1. iitis-generator(1)
  2. iitis-generator(1)


iitis-generator - tool for distributed, statistical evaluation of wireless networks




This tool provides partial, limited solution to the problem formulated by the question: given a computer network, how will it perform under traffic work load? The network may consist of many nodes and we want detailed statistical data for each node.

Motivations behind this fundamental question are - for instance - the need to assess service quality and the need to predict the performance of the network. There exist an approach to solve this problem by means of digital modelling and simulation. The iitis-generator program, however, is a supportive tool for an alternative approach, complementary to network simulation.

In this approach, real traffic is generated in a physical network and statistical data is collected. Results of such experiment can be used for further search for the answer to the question on network performance.


iitis-generator is basically a traffic generator. It is run on many network hosts at the same time. Each host is called a node. Each node may be connected to many test networks - on which traffic is to be generated - and also must be connected to one IP service network.

Basically iitis-generator does the following:

  1. parse traffic characteristics in TRAFFIC FILE
  2. negotiate a common experiment start moment using the service network
  3. generate and receive traffic on test networks
  4. periodically write statistics to disk

As the output, a directory with a tree-like structure is created. It contains the resultant network statistics, amongst the others (see OUTPUT).

iitis-generator is written in C and designed to be run on embedded systems, especially MikroTik RouterBoards running OpenWrt.


The test traffic is generated using the low level packet injection facility of the Linux mac80211 subsystem. Hence, a precise control over wireless frames is possible. Traffic capture is realized in similar way.

In order to make a wireless interface available to be used by iitis-generator, it must be put into the monitor mode and named like "mon*", where * is a number 0-7, e.g. "mon0". This interface number is also used in the traffic file.

Frames generated in test networks have 3 headers:

  1. IEEE 802.11 header (24B + 4B FCS)
  2. LLC header, encapsulated Ethernet (8B)
  3. iitis-generator header (20B)

The service network is realized by:

  1. sending UDP broadcast ( frames on port 31337
  2. replying with UDP unicast frames

By default, the "eth0" interface is used. This can be changed using the "svc-ifname" option (see iitis-generator-conf(5)). Currently, the service network is used only for node synchronization.


Definitions in the traffic file use relative time moments. In order to synchronize actions being taken by nodes, a certain moment of time needs to be chosen as the time origin ("origin" for short), common for all nodes. This moment is chosen on the wall clock. Such approach has an advantage of opening a possibility for an external program working on wall clock synchronization parallely to iitis-generator.

Node synchronization is realized during startup, in a master-slave manner. The node with the lowest ID is chosen as the master, and all other nodes become slaves. Master will periodically propose some origin a few seconds ahead the wall clock, until all slaves reply with a positive acknowledgement.

A reliable wall clock source is required on all nodes. Running NTP on each node is enough to have a 1 ms accuracy in a typical LAN environment.


iitis-generator accepts following options.


ID number of this node; by default it will be extracted from the hostname, e.g. "router5" gives number 5


the root directory for the program output; by default "./out"


optional session name


make all generated files and directories readable and writable by anyone


be verbose; alias for --debug=5


set debugging level


display short help screen and exit


display version and copying information

Most options can be overriden in the CONFIG FILE, which is applied after command line options.


The CONFIG FILE is recommended to be common for the whole network. Exemplary config file below.

# write statistics each 3 seconds
stats = 3

# commit disk writes each 10 seconds (if NFS, sends data to the server)
sync = 10

# on nodes 1-3 and 8
"1-3,8" = {
    # dump raw frames in a pcap format
    dump = "yes"

See iitis-generator-conf(5) for further documentation.


The TRAFFIC FILE is common for the whole network. Exemplary few lines below.

# on time 3.5s, on interface 0, generate a 100B frame from node 7->4
3 500  0  7 4   0 0 packet 100

# after 0.25s, send 30 frames of size 200B in the opposite direction
3 750 0  4 7   0 0 packet 200 30

# on time 10.0s, send final, big 7->4 frame with bitrate 54Mbps and no ACK
10 0 0  7 4  54 1 packet 1 1500

See iitis-generator-traffic(5) for further documentation.


Exemplary output structure:

*-- session-name/
    *--- 2011.07.26-15:40:25/
        *-- 1/
        |   *-- internal-stats.txt
        |   *-- linestats.txt
        |   *-- mon0/
        |   |   *-- dump.pcap
        |   |   *-- interface.txt
        |   |   *-- link-2->1.txt
        *-- 2/
            *-- internal-stats.txt
            *-- linestats.txt
            *-- mon0/
                *-- interface.txt

See iitis-generator-output(5) for further documentation.


iitis-generator work can be monitored through the debugging messages facility (the --debug option). Messages will be printed to the standard error output, as in example below:

mgi_init(): bound to mon0
mgi_init(): bound to mon1
mgi_init(): bound to mon2
_master_read(): received time sync ACK from node 2: 1311683491
_master_read(): received all ACKs
mgstats_start(): storing statistics in ./stats/2011.07/tests/2011.07.26-14:31:31/1
main(): Starting
heartbeat(): Finished, exiting...

Notice the message prefix with information on the program internals. Level of detail of this information increases with the debug level. In example above it's name of the C function which generated the message.

Possible program return values and their meanings:

everything completed successfully
invalid command line arguments
no available interfaces found
invalid TRAFFIC FILE provided
invalid CONFIG FILE provided
aborted, see below
segmentation fault

iitis-generator may abnormally abort execution with return value 134 due to unexpected circumstances. However, the user will be notified about detailed source code file name and line number that caused such behaviour. Such information will be in the last line printed to the standard error output of the program. This may be used for further tracing of the root error cause.

iitis-generator was written by Pawel Foremski pjf@iitis.pl. Copyright (C) 2011 IITiS PAN Gliwice http://www.iitis.pl/.


iitis-generator-output(5), iitis-generator-conf(5), iitis-generator-traffic(5), IITiS WiFi lab

  1. IITiS PAN Gliwice
  2. September 2011
  3. iitis-generator(1)