Wednesday, 26 February 2014

F5 LTM Virtual Edition in Virtualbox

The F5 LTM Virtual Edition is a great way to get some experience with the product if you can't get your hands on any physical kit. If you're working your way way through the new certification path you'll need all the exposure and experience you can get so a local VM on a desktop hypervisor is ideal for practicing or having a poke around the web interface or CLI when you have some spare time.
I tend to use VirtualBox for my desktop virtualisation needs as it's cross platform and free, but there are no officially supported images provided by F5. After a bit of trial and error,  I've found the following setup to work nicely. Bear in mind though that you will need to acquire a trial license / base registration key. I don't know that F5 will be able to provide you this directly if you are an end user but your reseller or partner should be able to get you a 30 or 45 day evaluation license.

Firstly - download the Hyper-V VHD files for TMOS 11.5.0. (Link - registration required).
Extract the two VHD files into a folder wherever you like to keep your VMs.
Create a new virtual machine with the following properties:
Linux 2.6 / 3.0 Kernel (64-bit)
At least 2048MB of RAM (the more you have, the more modules you can potentially enable).
When prompted to add disks, skip this part and accept the warning.
When complete, edit the virtual machine settings and go to the storage tab.
Under store, find the SATA controller, add the largest of the VHD files first, then the one which has DATASTORE in the name.
Under network, add one interface (we'll add the rest later but this way we can make sure the management interface is eth0). I use host-only for my management network as it doesn't need internet access usually. Feel free to use whatever you need but the interface type should be PCNET PCI-ii. There's some stuff on F5 DevCentral that hints at there being VirtIO support in 11.2 but I've not tested it out yet.
Start the VM up from Virtualbox and check POST for errors / kernel panics but you should be fine. If you get any errors about MCP not running, go make a cup of tea and then try again. It'll load eventually :)

Once you've configured an IP address - check you can access it from a web browser on https://x.x.x.x. If you can, shut down the VM and we're ready to add some more interfaces.
Back in the network settings of your VM, add in as many interfaces as you need but make sure the type is the Intel PRO/1000 MT Server type.
Something to watch is the order of the interfaces; they might not match the order you've specified them in. You can use something like...

watch "ethtool ethX | grep detected"

and then disconnect and reconnect the virtual cable to see which interface maps where. Your finished VM settings should be similar to this...

That should be your lot - just activate your license and then start playing!

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