Manual browser: npf.conf(5)

NPF.CONF(5) File Formats Manual NPF.CONF(5)


npf.confNPF packet filter configuration file


npf.conf is the default configuration file for the NPF packet filter.

This manual page serves as a reference for editing npf.conf. Please refer to the official NPF documentation for comprehensive and in-depth information.

There are multiple structural elements npf.conf may contain: variable and table definitions (with or without content), abstraction groups, packet filtering rules, map rules for address translation and procedure definitions to call on filtered packets. The minimal npf.conf must contain a mandatory default group.



Variables are specified using the dollar ($) sign, which is used both in definitions and uses of a variable. Variables are defined by assigning a value to them as follows:

$var1 =

A variable may also be defined as a set:

$var2 = {, }

Common variable definitions are for IP addresses, networks, ports, and interfaces.


Tables are specified using a name between angle brackets < and >. The following is an example of table definition:

table <black> type hash dynamic 

Currently, tables support three storage types: "hash", "tree", or "cdb". They can also be "dynamic" or static i.e. loaded from the specified file.

The file should contain a list of IP addresses and/or networks in the form of:

Tables of type "hash" and "cdb" can only contain IP addresses. Also, the latter can only be static.


Interfaces can be specified as the values of the variables:

$pub_if_list = { inet4(wm0), inet4(wm1) }

In the context of filtering, an interface provides a list of its all IP addresses, including IPv4 and IPv6. Specific interface addresses can be selected by the family, e.g.:

$pub_if4 = inet4(wm0) 
$pub_if46 = { inet4(wm0), inet6(wm0) }


Groups may have the following options: name, interface, and direction. They are defined in the following form:

group "my-name" in on wm0 { 
	# List of rules 


With a rule statement NPF is instructed to pass or block a packet depending on packet header information, transit direction and interface it arrives on, either immediately upon match (keyword final) or using the last match. The rule can also instruct NPF to create an entry in the state table when passing the packet, to notify the sender when blocking it, and to apply a procedure to the packet (e.g. "log") in either case.

A "fully-featured" rule would for example be:

pass stateful in final family inet4 proto tcp flags S/SA \ 
	from $source port $sport to $dest port $dport apply "someproc"

Any protocol in /etc/protocols can be specified. Further packet specification at present is limited to protocol TCP understanding flags, TCP and UDP understanding source and destination ports, and ICMP and IPv6-ICMP understanding icmp-type.

Alternatively, NPF supports pcap-filter(7) syntax, for example:

block out final pcap-filter "tcp and dst"

Fragments are not selectable since NPF always reassembles packets before further processing.


Stateful packet inspection is enabled using stateful or stateful-ends keywords. The former creates a state which is uniquely identified by a 5-tuple (source and destination IP addresses, port numbers and an interface identifier). The latter excludes the interface identifier and must be used with precaution. In both cases, a full TCP state tracking is performed for TCP connections and a limited tracking for message-based protocols (UDP and ICMP).

By default, a stateful rule implies SYN-only flag check ("flags S/SAFR") for the TCP packets. It is not advisable to change this behavior; however, it can be overridden with the flags keyword.


Network Address Translation (NAT) is expressed in a form of segment mapping. The translation may be dynamic (stateful) or static (stateless). The following mapping types are available:

outbound NAT (translation of the source)
inbound NAT (translation of the destination)
bi-directional NAT (combination of inbound and outbound NAT)

The following would translate the source to the IP address specified by the $pub_ip for the packets on the interface $ext_if.

map $ext_if dynamic -> $pub_ip

Translations are implicitly filtered by limiting the operation to the network segments specified, that is, translation would be performed only on packets originating from network. Explicit filter criteria can be specified using "pass <criteria>" as an additional option of the mapping.


A rule procedure is defined as a collection of extension calls (it may have none). Every extension call has a name and a list of options in the form of key-value pairs. Depending on the call, the key might represent the argument and the value might be optional. For example:

procedure "someproc" { 
	log: npflog0 
	normalize: "random-id", "min-ttl" 64 

In this case, the procedure calls the logging and normalisation modules.


Text after a hash (‘#’) character is considered a comment. The backslash (‘\’) character at the end of a line marks a continuation line, i.e., the next line is considered an extension of the present line.


The following is a non-formal BNF-like definition of the grammar. The definition is simplified and is intended to be human readable, therefore it does not strictly represent the full syntax, which is more flexible.

; Syntax of a single line.  Lines can be separated by LF (\n) or 
; a semicolon.  Comments start with a hash (#) character. 
syntax		= var-def | set-param | alg | table-def | 
		  map | group | rproc | comment 
; Variable definition.  Names can be alpha-numeric, including "_" character. 
var-name	= "$" . string 
interface	= interface-name | var-name 
var-def		= var "=" ( var-value | "{" value *[ "," value ] "}" ) 
; Parameter setting. 
set-param	= "set" param-value 
; Application level gateway.  The name should be in the double quotes. 
alg		= "alg" alg-name 
; Table definition.  Table ID shall be numeric.  Path is in the double quotes. 
table-id	= <table-name> 
table-def	= "table" table-id "type" ( "hash" | "tree" | "cdb" ) 
		  ( "dynamic" | "file" path ) 
; Mapping for address translation. 
map		= "map" interface 
		  ( "static" [ "algo" algorithm ] | "dynamic" ) 
		  net-seg ( "->" | "<-" | "<->" ) net-seg 
		  [ "pass" filt-opts ] 
; Rule procedure definition.  The name should be in the double quotes. 
; Each call can have its own options in a form of key-value pairs. 
; Both key and values may be strings (either in double quotes or not) 
; and numbers, depending on the extension. 
proc		= "procedure" proc-name "{" *( proc-call [ new-line ] ) "}" 
proc-opts	= key " " val [ "," proc-opts ] 
proc-call	= call-name ":" proc-opts new-line 
; Group definition and the rule list. 
group		= "group" ( "default" | group-opts ) "{" rule-list "}" 
group-opts	= name-string [ "in" | "out" ] [ "on" interface ] 
rule-list	= [ rule new-line ] rule-list 
npf-filter	= [ "family" family-opt ] [ "proto" protocol [ proto-opts ] ] 
		  ( "all" | filt-opts ) 
static-rule	= ( "block" [ block-opts ] | "pass" ) 
		  [ "stateful" | "stateful-ends" ] 
		  [ "in" | out" ] [ "final" ] [ "on" interface ] 
		  ( npf-filter | "pcap-filter" pcap-filter-expr ) 
		  [ "apply" proc-name ] 
dynamic-ruleset	= "ruleset" group-opts 
rule		= static-rule | dynamic-ruleset 
block-opts	= "return-rst" | "return-icmp" | "return" 
family-opt	= "inet4" | "inet6" 
proto-opts	= "flags" tcp-flags [ "/" tcp-flag-mask ] | 
		  "icmp-type" type [ "code" icmp-code ] 
addr-mask	= addr [ "/" mask ] 
filt-opts	= "from" filt-addr [ port-opts ] "to" filt-addr [ port-opts ] 
filt-addr	= [ interface | var-name | addr-mask | table-id | "any" ] 
filt-port	= "port" ( port-num | port-from "-" port-to | var-name )


control device
default configuration file
directory containing further examples


$ext_if = { inet4(wm0) } 
$int_if = { inet4(wm1) } 
table <blacklist> type hash file "/etc/npf_blacklist" 
table <limited> type tree dynamic 
$services_tcp = { http, https, smtp, domain, 6000, 9022 } 
$services_udp = { domain, ntp, 6000 } 
$localnet = { } 
alg "icmp" 
# Note: if $ext_if has multiple IP address (e.g. IPv6 as well), 
# then the translation address has to be specified explicitly. 
map $ext_if dynamic -> $ext_if 
map $ext_if dynamic port 22 <- $ext_if port 9022 
procedure "log" { 
	# Note: npf_ext_log kernel module should be loaded, if not built-in. 
	# Also, the interface created, e.g.: ifconfig npflog0 create 
	log: npflog0 
group "external" on $ext_if { 
	pass stateful out final all 
	block in final from <blacklist> 
	pass stateful in final family inet4 proto tcp to $ext_if port ssh apply "log" 
	pass stateful in final proto tcp to $ext_if port $services_tcp 
	pass stateful in final proto udp to $ext_if port $services_udp 
	pass stateful in final proto tcp to $ext_if port 49151-65535	# Passive FTP 
	pass stateful in final proto udp to $ext_if port 33434-33600	# Traceroute 
group "internal" on $int_if { 
	block in all 
	block in final from <limited> 
	# Ingress filtering as per BCP 38 / RFC 2827. 
	pass in final from $localnet 
	pass out final all 
group default { 
	pass final on lo0 all 
	block all 


NPF first appeared in NetBSD 6.0.


NPF was designed and implemented by Mindaugas Rasiukevicius.
February 1, 2015 NetBSD 7.0