Jun 09

Is it worth upgrading that old network device?

I used to have the opinion of performing software upgrades on old equipment to bring the software version up to a modern version. I have had issues in the past and the vendor refuses to help me until I perform a software upgrade. So, to avoid lack of support, I always wanted to have my equipment on newer version.


Recently, I have had a change of heart on this. I recently performed some software upgrades on some Cisco 2106 wireless controllers that have been in place for years. Version 6.x was no longer supported and I had to have the controller on version 7.x for support reasons. After my upgrades were done, I was left with a large number of failed access points that could not handle the upgrade.

Last weekend I traveled to a remote site to perform a software upgrade to another Cisco Wireless Controller, that upgrade went very well. While I was there, I thought I would upgrade the software on the Cisco 6509 and a couple of 3560G switches in the data center. The software on these switches were well over 4 years old, so I thought I would upgrade them. The 6509 upgrade went well. As I performed reboot on the 3560G, it blew a puff of smoke out of the fan vent and died. After scrambling to find a spare 3560 (Not G), I was able to get it replaced. When I get a replacement switch, I get to replace it again with the correct type of switch.

Due to the hardware failures, I’m not so sure I will be performing software upgrades on old network devices unless I am having a problem with it. Then when I do, I’ll have the expectation that it’s going to fail.

What is your opinion about performing software upgrades on network equipment that is not having issues?
My failures were with Cisco equipment, Do you see the same failures on other vendors equipment?

Apr 29

Don’t forget to change the Registry before upgrading your Cisco 4500-E with a SUP-8E!!!

I recently acquired a brand new Cisco 4506-E with the Supervisor 8-E. The Supervisor came with the latest K9 version software. This was very odd for me, I almost always have to upgrade my new network equipment when I get it. After configuring the switch I relocated it to the wiring closet where it is going to spend the rest of it’s life.

Two days before the scheduled installation, I turned it on to make a couple changes that needed to be made. Once it was booted up, I issued the “show ip int brief” command and the only interfaces that showed up were the tengigabit interfaces on the Supervisor. I did some more digging and found the following error in the log %C4K_CHASSIS-3-BACKPLANESEEPROMREADFAILED. Cisco’s Error Message Decoder stated that the chassis was bad and to return the chassis.

After replacing the chassis, I still had the same error and none of the line cards works. Cisco then sent me a replacement Supervisor 8-E. I installed the replacement Supervisor 8-E, configured it enough to get on the network, then did a TFTP to get the configuration file on it. Knowing it took 5-7 minutes to boot up, I stepped away and when I came back I was able to validate the config loaded (From the console port).


After the chassis was booted up and the configuration was validated I attempted to configure the SSH version and generate the crypto key. The commands where not there. I thought this was very odd because there was only one software version for this platform and the original Supervisor came with the correct version. After checking, this version did not have the SSH feature so I needed to upgrade the switch to Crypto image cat4500es8-universalk9.SPA.03.03.00.XO.151-1.XO.bin. The only difference in the file name is the K9.

I copied the file to the bootflash and changed the boot statement to “boot system flash bootflash:/cat4500es8-universalk9.SPA.03.03.00.XO.151-1.XO.bin”, saved the configuration and reloaded. The switch ignored the boot statement and used the first file in the bootflash. I thought that I had the boot statement wrong, so I tried it without the /, same thing.

After reading the configuration guide I found that the registry needed to be changed to 0X0102. This registry entry tells the switch to read the boot statement. So I entered the following command config-register 0x0102, saved the configuration and reloaded. The switch now booted up with the new image and I was able to configure SSH on the switch.

Like so many other Cisco products, I thought I could simply change the boot statement, save and reload. My assumption failed me on this upgrade. Because of this, I always recommend reading the configuration guides or release notes. Sometimes I get in a hurry and don’t read them. When I do that, I usually get reminded that I need to read the documentation.

Have you found other networking devices that you have to change the config-register to tell it to read the boot statement? If so, please share your experience