[arm-allstar] Node connections at startup

Doug Crompton doug at crompton.com
Tue Oct 14 15:50:21 EST 2014

I notice that in spite of its low power consumption many users operate BBB nodes in an up and down fashion. That is if they only use it in the evening or some other time of the day they turn it on use it for awhile and then turn it off. The problem arises when you expect your node to come up and be ready for a connect immediately after boot. This is not always the case for a number of reasons. Here is what happens at boot.

The Linux OS boots rather fast, within 10 seconds or so. Approximately 15-30 seconds later Asterisk starts and registers your node. If the registration is successful at that point, and it usually is, the node list located at /tmp/rpt_extnodes is populated with the currently active nodes from allstarlink.org. This would include your node as it was just registered. This is the list that Allstar uses to map nodes to actual IP addresses and ports.

OK so you then try to connect to a distant node and you get a failure. Why? The reason is that the local node list only updates from allstarlink.org every 10 minutes at the request of the node. If you happened to register and download the node list just 10 seconds after the node you were trying to connect to requested an update you would have to wait 9+ minutes before that node knew about you in its next update and allowed your connection. Since these windows are different for each node the time to be able to connect to a specific node could be seconds to almost 10 minutes.

The answer is to not expect everything to just work at startup and if you can connect to one node and not another it could likely be because of this delay. Start your node and go get a cup of coffee then try to connect.

Note that this problem would probably not exist if you were just rebooting a node that has been running or if the node was unregistered for a short amount of time and it would not exist at all if you left your BBB running.

Because this question often comes up I will be including a message about this in the next BBB release.
73 Doug
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