Draw network diagrams online [2016 Edition]

In this post from 2011 I was explaining that my preferred online tool to draw network diagrams is LucidChart.com. Since then LucidChart.com developed really good and added constantly new features. Unfortunately with the new great additions some not so nice restrictions appeared for the free account.
Those restrictions (like 5 active documents) really make it difficult for me to work with this tool as I got used to a different style.

I’m not a cheap guy! If I would use this tool professionally there would be no problem to buy a subscription package, but at work Visio is saint (unfortunately) and the rest of the time, especially when I’m on my Mac, I just need a fast tool to draw brief network diagrams like for my blog or fast explanation to somebody online.

LucidChart.com is my recommendation if you rely on online tool to work with Visio documents. Last time when I checked their Visio import tool was doing a great job.

Back to this story, I was looking online for another tool when I came across Draw.io.

Draw.io doesn’t need an account creation, rather it just give you direct access to the tool.
Since you don’t have an account you cannot save your work on the application, but it does offer you the option to save on Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive online or directly on your machine.
Later you can open your document from any of these locations.

In terms of shape the tool is pretty generous and the Cisco ones, really important for me, are there:


The tool is very easy to use, it gives you a Visio feeling (if you’re used with this Microsoft software) and works pretty fast for me.

I tried to open a Visio document from my machine…did not work that well:


Importing the same document did not work better:


It seems that in both cases the Riverbed Steelhead shapes loaded fine, but not the Cisco ones.

Well, I would like to see this working, but in the end nothing to complain. I explained already that I don’t need the online tool to work with Visio. It’s nice if it can, but not mandatory for me. I’ll try some more tests with different Visio files, who knows maybe it’s something wrong with my test file.

One feature which I would like to see is the ability to add your own shapes. Who knows maybe in the future.

If you know a better alternative to LucidChart.com that has a free option and you consider it better than Draw.io please let me know.

Cisco ASA packet capture showing bidirectional traffic flow

Recently I had to troubleshoot some communication issues via a Cisco ASA device and the packet capture on the IOS comes in handy for this task.

When you have a lot of traffic over ASA and you’re interested in a particular IP address, the basic packet capture lesson says that you should configure an access-list to limit the captured packets for the interesting traffic only.

Let’s assume that I have a particular interest for the traffic to and from the IP address

I created a standard ACL to match only the traffic related to

access-list TS standard permit host

Afterward I attached the created ACL to a packet capture on a particular interface (let’s call it “lan”).

capture TSHOOT access-list TS interface lan

You can find the above lines in almost any how-to regarding packet capture on Cisco ASA.

Checking the capture I noticed that traffic is unidirectional captured:

FW# show capture TSHOOT

4 packets captured

   1: 20:15:32.757010       802.1Q vlan#10 P0 > icmp: echo request
   2: 20:15:33.759283       802.1Q vlan#10 P0 > icmp: echo request
   3: 20:15:34.761374       802.1Q vlan#10 P0 > icmp: echo request
   4: 20:15:35.823748       802.1Q vlan#10 P0 > icmp: echo request

This is not enough to troubleshoot complex communication scenarios.

Ok, maybe the standard ACL is not enough, so I tried to use extended one where is source on one line and destination on another:

access-list TS extended permit ip host any
access-list TS extended permit ip any host

This should do it…just that it doesn’t.

capture TSHOOT access-list TS interface lan

ERROR: Capture doesn't support access-list  containing mixed policies

Hmm, maybe it does not work with two lines in the ACL. I removed one, same error.

I was looking around to find a way to do it, but I couldn’t. This is why I wrote this article. Maybe my googling skills are not so good, as I’m sure it has to be an example somewhere out there.

However, here how I did it.

I gave up using the ACL. No, I’m was not going to capture the entire traffic :) Instead, I used inline restrictions for the IP address that I’m interested in.

capture TSHOOT interface lan match ip host any

The result looks good now:

FW# show capture TSHOOT

8 packets captured

   1: 20:19:07.222553       802.1Q vlan#10 P0 > icmp: echo request
   2: 20:19:07.223392       802.1Q vlan#10 P0 > icmp: echo reply
   3: 20:19:08.229953       802.1Q vlan#10 P0 > icmp: echo request
   4: 20:19:08.230670       802.1Q vlan#10 P0 > icmp: echo reply
   5: 20:19:09.229327       802.1Q vlan#10 P0 > icmp: echo request
   6: 20:19:09.230121       802.1Q vlan#10 P0 > icmp: echo reply
   7: 20:19:10.252321       802.1Q vlan#10 P0 > icmp: echo request
   8: 20:19:10.253130       802.1Q vlan#10 P0 > icmp: echo reply

The packet capture shows now bidirectional traffic flow.

I hope you’ll find this useful during troubleshooting.

Remote desktop, GNS3 crashes when drag and drop topology objects

Couple of days ago I reinstalled my machine that I use as GNS3 server. It was about time as thing started to become a bit unstable after so many patches and updates to bring it up from Ubuntu 8.04.

I picked Xubuntu 14.04 LTS as my distro because I like XFCE and with the new GNS3 installed directly from PPA following https://www.gns3.com/support/docs/linux-installation it seems to be a piece of cake the entire story.

Unfortunately the reality was different. The above machine is sitting in my lab and most of the time I do just remote desktop on it via X2GO or XRDP. The issue that I encounter was that GNS3 was starting fine, everything looked to be working correctly, but when I was trying to drag and drop an object (like router, switch) to the topology the GNS3 would crash and the logs would show a nice segmentation fault.

I spent a lot of hours reading about and it seems I’m not the only one which had this strange behavior. However nobody could actually point out a real solution to this problem.

One workaround that I found to be working is to use Thinlinc, a remote desktop server provided by Cendio. The free version supports for up to 10 concurrent users and in my case this limitation should not pose a problem. One disadvantage can be seen that it’s not open source and you need to install also the client software. Again not a big deal, at least for my scope.

If you arrived to my post looking for a solution, the above workaround can be one and it’s working fine.

However, the engineer in me was not satisfied as why the solution would not work just using the included packages in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.

Digging more, I found that the problem is not actually related to GNS3, but rather to the Qt version that comes with Ubuntu 14.04. Also it’s seems that not only GNS3 is affected by this issue, which appears to be a Qt Bug, but also other software used via a remote X11 connection – https://bugreports.qt.io/browse/QTBUG-38109

Now if you check the GNS3 Linux manual installation page, you’ll see that python3-pyqt5 must be installed. When you install it from PPA, the same python3-pyqt5 is installed, just that maybe you’ll miss it among the other packets that are added automatically.

Checking the Ubuntu 14.04 packages http://packages.ubuntu.com/trusty/python/ (search for python3-pyqt5 to avoid going via all packages) I noticed that the default version is 5.2.1 I’ve checked for particular Bugs with this version that can be related to my problems, unfortunately my search brought no conclusive result, so I had to assume that this version has a problem. I’m not a developer so this task was even harder for me.

I went to check the next Ubuntu release. 15.04 is out of the marked since January 2016 and the only alternative was 15.10. I’m not very keen on trying non-LTS versions, but desperate times require desperate measures. Searching for the same python3-pyqt5 (http://packages.ubuntu.com/wily/python/) I saw that this version is 5.4.2.

Next I tried to find a way to install the 5.4.2 python3-pyqt5 version on Ubuntu 14.04. No success here. I ran into more problems than solutions. If you have a solution to have these two versions working together, please let me know.

Having nothing to lose I downloaded the Xubuntu 15.10, installed it and…everything is working like a charm so farm. I can open GNS3 and drag and drop successfully via a remote connection (XRDP or X2GO).

As you can see I have no solution to the actual problem, but at least I can suggest 2-3 workarounds that may get you out of the woods. For me an article like this would have been very helpful while doing my research, but there was none out there, beside different community posts usually without any answer. This is the reason for which I wanted to share this story with you.

If you have this issue and found another solution, please let me know as I would like to use the 14.04 LTS version of Ubuntu, otherwise I need to wait for the release of 16.04 LTS scheduled for this year.

SSL Certificate signed by own CA

There are a lot of “how-to” on the Internet explaining the setup procedure. This is mainly a copy / paste example for those in a hurry :)

How to setup your own CA

Generate a key for CA

openssl genrsa -aes256 -out myCA.key 4096

Pick a password and remember it!

Generate a SSL certificate for CA

openssl req -new -x509 -days 3650 -key myCA.key -out myCA.crt

How to create a new SSL certificate signed by your own CA

Request a new key for the new domain that you want to secure

openssl genrsa -aes256 -out MyServerName.key 2048

Pick a password and remember it!

Request a CSR and sign it with the previous created key

openssl req -new -key MyServerName.key -out MyServerName.csr

Request the SSL certificate and sign it against the CA

openssl x509 -req -in MyServerName.csr -out MyServerName.crt -sha1 -CA myCA.crt -CAkey myCA.key -CAcreateserial -days 720

(Optional for Linux) Secure the key on the server

chmod 0400 *.key

To have the SSL working you need to copy on the server side
– MyServerName.key
– MyServerName.crt
– myCA.crt (that’s the CA certificate)

How to view a certificate

openssl x509 -in MyServerName.crt -text -noout

How to check whether a private key matches a certificate or that the certificate matches the certificate signing request (CSR)

openssl x509 -noout -modulus -in MyServerName.crt | openssl md5
openssl rsa -noout -modulus -in MyServerName.key | openssl md5
openssl req -noout -modulus -in MyServerName.csr | openssl md5

Does anybody knows a simple script that can offer the above functionality from web interface? I was looking around for a while now, but either they are enterprise complex or do not work. Let me know in Comments if you have a good suggestion.


Mikrotik L2TP with IPsec for mobile clients

I got some questions about how to configure Mikrotik to act as L2TP Server with IPsec encryption for mobile clients. I know this is not exactly in the line of this blog oriented on enterprise networks, but it’s network technology in the end so I’ll try to cover it here.

Before we start, please make sure that your Mikrotik build-in firewall is configured in such way that it can accept packets on the WAN interface. You can check my article on IPsec VPN Mikrotik to Cisco for firewall configuration.

Another important part is that I’m using RouterOS v6.24 in the below scenario. In earlier versions some configurations are a bit different, but you’ll figure it out as I will explain where is really important.

1. Add a new IP Pool

It’s not mandatory if you already have a IP Pool, but I assume you don’t and we need to add one.


IP > Pool

Add a new pool

Name: L2TP-Pool
Next Pool: None


/ip pool add name="L2TP-Pool" ranges=

L2TP Configuration

1. Configure L2TP Profile

Before adding a new L2TP Server, we need to add a new L2TP Profile. We can use also the default one, but I don’t like to mix things.


PPP > Profiles

Name: l2tp-profile
Local Address: L2TP-Pool
Remote Address: L2TP-Pool
DNS Server:
Change TCP MSS: yes
Use Encryption: required

The rest of values can be left on default value.


/ppp profile add name=l2tp-profile local-address=L2TP-Pool remote-address=L2TP-Pool use-encryption=required change-tcp-mss=yes dns-server=

2. Add a L2TP-Server


PPP > Interface > L2TP Server

Enabled: Checked
Max MTU: 1460
Max MRU: 1460
Keepalive Timeout: 30
Default Profile: mschap2
Use IPsec: Checked
IPsec Secret: MYKEY


/interface l2tp-server server set authentication=mschap2 default-profile=l2tp-profile enabled=yes ipsec-secret=MYKEY max-mru=1460 max-mtu=1460 use-ipsec=yes

3. Add PPP Secrets


PPP > Secrets

Enabled: Checked
Service: l2tp
Profile: l2tp-profile

Let the rest as default.


/ppp secret add name=MYUSER password=MYPASSWORD service=l2tp profile=l2tp-profile

IPsec Configuration

On IPsec configuration, you can use the default configuration (like Proposals) but I would suggest to let those as default and add your new ones. In case that you already have some IPsec configuration which is already working and using the default configuration we don’t want to mess with that.

1. IPsec Proposals


IPsec > Proposals

Enabled: Checked
Name: L2TP-Proposal
Auth. Algorithm: sha1
Encr. Algorithm: 3des, aes-256 cbc
PFS Group: none


/ip ipsec proposal add name=L2TP-Proposal auth-algorithms=sha1 enc-algorithms=3des,aes-256-cbc pfs-group=none

Something to mention here. In version previous than 6.xx, you can pick only one encryption algorithm, if I remember correctly. You cannot add multiple algorithms (like 3des and aes-256 above). If this is the case, be sure to stay with 3des. I know it offer less security, but for some reason I could not force Microsoft Windows to work on L2TP via aes-256.

2. IPsec Peers


IPsec > Peers

Enabled: Checked
Auth. Method: pre shared key
Secret: MYKEY
Policy Template Group: default
Exchange Mode: main l2tp
Send Initial Contact: Checked
NAT Traversal: Checked
My ID: auto
Proposal check: obey
Hash Algorithm: sha1
Encryption Algorithm: 3des, aes-256
DH Group: modp1024
Generate policy: port override


/ip ipsec peer add address= port=500 auth-method=pre-shared-key secret="MYKEY" generate-policy=port-override exchange-mode=main-l2tp
 send-initial-contact=yes nat-traversal=yes hash-algorithm=sha1 enc-algorithm=3des,aes-256 dh-group=modp1024


The value of the Secret field above, MUST be the same as in L2TP Configuration, Step 2.
Also, if your RouterOS support only one encryption algorithm, then pick 3des.

3. IPsec Policies


Enabled: Checked
Src. Address: ::/0
Dst. Address: ::/0
Protocol: 255(all)
Template: Checked
Group: default
Action: encrypt
Level: require
IPsec Protocols: esp
Tunnel: Not checked
SA Src. Address:
SA Dsr. Address:
Proposal: L2TP-Proposal


/ip ipsec policy add src-address=::/0 dst-address=::/0 protocol=all template=yes group=default action=encrypt level=require ipsec-protocols=esp tunnel=no sa-src-address= sa-dst-address= proposal=L2TP-Proposal

Below, I’ll add two examples how to configure the iPhone and Microsoft Windows to work with the above configuration.


Go to Settings, VPN section and Add VPN Configuration…

It will look like this:

iPhone L2TP Configuration

The Server is the public IP address or FQDN of your Mikrotik. Account and Password are the one defined in L2TP Configuration Step 3. (MYUSER and MYPASSWORD in the example above). Secret , is the IPsec Secret Key defined in L2TP Configuration Step 2. and IPsec Configuration Step 2. (MYKEY in the example).

PC with Microsoft Windows

1. Add a new VPN connection

Add New VPN Connection

2. Pick the option Use my Internet connection

Chose VPN type

3. Add Mikrotik L2TP Server details

Add L2TP Mikrotik details

4. Add the user and password

Add L2TP user

Add this point Windows 7 force me to hit Connect. I will not work yet. Please follow the next steps.

You need to reach the Properties of your new VPN connection.

5. Configure the VPN Security settings.

Be sure to have the settings like in image below, to force encryption and use mschap2 protocol.

L2TP VPN Security

6. Set the IPsec Secret key

Hit the Advanced button and set the IPsec key

L2TP IPsec Key

Hit Connect and it will work. If you have questions please be sure to add them to Comments.