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In this tutorial, you will learn how to set up and ONOS environment capable of controlling P4Runtime-enabled Barefoot Tofino-based devices. The following set of instructions have been tested with the EdgeCore Wedge-100BF.


  • 1 or more Tofino based switches with Barefoot SDE 6.0.0 or later installed
  • 1 server with the latest ONOS master downloaded. the version has to be 1.12-SNAPSHOT or later.

Prepare the switch

With the SDE and all necessary tools installed the switch process can be started.

Start switchd
bf_switchd --install-dir $SDE_INSTALL --conf-file $SDE_INSTALL/share/p4/targets/tofino/skip_p4.conf --skip-p4

It's worth noting the configuration file (skip_p4.conf). This configuration option makes switchd start with no P4 program deployed. The program will be later deployed by ONOS using P4Runtime.  Please also note that the skip_p4.conf file will only be installed if the SDE is built & installed with the p4_examples. Otherwise, this file can be found in the p4_examples tarball in the SDE package with the name

Create a pipeconf for your P4 program

In ONOS we use the term pipeconf (short of pipeline configuration) to describe the ensemble of P4 compiler artifacts and ONOS driver for a specific P4 program. A pipeconf is the entity that allows ONOS to deploy and control a given P4 program. A pipeconf is defined as an ONOS application that can be loaded at runtime. Example of pipeconfs can be found under onos/pipelines/.

We suggest starting by looking at the basic pipeconf. This one provides basic forwarding capabilities along with packet-in/out support, counters, etc. Among others, this pipeconf defines two important classes, an interpreter implementation, and a pipeconf loader.


The interpreter is what enables ONOS to understand the specific constructs of your P4 Program. For example, the Interpreter enables the translation from ONOS traffic treatments to P4-defined actions.

The interpreter implementation for the basic pipeconf can be found here

Pipeconf loader

This class is usually defined as an OSGi runtime component and is used to register the pipeconf at runtime. As part of this operation, this class is responsible for putting together all the pieces of a pipeconf, such as:

  • P4Info for your program. 
  • Tofino.bin binary file
  • Tofino context.json file

The tofino.bin and the context.json can be generated with the Barefoot SDE, which is not open-source. For this reason, while we provide the compiler output of the basic P4 program for BMv2 (generated using the publicly available p4c compiler), we cannot provide the tofino.bin and the context.json in the ONOS repository. For more information on how to generate the tofino.bin and the context.json please reach out to Barefoot.

Looking at the pipeconf loader implementation, you can see we can also add driver behaviors specific to that P4 program/pipeline, such as the Pipeliner and the PortStatisticsDiscovery. We also need to set a pipeconf ID, which has to be globally unique as it will be used to refer to that pipeconf in the netcfg JSON later.


Moving to the ONOS controller on the server, assuming you downloaded it and placed your pipeconf in it.


Start ONOS
$ buck run onos-local -- clean debug

It's worth noting that this start ONOS in a single instance cluster. The command also build ONOS and purges any previous state. The debug option offers the possibility to attach the debugger on port 5005. 

Login into the ONOS CLI

Having started ONOS we need to login in its CLI.

onos localhost

Load the pipeconf

Start ONOS
onos> app activate <pipeconf_app_name>

To load the basic pipeconf use org.onosproject.pipelines.basic

Start the Barefoot drivers

Activate Drivers
onos> app activate

This command brings in all the needed applications to interact with the Tofino-based switch.

Verify the active applications

onos> apps -s -a

Verify that these apps at least are active in your ONOS environment:

  • org.onosproject.generaldeviceprovider (General Device Provider)

  • org.onosproject.drivers (Default Drivers)

  • org.onosproject.protocols.grpc (gRPC Protocol Subsystem)

  • org.onosproject.protocols.p4runtime (P4Runtime Protocol Subsystem)

  • org.onosproject.p4runtime (P4Runtime Provider)

  • org.onosproject.drivers.p4runtime (P4Runtime Drivers)

  • (Barefoot Drivers)

  • your own pipeconf app.

Build and push a configuration json

Having all the needed components in ONOS in place we can now tell ONOS about the device(s) and let the interaction begin.

First we need to create a .json file containing all the needed information such as IP/port of the P4Runtime server running on the device, its data plane ports and the pipeconf we want to deploy.

  "devices": {
    "device:tofino:1": {
      "generalprovider": {
        "p4runtime": {
          "ip": "ip.of.the.p4runtime.server",
          "deviceKeyId": "p4runtime:device:tofino:1",
          "port": 50051,
          "deviceId": 0
      "piPipeconf": {
        "piPipeconfId": "my.sample.pipeconf"
      "ports": {
        "1/0": {
          "name": "1/0",
          "speed": 100000,
          "enabled": true,
          "number": XXX,
          "removed": false,
          "type": "copper"
        "2/0": {
          "name": "2/0",
          "speed": 100000,
          "enabled": true,
          "number": XXX,
          "removed": false,
          "type": "copper"
        "3/2": {
          "name": "3/0",
          "speed": 40000,
          "enabled": true,
          "number": XXX,
          "removed": false,
          "type": "copper"
      "basic": {
        "driver": "barefoot"

In this example, we assumed the device has been configured with 3 data plane ports, for each port the "number" value corresponds to the DP value in the Barefoot SDE port manager (see section below). The port number by default for the gRPC/P4Runtime server is 50051, so unless you made any changes to that leave it as is.

Upload the configuration you just wrote to the instance of ONOS you are running:

$ curl -X POST -H "content-type:application/json" http://localhost:8181/onos/v1/network/configuration -d @<path_to_your_json_configuration_file> --user onos:rocks


<your_machine>~$ onos-netcfg localhost <path_to_your_json_configuration_file>

Check the ONOS log for possible errors.

To check if the device has been discovered by ONOS:

onos> devices

Configure ports on the device

The last step to perform is to configure the ports on the switch.

Please repeat the following command for all the ports that you need on your device. This needs to be done after having pushed the pipeline config, hence after having pushed the netcfg JSON to ONOS. Please refer to the Barefoot SDE documentation for more information on port management.

bf-sde> pm> show> port-add 1/0 100G NONE> port-enb 1/0


At this point if everything went well you should be able to push flow rules defined with PiCriterion and PiInstruction according to the P4 program deployed on the device. 

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