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Transitioning Between LAN and WLAN By Bonding Ethernet and WiFi

Here’s the situation: you like to have the LAN cable plugged into your laptop when you are sitting at your desk to take advantage of the gigabit speeds, but you sometimes like to roam around by connecting to the WiFi. However, when switching between the two you don’t want to lose your connection/have to get a new IP address. The solution? bond the ethernet and wireless connections to make a seamless transition back and forth.

I use Gentoo on my personal machines and this guide is written specifically for that distribution. I also think systemd is a pile of shit that is turning Linux into a binary blob OS – if I wanted to use a binary blob OS I’d run the original: Windows!

First make sure your wired and wireless connections already work!

Let’s create a new init for the bonded interface:

# cd /etc/init.d/ && ln -s net.lo net.bond0

Now remove net.eth0 and net.wlan0 from autostarting:

rc-update del net.eth0

rc-update del net.wlan0

We can also bring down our connections:

service net.eth0 stop

service net.wlan0 stop

Next edit /etc/conf.d/net:

slaves_bond0=”eth0 wlan0″

# Notes: if network get hosed and you try to restart net.bond0 and it
# fails, you have to manually bring eth0 && wlan0 up with ifconfig.
preup() {
if [[ $IFACE -eq “bond0” ]]; then
# bring up the interfaces because sometimes when eth0 isn’t connected it fails to bring anything up
/bin/ifconfig eth0 up ; /bin/ifconfig wlan0 up ; rfkill unblock wlan0 ; /usr/sbin/wpa_supplicant -iwlan0 -c /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf -B
return 0;

postdown() {
if [[ $IFACE -eq “bond0” ]]; then
if [[ -S /var/run/wpa_supplicant/wlan0 ]]; then
killall wpa_supplicant
rm -f /var/run/wpa_supplicant/wlan0
return 0;

Also, if you use ifplugd you’ll want to disable/remove it or it may interfere with switching the active interface.

We should also set the bonded interface to autostart:

rc-update add net.bond0 default

Next we want to tell the kernel how we want the bonded interface to function. Specifically we want eth0 to be primary and only use the wireless if the ethernet is down. We can tell it to do all of this by creating a file in /etc/modprobe.d/bonding.conf:

options bonding mode=1 miimon=100 primary=eth0

Now let’s start the new bonded interface:

service net.bond0 start

If all goes well one of the interfaces should be made active and you should be back on the network. If not make note of any errors and see where things went awry.

The only issues I’ve had with this setup is getting the wireless to work if a new configuration is added after the system is already up and running. In that case sometimes getting wpa_supplicant to run with a new config without hosing bond0 can be trying!

Update 2020-02-12: It was pointed out by “Mick” that sometimes the WiFi is disabled or softblocked. You can use rfkill to get it going again:

rfkill unblock wlan0

I updated the pre_up() configuration to include this for future reference.


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