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CCNA/CCNP Home Lab Setup Suggestions

Posted on 2004-09-29
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I'm a student at Cisco Academy so I get tons of lab time with a huge range of Cisco hardware. I am interested however in getting even more familiar with Cisco equipment by building a small home lab consisting of at least two routers and one switch. I'm currently studying CCNA (finishing in about two months at my college) and CCNP, starting hopefully in December.

I've been pricing out Catalyst 2950 switches and 26xx and 25xx based routers from eBay, I’m happy so far with the prices I’ve found and am committed to spending about $1000.00 Canadian dollars to build the lab. My question is, what are peoples suggestions for the equipment I choose. I've been given various recommendations by my peers and teachers including;

Skip getting any 25xx based routers because they aren't used AT ALL in CCNP curriculum, don't bother with 2900 based switches because they run the Catalyst OS and not the IOS based 2950 series. I don't really want to spend the extra money on a 2ND 26xx based router though.

So keeping their suggestions in mind, my goal is to setup the following;

Router on a stick
Various Routing Protocols
ACLS

Would 1 26xx one 2514 and one 2950 suffice for this? Will this suffice for a lab setup that will help in preparing for the official certification exams as well as keeping me sharp on Cisco equipment and IOS?

Regards

Owen
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Question by:GigBits
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by:JFrederick29
JFrederick29 earned 50 total points
ID: 12178580
I believe the equipment you have selected (26xx, 2514, 2950) would suffice...

For "router on a stick", you'll need a 2600 series router, 2500 won't cut it.  The 2500's will run all routing protocols and ACL's, saying they are not actually used at all in the CCNP curriculum is true but they run the same IOS software as newer routers.  I use 2500 series routers myself and I have been able to do everything covered by the CCNP curriculum.  As far as the switch goes, I'm pretty sure the 2900 series switch runs IOS and not CatOS.

One suggestion though for the future, you may want to eventually get another router with 4 serial ports like a 2521 so you can configure it as a frame relay switch and test frame relay configurations.  You can also use the 2521 as the "hub" in a hub and spoke environment.
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PennGwyn earned 50 total points
ID: 12181605
> As far as the switch goes, I'm pretty sure the 2900 series switch runs IOS and not CatOS.

I think this might be true of the 2950, but not of the older 2912/2924.  Not sure where the 2948 fits.

(WARNING:  There is an even older 29xx series, which *definitely* only run CatOS, and you can still find them on eBay.  I'm sure they're decent switches, but they'll be no help at all for CCNA/CCNP.)

I *do*, however, recommend a second switch so you can do VTP stuff.  It would be very nice if this could be a layer 3 switch like a 3550, but your budget probably won't go that far.

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by:mikebernhardt
mikebernhardt earned 50 total points
ID: 12183014
The 2900XL series, whether they be 12, 24 or 48 port, all run IOS. The 2900 (without the XL suffix) that runs Cat OS is an ancient switch that was the predecessor to the 5000 (which was the predecessor to the 5500- like I said it's ancient). On the other hand, the ancient 2900 does do VTP, multicast support and other stuff if you want a cheap Cat OS switch to play with. My CCIE lab in 2000 had a 2900.

The 2950 is much more flexible that the 2912/24/48 and given the choice I'd get that. The main problem with the older 2900XLs is that they had limited, fixed memory. This meant constant trade-offs by Cisco on what features they could support. This doesn't matter for CCNA but if you want to keep growing, it will later.
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by:GreatWhiteOne
GreatWhiteOne earned 100 total points
ID: 12183131
I just finished my CCNA and have done several of my CCNP certs.  I did not use the hardware you are suggesting.  I used Cisco 1760 routers.  They are cheap and work great.  They even support alot of voice features that you can get into eventually.  I also used a 2950-12 switch to do this.  It supports alot of the new voice features and vlans.
To my knowledge all the 2900 series runs IOS not catOS.  You should be fine with that equipment, but I thought I would suggest another route as well.
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Author Comment

by:GigBits
ID: 12184569
Thanks to all who responded,

GreatWhiteOne, i'm checking out the 1760 series right now on ebay. And i'll def try to get a 2900XL series running IOS in order to do VTP. Mike how limited are 2900XL's with regards to RAM. Don't they just have banks for standard Simms? Or are you referring to the flash portion of memory for IOS storage. JFredrick29 i'm gonna see if i can get a 2521 as well.

Gonna split the points to everyone for doing such a good job. Thanks again everyone
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by:mikebernhardt
ID: 12184633
No, the XLs have soldered-on memory, no way to expand. The first ones had 4MB and the later ones had 8MB. Make sure at the very least that you are getting an 8MB model. The 4MBs are useless.
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by:GigBits
ID: 12184707
The Flash storage for the IOS i assume u are talking about ?
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by:mikebernhardt
ID: 12184749
No, the RAM. Sho version:
cisco WS-C2924-XL (PowerPC403GA) processor (revision 0x11) with 8192K/1024K bytes of memory.
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by:mikebernhardt
ID: 12184755
Oh- and make sure the switch you get is running Enterprise Edition software, not Standard.
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by:GigBits
ID: 12184800
Thanks for the info, i'm really only looking to practice VTP so couldn't i get away with a getting a 10mbit 1900 based switch and configuring the 2950 for ISL trunking? I plan on using the 2950 as my main switch in my house for the 6 or so computers i use, the 2900 sounds like it might be less than suitable as a main production switch ,even though it's 10/100 mbit compliant.
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by:mikebernhardt
ID: 12184829
The 1900s are a pain. The 2924 is a good switch if it has reasonably current software. It just has it's limitations. But it's not nearly as limited as the 1900s.
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Author Comment

by:GigBits
ID: 12184890
cool, i'll try to score a 2924 then, can i install Cisco IOS 11 on it?
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by:mikebernhardt
ID: 12184935
You have to get the right software for the switch. It's not router software, it's just a similar CLI. They have a version 11, but it had a lot of problems. I would get the latest, 12.0.5 WC 10 or something.
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Author Comment

by:GigBits
ID: 12215368
Got a 12 port model 2950. Pricing for the 2924 was *pretty* close to the 2950. I got the 2950 for $450 canadian ($355 US)
Now i need to add a 2nd and third router and i guess a 2nd switch for pracice on VTP. 2nd switch will def be a 19xx series though, budget! 2950 does both forms of trunking right? ISL and dot1q?
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by:mikebernhardt
ID: 12220325
I know it does dot1Q, not sure about ISL, but probably.
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