How to integrate F5 BIG-IP VE with GNS3

I would like to start by saying Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays season to all. In between spending time with my family, decorating the Christmas three and opening presents, I did find some time to play around with my hobby and testing something in the lab.

Lately I wanted to get a feeling how F5 BIG-IP works, you know, just to get familiar with its interfaces, rules and being capable of setting up a basic LTM or APM. Far from me the idea of becoming an expert on the first touch, but it’s nice to discover new technologies.

Beside getting the F5 BIG-IP VE (Virtual Edition), running up VMware (ESXi, Player, Fusion or Workstation) and starting the virtual machine I also wanted to emulate some kind of real environment to test. So, I did build the below topology in GNS3:

F5 BIG-IP Simple setup

Some explanation:

  • Client WIN7 is a VM in VirtualBox and integrated in GNS3
  • WWW Servers are VMs in VirtualBox and integrated in GNS3
  • WIN2008 AD DC is a VM in VirtualBox and integrated in GNS3
  • Routers are emulated in GNS3
  • F5 BIG-IP VE is a VM in VMware Workstation and integrated as a Cloud in GNS3

GNS3 is version 1.2.1 which works perfect. Why VirtualBox and VMware Workstation? Usually I have no problem to have my VMs in VirtualBox, but I could not successfully import the F5 BIG-IP VE OVA image in VirtualBox. I had to download a trial version of VMware Workstation to install the OVA image.

If you want to know more about this F5 product, Ethan Banks has a great article about the BIG-IP VE. Please note that Ethan’s article is about getting a lab license for BIG-IP VE. I just went for the trial version. You can download the OVA image and get the license here:
https://www.f5.com/trial/secure/big-ip-ltm-virtual-edition.php

Download the BIG-IP VE OVA image, get a trial license (valid for 90 days) and install it in VMware Workstation. It may work with other VMware products, but in this article I’m using only VMware Workstation.

The part that gave me some headache was the how to have a successfully network communication between VMware Workstation and GNS3.

Before GNS3 1.2.1, when I had to use a “cloud” to integrate VirtualBox VMs in GNS3, I was configuring a TAP interface and use Bridge mode for the VM NIC to the TAP interface. Then on the GNS3 Cloud, I was adding the TAP as a Generic Ethernet NIO on the NIO Ethernet. If you want to refresh more deeply the above information please read my article about How to integrate GNS3 with VirtualBox.

Unfortunately, in VMware Workstation, I cannot just bridge a VMnet interface to a TAP and use that specific VMnet in a VM. I just could not make it work.

To cut it short, here are the steps that I had to follow to have this working. I assume that you have VMware Workstation installed already. Another detail is that I’m using Ubuntu 14.04 to test the entire scenario.

1. Add two VMnet interfaces in VMware Workstation Virtual Network Editor

Use the image below to have an idea what I mean.

Virtual Network Editor

2. Configure the BIG-IP VE NIC as follow in VMware Workstation

I assume that you have the BIG-IP VE OVA imported in VMware Workstation

BIG-IP VE NIC

I had 4 NICs originally, but I only need three:

  • VMnet0 is bridge to my real LAN interface so I can manage the F5 BIG-IP VE over Web / CLI interfaces
  • VMnet11 – one “internal” interface facing LAN (server side)
  • VMnet22 – one “external” interface facing WAN (client side)

3. Configure two tap interfaces for F5 BIG-IP VE to be used in GNS3

11 – internal, 22 – external

sudo tunctl -u user -t tap11
sudo tunctl -u user -t tap22

*user = the non-root user which you use on Ubuntu host.

If you are having problems to find tunctl command please do the following:

sudo apt-get install uml-utilities bridge-utils

Bring the interfaces up

sudo ifconfig tap11 up
sudo ifconfig tap22 up

4. Remove the IP addresses on both TAP and VMnet interfaces

sudo ifconfig tap11 0.0.0.0 promisc up
sudo ifconfig tap22 0.0.0.0 promisc up
sudo ifconfig vmnet11 0.0.0.0 promisc up
sudo ifconfig vmnet22 0.0.0.0 promisc up

5. Bridge the TAP and the VMnet interfaces

sudo brctl addbr br11
sudo brctl addif br11 tap11
sudo brctl addif br11 vmnet11
sudo brctl addbr br22
sudo brctl addif br22 tap22
sudo brctl addif br22 vmnet22

Bring the bridge interfaces up

sudo ifconfig br11 up
sudo ifconfig br22 up

5. Add the F5 BIG-IP VE to GNS3

If with GNS3 1.2.1 you can add the VirtualBox VMs directly, for the VMware Workstation (Player, Fusion, etc…) VMs you still need to you the Cloud part.

My GNS3 for F5 topology looks like this:

F5 topology in GNS3

And the GNS3 Cloud (representing the F5 BIG-IP VE) settings are the following:

F5 GNS3 Cloud settings

6. Connect the GNS3 Cloud interfaces to R1 and R2

Like shown in the image above, connect the TAP interface of the Cloud to the peer routers.

I’m running all applications (GNS3, VMware Workstation, VirtualBox) as non-root user. If you’re doing the same an error may occur in GNS3. Something like:

Server error [-3200] from x.x.x.x:8000: R1: unable to create TAP NIO

If this is the case, please run the following command on Ubuntu host:

sudo setcap cap_net_admin,cap_net_raw=ep /usr/local/bin/dynamips

This will help you setup the environment to test F5 BIG-IP VE in a lab environment totally virtualized. I’m not going to cover here how to configure the F5 BIG-IP VE. Maybe in one of my next articles.

If you encounter problems, please let me know in Comments.

New GNS3 1.0 Beta 1

It appears that there are some significant changes ongoing with GNS3.

As mentioned by the GNS3 CEO and co-founder Stephen Guppy on 11th of August 2014, the new GNS3 will be more polished and will migrate to a multi-vendor emulation platform. For those using this tool, it’s a well known fact that GNS3 was mainly focused to emulate Cisco platform, evolving to support vPC and VirtualBox virtual machines.
 
They have a new very polished website accessible at new.gns3.net where you can also download the GNS3 1.0 Beta 1 software.

I did grab a copy of the Beta 1 and installed on a Windows system (the only one which had right now on hands). You can see a screenshot below.
 
GNS3 1.0 Beta 1
 
To be honest, first impression is that not much did change, except some buttons / icons here and there. Of course this just after a quick look from my side. I will test the software in the next days and come back with an update.
 
If interested, you can check the press release from 26th of August 2014 for more details about upcoming changes in the GNS3 organisation.
 

INE released GNS3 config for v5 topology

A few days ago one friend on mine announced me that InternetworkExpert released a GNS3 configuration for their v5 topology.

When I had check INE’s website, I could not found the link to GNS3 topology. To be honest I was expecting INE to announce with big letters this new development, but I was quite silent (or I’m not reading carefully enough their website).

To fin GNS3 configuration, there is a small catch. You have to go to INE resources webpage, and from there to Dynamips (there is no GNS3 link). If you ever used the INE’s Dynamips config, that this page is familiar for you. Somewhere in the middle there is a link with “Click here to download the INE Topologies for Dynagen“. You download this archive file and inside you’ll find among other configuration a file called ine.routing.and.switching.topology.5.00.gns3.net:

INE V5 GNS3 topology config

This is the file which you are looking for. Of course you need to edit and adapt it to your local configuration (IOS, path location…).  What is different from Dynamips file? Almost nothing, but you have a graphical view of the topology and if you put your mouse over a link, you’ll see where is the connection pointing too. It can help you spare some time in the configuration, but there is a drawback. Don’t get used too much with this feature, as in the CCIE lab exam you don’t have where to point your mouse to show the connection and you have to figure it by your own from the paper (or lately computer screen).

If you don’t want to follow the steps above, then:

Download the INE’s v5 topology GNS3 configuration


How to emulate ASA in Ubuntu 9.10 and GNS3

Cisco ASA

Brainbump.net has an excellent and very complete how to emulate ASA using just the following components:

  • Ubuntu 9.10 – 32 bit Edition
  • GNS3 v0.7 RC1 tgz
  • Dynamips 0.2.8-RC2 binary for Linux x86 platforms
  • Qemu-0.11.0 tar.gz
  • Qemu-0.11.0 Patch
  • ASA Binary Version 8.0(2) – (asa802-k8.bin)

How-to is divided in 3 video tutorial parts for easy understanding and start with the most basic installation on GNS3 under Ubuntu 9.10 and continue with the actually configuration on the emulation.
If you are interested in security or you just want to test ASA and don’t have access to real hardware you definetely will want to try Brainbump.net tutorial.

READ THE FULL TUTORIAL on Brainbump.net


GNS3: OSPF and EIGRP scenario

A ready made GNS3 topology, including 3 interconnected routers in different domains (EIGRP and OSPF) like in the topology below.

Requirements:

– GNS3 or Dynamips install and functional
– Cisco IOS image for 3640 platform with Advanced IP Services

What’s included in the archive:

– routers initial configs
– network diagram
– GNS3 (or Dynamips) config file*
* Check the GNS3 config file for direction

What can you test with this scenario:

– ospf area range command
– ospf summary address command
– advertise loopback interfaces with /24 netmask
– redistribution between OSPF and EIGRP

Load the .net file in GNS3 / Dynamips, apply initial router configuration and you should have working scenario with OSPF and EIGRP routing.

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