Javier Solis

1 minute read

The Why

For those of you who are new to the site, welcome! I wanted to start with “Why Networking,” and maybe it will help you find your “Why.” My first post dates back to 2013 when I was just a Network Administrator. Before that, I remember reading technical blogs and books at the infancy of my IT journey. There’s so much fantastic content out there.

No longer is learning bound to written format, so I decided to create a YouTube channel that revolves around Networking and other related technical topics as complementary content for my blog. I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned and continue to learn, and that’s what you’ll find here. Enjoy!

Why networking or more specifically computer networking?

YouTube Video


4 minute read

Can you really obtain a Free virtual switch…

Virtual NOS images can help you get your feet wet into the wonderful world of networking without the need for purchasing physical switches. There are tons of virtual switches or networking operating systems that can be loaded onto your favorite hypervisor that can be had for free. However, one must scour the ends of the Internet for a legitimate downloadable virtual NOS. I want to save you some time and heartache, so I’ve compiled some information on how to obtain a few of these freely available Virtual NOS images. Don’t worry; the list contains well-known network operating systems such as Cisco, Arista, and Extreme Networks, which are widely deployed switches and routers.

Extreme Networks - EXOS/VOSS

One of the easiest virtual switches you can get your hands on is virtual EXOS or virtual Extreme Networks NOS. You can download an ISO or qcow2 image, which can be loaded onto your favorite hypervisor, such as ESXi, KVM, or VirtualBox. You can grab the image from the Extreme Networks Github Virtual_EXOS page here. You’ll also find VOSS or the Virtual Service Platform Operating System, which Extreme Networks acquired from Avaya sometime ago and is still going strong as one of Extreme Networks core network operating systems. There’s no need to enter any personal information. Just find the version you want, and off you go. There are detailed directions for loading images onto ESXi, virtualbox, and GNS3 on the Extreme Networks Github page.

Cisco - Virtual IOS-XE

Cisco also has a virtual version of IOS-XE, which you can find labeled as CSR 1000v. The CSR 1000v is known as Cisco Cloud Service Router that runs IOS-XE. IOS-XE also runs on some of the newer Cisco platforms, so CSRv is a great way to get acclimated with Cisco CLI syntax. I was able to find a version of the CSR-1000v software after creating an account with Cisco at https://software.cisco.com/download/home. The latest version I was able to download without requiring a service contract was 3.12.0S(ED). Unfortunately, I couldn’t download a more recent 16.x code train that runs on the newer Catalyst series unless I purchased a service contract.

Arista - vEOS

Arista offers a virtual version of their NOS, Arista Extensible Operating System. You can register for an account on https://www.arista.com/en/login using a personal email account. Once you create an account, you’ll have access to the support portal, which grants you download access to vEOS. I downloaded vEOS64-lab-, which I was able to load with VirtualBox.

Juniper - vQFX

Juniper vQFX has a free unlimited trial of vQFX https://www.juniper.net/us/en/dm/free-vqfx-trial/. When I signed up with my personal Gmail email account, I couldn’t access the vqfx free trial. You’re going to have to use a business email address to create a non-guest account to access the vQFX download.

Other resources to consider

If you want to practice getting used to Cisco CLI syntax, Cisco Packet Tracer is free. You’ll have to create a Cisco Netacad account for access https://www.netacad.com/. Packet tracer is a software package that simulates Cisco devices for practicing CLI syntax, building, and interconnecting Cisco devices. There’s also a macOS version of Packet Tracker too.

Cisco also has VIRL, another extensive virtual lab suite that allows you to spin up a bunch of Cisco virtual switches and routers depending on your available hardware resources, but it will cost you. The devices in VIRL are virtual versions of Cisco’s network operating systems and are not simulated like they are in Packet Tracer. Full-blown virtual versions of Cisco IOS allow you to generate and forward actual traffic through the virtually interconnected Cisco devices if you wish. The downside is that you’ll need some heavy compute resources to run VIRL.

NRE labs or network reliability labs has some lessons on automation that spin up access to Linux and Juniper’s virtual network operating system vQFX via a web browser. There’s no need to enter any personal information or download any images. You can hop straight into a web-based lesson and run through some free content. To access NRElabs click here https://nrelabs.io/

Then there’s GNS3 https://www.gns3.com/ one of the favorites among networking folks. GNS3 can emulate hardware for virtual NOS images such as the images from Cisco VIRL and provide simulation functions. It’s a very well rounded software suite and there’s plenty of documentation across the web on how to get started with GNS3.

Have fun,

Javier Solis

2 minute read

The Issue

The Wi-Fi signal in the garage and upstairs hasn’t been working too well at home. I have a couple of spare Extreme Networks cloud capable access points (previously Aerohive APs) and an Extreme Networks x440g2-24t that I pick up from eBay. The plan is to install an AP in the garage, the other upstairs, and the x440g2 will be setup in my home office.

Detailed list of the Extreme Networks gear:

  • AP121, Dual radio 2.4Ghz/5Ghz 802.11n Access Point
  • AP150w, Dual radio 2.4Ghz/5Ghz 802.11ac Wall Plate Access Point
  • X440g2-24t-10G, 24x10/100/1000Gb (non PoE), 4x10Gb SFP+

Even though the APs are cloud managed capable, I could use SSH for configuration and there’s always the good old CLI for the x440g2 switch. However the Extreme Networks x440g2 also happens to support cloud management. It would be fantastic to be able to use cloud management for both my APs and the switch, because who wants to use CLI to manage SOHO gear? Not me.

The Cloud Managed Solution

For most it all comes down to cost. However, if you’re not familiar with Extreme Networks then you probably don’t know that Extreme offers a “FREE” network cloud management tier. That’s right I said free. When you initially setup an ExtremeCloud IQ account, you have the option to select “Connect” which is a free cloud management tier.

Once I had all the gear powered on, I onboarded everything to my ExtremeCloud IQ Connect account. Being that Connect is free, it doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles that a license would provide, however I found things work quite well for home use.

Here’s a list of the main items which you can configure with the free tier:

  • Wireless/Switch DNS, NTP, SNMP, Syslog, LLDP configuration
  • Wireless Enterprise wpa/wpa2/wpa3 (w/radius configuration)
  • Wireless PSK wpa/wpa2/wpa3 w/Captive Web Portal option
  • Wireless Unsecured w/Captive Web Portal option
  • Wireless SSID configuration supports IP/MAC based firewall rules
  • Wireless Radio/Ethernet/VLAN settings
  • Switch STP Mode/Settings
  • Switch STP Port Settings
  • Switch VLAN untagged/tagged configuration
  • Switch MTU Settings
  • Switch port storm control configuration

And here’s an accompanying YouTube video on how to get everything up and running along with a demo of ExtremeCloud IQ Connect.

Improving Wi-Fi plus free cloud management with ExtremeCloud IQ

YouTube Improving Wi-Fi in garage plus free cloud management with ExtremeCloud IQ Video


Javier Solis

2 minute read

Too much clutter

I’ve been trying to reduce the clutter in my home office, and part of that clutter are two of my custom built computer rigs. One is a mid-sized ATX Windows gaming rig, and the other is just collecting dust.

My gaming rig consists of a nearly nine-year-old processor, an Intel i5-2400. The Sandy Bridge CPU is paired with a newer Radeon RX 5600XT GPU, which believe it or not allows me to play some modern-day video games. So to make more space, I’ve been thinking of building a small form factor gaming rig to replace my two mid-sized ATX towers. Most of the SFF cases I’ve ran across require a Mini-ITX motherboard, along with a matching CPU, and SFX PSU. However, I really want to reuse the parts I already have, or salvage the usable parts. That’s when I ran across a used NCASE M1 V3 on eBay. 

The NCASE M1 Build

After some more research, I found that I could reuse all of my existing parts with the NCASE M1. The only thing I’d have to figure out is how to fit my ATX power supply in the NCASE M1.

Here’s the salvaged parts list that will make it into the NCASE M1:

  • Corsair CX650M ATX PSU
  • Mini-DTX MSI H61M-E33/W8
  • Intel i5-2400 CPU
  • Radeon RX 5600XT
  • Two SSD Drives
The build is extremely tight, but everything fit. So now I can finally clear out some clutter. I recorded a YouTube video describing the build and also how to get the ATX PSU mounted in the NCASE M1. As always, feel free to leave comments or ask questions on YouTube or Twitter:

NCASE M1 Build - ATX PSU (Old CPU + New GPU)

YouTube NCASE M1 with ATX PSU Video


Javier Solis

2 minute read

Something New

My day job continues to revolve around IT-related networking work, and I tend to spend quite a bit of time on other techie projects. So I decided it was time to get away from the keyboard and embark on a non-IT-related side project.

My wife and I were driving to the grocery store when I spotted a Datsun 280ZX for sale. It was difficult to hide my excitement as I previously owned a U.S. Nissan 240sx (a.k.a S13) fastback in college around the time I meet my wife. You could say that it was a “project” car, but it became my daily driver. A few years later, I had to get rid of the 240 and have since loved the Datsun/Nissan hatchback style. My wife said if I didn’t call the number on the Datsun 280ZX, I would regret it. So now we own a 1981 Datsun 280ZX “project” car.

We couldn’t get the car to start, so I had the Datsun towed home. The body isn’t in too bad of shape, and the interior needs some TLC.

The dash is cracked, the window seals, seats, and the carpet will need to be replaced. But my first task is to find out if the engine has any life left. The engine is an inline 6 (L28ET) and equipped with a turbo. I spent a few hours researching the possible non-starting issues and uploaded some of the initial work onto YouTube.

Datsun 280ZX Restoration Side Project - Will it start?

YouTube Video Datsun 280ZX will it start