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CORE - Distributed Emulation


A large emulation scenario can be deployed on multiple emulation servers and controlled by a single GUI. The GUI, representing the entire topology, can be run on one of the emulation servers or on a separate machine.

Each machine that will act as an emulation will require the installation of a distributed CORE package and some configuration to allow SSH as root.

CORE Configuration

CORE configuration settings required for using distributed functionality.

Edit /etc/core/core.conf or specific configuration file being used.

# uncomment and set this to the address that remote servers
# use to get back to the main host, example below
distributed_address =

EMANE Specific Configurations

EMANE needs to have controlnet configured in core.conf in order to startup correctly. The names before the addresses need to match the names of distributed servers configured.

controlnet = core1: core2: core3: core4: core5:
emane_event_generate = True

Configuring SSH

Distributed CORE works using the python fabric library to run commands on remote servers over SSH.

Remote GUI Terminals

You need to have the same user defined on each server, since the user used for these remote shells is the same user that is running the CORE GUI.

Edit -> Preferences... -> Terminal program:

Currently recommend setting this to xterm -e as the default gnome-terminal will not work.

May need to install xterm if, not already installed.

sudo apt install xterm

Distributed Server SSH Configuration

First the distributed servers must be configured to allow passwordless root login over SSH.

On distributed server:

# install openssh-server
sudo apt install openssh-server

# open sshd config
vi /etc/ssh/sshd_config

# verify these configurations in file
PermitRootLogin yes
PasswordAuthentication yes

# if desired add/modify the following line to allow SSH to
# accept all env variables
AcceptEnv *

# restart sshd
sudo systemctl restart sshd

On master server:

# install package if needed
sudo apt install openssh-client

# generate ssh key if needed
ssh-keygen -o -t rsa -b 4096 -f ~/.ssh/core

# copy public key to authorized_keys file
ssh-copy-id -i ~/.ssh/core root@server

# configure fabric to use the core ssh key
sudo vi /etc/fabric.yml

# set configuration
connect_kwargs: {"key_filename": "/home/user/.ssh/core"}

On distributed server:

# open sshd config
vi /etc/ssh/sshd_config

# change configuration for root login to without password
PermitRootLogin without-password

# restart sshd
sudo systemctl restart sshd

Fabric Config File

Make sure the value used below is the absolute path to the file generated above ~/.ssh/core"

Add/update the fabric configuration file /etc/fabric.yml:

connect_kwargs: { "key_filename": "/home/user/.ssh/core" }

Add Emulation Servers in GUI

Within the core-gui navigate to menu option:

Session -> Servers...

Within the dialog box presented, add or modify an existing server if present to use the name, address, and port for the a server you plan to use.

Server configurations are loaded and written to in a configuration file for the GUI.

Assigning Nodes

The user needs to assign nodes to emulation servers in the scenario. Making no assignment means the node will be emulated on the master server In the configuration window of every node, a drop-down box located between the Node name and the Image button will select the name of the emulation server. By default, this menu shows (none), indicating that the node will be emulated locally on the master. When entering Execute mode, the CORE GUI will deploy the node on its assigned emulation server.

Another way to assign emulation servers is to select one or more nodes using the select tool (ctrl-click to select multiple), and right-click one of the nodes and choose Assign to....

The CORE emulation servers dialog box may also be used to assign nodes to servers. The assigned server name appears in parenthesis next to the node name. To assign all nodes to one of the servers, click on the server name and then the all nodes button. Servers that have assigned nodes are shown in blue in the server list. Another option is to first select a subset of nodes, then open the CORE emulation servers box and use the selected nodes button.

IMPORTANT: Leave the nodes unassigned if they are to be run on the master server. Do not explicitly assign the nodes to the master server.

GUI Visualization

If there is a link between two nodes residing on different servers, the GUI will draw the link with a dashed line.

Concerns and Limitations

Wireless nodes, i.e. those connected to a WLAN node, can be assigned to different emulation servers and participate in the same wireless network only if an EMANE model is used for the WLAN. The basic range model does not work across multiple servers due to the Linux bridging and nftables rules that are used.


The basic range wireless model does not support distributed emulation, but EMANE does.

When nodes are linked across servers core-daemons will automatically create necessary tunnels between the nodes when executed. Care should be taken to arrange the topology such that the number of tunnels is minimized. The tunnels carry data between servers to connect nodes as specified in the topology. These tunnels are created using GRE tunneling, similar to the Tunnel Tool.

Distributed Checklist

  1. Install CORE on master server
  2. Install distributed CORE package on all servers needed
  3. Installed and configure public-key SSH access on all servers (if you want to use double-click shells or Widgets.) for both the GUI user (for terminals) and root for running CORE commands
  4. Update CORE configuration as needed
  5. Choose the servers that participate in distributed emulation.
  6. Assign nodes to desired servers, empty for master server.
  7. Press the Start button to launch the distributed emulation.