A bridge is a layer 2 network device. On physical bridges we only have an IP address for operation and maintenance. I'm a little bit confused why we need in KVM an IP address for the bridge. I understand that the VM's interface get's an IP address and that the physical interface attached to the bridge has no IP address. This ensures that the VM's Ip address is visible to the outside. In an server environment, I would only use static IP addressing for the VM's.

Let's assume, I use static IP addressing for the VM's, than why do I need an IP address on the bridge?

3 Answers 3


You do not need to have an IP configured for a bridge, the same way you do not need to have an IP configured for an ethernet device, on any machine (be it host/guest or whatever).

However, if you have a device/bridge that has no IP address, you cannot expect it to be usable by the party that has it not properly configured (be it host or guest).

So for example, if I have a KVM host with a bridge called "br_vm" which I assign to all KVM guests as their only interface (the guests will most likely call it "eth0"), and if br_vm is not configured at the host, you cannot expect the guests to be able to talk to the host through their eth0 interface.

You ask why you need an IP for a bridge and the answer is you don't. However, if you want to know in which scenarios you would wish to have an IP for the bridge at the host, I can think of a few:

  1. You want your VMs to communicate to the host, even if for DHCP or DNS only;
  2. You may want to disable VM-to-VM traffic. If you share that bridge with many VMs, that is something worth considering;
  3. You may want to have a firewall at the host-level in addition to any firewalling you may have set-up for your VMs. Concentrating all firewall rules on the host can be wise if the policies, zones, etc for all your VMs are about the same. It is easier if all rules, IP addresses, policies, etc are kept in one place (although I would set-up basic firewall on each VM just in case);

And, by the way, you can have dynamic IP addressing on your guest VMs, that has nothing to do with whether or not the host has an IP on the bridge (unless, of course, the host is the DHCP server for the network).


This is more of a quirk in documentation I find. I'm assuming your host uses the /etc/network/interfaces file for network configuration.

If, in the bridge interface (br0 for this example) stanza, you specify an address of you get exactly what you're looking for: VM's attached to the bridge are still connected to the network, and retain their own IPs.

However, you then lose the host's "port" on that bridge. If (in the interfaces file) you specify an IP address, that effectively becomes your host's IP on that bridge, just the same as a management interface on a traditional switch.

Remember that a bridge is just like a standalone switch, but the host is still "managing" it, so adding an IP simply adds an addressed management interface (if that makes sense)

If, like me, your host has two NICs: one for VMs and one for itself, you can put an address of on the "VM bridge" and rely on the other physical NIC for management to get a similar setup.

If that's not what you're asking, let me know and I will edit to suit.


You do not need to assign an IP to a Linux bridge.

Here is an example of what it looks like in /etc/network/interfaces. br0 is the bridge, which is connected to the eth0 interface:

auto br0
iface br0 inet manual
    bridge_ports eth0
  • I have three NIC's in my host, one of them is a bridge for a DMZ network. I really don't need an IP for that DMZ bridge interface. Is it correct to conclude it's also more safe not to have an IP assigned in the sense that the VM guests, e.g. web-servers, must not be able to reach the host? In other words is a bridge interface without IP completly "dead" / "dumb"?
    – MrCalvin
    May 2, 2020 at 11:10

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