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HP-UX 11i Version 3: February 2007

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dlpi — data link provider interface


This manual page gives a brief description on DLPI (the data link provider interface) and how to interface with the set of API's that are provided by DLPI.

HP-UX DLPI serves as a Layer 2 (Data Link Layer) of an OSI architecture. DLPI serves as an interface between LAN device drivers and DLPI users. DLPI is intended for use by experienced network users only.

HP-UX DLPI has two broader sets of interface. The first set of interfaces are provided as per the DLPI 2.0 standard and the second set that are HP extensions to the standard.

HP-UX DLPI also provides interfaces to device drivers to interface with STREAMS modules and DLPI applications.

For STREAMS Modules and DLPI Applications

Hewlett-Packard's implementation of DLPI is a Style 2 service provider. The Style 2 provider requires a DLS user to identify a PPA explicitly, using a special attach service primitive. Refer to the lan(7) manual page for more information on PPA.

HP DLPI offers the following services to STREAMS modules and DLPI applications:

  • Clone (maximum of 3992) and non-clone (maximum of 100) access.

  • Support for Ethernet/IEEE802.3, FDDI and Token Ring interfaces.

  • Support for connectionless and connection-mode services (connection-mode services are supported only over IEEE802.3 and Token Ring).

  • Supports raw-mode services.

  • I_STR ioctl is supported for doing device-specific control and diagnostic requests.

  • Support for third-party device drivers.

  • Support for all levels of promiscuous mode.

HP DLPI does not offer the following for STREAMS modules and DLPI applications:

  • Quality of Service (QOS) management.

  • Connection Management STREAMS: DL_SUBS_BIND_REQ and DL_SUBS_UNBIND_REQ over connection-oriented STREAMS.

  • Acknowledged connectionless-mode services.

The DLPI requests based on DLPI 2.0 standard are defined in <dlpi.h>; see dlpi(4). HP extensions for DLPI are defined in <dlpi_ext.h>; see dlpi_ext(4).

Device File Format

To access LAN drivers via DLPI interface, DLS users must use the following device files:

Name Type Major # Minor # Access Type ---- ---- ------- ------- ----------- /dev/dlpi c 72 0x77 Clone access /dev/dlpiX c 119 0xX Non-Clone access

For Device Drivers

HP-UX DLPI is of non-native design. The drivers and DLPI are not coupled together and exists as individual components on the system. The non-native DLPI supports two kinds of drivers. Tightly coupled and loosely coupled drivers.

DLPI provides interfaces to tightly coupled and loosely coupled drivers. DLPI serves as a sole interface to DLS users for tightly coupled drivers. Whereas, a loosely coupled driver depends on DLPI only to provide information to user-space commands lanscan(1M) and nwmgr(1M) for display purposes.

The interfaces for device drivers is defined in <dlpi_drv.h>, see dlpi_drv(4).

DLPI provides the following functionality for tightly coupled drivers:

  • Infrastructure that allows drivers to communicate with upper layer STREAMS modules or applications.

  • Infrastructure for protocol, multicast and promiscuous processing.

  • Infrastructure for asynchronous processing of control.

  • Inbound frame processing.

  • Processing link up and down events.

  • Repository for all registered interfaces and associated information.

  • Outbound processing before hand off to physical drivers.

DLPI provides its services through three header files that are exported. The header files <dlpi.h> and <dlpi_ext.h> are for user space applications and kernel level STREAMS modules. The header file <dlpi_drv.h> is for physical and logical drivers.


Various implementations of DLPI exists within HP-UX for special technologies like ATM, Hyper Fabric, etc.; but the DLPI that supports LAN class drivers (tightly coupled) is the one covered by this manual page.

The lanadmin, lanscan, and linkloop commands are deprecated. These commands will be removed in a future HP-UX release. HP recommends the use of replacement command nwmgr(1M) to perform all network interface-related tasks.


dlpi was developed by HP, based on DLPI 2.0 standard.


lanscan(1M), nwmgr(1M), dlpi(4), dlpi_drv(4), dlpi_ext(4), lan(7).

DLPI Programmer's Guide, 2003, Hewlett-Packard

Driver Development Guide, Hewlett-Packard

Device Driver Reference, Hewlett-Packard

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