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OSPF neighbors are stuck in exstart and exchange state due to MTU mismatch


Core Issue

When Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) is enabled on a router or when a router configured for OSPF is powered up, OSPF neighbors are not known and the OSPF state is said to be init. The router then discovers other OSPF speaking routers and synchronizes its database with them. In this process, the status of the OSPF relationship between OSPF neighbors transitions through several states, ultimately changing to full state. However, at times the status of the OSPF relationship does not transition to full state and may get stuck in exstart and exchange state.


The most common reason for this problem is a mismatch in the Maximum Transmission Unit (MTU) settings. When attempting to run OSPF between a Cisco router and another vendor's router, if the default interface MTUs do not match, the router with the higher MTU sends a packet larger than the MTU set on the neighboring router. This results in the neighboring router ignoring the packet. The solution is to change the MTU on one router to match the neighbor's MTU. 

To set the MTU size of IP packets sent on an interface, issue the ip mtu command in interface configuration mode.

In some instances, disabling MTU mismatch detection may be necessary. To disable OSPF MTU mismatch detection on receiving Database Descriptor (DBD) packets, issue the ip ospf mtu-ignore command in interface configuration mode.

For more information on why OSPF neighbors get stuck in the exstart and exchange state, refer to Why Are OSPF Neighbors Stuck in Exstart/Exchange State?.