Subject: Re: PPPoE vs ETHERMTU
To: Jun-ichiro itojun Hagino <>
From: der Mouse <mouse@Rodents.Montreal.QC.CA>
List: tech-net
Date: 06/30/2001 22:05:47
>> [...]
>> Snooping the traffic makes me think something odd is going on.  It
>> looks a bit like the won't-frag disease, the problem outlined in
>> RFC2923 section 2.1, but it's not that simple.
> this is exactly the symptom with path MTU discovery problem

Yes, but I find that implausible in this case; see below.

> provider mailbox
>   |
> some router	<--- bad guy
>   |
> DSL entrypoint
>   | smaller MTU
> DSL exitpoint
>   |
> your client

I find this implausible because the top four points would be the same
if I were using the provider-provided software on Wintel - and anything
that broke mail fetching for that crowd would be fixed approximately
instantly.  (However, the provider's mailhost *does* appear to be
trying to do PMTU-D; the packets I do see have DF set.)

I have it fixed in a functional sense.  I have been completely
unsuccessful at finding out what's happening to the missing packets;
however, setting net.inet.tcp.mss_ifmtu=1 with sysctl makes the symptom
vanish.  Looking at before-and-after tcpdump output leads me to suspect
that the mailhost is paying attention to the advertised MSS but isn't
correctly handling PMTU-D right if the advertised MSS is higher than
the actual path MSS.  Unfortunately I have no way of sniffing anywhere
along the path except between the DSL box and my border host, or I
would be trying to see if that _were_ the problem, as outlined in

I'm considering adding a sysctl to put a cap on advertised TCP MSS
values regardless of interface MTUs; I can't see any way at present to
make it advertise a value less than that appropriate for the outgoing
interface's MTU.

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