My Goals for 2013: CCNP and RHCE?

I’ve been thinking about renewing my RHCE for quite sometime now, and completing my CCNP but I haven’t really got around to it, mainly due to the price of the exam being a little pricey (if I remember correctly!), but also due to not having enough time.

So for this year, I wanted to set a deadline for myself to complete them. With a deadline, it is easier to visualize and plan what to study and when, and allows you see your progress better.

So, my goal is to complete CCNP ideally by the end of May, or by the end of June at the latest. I think it should be possible! There are three parts to the CCNP: ROUTE, SWITCH, and TSHOOT. If I complete one per-month, it should be achievable!

Like most people, I am using the Cisco CCNP Routing and Switching Official Certification Library books as my study material, and highly recommend them.

On that note, I have added a “Home Lab” page where you can see pretty pictures of my rack, and my “CCNP Lab”. It’s nothing close to something as awesome as Scott Morris’ Lab, but it’s coming along! 😉

I have read that RedHat will be releasing RHEL7 in the second half of this year, so it is a perfect opportunity to renew my RHCE! My goal end date will depend on when RHEL7 will be released, and when the test centers are actually testing under RHEL7.

Hopefully this will be earlier into the second half of the year, so I have plenty of time to take the exam before the end of December!

Both CCNP and RHCE are great certifications, which are very highly regarded by employers and professionals.

A lot of people seem to think they don’t go well together, as RHCE is better for System Administrators and CCNP is more for Network Administrators, but I totally disagree since I feel that the lines between sysadmins and netadmins is very quickly disappearing thanks to virtualization and “cloud” technologies.

Moving Back to London and Virgin Media

Two weeks ago, I moved back to London.

At my place in Cambridge, I had a 100mbit connection from Virgin Media, which I wanted to cancel as my parents already have a connection from Virgin Media so there wasn’t any need for me to move mine along with me!

So I called up VM, and they informed me that as I was still in contract, I would have to pay some ridiculous amount to cancel the contract (I think it may have been £280).

Alternatively, the other option was one which I was not aware of!

Usually, Virgin Media do not allow people to have two connections from them under a single address, BUT, in cases such as mine, they allow it!

So, instead of paying £280 or whatever it was, I decided it’d work out much cheaper if I just move my connection with me. It’d be nice to have anyway! 🙂

Today, the Virgin Media guys arrived at my house. Their first reaction was shock at seeing my server rack, but they were pretty nice guys. I did have to explain what I use all this equipment for, and had to explain how terrible the SuperHub actually is! 🙂

They didn’t really have to do much, they just really had to add a splitter and give me two new coax cables going from the splitter to the two modems. They did mention their frustration at VirginMedia about having to do installations for the more technical people when those technical people could really just do it themselves, and I totally agree! 😀

For some reason, they had to switch out my old SuperHub, and gave me a new one which has a matt-finish instead of the glossy look my old one had. I’m not sure if there is any other difference other than that, not that I care, I enabled modem mode ASAP so I don’t have to deal with this terrible device too much. 🙂

I was a little worried that I might not get the full bandwidth on both connections, but it looks like I am!

Next steps are to figure out how to do load-balancing on my Cisco 2821 ISR.

Virgin Media Cable Wall Outlet Two way splitter VirginMedia SuperHub and other goodies

Apache Traffic Server Basic Configuration on RHEL6/CentOS 6

In this guide, I will explain how to get setup Apache Traffic Server with a very very basic configuration.

I will be using RHEL6/CentOS 6, but actually creating the configuration files for Traffic Server is exactly the same on all distributions.

As a pre-requisite for setting up Traffic Server, you must know a little about the HTTP protocol, and what a reverse proxy’s job actually is.

What is Apache Traffic Server?

I don’t really want to go into too much detail into this as there are many sites which explain this better than I ever could, but in short, Traffic Server is a caching proxy created by Yahoo! and donated to the Apache Foundation.

Installation

Apache Traffic Server is available from the EPEL repository, and this is the version I will be using.

Firstly, you must add the EPEL repositories if you haven’t already:
rpm -ivh http://mirror.us.leaseweb.net/epel/6/i386/epel-release-6-7.noarch.rpm
Next, we can just use yum to install Traffic Server:
yum install trafficserver
While we are at it, we might as well set Traffic Server to start at boot:
chkconfig trafficserver on

Configuration

In this tutorial, I will only configure Apache Traffic Server to forward all requests to a single webserver.

For this, we really really only need to edit two files:

  • /etc/trafficserver/records.config
    This is the main configuration file which stores all the “global” configuration options.
  • /etc/trafficserver/remap.config
    This contains mapping rules for which real web server ATS should forward requests to.

Firstly, edit records.conf.

I didn’t really have to change much initially for a basic configuration.

The lines I changed were these:
CONFIG proxy.config.proxy_name STRING xantara.web.g3nius.net
CONFIG proxy.config.url_remap.pristine_host_hdr INT 1

Next we can edit remap.config.

Add the following line to the bottom:
regex_map http://(.*)/ http://webservers.hostname:80/
This should match everything and forward it to your web server.

Start traffic server:
service trafficserver start
And that’s it! It should now just work! 🙂

Cisco Unified IP Phone 7912G – SIP to SCCP

As stated in my last post, I received my CCNP Lab Kit in the post last week.

In my excitement, I decided to switch my IP Phones from the SCCP firmware (which was the software originally on the phones) to the SIP firmware so that I could connect to VoIPTalk.

Now that the excitement has died down a little, I wanted to switch back to SCCP as, from what I can tell, it provides more features than SIP.

As I’m not too familiar with Cisco IP Phones, I started Googling for instructions on how to switch back, but I couldn’t really find any instructions on how to do so.

In the end I tried the same way I had originally upgraded to the SIP firmware. I edited my gkdefault.txt which originally contained the following line:
upgradecode:3,0x601,0x0400,0x0100,0.0.0.0,69,0x060111a,CP7912080000SIP060111A.sbin
And replaced it with:

upgradecode:3,0x601,0x0400,0x0100,0.0.0.0,69,0x070409a,CP7912080003SCCP070409A.sbin

You can read what the values mean on the Cisco site, but all I had to change was two last values of the line:
0x060111a -> 0x070409a

CP7912080000SIP060111A.sbin -> CP7912080003SCCP070409A.sbin

The first value I had to change was the build ID/date, which is (from what I can tell) the last few characters in the file name after the “SIP” or “SCCP” bit.

The second value is pretty self explanatory, its just the file name of the firmware file you have.

Next, I used cfgfmt to convert the file into a .cfg file compatible with the phones, and put it on my TFTP server.

I then restarted the phones, and behold! They were downloading the SCCP firmware image. 🙂

I’m not sure if this is the “correct” way to switch back to the SCCP firmware, but it worked for me and I don’t see why it wouldn’t be correct, it seems pretty obvious. The only reason I am a little confused is the fact that while searching for instructions to switch back, I found a lot of people having difficulties switching back and even some companies offering a “recovery” service for people in this situation.

Hopefully my post will help other people who are in this situation.

Now I just need to figure out how to get the CTU ringtone onto the phone. 😀

Cisco CCNP Lab Kit

Cisco CCNA Lab Kit

UPDATE: You can see the latest pictures of my home lab on my “Home Lab” page

As I have pretty much completed my studies for the Cisco CCNA exams, I decided I would build up my lab so I could “practice” for the Cisco CCNP exams. A lot of people recommend using a simulator/emulator such as Dynamips, but I don’t think that works out to be just as good as using real hardware but that’s a different matter. 🙂

I had originally bought my CCNA Lab Kit from the nice people at ITelligentsia so I decided I would buy the rest of my equipment from them as well.

My current lab consists of the following:

  • Cisco 1800 Series : 1x Cisco 1841 (I bought this separately from someone else)
  • Cisco 2600 Series: 1x Cisco 2610, 2x Cisco 2511XM, 1x Cisck 2621XM
  • Cisco 2500 Series: 2x Cisco 2501, 1x Cisck 2509
  • Cisco 1700 Series: 1x Cisco 1721 (I bought this separately from someone else)
  • Cisco Catalyst 3550 Series: 2x WS-C3550-24 SMI
  • Cisco Catalyst 2950 Series: 3x WS-C2950-12
  • Catalyst 2900 Series XL: 2x Cisco 2924XL
  • Cisco 2000 Series Wireless LAN Controller: AIR-WLC2006-K9
  • Cisco Aironet 1200 Series: Cisco Aironet 1231 (AIR-LAP1231G-E-K9)
  • 3x Cisco Unified IP Phone 7912G

Hopefully this will be enough to allow me to get going, although I REALLY need a new rack. My 24U rack is already full, so my UPS (4U), Server (4U) and new lab equipment are sitting on the floor, and being very difficult to get access to.

Hopefully I will be able to get two from work in March as we will be moving offices, and from what I can tell, they will be getting new server racks. 🙂

I also bought a UPS a few weeks ago, but I’ve had some trouble with it. The UPS is a PowerWare 5119 RM 3000VA UPS. I have connected a few of my routers to it, and left it charging for over 24 hours, but when I kill the power the UPS goes into a strange state in which it seems to keep switching on and off and lighting up random lights on the front. From Googling a bit, I found that I might need to change some settings using the management serial port. Unfortunately, the UPS does not use a “standard” serial pin out, so I will have to build a cable when I can. Hopefully I will be able to sort the issue, otherwise I will have to send it back to the place I bought it from for repair. 🙁