore those net1.lxd, net2.lxd fancy hostnames!

The default LXD DHCP server assigns hostnames like net1.lxd, net2.lxd to each container. Then, you can get the containers to communicate with each other using the hostnames instead of the IP addresses.

When using the LAN DHCP server, you would need to configure it as well to produce nice hostnames.

Help! Can these new macvlan containers read my LAN network traffic?

The new macvlan LXD containers (that got a LAN IP address) can only see their own traffic and also any LAN broadcast packets. They cannot see the traffic meant for the host, nor the traffic for the other containers.

Help! I get the error Error: Device validation failed “eth0”: Cannot use “nictype” property in conjunction with “network” property

A previous version of this tutorial had the old style of how to add a device to a LXD profile. The old style was supposed to work in compatibility mode in newer versions of LXD. But at least in LXD 4.2 it does not, and gives the following error. You should not get this error anymore since I have updated the post. You may get an error if you are using a very old LXD. In that case, report back in the comments please.

$ lxc profile device set macvlan eth0 nictype macvlan
Error: Device validation failed "eth0": Cannot use "nictype" property in conjunction with "network" property


With this tutorial, you are able to create containers that get an IP address from the LAN (same source as the host), using macvlan.

A downside is that the host and these macvlan containers cannot communicate over the network. For some, this is a neat advantage, because they shield the host from the containers.

The macvlan containers are then visible on the LAN and work just like another LAN computer.

This tutorial has been updated with the newer commands to edit a LXD profile (lxc profile device add). The older command now gives an error as you can see in the more recent comments below.

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    • Blackpaw on March 21, 2021 at 14:04
    • Reply

    Yup, got it working using a public bridge! thank you so much.

    Just for info – using lxd to setup 3 ubuntu(focal) containers on a ubuntu server, to act as a moosefs filesystem, passing through the hosts 9 drives for storage.

    Nearly finished, working very nicely. Looking fwd to testing performance.

    • max on April 11, 2021 at 22:17
    • Reply

    Hello @ Blackpaw ,

    I did the same with lightweigh VMs following this guide:

    ..and was going to try with lxd containers.

    Is it something similar that you are doing?

    Do you mind to share the setup?



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