Setting up an iPerf3 Server on a Raspberry Pi
Using a Raspberry Pi as an iperf endpoint for throughput testing.
I was recently battling for server time when doing to internet-based performance testing against one of the publicly listed iperf3 servers. Unfortunately, iperf3 only supports one test at a time. This makes sense in order to provide full resources to an individual test for reliable results. In any case, I didn’t want to wait when I’m smack in the middle of some heart throbbing troubleshooting. So, I decided to set my own up from my home and let internet traffic in to use it.
Updating the Raspberry Pi
First things first, I had barely touched my RPi in a while, so I needed to update Raspbian to the most recent distro – Pixel. This was easy enough, though time consuming. The RPi package servers apparently don’t download all that quickly. It took around a couple of hours all in all. This is a straightforward guide for it. But, it essentially comes down to:
sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
The article also suggests these for some beautification and common use packages:
sudo apt-get install -y rpi-chromium-mods sudo apt-get install -y python-sense-emu python3-sense-emu sudo apt-get install -y python-sense-emu-doc realvnc-vnc-viewer
Next, let’s get to iperf3. This is pretty simple to install, as most linux packages are.
sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install iperf3 -y
Now, let’s set it to boot at system start:
sudo nano /etc/rc.local
Add this line somewhere before the exit 0.
/usr/bin/iperf3 -s &
Since this file could have been customized on your RPi already, it could look like anything so you should add it where appropriate. Mine was still default so pretty much anywhere would do except for after the exit is called. If you need to add any additional flags to your server instance, do it here.
reboot ps -A | grep iperf 561 ? 00:00:00 iperf3
If you are running behind a firewall, or ISP-provided modem. You will have to setup some NATs and security policy to address the needed iperf flows. In my case, it was inbound TCP/5201 and UDP/5201; however, you can customize these ports if needed. It would require some additional flags to be specified on the server and client to change the default port.
The only thing that may be non-standard is UDP flows coming out from the iperf server after a client initiates a UDP test. The server seems to send a separate UDP flow on some ephemeral ports. This seems similar to the behavior of active mode FTP, but the firewall doesn’t inspect and compensate for it. So, you may need to rules to allow the outbound UDP flows separately from the rest. For what it’s worth, I’m using a Palo Alto Networks firewall and it doesn’t seem to match the iperf App-ID on the initial outbound UDP flow, but it does for everything else. So, consider that if you’re having issues with your App-based rule approach.
Of course, final step is to test the thing out. So, get iperf3 on a client. This can be Windows, macOS, Linux, etc. Distros are available here for all OS types.
After that, you’ll want to run the following command to test it out using TCP. This example is on Windows.
iperf3.exe -c [your-server] Connecting to host [your-server], port 5201 [ 4] local 10.202.192.100 port 61586 connected to [your-server-ip] port 5201 [ ID] Interval Transfer Bandwidth [ 4] 0.00-1.00 sec 8.00 MBytes 67.1 Mbits/sec [ 4] 1.00-2.00 sec 8.00 MBytes 67.1 Mbits/sec [ 4] 2.00-3.00 sec 8.62 MBytes 72.4 Mbits/sec [ 4] 3.00-4.00 sec 9.12 MBytes 76.5 Mbits/sec [ 4] 4.00-5.00 sec 9.25 MBytes 77.3 Mbits/sec [ 4] 5.00-6.00 sec 9.50 MBytes 79.8 Mbits/sec [ 4] 6.00-7.00 sec 9.38 MBytes 78.5 Mbits/sec [ 4] 7.00-8.01 sec 9.50 MBytes 79.5 Mbits/sec [ 4] 8.01-9.00 sec 9.38 MBytes 79.0 Mbits/sec [ 4] 9.00-10.00 sec 9.50 MBytes 79.5 Mbits/sec - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [ ID] Interval Transfer Bandwidth [ 4] 0.00-10.00 sec 90.2 MBytes 75.7 Mbits/sec sender [ 4] 0.00-10.00 sec 90.1 MBytes 75.6 Mbits/sec receiver iperf Done.
Add a flag for UDP, and another to set target bandwidth over 1Mbps which is default in iperf3’s setup.
iperf3.exe -c [your-server] -u -b 500000000 -f m Connecting to host [your-server], port 5201 [ 4] local 10.202.192.100 port 65527 connected to [your-server-ip] port 5201 [ ID] Interval Transfer Bandwidth Total Datagrams [ 4] 0.00-1.00 sec 55.4 MBytes 464 Mbits/sec 7095 [ 4] 1.00-2.00 sec 59.9 MBytes 503 Mbits/sec 7670 [ 4] 2.00-3.00 sec 59.7 MBytes 500 Mbits/sec 7636 [ 4] 3.00-4.00 sec 59.1 MBytes 495 Mbits/sec 7567 [ 4] 4.00-5.00 sec 58.7 MBytes 495 Mbits/sec 7510 [ 4] 5.00-6.00 sec 60.7 MBytes 509 Mbits/sec 7774 [ 4] 6.00-7.00 sec 60.3 MBytes 506 Mbits/sec 7717 [ 4] 7.00-8.00 sec 58.1 MBytes 487 Mbits/sec 7436 [ 4] 8.00-9.00 sec 62.9 MBytes 527 Mbits/sec 8048 [ 4] 9.00-10.00 sec 57.0 MBytes 478 Mbits/sec 7291 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [ ID] Interval Transfer Bandwidth Jitter Lost/Total Datag rams [ 4] 0.00-10.00 sec 592 MBytes 496 Mbits/sec 2.294 ms 75210/75740 (99%) [ 4] Sent 75740 datagrams iperf Done.
I recommend checking out the iperf documentation for customization options. Additionally, it shouldn’t be too hard to cater this any other Linux distro. Just tweak the package installation and startup config as needed per your distro flavor.
Check out open issues on the Github project or do some google-fu if you run into any problems. Also, make sure your network/security is configured to supported the needed flows.
I ran into one problem with UDP testing that came down to having multiple NICs available on the pi. In my case, it was the eth0 and wlan0 interfaces. I originally had requests coming into the wlan0 interface (whoops) and the outgoing UDP flow would go out of eth0 interface. This seemed to break the test in its own right, but would also have implications on firewall policy and NAT configurations if you’re behind a firewall.
I flipped my setup to direct requests to the eth0 IP address, and the issue didn’t present itself again. So, there must be some built in NIC preferences that were messing with things. I did add some info to an existing bug addressing this on the iperf github project, so hopefully it will get resolved at something.