NFD on Windows 10 WSL

The NDN Forwarding Daemon (NFD) connects every Ubuntu and Mac OS machine to the Named Data Networking (NDN) testbed network. While it's awesome to get your NFD connected from a Linux server or a Macbook, 82.56% of the desktop users running Windows are out of luck. Compiling NFD for Windows is possible, but the amount of patches needed is astonishing.

Then the good news came: Microsoft announced Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), which lets developers run Linux environments directly on Windows, unmodified, without the overhead of a virtual machine. Ubuntu is the first Linux distribution supported by WSL. This means, we can now run NFD natively on Windows!

How to Install NFD on WSL

This section outlines how to install NDN Forwarding Daemon (NFD) on Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). As of this writing, I have Windows 10 version 1709 (Fall Creators Update), and the latest NFD release is version 0.6.1.

The steps to install NFD on Windows are:

  1. Install Windows Subsystem for Linux, and download Ubuntu.

  2. Within Ubuntu environment, add ppa:named-data/ppa, and do a sudo apt update.

  3. Install NFD and NDN essential tools:

    sudo apt install libndn-cxx-dev nfd ndn-tools
  4. Compile and install infoedit, a program for editing NFD configuration files through a script:

    git clone
    cd infoedit
    sudo make install
  5. Edit NFD configuration file.

    # lower Content Store capacity
    sudo infoedit -f /etc/ndn/nfd.conf -s tables.cs_max_packets -v 2048
    # disable WebSockets
    sudo infoedit -f /etc/ndn/nfd.conf -d face_system.websocket
  6. Unlike a real Ubuntu system, there is no systemd in WSL environment. Therefore, nfd-start and nfd-stop scripts must be replaced.

    sudoedit /usr/bin/nfd-start, delete everything, and replace with the following:

    sudo pkill -x nfd
    sudo HOME=/var/lib/ndn/nfd sh -c '
        /usr/bin/nfd --config /etc/ndn/nfd.conf 2>/var/log/ndn/nfd.log &
        sleep 2;
        if [ -f /etc/ndn/ ]; then . /etc/ndn/; fi'

    sudoedit /usr/bin/nfd-stop, delete everything, and replace with the following:

    sudo pkill -x nfd
  7. Setup connection to an NDN testbed router.

    sudoedit /etc/ndn/, and paste the following:

    nfdc face create $ROUTER permanent
    nfdc route add / $ROUTER cost 200
    nfdc route add /localhop/nfd $ROUTER cost 200

    You'll need to change with the IP address or hostname of the nearest NDN router.

  8. Insert a Windows firewall rule to allow incoming NDN packets over UDP.

    Open PowerShell with administrator privilege, and execute the following command:

    New-NetFirewallRule -DisplayName "NDN-UDP" -Direction Inbound -LocalPort 6363 -Protocol UDP -Action Allow
  9. Create a certificate for your user account:

    ndnsec key-gen /$(whoami)

    Without this, you'll encounter errors in local prefix registrations.

  10. Start NFD service:


What Works and What Doesn't

The classical "local ndnping and ndnpingserver" verification works. ndnping to a testbed router works over both UDP and TCP unicast.

Ethernet faces do not work, because it relies on libpcap, and WSL does not have AF_PACKET so even tcpdump isn't working. UDP multicast does not work over WiFi, because WSL presents WiFi interfaces as "link/ieee802.11", and NFD only recognizes "link/ether". The only chance for multicast is UDP multicast on a wired interface, but my laptop does not have that. Thus, I can't type ndn-autoconfig and let it find my in-house router.