First Cisco device upgrade

17 04 2012

So, read about it plenty of times but never actually done it – until today. Have to say, it’s a hair raising few moments waiting for the device to start booting from the new image but very satisfying when it does. These are the steps I took – no warranty implied, do it at your own risk.

1. Install TFTPD32 on computer, verify upload of file from a Cisco device with known good connectivity

2. Upload the .bin file from the device where the OS is to be upgraded to the TFTP server. This is to ensure that there is a fall-back plan if the new image doesn’t work. It was not possible in this case to store both images at the same time on the switch.

3. Upload the image from the switch with the desired OS version to the TFTP server

4. Delete the old image from the switch to be upgraded.

5. Download the desired image from TFTP to the flash of the to-be-upgraded device

6. Configure the switch to boot from the new image:
Switch(config)#boot system switch all flash:/c3750-imgname.bin
Switch#copy run start

7. Verify the boot variable:
Switch#Show boot

8. Clench, and reload the switch ūüėČ

Boson Network Simulator software

27 08 2010

I got a nobbled version of this with a book I’d bought. I installed the software and had a look, but the instructional videos that came alongside didn’t work properly – I can’t remember the exact issues, but I do remember it being troublesome. It also allowed you to do only one example configuration once installed, so was quite restricted, as I guess it was supposed to be.

I thought I’d buy the full version from the Boson web site to see if this corrected the issues. This was around ¬£66.. It didn’t correct the issues, but I didn’t do a fresh install, which may have. I wanted to get my hands dirty as soon as possible ; )

I found this quite a useful product for supplementing my learning for the CCENT. You drag and drop routers and / or switches on to the work area and create links between them in the Designer element, and then load them in to the simulator to configure them.

Saving the architecture of each network allows you to load the original configuration again and again, so you can practise configuring the network in different ways, for instance with different routing protocols.

I did find the process of designing the network in one application and then loading it in to another a little confusing and perhaps unecessary – I’m sure it could have been more slick. But it’s OK once you get used to it.

Once the network is designed and loaded in to the simulator, it’s time to configure the devices. This works very well, and contributed well to my gaining experience of the Cisco IOS in the first few months of my study.

A particularly good aspect of this, and simulators in general, is that they allow you to play with configurations without any risk of bringing down a production network. If you break a particular configuration, load the network again, and start again.

The downsides to this are that the command set is restricted to only those commands found on the CCENT syllabus. So no interface-range command, which was frustrating as it was mentioned on the Train Signal CBT and I wanted to check it out.

I guess this is fair, as there has to be something to differentiate the product from the CCNA and CCNP versions, which are more expensive, but it was a frustration all the same. As with the CBT videos, I’d recommend buying at least the CCNA version of the simulator to avoid this. If budgets are tight, however, then this will go a long way to helping gain the practical experience needed for the exam.

It also takes a fair amount of time to set each network up, but so does real kit. The only thing you miss is the physical elements – racking the kit (may not happen in a home network anyway), and physically cabling it – which end of the DCT/DTE cable goes in which router? Should I use a cross-over or straight-through for this link? What happens when I cable it incorrectly? These elements are hidden when working with simulators.

Overall, this is a great tool if realworld Cisco gear is not possible for any reason, or to supplement real gear for when you’re away from the kit (and have it loaded on your computer). Even though the CCENT is the entry level Cisco exam, you *MUST* have experience of using the IOS – books simply do not provide this.

One last point – this applies to real kit too – it’s a good idea to have some planned configurations in mind before starting. For instance: set up¬†two linked routers with a few¬†networks on either side, and implement and test static routing. Then remove the static routes, and set up RIP, etc etc.This keeps a focus and structure, and ensures efficient use of study time.


Hands-on: 4/5

Theory: 2/5

Keep my attention: 3/5

TOTAL: 3/5

Train Signal Computer Based Training (CBT)

27 08 2010

The Train Signal CCNA CBT videos were the main source of my training for the CCENT. These were purchased for around £250. They are split conveniently in to ICND1 and ICND2 subjects, and my strategy with these was to watch each all the way through several times on my computer, and then to listen to them whenever I had the chance.

CBT in general is a great format for learning. It combines lots of theory, with examples of switch / router configurations being changed as they are being described. You get the benefit of experiencing the look and feel of a Cisco device that books just can’t give you. Just as importantly though, you get the benefit of real world hints and tips from the presenters that go above and beyond the exact exam requirements.

The immortal words “Hi, I’m Chris Bryant, CCIE number 12933” that start each video will stay with me forever – I can honestly say I listened to each of them at least 20 times during my 6 months of study for the exam. Chris’s obvious enthusiasm for his subject is infectious, and his explanations are incredibly clear.

The videos¬†keep the content concise around each subject, so it is easy to find the relevant video if you want to brush up on static routing, for instance. [ASIDE: This isn’t the case so much for the ICND2 portion of the course – the videos are much longer, so it is harder to find, for instance, info on VTP – but that’s another post.]

The one negative I can think of is the relative lack of subnetting examples – I could really have done with¬†a few more of these, and had to use other resources to supplement the information. Having said that, the techniques explained on these videos are great – they don’t rely on any tricks or memorisation of tables, as some other resources do. This helps ensure that the info is retained, rather than memorised for the exam and then forgotten.

Can’t recommend this product highly enough as a study tool for this exam.


Hands-on: 3/5

Theory: 5/5

Keep my attention: 4/5

TOTAL: 4/5

CCENT Training

27 08 2010

Thought I’d write about my study techniques for the Cisco CCENT which I recently passed.

My other certifications consist of the A+, which I studied for purely with a book and experience (Sybex), and the MCSA, which I went on a bootcamp for (that was hardcore..)

For my CCENT, I started off with a book [title / publisher to come]. This included the usual practise exams on CD, and also the Boson network simulator. Within a few minutes of trying that (it was a heavily nobbled version), I purchased the full version from the Boson web site.

Shortly after, I purchased the Train Signal CCNA Computer Based Training package – this is by Chris Bryant, and is split up in to the ICND1 and ICND2 parts. I concentrated heavily on the ICND1 videos, supplemented by some of the ICND2 videos where I thought they’d help.

After several months of listening (I put the videos on my mobile, and mostly listened to them whilst walking to work), I convinced my boss to free some budget for purchasing some Cisco hardware.

For this I researched online, and found the best switch and router models to work on when studying for the CCNA. I had found by this point that the CCENT version of the Boson simulator was pretty restricted, only supporting commands on the CCENT syllabus. It’s probably false economy to buy just the CCENT version – I’d recommend at least the CCNA version.

The day before my exam, I purchased Chris Bryants Ultimate CCNA Study package. This basically contains the content of the TrainSignal videos that I’d already bought, but there are lots of practise subnetting questions – these are worth the money alone.

So that’s all of my study sources – I’ll now make new posts for each source with a review and usefulness rating.