Setting up F5 BIG IP lab at home

Since few days, I have been trying to set up F5 BIG IP lab at home to practise for the F5 BIG IP LTM specialist exam 301a. Yes, you guessed it right,  I have already completed my F5 BIG IP 101 and 201 by referencing some books, study guide at F5 website and some practical exposure from my office.

But, now I think it is a good idea to set up a lab at home which I can switch on/off anytime and twist the settings. So here is how my journey begins with setting up of lab at home.

I started with my so-called new HP laptop(7 years old) and damn, it is 32 bit. F5 Big IP needs 64 bit OS. So either I should buy a new one or look out for the alternatives. I then tested couple of more laptops including one from my office and all were 32bit.

I then thought of buying a lab in cloud or practicing using AWS. Though the rates looks really cheap like 0.4$ per minutes but most liekly buying a new laptop would be cheaper and a better investment.

So I finally got a new high end acer v15 laptop with windows 10 64 Bit and 16GB RAM. Fully excited, I downloaded the trial version from F5 site and imported in oracle Virtual box. Only for your information, oracle virtual box is also an open source free software.

The F5 version which I downloaded is 11.3 and my oracle virtual box version is 5.1.

There was no error while importing the F5 BIG IP ovf file but when starting this machine, it would simply hangs on “GRUB Loading stage2..”.

After doing some research on google, I found the post where the solution is mentioned as activating the com port. I did that and it worked. So fianlly I can boot my F5 BIG IP virtual device and can access it from webinterface and from command line.

Now in order to complete the lab, I looked for a very lightwieght distro where I can run my web servers. I found damnsmall linux box as one of the best option. The image is just about 50Mb and takes less than a minute to boot. It has monkey webserver in it. So for the initial lab, you really do not need to do anything more.

 

 

 

F5 BIG IP – 201 exam – TMOS administration (Tips and tricks)

Yesterday, I cleared my F5 BIG IP 201 exam and am now a F5 BIG IP certified administrator.

Honestly, the f5 certification is very different than the other vendors exam. It is not easy, there are no books in market but once you cross the river, you would feel proud of yourself.

If you need the tips and tricks for F5 BIG IP 101 exam Application delivery fundamentals, refer to my other blog F5 BIG IP – 101 Exam Application delivery fundamentals

Below are some tips and tricks required to crack this F5 BIG IP 201 exam (TMOS administration)  :

  1. Stop searching for book on the internet. I tried a lot but could not find one single book which covers all the topics of 201 exam.
  2. Refer the F5 BIG IP 201 – study guide for preparation. Do not forget to go through the links given in this guide. This is the only and main material which covers most of the part of this exam.
  3. Videos at CBT nuggets can help to speed up your learning the F5 LTM product. But just watching the videos and doing tutorial in the lab may not be sufficient to pass this exam.
  4. Do you know what is BIG-IQ ? If not, read it. There were 2-3 questions on it. Do not leave any topic assuming it to be not important.
  5. Get used to seeing the network map screen, nodes, pool or pool member screen. There are several questions with the snapshot taken from these screen.
  6. Understand the status symbols and when will the node/pool member etc will get the traffic or not.
  7. Try the backup and restore command multiple times via the command line so that you know the syntax.
  8.  About 3-4 questions were based on priority and ratio in virtual servers. So it is important to understand the division of load with priority and ration set.
  9. Few questions will have log files snippets. Fortunately the information in the logfiles snippets are not difficult to interpret. The options given in such questions are very easy. So it is quite simple to get to the right answer.
  10. Read about the priority and what you will be providing to the F5 support. For example, if you are suspecting some hardware failure, you would give the F5 EUD log files. If you created a new virtual server and it is not passing the traffic, this should be opened as priority 3 incident case with the F5 BIG IP. I hope this will give hint as what kind of questions to expect 😉
  11. There are good number of questions on HA sync issue or software updates.
  12. Which port is required to fetch the logs from the mgmt GUI by the admin ?? Oops such tricky questions may appear where you have to use logic at that moment only.
  13. Tick tick tick….watch out the time. You may run out of it. There are some questions with story in it and many questions with the screenshots. Such question can eat your time. If you stuck, move ahead.

I hope the above tips and tricks may help. Unlike F5 101 exam, in the 201 exam, it is quite simple to rule out the wrong options. So if you can get to the right answer by just reading the question, try removing the worng answer.

All the very best for the exam and would love to hear the feedback from you 🙂

 

Update 27 Jan 2017 : Here are the tips from Avi. Thanks Avi for sharing

order of virtual servers
port used for GUI
priority and ration based algorithm
where does system error files get saved.
when to provide EUD.

 

Update 27Feb 2017 : Below are the tips from NG. Thanks NG for sharing

  • there are total two guides – StudyGuide_201_TMOS_OfficialF5 and Certification_Study_Guide_201_v2
  • go through all links in both guides. which are mostly Ask5 and some Devcentral… they have very good information from both exam and knowledge point of view
  • hands-on practice is very helpful
  • questions on VS selection with order of preference
  • Pool member status, which pool member will be selected..timeout,2-3 IQ questions,Analytics,Cookie persistence…VS types,monitors and their settings,load balancing…
  • keep watch on time and if question is more descriptive then mark and go to next question and do this in last

 

Update 20 May 2017 : Below tips are shared by Ed. Thanks a lot for sharing as I am sure it would be helpful for other.

– Get used to reading the configurations in text mode as well, some question will show you a fragment of the config (in text) and ask based on that
– Make sure to understand the difference between status of a node and pool member. For example what happens if pool member reports status OK and node monitor down. Practice all the possible combinations in your own lab
– if a fan speed is slow where the log is reported? /var/log/messages is not an option 🙂
– Watch the BIG-IQ video on F5 University (under v11 Overview Modules > Getting Started with F5 Products). It will give you a great summary of what you need for the exam in less than 30 minutes
– Understand user roles and what permissions have each of these.
– make sure to understand when to use troubleshooting tools such as ping, netstat, curl, etc. sounds simple, but in some questions you might thing in two possible answers, you need to thing the BEST.
– tcpdump, they will describe scenarios and you need to understand where is the best interface/vlan to run this tool
– Assuming there is a UCS locally stored, from what directories the bigip.conf can be pulled (Think of two options)
– Test and read port lockdown and how to give admin access to a self IP
– Get used to common default settings. Some questions say “assuming default settings…”
– Study Guide is not enough… Go through the links and have additional reading.
– few questions (for not saying none) of iRules and SSL Profiles, actually these are not part of the blue print
– Good number of questions of clustering (SYNC, configuration groups, etc) make sure to read “Managing Configuration Synchronization” in the clustering guide https://support.f5.com/kb/en-us/products/big-ip_ltm/manuals/product/bigip-device-service-clustering-admin-11-4-0.html
– All the topics for the exam are on the Study guide, do not spend time searching for exam dumps or additional non-F5 material

 

Update 24 July 2017 : Below tips are shared by Ramesh :

  • If you have F5 Partner account, then please go through all the LTM video trainings, practice Vlab, study all Veritable Networks links.
  • Practice in Vlab( how to create user account in cli, curl command, tcpdump, nslookup, dig, how to analyze network map, dashboard gauge statistics output?, how to generate qkview file in cli, how to upload and save ucs files).

F5 BIG IP – 101 Exam Application delivery fundamentals (Tips and tricks)

Hello,

Here I come up with one another section of tips and tricks to pass the F5 BIG IP 101 Exam (Application delivery fundamentals) based on my own experience and the blogs I read on the internet :

  1. Most of the paper of 101 is based on networking fundamentals and is not easy like other vendors networking exam.
  2. One really need to understand the TCP/IP concepts. I remember one of the question from my exam asking the first packet number in TCP connection or how the source MAC address will be changed when packets transfers from point A to point B.
  3. Questions are story based where you are provided with a scenario and then you have to answer it.
  4. Since I was from the linux background with not much knowledge about networking, I read Applications delivery network by Philip and Steven and would highly recommend it.
  5. Also the study guide on F5 website is highly recommended. But do not just read this guide, also read in details or follow the links provided in this guide.
  6. The other resource which is helpful is CBT nuggets videos. Watching these videos can help to get speed up with learning BIG IP but they are not sufficient to pass this exam.
  7. During the exam, have a look at the clock. The time may tick away fast unlike other vendor exams where one has plenty of time.

All the very best for your exam and if you are still scared….remember, if you know the basics of networking, you will be through in this exam 🙂

I would love to hear the feedback from you and if you have any new tips for this exam. It would be very nice if you can share the exams topic after appearing in it. This may help other candidates.  🙂

I would not like to create dumps for the exam but just some help to our fellow friends. I will keep updating the below part as and when I will get new feedback from other exam taker.

Update : 02 July 2016 – Here are some more important topics from Jose for the exam.

vCPM
unsecure sslv3 tls 2 sslv2
flow on osi when sender
ethernet on what layer is 1-2 or 2-3
advantages between virtual and hardware
advantage of active/ standby

Update : 26 July 2016 – Here are some more important topics from David for the exam.

ipv6 correct address
ipv6 127.0.0.1 eq
mss , where is defined (syn-syn/ack-ack)
ftp active and passive
saml
ipsec/ssl
3 method for authentication (ex. ldap)
ldap syntax
dns syntax
http keep-alive
224.0.0.1 is used for?
TTL

 

Update : 05  Oct 2016 –  Here are some additional questions shared by Michal

  • In what scenario full proxy is required
  • Exibit where u had ( client ->proxy->LB->server ) and question was Why LB is there??  ( and answer was “because its closest to server” , “because it can forward traffic” and 2 more answers which i dont remeber .
  • AAA what for the 3rd A is standing for .
  • Admin have site example.com under address 192.12.13.14 and there is need to implement same site under new IP X X X X but first what you need to do is test it if its working . What will you do :  change something in DNS server , change local file on server +3 more answers .
  • Flow of osi when sender – when client A is sending packet to B how it will look on OSI  – layer from1 to 7 or from 7 to 1 .
  • There was one question about TCP dump output something like that :
172.23.12.11 > 10.1.2.3
10.1.2.3 >172.23.12.11
who will reply next  ( but note that there were flags etc i dont remember now ). So in short, you should be able to read TCP dump output
  • Output from trap snmp :
192.159.12.12 – 13.44.55.1    1.3.6.1.4.1.2789.5000  -(something like that )
And question what is client what is server .
  • Question where admin used some ip X.X.X.X/28  and something didnt work  answer was easy he used broadcast ip from subnet

 

 

Update : 07 Aug 2017 – Here are some tips shared by Smith

  • OSI Model ( which layer do you use in a particular situation)
  • Irules iapps icontrol isessions, about this we have a lot of questions
  • Modules (APM, AFM, LTM, GTM) advantages , and how it work each module
  • mac masquerade
  • Full half proxies in a particular situation( Which would you use)
  • protocol SOAP how it works ( the correct answers was XML, HTTP)
  • subnetting one question
  • ipv6 2 questions (localhost, and correct ipv6)
  • VLANS broadcast domain in a particular situation
  • ARP 224.0.0.1 is used for?
  • Questions about security models (positive and negative)
  • High avabaility
  • HA Active/ stanby advantages
  • encryption
  • MSS
  • ipsec/ssl
  • three way handshake, what is the last packet ? And we have to select FIN
    the process of checksum in tcp
  • FTP active passive
  • smtp
  • LDAP attributes
  • how can analyze and interpretation the packet capture examples
  • Packet forwarding
  • How many minimum connections are there in one ftp session?
    HTTP keepalive (header)