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.