0. The Nodogsplash project

Nodogsplash offers a simple way to provide restricted access to an internet
connection. It is derived from the codebase of the Wifi Guard Dog project.
Nodogsplash is released under the GNU General Public License.

The following describes what Nodogsplash does, how to get it and run it, and
how to customize its behavior for your application.

1. Overview

Nodogsplash offers a solution to this problem: You want to provide controlled
and reasonably secure public access to an internet connection; and while you
want to require users to give some acknowledgment of the service you are
providing, you don't need or want the complexity of user account names and
passwords and maintaining a separate database-backed authentication server.
When installed and running, Nodogsplash implements a simple 'authentication'
protocol. First, it detects any user attempting to use your internet connection
to request a web page. It captures the request, and instead serves back a
'splash' web page using its own builtin web server. The splash page contains a
link which, when the user clicks on it, opens limited access for them to the
internet via your connection, beginning by being redirected to their originally
requested page. This access expires after a certain time interval.
Nodogsplash also permits limiting the aggregate bandwidth provided to users, if
you don't want to grant all of your available upload or download bandwidth.
Specific features of Nodogsplash are configurable, by editing the configuration
file and the splash page. The default installed configuration may be all you
need, though.

2. Installing and running nodogsplash

  • Have a router working with OpenWrt. Nodogsplash has been compiled against a
    OpenWrt Attitude Adjustment buildroot; it may or may not work on other versions
    of OpenWrt or on other kinds of Linux-based router firmware. For notes on
    using Nodogsplash with OpenWrt Kamikaze, see below.
  • Make sure your router is basically working before you try to install
    nodogsplash. In particular, make sure your DHCP daemon is serving addresses
    on the interface that nodogsplash will manage (typically br-lan or eth1), and
    for the following use ssh or telnet access to your router over a different
  • To install nodogsplash, obtain the nodogsplash*.ipk package you want to
    install from the project website, copy it to /tmp/ on your OpenWrt router,
    and, in as root on the router, run:

    ipkg install /tmp/nodogsplash*.ipk

    (Note: to prevent installation of an older package, you may have to remove
    references to remote package repositories in your ipkg.conf file)

  • If the interface that you want nodogsplash to manage is not br-lan,
    edit /etc/nodogsplash/nodogsplash.conf and set GatewayInterface.
  • To start nodogsplash, run the following, or just reboot the router:

    /etc/init.d/nodogsplash start

  • To test the installation, connect a client machine to the interface on your
    router that is managed by nodogsplash (for example, connect to the router's
    wireless lan) and in a browser on that machine, attempt to visit any website.
    You should see the nodogsplash splash page instead. Click on the icon; the
    browser should redirect to the initially requested website.

  • To stop nodogsplash:

    /etc/init.d/nodogsplash stop

  • To uninstall nodogsplash:

    ipkg remove nodogsplash

3. How nodogsplash works

A wireless router running OpenWrt has two or more interfaces; nodogsplash
manages one of them. This will typically be br-lan, the bridge to both the
wireless and wired LAN; or the wireless lan interface may be named something
else if you have broken the br-lan bridge to separate the wired and wireless

3.1 Packet filtering

Nodogsplash considers four kinds of packets coming into the router over the
managed interface. Each packet is one of these kinds:

  1. Blocked, if the MAC mechanism is block, and the source MAC address of the
    packet matches one listed in the BlockedMACList; or if the MAC mechanism
    is allow, and source MAC address of the packet does not match one listed
    in the AllowedMACList or the TrustedMACList. These packets are dropped.
  2. Trusted, if the source MAC address of the packet matches one listed in the
    TrustedMACList. By default, these packets are accepted and routed to all
    destination addresses and ports. If desired, this behavior can be
    customized by FirewallRuleSet trusted-users and FirewallRuleSet trusted-
    users-to-router lists in the nodogsplash.conf configuration file, or by
    the EmptyRuleSetPolicy trusted-users EmptyRuleSetPolicy trusted-users-to-
    router directives.
  3. Authenticated, if the packet's IP and MAC source addresses have gone
    through the nodogsplash authentication process and has not yet expired.
    These packets are accepted and routed to a limited set of addresses and
    ports (see FirewallRuleSet authenticated-users and FirewallRuleSet users-
    to-router in the nodogsplash.conf configuration file).
  4. Preauthenticated. Any other packet. These packets are accepted and routed
    to a limited set of addresses and ports (see FirewallRuleSet
    preauthenticated-users and FirewallRuleSet users-to-router in the
    nodogsplash.conf configuration file). Any other packet is dropped, except
    that a packet for destination port 80 at any address is redirected to port
    2050 on the router, where nodogsplash's builtin libhttpd-based web server
    is listening. This begins the 'authentication' process. The server will
    serve a splash page back to the source IP address of the packet. The user
    clicking the appropriate link on the splash page will complete the
    process, causing future packets from this IP/MAC address to be marked as
    Authenticated until the inactive or forced timeout is reached, and its
    packets revert to being Preauthenticated.

Nodogsplash implements these actions by inserting rules in the router's
iptables mangle PREROUTING chain to mark packets, and by inserting rules in the
nat PREROUTING, filter INPUT and filter FORWARD chains which match on those
marks. Because it inserts its rules at the beginning of existing chains,
nodogsplash should be insensitive to most typical existing firewall

3.2 Traffic control

Nodogsplash also optionally implements basic traffic control on its managed
interface. This feature lets you specify the maximum aggregate upload and
download bandwidth that can be taken by clients connected on that interface.
Nodogsplash implements this functionality by enabling two intermediate queue
devices (IMQ's), one for upload and one for download, and attaching simple
rate-limited HTB qdiscs to them. Rules are inserted in the router's iptables
mangle PREROUTING and POSTROUTING tables to jump to these IMQ's. The result is
simple but effective tail-drop rate limiting (no packet classification or
fairness queueing is done).

4. Customizing nodogsplash

The default shipped configuration is intended to be usable and reasonably
secure as-is for basic internet sharing applications, but it is customizable.

  • To change basic nodogsplash settings, edit the configuration file:


In the configuration file, a FirewallRule has the form:

FirewallRule permission [protocol [port portrange] [to ip]


  • permission is required and must be allow, block, drop, log, or ulog.
  • protocol is optional. If present, it must be tcp, udp, icmp, or all.
    Defaults to all.
  • port portrange is optional. If present, protocol must be tcp or udp.
    portrange can be a single integer port number, or a colon-separated port
    range, e.g. 1024:1028. Defaults to all ports.
  • to ip is optional. If present, ip must be a decimal dotted-quad IP address
    with optional mask. Defaults to, i.e. all addresses.

  • To change the contents of the splash page, edit the splash page file:


When the splash page is served, the following variables in the page are
replaced by their values:

  • $gatewayname The value of GatewayName as set in nodogsplash.conf.
  • $authtarget A URL which encodes a unique token and the URL of the user's
    original web request. If nodogsplash receives a request at this URL, it
    completes the authentication process for the client and replies to the
    request with a "302 Found" to the encoded originally requested
    URL. (Alternatively, you can use a GET-method HTML form to send this
    information to the nodogsplash server; see below.) As a simple example:

    <a href="$authtarget">Enter</a>

  • $imagesdir The directory in nodogsplash's web hierarchy where images to be
    displayed in the splash page must be located.

  • $tok,$redir,$authaction, and $denyaction are also available and can be
    useful if you want to write the splash page to use a GET-method HTML form
    instead of using $authtarget as the value of an href attribute to
    communicate with the nodogsplash server. As a simple example:
<form method='GET' action='$authaction'>
  <input type='hidden' name='tok' value='$tok'>
  <input type='hidden' name='redir' value='$redir'>
  <input type='submit' value='Click Here to Enter'>
  • $clientip, $clientmac and $gatewaymac The respective addresses
    of the client or gateway. This might be usefull in cases where the data
    needs to be forwarded to some other place by the plash page itself.

  • $nclients and $maxclients User stats. Usefull when you need to
    display something like "n of m users online" on the splash site.

  • $uptime The time Nodogsplash is running.

  • To change the appearance of informational and error pages which may
    occasionally be served by nodogsplash, edit the infoskel file:


In this file, variables $gatewayname, $version, $title, and $content will be
replaced by their values. $title is a summary of the information or kind of
error; $content is the content of the information or error message.

5. Authentication

5.1 Site-wide username and password

Nodogsplash can be configured to require a username and/or password to be
entered on the splash page as part of the authentication process. Since the
username and password are site-wide (not per user), and they are sent in the
clear using HTTP GET, this is not a secure mechanism.
To enable this, edit nodogsplash.conf to set parameters PasswordAuthentication,
UsernameAuthentication, Password, Username, and PasswordAttempts as desired.
Then the splash page must use a GET-method HTML form to send user-entered
username and/or password as values of variables nodoguser and nodogpass
respectively, along with others as required, to the server. For example:

  <form method='GET' action='$authaction'>
  <input type='hidden' name='tok' value='$tok'>
  <input type='hidden' name='redir' value='$redir'>
  username: <input type='text' name='nodoguser' value='' size='12' maxlength='12'>
  password: <input type='password' name='nodogpass' value='' size='12' maxlength='10'>
  <input type='submit' value='Enter'>

5.2 Forwarding authentication

Nodogsplash allows to call an external program for authentication using
the options BinVoucher/EnablePreAuth/ForceVoucher in nodogsplash.conf.
The given program for BinVoucher will be called using the clients MAC address as argument.
The output is expected to be the number of seconds the client is to be authenticated.
It may also contain the clients download and upload speed limit in KBits/s.
See the example configuration file for further details.

6. Using ndsctl

A nodogsplash install includes ndsctl, a separate application which provides
some control over a running nodogsplash process by communicating with it over a
unix socket. Some command line options:

  • To print to stdout some information about your nodogsplash process:

    /usr/bin/ndsctl status

  • To block a MAC address, when the MAC mechanism is block:

    /usr/bin/ndsctl block MAC

  • To unblock a MAC address, when the MAC mechanism is block:

    /usr/bin/ndsctl unblock MAC

  • To allow a MAC address, when the MAC mechanism is allow:

    /usr/bin/ndsctl allow MAC

  • To unallow a MAC address, when the MAC mechanism is allow:

    /usr/bin/ndsctl unallow MAC

  • To deauthenticate a currently authenticated user given their IP or MAC

    /usr/bin/ndsctl deauth IP|MAC

  • To set the verbosity of logged messages to n:

    /usr/bin/ndsctl loglevel n

For more options, run ndsctl -h. (Note that if you want the effect of ndsctl
commands to to persist across nodogsplash restarts, you have to edit the
configuration file.)

7. Debugging nodogsplash

  • To see maximally verbose debugging output from nodogsplash, edit the
    /etc/init.d/nodogsplash file to set the OPTIONS variable to the flags "-s -d 7",
    restart or reboot, and view messages with logread. The -s flag logs to
    syslog; the -d 7 flag sets level 7, LOG_DEBUG, for debugging messages
    (see syslog.h). You don't want to run with these flags routinely, as it will
    quickly fill the syslog circular buffer, unless you enable remote logging. A
    lower level of logging, for example level 5, LOG_NOTICE, is more appropriate
    for routine use (this is the default). Logging level can also be set using
    ndsctl as shown above.
    Alternatively, you can set the flag -f instead of -s, and restart.
    This will run nodogsplash in the foreground, logging to stdout.
  • When stopped, nodogsplash deletes its iptables rules, attempting to leave the
    router's firewall in its original state. If not (for example, if nodogsplash
    crashes instead of exiting cleanly) subsequently starting and stopping
    nodogsplash should remove its rules.
  • Nodogsplash operates by marking packets (and, if traffic control is enabled,
    passing packets through intermediate queueing devices). Most QOS packages
    will also mark packets and use IMQ's. Therefore one or both of Nodogsplash and
    a QOS package may malfunction if used together. Potential conflicts may be
    investigated by looking at your overall iptables setup. To check to see all
    the rules in, for example, the mangle table chains, run

    iptables -t mangle -v -n -L

    For extensive suggestions on debugging iptables, see for example Oskar

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