Monday, May 05, 2014

DELL Force10 : Initial switch configuration

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I assume you have serial console access to the switch unit to perform initial switch configuration. I guess it will not impressed you that to switch from read mode to configuration mode you  have to use command
... before continue I would like to recap some important basic FTOS commands we will use later in this blog post. If you want to exit from configuration mode or even from deeper configuration hierarchy you can do it with one or several
commands which will jump to the upper level of configuration hierarchy and eventually exit conf mode. However the easiest way to leave configuration mode is to use command
which will exit configuration mode immediately.

The last but very important and very often used command is
write mem
which will write your running switch configuration to the flash and therefore configuration will survive the switch reload. You can do the same with more general command
copy running-config startup-config
If you want to display running configuration you can use command
show running-config
Whole configuration can be pretty long, so if you are interested only on some part of running configuration you can use following commands
show running-config interface managementethernet 0/0
show running-config interface gigabitethernet 0/2
show running-config spanning-tree rstp
show running-config boot
As you can see FTOS command line interface (cli) is very similar to CISCO.

Ok, so after basics let's start with initial configuration. Switch configuration usually begins with host name configuration. It is generally good practice to use unique host names because you know on which system you are logged in.
hostname f10-s60
As a next step I usually configure management IP settings and enable remote access. You have to decide if you will use in-band management leveraging normal IP settings usually configured on dedicated VLAN interface just for system management or you will leverage dedicated out-of-band management port. In example below you can see
  • out-of-band management port for system management IP settings
  • how to create admin user
  • how to enable ssh to allow remote system management
interface ManagementEthernet 0/0
  ip address
  no shutdown
management route

username admin password YourPassword privilege 15

ip ssh server enable
Now you have to decide if you want to enforce login for users connected via local console. By default there is no login required which can by security risk especially in environments without strict physical security rules. Below is configuration which enforce local login credentials when using serial console.
 aaa authentication login default local
At this point I would like to note that Force10 switch has all capabilities and features disabled in default factory configuration. That's the reason why for example each switch interface must be explicitly enabled before usage because all interfaces are in shutdown state by default.

Before you enable any switch interface it is good practice to enable spanning tree protocol as security mechanism against potential loops in the network. Once again, spanning tree feature is not enabled by default so you have to do it explicitly. Force10 FTOS has implemented all standard and even some non-standard (CISCO proprietary) spanning tree protocols like PVSTP+. On the latest FTOS version following spanning tree protocols are supported:

  • STP (Spanning Tree Protocol)
  • RSTP (Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol)
  • MSTP (Multiple Spanning Tree Protocol)
  • PVSTP+ (Per-VLAN Spanning Tree Plus)
Bellow is configuration example which enables standard rapid spanning tree protocol (aka RSTP) ...
protocol spanning-tree rstp
  no disable 
Another decision you have to do before implementation is the location from where do you want to boot your switch operating system. On some Force10 models (for example on S60) is default primary boot location TFTP server  ...
boot system stack-unit 0 primary tftp://
boot system stack-unit 0 secondary system: A:
boot system stack-unit 0 default system: B:
boot system gateway
You can see that primary boot location is TFTP server. If you don't have tens or hundreds of switches you usually don't want to load FTOS remotely from TFTP server but from internal flash in the switch. Although default switch configuration would work because if TFTP server boot fails switch boot sequence continue with secondary location  but it's better to configure the switch boot sequence explicitly base on your requirements. Below is typical boot sequence configuration.
boot system stack-unit 0 primary system: A:boot system stack-unit 0 secondary system: B:boot system stack-unit 0 default system: A: no boot system gateway
Next thing you should check is what FTOS version do you have. Below is the command how you can check it ...
f10-s60#show version
Dell Force10 Networks Real Time Operating System Software
Dell Force10 Operating System Version: 1.0
Dell Force10 Application Software Version:
Copyright (c) 1999-2011 by Dell Inc.
Build Time: Sat Nov 26 01:23:50 2011
Build Path: /sites/sjc/work/build/buildSpaces/build20/E8-3-3/SW/SRC
f10-s60 uptime is 4 minute(s)
System image file is "system://A"
System Type: S60
Control Processor: Freescale MPC8536E with 2147483648 bytes of memory.
128M bytes of boot flash memory.
  1 48-port E/FE/GE (SC)
 48 GigabitEthernet/IEEE 802.3 interface(s)
  2 Ten GigabitEthernet/IEEE 802.3 interface(s)
You can see FTOS version which is not the latest one as the latest FTOS version at the time of writing this article is and boot loader It is generally good practice to upgrade FTOS to the latest version before performing verification test and going into production. For the latest version you have to go to and sign in. If you don't have Force10 account you can register there. Please note that each Force10 switch model use different FTOS versions. So there can be FTOS 9.4.x for model S4810 and 8.3.x for S60.

Now I'll show you how to do FTOS and boot loader upgrade.
FTOS should be upgraded first and Boot Loader later ...
upgrade system tftp: A:
upgrade system stack-unit all A:
(applicable only if you have stack configured)
upgrade boot ftp: (applicable only if  new bootloader compatible with FTOS code exists)
You can check current FTOS version
show version
and if you want to know what FTOS version do you have on which boot bank you can 
show boot system stack-unit 0
By the way, have I told you there are two boot banks? Boot bank A: and boot bank B:so you can choose primary and secondary boot location. We have already covered boot configuration but here it is again ...
  boot system stack-unit 0 primary system: A:
  boot system stack-unit 0 secondary system: B:
FTOS is loaded by boot loader and current Boot Loader can be displayed by command below
show system stack-unit 0
Hope this post is helpful for IT community. In case you have any question, suggestion or idea on improvements please share your thoughts in in the comments.

Stay tuned and wait for next article ...

[ Next | DELL Force10 : Interface configuration and VLANs ]

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