How to set interface description containing space in 8.x

sthaug at sthaug at
Sat Oct 22 12:38:00 UTC 2011

FreeBSD 8.x (well, at least 8.2) has the very nice feature of letting
you set an interface *description* (just like you can on any Juniper/
Cisco/whatever router). This decription can contain spaces - so I can
do for instance:

xxx# ifconfig bge1 descr "abc def"

xxx# ifconfig bge1
bge1: flags=8843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> metric 0 mtu 1500
        description: abc def
        ether 00:13:72:20:b4:6f
        media: Ethernet autoselect (1000baseT <full-duplex,flowcontrol,rxpause,txpause>)
        status: active

and we see that the decription includes a space. The question is - how
can I include a description containing one or more spaces in rc.conf?

The straighforward attempt,

ifconfig_bge1="up descr abc def"

doesn't work - "abc" and "def" are given as separate parameters to the
ifconfig command, resulting in "abc" being used and "def" regarded as
an extra parameter:

xxx# /etc/rc.d/netif start bge1
ifconfig: def: bad value

I have tried several variants,

ifconfig_bge1="up descr abc\ def"
ifconfig_bge1="up descr abc\\ def"
ifconfig_bge1="up descr 'abc def'"
ifconfig_bge1="up descr \"abc def\""
ifconfig_bge1="up descr abc_def"

but none have the desired result. Can anybody shed a light on this?

Steinar Haug, Nethelp consulting, sthaug at

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