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Blog Posts in February 2007

The versatile more command

With IOS file system (IFS) introduced in IOS release 11.3AA (integrated in 12.0), IOS got the more command that displays any local or remote file that you could specify with IFS. The obvious use of the more command would be display of startup configuration (more nvram:startup-config), but you could also display built-in Tcl EEM policies (for example, more system:lib/tcl/http.tcl) or remote router configurations (for example, more tftp://host/cfg-file). But that's not all, you could even troubleshoot web servers and display HTML generated by the web server (for example, more http://192.168.0.2/index.html).

Note: IOS documentation claims that the show running command is obsolete and that you should use more system:running-config. This is not true, as the show running command has a number of interesting options that are not implemented with the more command.
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Filter sections of your running configuration

The IOS command line interface has long included unix-style pipes that you could use to limit the output generated by the show commmands. Initially, the only available filters were begin (include everything after the first regular expression match), end (stop the output at the RE match) or include (include only matching lines).

IOS release 12.3(2)T (integrated in 12.4) brought us a few new filters, among them the section filter that includes or excludes whole sections (start of section being defined by a line with no leading space). You can use this filter to focus on parts of your router configuration. For example, to display only the routing protocols configuration, use show running | section include router command.

Of course, you can go a step further and define an alias, for example alias exec events show running | include ^event manager configuration command defines the exec-mode events command that lists all EEM applets.
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Store your EEM Tcl policies in NVRAM

Embedded Event Manager is a bit picky about the location of the EEM Tcl policies: although they are loaded into RAM when registered, they have to reside on the router itself. If you have a low-end router with no flash disk (I'm using 2800-series routers) or USB flash and you don't want to mess with your flash: device (to prevent accidental erasure), the only other place left is NVRAM:. Surprisingly, it works.
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Simulate interface counters with QoS policy-map

If you need interface counters on subinterfaces or virtual interfaces, you can emulate them with an empty policy-map, for example:
policy-map Count
class class-default
!
interface Serial0/0/0.100 point-to-point
service-policy input Count
service-policy output Count
The service policy counters are then inspected with the show policy-map interface name command:
a1#show policy-map interface Serial 0/0/0.100

Serial0/0/0.100

Service-policy input: Count

Class-map: class-default (match-any)
10 packets, 840 bytes
1 minute offered rate 0 bps, drop rate 0 bps
Match: any

Service-policy output: Count

Class-map: class-default (match-any)
61 packets, 7084 bytes
1 minute offered rate 0 bps, drop rate 0 bps
Match: any
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Upgrade 2800 series router to support USB boot

A while ago we were faced with a 2800-series router with no software in its CF card. As all 2800-series routers have USB slots, I started investigating whether you could boot the IOS image from an USB flash token. The product documentation states you can't, but as always, reality changes quicker than documentation in Ciscosphere.

To support IOS boot from USB token, you need a newer version of 2800-series ROMMON which you'll get from the ROMMON download page (registered CCO users only). You need ROMMON release 12.4(13r)T (description: C2800 ROMMON Upgrade; adds boot from usb flash drive capability).

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Not all static routes were created equal

In his excellent question, Matt reminded me of (almost prehistoric) days when static routes pointing to a connected interface (not IP next-hop) had administrative distance zero. I also remembered that we've had interesting routing problems as those static routes actually behaved like connected routes (and were redistributed into routing protocols with redistribute connected command).

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Reliable static routing

IOS release 12.3T introduced an interesting concept: static routes that are used only if an object a router is tracking (for example, next-hop router) is available. Named reliable static routing, this feature allows you to constantly ping next-hop router (or any other IP address) and use the static routes only if the tested destination is reachable.

While the reliable static routes are easy to understand and configure, a careless implementation can lead to interesting routing loops or other instability problems. You'll find the needed in-depth design and implementation guidelines in my IP Corner article Small Site Multi-homing (which is one of the prime applications for reliable static routing) in sections Not-so-Very-Static-Routes and End-to-End Connectivity Test. You can also download a virtual classroom recording where I'm discussing even more static routing caveats and ways around them.
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Frame Relay local switching

Cisco IOS supported Frame Relay switching (emulation of a Frame Relay switch) for a very long time. First they've implemented local switching, then remote switching over a GRE tunnel. With the introduction of generic Layer 2 transport across a layer-3 backbone (L2TPv3 or AToM), Frame Relay switching got integrated into the new infrastructure, but never implemented completely ... that is, until release 12.0(27)S and 12.4(11)T which finally supports local switching in the new architecture. We've also got a few extra goodies: now you can do DTE-to-DTE switching (interconnecting two Frame Relay switches with a router) or same-port switching (switching two DLCIs terminating on the same router port).
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Unequal load split with static routes

Unequal load-sharing with static routes is almost impossible as there is no configuration command to assign non-default traffic share count to a static route. For example, if you configure two default routes, one pointing to a low-speed interface and another one pointing to a high-speed interface, there is no mechanism to force majority of the traffic onto the high-speed link (IOS ignores interface bandwidth when calculating load sharing ratios).

You can, howerer, use a workaround: if you configure multiple routes for the same prefix pointing to the same interface, that interface will attract proportionally more outbound traffic.

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Looking for interesting Embedded Event Manager challenges

I've started collecting interesting EEM solutions, for example:

If you have an interesting challenge that you think might be solvable with EEM, please let me know (use the Send a message to Ivan link in my bio page) ... after reading the following smallprint:

  • I might not be able to respond to all your mail requests.
  • By sending me your problem, you're agreeing that I'm free to post its solution together with a (heavily reworded) description of your problem in this blog as well as any other publication I might decide to author.
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Unequal cost load-sharing

One of the most commonly asked load-sharing-related questions is "can I load-share traffic across unequal-cost links". In general, the answer is no. In order to load-share the traffic, you need more than one path to the destination and the only way to get multiple routes toward a destination in the IP routing table is to make them equal-cost (the only notable exception being EIGRP that supports unequal-cost load-sharing with the variance parameter).

There are, however, two cases where you can force unequal traffic split across equal-cost paths toward a destination: when using inter-AS BGP with the link bandwidth parameter and when using unequal-bandwidth traffic-engineering tunnels.

Note: You can read more about load sharing with MPLS TE in my IP Corner article Perfect Load-Balancing: How Close Can You Get?
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What is the sl_def_acl access list

Recenty, a lot of people were looking for information on the sl_def_acl access list. Here's the whole story: if you've configured IOS login enhancements on your router, the router generates an access list named sl_def_acl (unless you specify your own with the login quiet-mode access-class command) the first time it has to enter the quiet mode. This access-list is then applied to the VTY lines whenever the router enters the quiet mode and removed from the after the quiet period is over. The access list itself is left in the running configuration.

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Default action in firewall policy maps

Marko asked a very interesting question: What is the default class policy in a firewall policy-map (policy-map type inspect)? Or, using his original wording, "is it mandatory to use class class-default/drop" at the end of every policy map?

As it turns out, the default action for any class (unless you specify otherwise) is drop. By default, packets not matched by any traffic class are therefore dropped (unless you specify a different action in the class-default), similar to well-known ip access-list behavior.
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Multihomed small sites

My February IP corner article, Small Site Multihoming, describes how you can reliably connect to two Internet Service Providers without running BGP or owning part of public IP address space. You can also view recording of an online session (registration required) I did explaining the details.

The solution in the article relies on two IOS technologies: multiple Network Address Translation (NAT) pools and reliable static routes (static routes tied to SLA measurements).
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Don't use copy commands in EEM applets

I've tried to be a "good citizen" in one of my Embedded Eveng Manager (EEM) applications and used the action 1.1 cli command "copy running-config startup-config" instead of the (supposedly obsolete) action 1.1 cli command "write memory" command. However, as the copy command generates console prompts (unless you turn them off with the file prompt quiet command), it immediately hung my EEM applet.

Moral of the story: use write memory :)
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