How-To Alpine Wall

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(Last edited by Mhavela on 12 Oct 2012.)


Purpose of this doc is to illustrate Alpine Wall (AWall) by examples.
We will explain AWall from the viewpoint of a Shorewall user.

AWall is available since Alpine v2.4.
Please see Alpine_Wall_User's_Guide for details about the syntax.


Your AWall firewall configuration file(s) goes to /usr/share/awall/optional.
You may have multiple configuration files (it is useful to have separate files for eg. HTTP,FTP and other roles).
Each such file is called Policy.
The Policy(s) can be enabled or disabled by using the "awall [enable|disable]" command.

Note: AWalls Policy files are not equivalent to Shorewalls /etc/shorewall/policy file.

An AWall Policy can contain definitions of:

  • variables (like /etc/shorewall/params)
  • zones (like /etc/shorewall/zones)
  • interfaces (like /etc/shorewall/interfaces)
  • policies (like /etc/shorewall/policy)
  • filters and NAT rules (like /etc/shorewall/rules)
  • services (like /usr/share/shorewall/macro.HTTP)


After installing awall package, you need to load the following iptables modules:

modprobe ip_tables modprobe iptable_nat #if NAT is used

This is needed only the first time, after AWall installation.

Make the firewall autostart at boot and autoload the needed modules:

rc-update add iptables

A Basic Home Firewall

We will give a example on how you can convert a "Basic home firewall" from Shorewall to AWall.

Example firewall using Shorewall

Let's suppose you have the following Shorewall configuration:


inet  ipv4
loc   ipv4


inet  eth0
loc   eth1


fw   all  ACCEPT
loc  inet ACCEPT
all  all  DROP



Example firewall using AWall

Now we will configure AWall to do the same thing as we just did with the above Shorewall example.

Create a new file called /usr/share/awall/optional/test-policy.json and add the following content to the file.

Tip: You could call it something else as long as you save it in /usr/share/awall/optional/ and name it ???.json)
  "description": "Home firewall"

  "zone": {
    "inet": { "iface": "eth0" },
    "loc": { "iface": "eth1" }

  "policy": [
    { "in": "_fw", "action": "accept" },
    { "in": "loc", "out": "inet", "action": "accept" }

  "snat": [
    { "out": "inet", "action": "masquerade" }

The above configuration will:

  • Create a description of your Policy
  • Define zones
  • Define policy
  • Define snat (to masqurade the outgoing traffic)
Note: snat means "source NAT". It does not mean "static NAT".
Tip: AWall has a built-in zone named "_fw" which is the "firewall itself". This corresponds to the Shorewall "fw" zone.
Underconstruction clock icon gray.svg
Todo: There is something wrong with awall/iptables/other, when using the snat section (due to the "masquerade").
This needs some research and/or modify this wiki doc.

Activating/Applying a Policy

After saving the Policy you can run the following commands to activate your firewall settings:

awall list # Listing available 'Policy(s)' (This step is optional) awall enable test-policy # Enables the 'Policy' awall activate # Genereates firewall configuration from the 'Policy' files and enables it (starts the firewall)

If you have multiple policies, after enabling or disabling them, you need to always run awall activate in order to update the iptables rules.

Advanced Firewall settings

Assuming you have your /usr/share/awall/optional/test-policy.json with your "Basic home firewall" settings, you could choose to modify that file to test the below examples.

Tip: You could create new files in /usr/share/awall/optional/ for testing some of the below examples


AWall will (since v0.2.7) automatically log dropped packets.
You could add the following row to the "policy" section in your Policy file in order to see the dropped packets.

{ "in": "inet", "out": "loc", "action": "drop" }
Note: If you are using Alpine 2.4 repository (AWall v0.2.5 or below), you should use "action": "logdrop" in order to log dropped packets .
Note: If you are adding the above content to an already existing file, then make sure you add "," signs where they are needed!


Let's suppose you have a local web server ( that you want to make accessible from the "inet".
With Shorewall you would have a rule like this in your /etc/shorewall/rules:

#                                          PORT(S) PORT(S)   DEST
DNAT     inet     loc:  tcp    80

Lets configure our AWall Policy file likewise by adding the following content.

  "variable": {
    "APACHE": "",
    "STATIC_IP": ""

  "filter": [
    { "in": "inet", 
      "dest": "$STATIC_IP", 
      "service": "http", 
      "action": "accept", 
      "dnat": "$APACHE" 

As you can see in the above example, we create a

  • "variable" section where we specify some IP-addresses
  • "filter" section where we do the actual port-forwarding (using the variables we just created and using some preexisting "services" definitions)
Note: If you are adding the above content to a already existing file, then make sure you add "," signs where they are needed!
Tip: AWall already has a "service" definition list for several services like HTTP, FTP, SNMP, etc. (see /usr/share/awall/mandatory/services.json)

Create your own service definitions

You can add your own service definitions into your Policy files:

"service": {  
  "openvpn": { "proto": "udp", "port": 1194 }
Note: You can not override a "service" definition that comes from /usr/share/awall/mandatory/services.json
Note: If you are adding the above content to a already existing file, then make sure you add "," signs where they are needed!

Inherit services or variables

You can import a Policy into other Policy files for inheriting services or variables definitions:

"import": "myfirewall"

Specify load order

By default policies are loaded on alphabetical order.
You can change the load order with the keywords "before" and "after":

"before": "myfirewall"
"after": "someotherpolicy"


Permanently save config

If you are running from read-only medium (from CD, USB or CF) you will need to make sure your Policy files gets permanently saved until next reboot.

lbu inc /usr/share/awall/optional/ # This tells lbu to include that path when creating a new apkovl lbu ci # This creates the new apkovl

Help and debugging

If you end up in some kind of trouble, you might find some commands useful when debugging:

awall # (With no parameters) Shows some basic help about awall application iptables -L -n # Show what's in iptables