CCIE Home Lab, what to do when your router has too little Flash space for IOS

I already explained in an older post my home lab for CCIE preparation. My BB1-BB3 routers are Cisco 2600 series and the rest of R1-R6 are emulated with Dynamips. The only problem is that one of the C2600 has too little Flash space to hold the required IOS. Memory is sufficient, but Flash not.

The only workaround I have is to load the IOS image from a TFTP server. I will explain here my procedure, maybe it’s useful for somebody else out there.

First, I recently upgrade to Ubuntu 12.04 and for some reason the TFTPD (default tftp server) was not working properly. I found TFTPD-HPA to be a good alernative, so I did install it:

sudo apt-get install tftpd-hpa

After installation you may want to check /etc/default/tftpd-hpa. On my system it looks like this:

# /etc/default/tftpd-hpa

Next step is to get a IOS image and copy it under /var/lib/tftpboot. If you need a hint, I’m using c2600-adventerprisek9-mz.124-25d.bin which needs only a small amount of memory to be installed on the Cisco 2600 platform and it’s enough for testing.

Now we need to get the IOS image on the C2600 using TFTP. Depending on your topology used for CCIE exam practice, this can be done in different ways.

Currently I’m using the workbooks from Micronicstraining (Narbik’s workbooks, if this sounds more familiar). Previously I used the ones from Internetwork Expert. The idea is that topology is pretty similar and it looks something like this:

Narbik’s workbook topology

My problematic router is the BB3. Somehow I need that BB3 is communicating with my Ubuntu server, as simple as possible, without changing ethernet cables all the time.
You noticed int the above diagram that BB3 has an interface on the SW1 (Fa0/13) and SW1 has F0/1 connected to my Ubuntu server as explained in this post. What I need is to have Fa0/13 and Fa0/1 on the SW1 on the same VLAN for proper communication. Usually I just default the interface and then everything is fine.

On the Ubuntu box, I can have an IP address on the physical card (this will not influence in any way the Dynamips emulated router attached to this interface):

eth1      Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr 00:e0:b6:06:a6:3b
          inet addr:  Bcast:  Mask:
          inet6 addr: fe80::2e0:b6ff:fe06:a63b/64 Scope:Link
          RX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
          TX packets:64 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
          collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
          RX bytes:0 (0.0 B)  TX bytes:14100 (14.1 KB)

By default on the BB3 router I have an IOS image that can fit the Flash size (c2600-i-mz.123-26.bin) and in case that for some reasons the TFTP Server is not reachable, it will boot that image.

The BB3 startup-configuration looks like this:

interface FastEthernet0/0
 ip address
boot system tftp c2600-adventerprisek9-mz.124-25d.bin

What you have to remember:
1. Start your TFTP server and assure that it has the correct IP address on the interface where you will server IOS files
2. Start your switch (if you have one in between Cisco router and the TFTP server) and be sure that the interfaces are able to exchange packet (same VLAN, etc)
3. Start your Router

In case you did miss any of the above steps, you’ll see something like this:

%SYS-4-CONFIG_NEWER: Configuration from version 12.4 may not be correctly understood
 Slot is empty or does not support clock participate
 WIC slot is empty or does not support clock participate
%SYS-6-READ_BOOTFILE_FAIL: tftp:// File read failed -- Timed out.
 Hello from IFS_TYPE_ROM successful type-check
%SYS-6-BOOT_MESSAGES: Messages above this line are from the boot loader.
boot of "tftp:c2600-adventerprisek9-mz.124-25d.bin" using boot helper "flash:c2600-i-mz.123-26.bin" failed
error returned: File read failed -- Timed out
loadprog: error - on file open
boot: cannot load "tftp:c2600-adventerprisek9-mz.124-25d.bin"

and the router will boot your image stored locally on Flash.

Instead of doing all this work, which may generate some headache, I could just buy another router with enough Flash (and Memory). Currently I don’t want to make this investment, so I’ll stick with the above scenario.