Tools to explore BGP
7 min read
Tools to explore BGP
Yesterday there was a big Facebook outage caused by BGP. I've been vaguely interested in learning more about BGP for a long time, so I was reading a couple of articles.

I got frustrated because none of the articles showed me how I could actually look up information related to BGP on my computer, so I wrote a tweet asking for tools.

I got a bunch of useful replies as always, so this blog post shows some tools you can use to look up BGP information. There might be an above average number of things wrong in this post because I don't understand BGP that well.

I can't publish BGP routes

One of the reasons I've never learned anything about BGP is – as far as I know, I don't have access to publish BGP routes on the internet.

With most networking protocols, you can pretty trivially get access to implement the protocol yourself if you want. For example you can:

issue your own TLS certificates

write your own HTTP server

write your own TCP implementation

write your own authoritative DNS server for your domain (I'm trying to do that right now for a small project)

set up your own certificate authority

But with BGP, I think that unless you own your own ASN, you can't publish routes yourself! (you could implement BGP on your home network, but that feels a bit boring to me, when I experiment with things I like them to actually be on the real internet).

Because of this, I feel like learning about BGP isn't that useful for most people. I've never been in a situation where I needed to understand anything about BGP and I don't know if I ever will be.

Anyway, now that I've made a case for why you don't need to know about BGP, I still think it's super interesting because I love networking, so I'm going to show you some tools I found to learn about BGP :)

First let's talk through some BGP terminology though. I'm going to go pretty fast because I'm more interested in the tools and there are a lot of high level explanations of BGP out there (like this cloudflare post).

Julia Evans
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