Multicast Optimizations – Flags Explained

Prior Readings:


A topology involving bridges – devices (for instance mobile ones) being bridged into the mesh network

In scenarios involving bridges it is not always possible to detect all multicast listeners behind a bridge. While the general IGMP (IPv4) / MLD (IPv6) snooping mechanism works for detecting multicast listeners on other devices on the link in most cases, there are some special cases where such multicast listeners are not detectable via snooping.

Note that for nodes without bridges, the following issues will not arise, since batman-adv is able to directly get any IPv4 or IPv6 multicast listener on its kernel from its kernel. A node without a bridge will not set any of the flags listed at the bottom.


  • Avoiding multicast packet loss towards hidden multicast listeners.


While it is not possible to detect these hidden multicast listeners (the specific cases will be listed below), we are at least able to detect whether there might potentially be hidden multicast listeners. If a node figures out that it might have hidden multicast listeners, then the idea is to set according multicast flags to inform other batman-adv nodes to send certain multicast traffic towards us even though we did not specifically announce a (hidden) multicast listener - just to be on the safe side.

Hidden Multicast Listeners

Usually IP multicast listeners reveal themselves with so called IGMP or MLD reports on a link:

We would then know which hosts (local TT clients in batman-adv speech) and their responsible batman-adv node want which multicast traffic. However there are three cases where a bridge/batman-adv will not see any such reports on a link.

Case #1: Unsnoopable Multicast Addresses

There are exemptions for MLD/IGMP for two address ranges where no reports will be or might be sent:

  • No MLD messages for the all-nodes IPv6 multicast (ff02::1) address. RFC4541, section 3:

[...] The only exception is the address FF02::1 which is the all hosts link-scope address for which MLD messages are never sent. [...]

  • No requirement for IGMP messages for IPv4 link-local multicast addresses (224.0.0.x). RFC4541, section

[...] This recommendation is based on the fact that many host systems do not send Join IP multicast addresses in the [224.0.0.x] range before sending or listening to IP multicast packets. [...]

So multicast listeners for these addresses are only reliably known to the kernel of a multicast listener itself.

Case #2: No Multicast Querier

No Querier present leading to multicast listeners keeping quiet

IGMP/MLD reports are not sent periodically as is - they are only sent in response to a so called IGMP/MLD query message. These queries are sent periodically by for instance a multicast router. If no IGMP or MLD querier exists then no IGMP or MLD reports are sent either.

Case #3: Shadowing Multicast Querier

A Querier behind a bridge potentially shadowing a multicast listener

When an IGMP or MLD Querier is not run on a batman-adv node directly but instead on a foreign device behind a bridge then reports from multicast listeners behind that bridge might potentially only reach the querier but not the bridge / batman-adv node.

A more detailed explanation for when and why this happens exactly can be found here:

Multicast flags

To overcome the issues of possible multicast packet loss, a batman-adv node with a bridge will first of all detect whether one of the three cases listed above is present for its bridged segment of the link. If so, it will set one or more of the following multicast flags in its multicast TVLV:

  • Case #1:
  • Case #2 (no IGMP querier) or Case #3 (a shadowing IGMP querier)
  • Case #2 (no MLD querier) or Case #3 (a shadowing MLD querier)


Signalizes that this node wants all unsnoopable multicast traffic, that is traffic destined to the all-nodes address for IPv6 (ff02::1) and to link-local addresses for IPv4 (


Signalizes that this node wants all IPv4 multicast traffic.


Signalizes that this node wants all IPv6 multicast traffic.

Further Readings