Write Documentation

We encourage every VyOS user to help us improve our documentation as we have a deficit like most software projects. This not only helps you when reading but also everyone else.

If you are willing to contribute to our documentation this is the definite guide how to do so.


In contrast to submitting code patches, there is no requirement that you open up a Phabricator task prior to submitting a Pull-Request to the documentation.

VyOS documentation is written in reStructuredText and generated to Read the Docs pages with Sphinx, as per the Python tradition, as well as PDF files for offline use through LaTeX. We welcome all sorts of contributions to the documentation. Not just new additions but also corrections to existing documentation.

The documentation source is kept in the Git repository at https://github.com/vyos/vyos-documentation and you can follow the instructions in the README.md to build and test your changes.

You can either install Sphinx (and TeX Live for PDF output) and build the documentation locally, or use the Dockerfile to build it in a container.


There are a few things to keep in mind when contributing to the documentation, for the sake of consistency and readability.

Take a look at the Write Documentation page for an intricate explanation of the documentation process.

The following is a quick summary of the rules:

  • Use American English at all times. It’s always a good idea to run your text through a grammar and spell checker, such as Grammarly.

  • Don’t forget to update index.rst when adding a new node.

  • Try not to exceed 80 characters per line, but don’t break URLs over this.

  • Properly quote commands, filenames and brief code snippets with double backticks.

  • Use literal blocks for longer snippets.

  • Leave a newline before and after a header.

  • Indent with two spaces.

  • When in doubt, follow the style of existing documentation.

And finally, remember that the reStructuredText files aren’t exclusively for generating HTML and PDF. They should be human-readable and easily perused from a console.

Forking Workflow

The Forking Workflow is fundamentally different from other popular Git workflows. Instead of using a single server-side repository to act as the “central” codebase, it gives every developer their own server-side repository. This means that each contributor has not one, but two Git repositories: a private local one and a public server-side one.

The main advantage of the Forking Workflow is that contributions can be integrated without the need for everybody to push to a single central repository. Developers push to their own server-side repositories, and only the project maintainer can push to the official repository. This allows the maintainer to accept commits from any developer without giving them write access to the official codebase.


Updates to our documentation should be delivered by a GitHub pull-request. This requires you already have a GitHub account.

  • Fork this project on GitHub https://github.com/vyos/vyos-documentation/fork

  • Clone fork to local machine, then change to that directory $ cd vyos-documentation

  • Install the requirements $ pip install -r requirements.txt (or something similar)

  • Create a new branch for your work, use a descriptive name of your work: $ git checkout -b <branch-name>

  • Make all your changes - please keep our commit rules in mind (Prepare patch/commit). This mainly applies to proper commit messages describing your change (how and why). Please check out the documentation of Sphinx-doc or reStructuredText if you are not familiar with it. This is used for writing our docs. Additional directives how to write in RST can be obtained from reStructuredTextDirectives.

  • Check your changes by locally building the documentation $ make livehtml. Sphinx will build the html files in the docs/_build folder. We provide you with a Docker container for an easy-to-use user experience. Check the README.md file of this repository.

  • View modified files by calling $ git status. You will get an overview of all files modified by you. You can add individual files to the Git Index in the next step.

  • Add modified files to Git index $ git add path/to/filename or add all unstaged files $ git add .. All files added to the Git index will be part of you following Git commit.

  • Commit your changes with the message, $ git commit -m "<commit message>" or use $ git commit -v to have your configured editor launched. You can type in a commit message. Again please make yourself comfortable without rules (Prepare patch/commit).

  • Push commits to your GitHub project: $ git push -u origin <branch-name>

  • Submit pull-request. In GitHub visit the main repository and you should see a banner suggesting to make a pull request. Fill out the form and describe what you do.

  • Once pull requests have been approved, you may want to locally update your forked repository too. First you’ll have to add a second remote called upstream which points to our main repository. $ git remote add upstream https://github.com/vyos/vyos-documentation.git

    Check your configured remote repositories:

    $ git remote -v
    origin    https://github.com/<username>/vyos-documentation.git (fetch)
    origin    https://github.com/<username>/vyos.documentation.git (push)
    upstream  https://github.com/vyos/vyos-documentation.git (fetch)
    upstream  https://github.com/vyos/vyos-documentation.git (push)

    Your remote repo on Github is called origin, while the original repo you have forked is called upstream. Now you can locally update your forked repo.

    $ git fetch upstream
    $ git checkout master
    $ git merge upstream/master
  • If you also want to update your fork on GitHub, use the following: $ git push origin master

Style Guide

Formatting and Sphinxmarkup

TOC Level

We use the following syntax for Headlines.








A plugin will be used to generate a reference label for each headline. To reference a page or a section in the documentation use the :ref: command.

For example, you want to reference the headline VLAN in the ethernet.rst page. The plugin generates the label based on the headline and the file path.


to use an alternative hyperlink use it this way:

:ref:`Check out VLAN<configuration/interfaces/ethernet:vlan>

handle build errors

The plugin will warn on build if a headline has a duplicate name in the same document. To prevent this warning, you have to put a custom link on top of the headline.

Section A

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur sadipscing elitr


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur sadipscing elitr

Section B

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur sadipscing elitr

.. _section B example:


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur sadipscing elitr

Address space

Note the following RFCs (RFC 5737, RFC 3849, RFC 5389 and RFC 7042), which describe the reserved public IP addresses and autonomous system numbers for the documentation:




  • 2001:db8::/32

  • 16bit ASN: 64496 - 64511

  • 32bit ASN: 65536 - 65551

  • Unicast MAC Addresses: 00-53-00 to 00-53-FF

  • Multicast MAC-Addresses: 90-10-00 to 90-10-FF

Please do not use other public address space.

Line length

Limit all lines to a maximum of 80 characters.

Except in .. code-block:: because it uses the html tag <pre> and renders the same line format from the source rst file.


Each GitHub pull request is automatically linted to check the address space and line length.

Sometimes it is necessary to provide real IP addresses like in the Configuration Blueprints. For this, please use the sphinx comment syntax .. stop_vyoslinter to stop the linter and .. start_vyoslinter to start.

Custom Sphinx-doc Markup

Custom commands have been developed for writing the documentation. Please make yourself comfortable with those commands as this eases the way we render the documentation.


When documenting CLI commands, use the .. cfgcmd:: directive for all configuration mode commands. An explanation of the described command should be added below this statement. Replace all variable contents with <value> or something similar.

With those custom commands, it will be possible to render them in a more descriptive way in the resulting HTML/PDF manual.

.. cfgcmd:: protocols static arp <ipaddress> hwaddr <macaddress>

   This will configure a static ARP entry, always resolving `` to

For an inline configuration level command, use :cfgcmd:

:cfgcmd:`set interface ethernet eth0`

To extract a defaultvalue from the XML definitions add a :defaultvalue: to .. cfgcmd:: directive. To have this feature locally, the vyos-1x submodule must be initialized before. Please be aware to not update the submodule in your PR.

.. cfgcmd:: set system conntrack table-size <1-50000000>

    The connection tracking table contains one entry for each connection being
    tracked by the system.

When documenting operational level commands, use the .. opcmd:: directive. An explanation of the described command should be added below this statement.

With those custom commands, it is possible to render them in a more descriptive way in the resulting HTML/PDF manual.

.. opcmd:: show protocols static arp

   Display all known ARP table entries spanning across all interfaces

For an inline operational level command, use :opcmd:

:opcmd:`add system image`

To minimize redundancy, there is a special include directive. It includes a txt file and replace the {{ var0 }} - {{ var9 }} with the correct value.

.. cmdinclude:: /_include/interface-address.txt
   :var0: ethernet
   :var1: eth1

the content of interface-address.txt looks like this

.. cfgcmd:: set interfaces {{ var0 }} <interface> address <address | dhcp |

   Configure interface `<interface>` with one or more interface

   * **address** can be specified multiple times as IPv4 and/or IPv6
   address, e.g. and/or 2001:db8::1/64
   * **dhcp** interface address is received by DHCP from a DHCP server
   on this segment.
   * **dhcpv6** interface address is received by DHCPv6 from a DHCPv6
   server on this segment.


   .. code-block:: none

      set interfaces {{ var0 }} {{ var1 }} address
      set interfaces {{ var0 }} {{ var1 }} address
      set interfaces {{ var0 }} {{ var1 }} address 2001:db8::ffff/64
      set interfaces {{ var0 }} {{ var1 }} address 2001:db8:100::ffff/64

When referencing to VyOS Phabricator Tasks, there is a custom Sphinx Markup command called vytask that automatically renders to a proper Phabricator URL. This is heavily used in the Changelog section.

* :vytask:`T1605` Fixed regression in L2TP/IPsec server
* :vytask:`T1613` Netflow/sFlow captures IPv6 traffic correctly

Page content

The documentation has 3 different types of pages. The same kind of pages must have the same structure to achieve a recognition factor.

All RST files must follow the same TOC Level syntax and have to start with


Configuration mode pages

The configuration mode folder and the articles cover the specific level of the commands. The exact level depends on the command. This should provide stability for URLs used in the forum or blogpost.

For example:

  • set firewall zone is written in firewall/zone.rst

  • set interfaces ethernet is written in interfaces/ethernet.rst

The article starts with a short introduction about the command or the technology. Please include some helpful links or background information.

An optional section follows. Some commands have requirements like compatible hardware (e.g. Wifi) or some commands you have to set before. For example, it is recommended to set a route-map before configuring BGP.

In the configuration part of the page, all possible configuration options should be documented. Use .. cfgcmd:: described above.

Related operation command must be documented in the next part of the article. Use ::opcmd.. for these commands.

If there some troubleshooting guides related to the commands. Explain it in the next optional part.

Operation mode pages

Operation mode commands that do not fit in a related configuration mode command must be documented in this part of the documentation.

General concepts for troubleshooting and detailed process descriptions belong here.

Anything else

Anything else that is not a configuration or an operation command has no predefined structure.