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Release Note: 520/540 Platform: Installing BIG-IP version 9.4.3
Release Note

Updated Date: 04/03/2009


This technical note documents the process of upgrading a 520/540 (D35) platform to the BIG-IP® software version 9.4.3 using a CD mounted on an installation server. For information about installing the software, please refer to the instructions below.


- Minimum system requirements and supported browsers
- About the upgrade
- Installing the software
- Contacting F5 Networks

Minimum system requirements and supported browsers

The minimum system requirements for this release are:

  • 512 MB RAM (if installed as a stand-alone Local Traffic Manager or Global Traffic Manager product)
  • 768 MB RAM (if installed as a combination of BIG-IP systems, such as a Local Traffic Manager/Global Traffic Manager installation, or as a Link Controller installation)
  • 512 MB CompactFlash® media drive

The supported browsers for the BIG-IP Configuration utility are:

  • Microsoft® Internet Explorer®, version 6.x
  • Mozilla® Firefox®, version 1.5x and version 2.0x

Note that we recommend that you leave the browser cache options at the default settings.

Important: Popup blockers and other browser add-ons or plug-ins might affect the usability of the browser-based Configuration utility. If you experience issues with navigation, we recommend that you disable these types of browser plug-ins and add-ons.

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About the upgrade

This technical note describes how to upgrade to version 9.4.3 on the 520/540 platform. The 520/540 platforms are not switch-based platforms. Some BIG-IP system features and requirements are slightly different, or are not supported, on the 520/540 platforms. The following section describes these features.

Interface support

When you install BIG-IP version 9.4.3 on a 520/540 platform, the interface 1.1 is converted to the management interface. The minimal configuration is two built-in interfaces; however, we recommend that you add network interface cards (NICs) to bring the total number of interfaces to at least three.

Memory support

The minimum memory supported is 512 MB. Most 520 platforms shipped with only 256 MB of RAM. The recommended amount of RAM is 1 GB. To avoid complications stemming from combining dissimilar brands of DIMMs, if you upgrade the memory on a unit, we recommend that you discard the old DIMMs and replace them with a single 512 MB or 1024 MB DIMM.

BIG-IP Link Controller and BIG-IP Global Traffic Manager/Local Traffic Manager combination installations require a minimum of 768 MB of memory. However, the recommended amount of RAM is 1 GB.

LED indicator behavior

The front panel LED behavior is the same as version 9.x behavior. For more information, see SOL4263: Change in Behavior: New front panel LED indicator behavior in BIG-IP version 9.x.

Monitor behavior

The behavior described in this section applies to BIG-IP 9.x installations. In some cases, the behavior does not occur until after you install the software.

  • You can use a serial connection to install the software, or you can directly connect a monitor and keyboard to the unit to complete installation.
  • When the system starts up, the messages appear on the screen that is connected using the serial connection, but not on the monitor that is directly connected to the unit.
  • When the system halts, the messages appear only on the screen that is connected using the serial connection, and not on the monitor that is directly connected to the unit.

NIC support

For details about obtaining supported network interface cards, SOL2306: Network interfaces cards supported by the F5 Networks PXE network boot server.

Unsupported features in the this release

Some switch-based BIG-IP system features are not supported on the 520/540 platforms. This section describes these features and their behavior.

Add-in hardware accelerator PCI cards

The following add-in hardware cards are not supported in this release on the 520/540 platforms:

  • Rainbow SSL PCI cards
  • nCipher FIPS cards

Switch port protocol support

Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP) and spanning tree protocol (STP) are not supported on the 520/540 platform. LACP switchboard fail-safe is not active on these platforms. The HA Table displays the switchboard fail-safe entry as disabled. LACP is enforced when the user attempts to set lacp_enable 'true' on a trunk.

STP is enforced by the global stp mode command setting. The allowed modes are passthru and disabled. Note that you can view and modify the other STP-related parameters without affecting system operation. These include the following commands: bigpipe stp, bigpipe stp instance, bigpipe interface stp, bigpipe auto edge, and bigpipe interface link type.

bigpipe commands

Most of the bigipipe commands are supported fully by the 520/540 platform, with the following exceptions:

Command Result
daemon Displays the bcm56xxd. Not functional.
db boot.netreboot Cannot enable. Not functional.
ha table Displays switchboard failsafe as disabled. Not functional.
interface [stp | auto edge | link type ] Can be configured. Has no effect.
interface pause Not supported
mirror Port mirror not supported and gives an error when configured.
stp Cannot set mode. Not functional.
stp instance Can be configured. Not functional.
trunk Cannot enable lacp.

Boot support

Quiet boot is supported. You can set this variable using the bigdb boot.quiet setting. The D35 Tyan 2515 motherboard does not support a CMOS setting for quiet boot, so you must use the BIOS setup utility to configure the BIOS quiet boot setting.

The bigpipe command netboot enable | disable is not supported on the 520/540 platform. You must use the front panel Netboot button.

Port mirroring

You cannot configure port mirroring on the 520/540 platform.

Baud rate support

You can use the command bigpipe baud rate to modify the current serial console (ttyS0), and the grub baud rate setting. This baud rate is maintained across reboots and power cycles. However, the Tyan 251x BIOS does not support a CMOS setting for baud rate. As a result, for the PXE installation, you must use the BIOS baud rate setting (default 19200) for the serial console.

Chassis sensor support

There is no sensor support for chassis fan, chassis power supply, chassis temperature, and CPU status.

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Installing the software

If the BIG-IP system is currently running version 9.2.x, 9.3, 9.3.1, 9.4, 9.4.1, or 9.4.2, you can upgrade directly to version 9.4.3, using the following procedure.

Warning: A valid service contract is required to complete this installation.

Warning: You must reactivate the license on the BIG-IP system on which you intend to install before you begin the installation.

The process of installing the BIG-IP version 9.4.3 software requires completing the following steps:

The following sections describe how to perform these tasks.

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Saving and backing up existing configuration data

Before you upgrade to this version of the software, you need to save your current configuration data. Backing up your configuration prevents loss of data if, for any reason, the upgrade is not successful.

Collect and archive the existing configuration files, by typing the following command. Note that to have the installer automatically load the configuration file during startup, you must name the file config.ucs and store it in the / partition.
bigpipe config save /config.ucs

Important: If you are upgrading a system that is using zone files with named, you must manually back up all necessary zone files and save them to a remote location. After the upgrade is complete, you can place them on the upgraded system. There is a new location on the version 9.x system for these files: /var/named/config/namedb.

Important: It is critical that you back up the archived configuration files to a secure remote location. In the event installation fails, you must use the remotely stored file in order to restore your configuration data. For more information about UCS archive files, see SOL4423: Overview of UCS archives.

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Download the installation CD-ROM ISO image from F5 Networks

Before you begin the installation process, download the installation CD-ROM ISO image from the F5 Networks downloads site. For details about downloading the ISO image, see SOL167: Downloading software from F5 Networks.

Note: Before you continue, we recommend downloading the associated MD5 checksum file and performing the MD5 checksum operation to ensure that the file downloaded correctly. For more information about running the MD5 checksum, see Verifying the MD5 checksum of the installation file.

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Designating and configuring a remote host to be a Pre-boot Execution Environment (PXE) server

Before you perform a network boot from a CD, you must designate and configure a remote host to be a Pre-boot Execution Environment (PXE) server. This remote host must meet all the following criteria:

  • Contain a CD-ROM drive.
  • Support a CD-ROM boot.
  • Reside on the same network as the one to which the BIG-IP management interface is connected.

Note: You must connect the installation server to the same network to which the management port on the BIG-IP unit is connected.

Once you have designated a host, complete the following steps:

  1. Insert the CD into the drive on the installation server and reboot the host system from the CD-ROM drive.
    The system presents the following message:
    Select terminal type? [vt100]
  2. Press the Enter key to use vt100 emulation, or type the name of the terminal emulator you are using.
    The system presents the following options screen:
    Maintenance OS Options 
    Serve Provide network installation services
    Install Install software onto hard disk
    Reboot Reboot to your current system
    Exit Exit to maintenance shell
  3. Select the default, Serve.
    The system presents a list of available network interfaces.
  4. Select one for the installation server interface.
    After you select the interface you want to use as the installation server interface, the system presents the following prompt:
    Use existing DHCP server on subnet [no]?
  5. Indicate your DHCP choice:
    • If there is an existing DHCP server on your subnet that you want to use, type yes.
      The server configuration automatically completes.

      If you select this option, you can skip the rest of this procedure and go directly to Booting the target hardware from the remote PXE server.

    • If you want to set up this server as the DHCP server, type no.
      The system presents the following series of prompts:
      IP network [10.1.10]? 
      IP address of server 10.1.10[n] [199]?
      Lower range for clients 10.1.10.[n] [199]?
      Upper range for clients 10.1.10.[n] [200]?
      • If your subnet consists only of the server and the target BIG-IP unit, or is otherwise a private subnet, use the default IP addresses provided.
      • If other units share the subnet and there is a possibility of conflict, substitute the appropriate unique IP addresses and ranges. When you have finished entering the addresses, they are displayed and you are prompted to accept or reject them.

        Note: When you specify the IP address of the server, you need to enter only the last octet. When completing the lower and upper ranges for the clients, type the network numbers where the clients are situated.

    • If the settings displayed are correct, type yes. If they are not, type no to have the system prompt you to re-enter the addresses.
  6. Finally, the system prompts you to specify the protocol you want to use to transfer the installation files. The default protocol is HTTP; however, you can also transfer the files using NFS.
    Once you accept the settings, the server configuration is complete.
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Booting the target hardware from the remote PXE server

After you designate and configure a remote host to be a PXE server, you are ready to perform the network boot from the console of the platform on which you wish to install the software.

Note: You must connect the PXE server directly to the management port on the BIG-IP unit, or to the network to which the management interface is connected.

  1. First, net boot the unit.
    • If the unit is powered down, power it up, and within the first ten seconds use a paperclip to push the NETboot button on the front panel.
    • If the unit is started and running, type the following two commands in sequence:
      bigpipe db boot.netreboot enable reboot
    You might receive the following message after you type the reboot command:
    The requested operation is not supported by the hardware.
    If you see this error message, use a paperclip to push the RESET button on the front panel. Then, within ten seconds, use a paperclip to push the NETboot button.
  2. After the system reboots, it attempts to discover the installation server. Once the installation server is found, the system presents the following prompt:
    Press M or Control-SPACE to view menu.
    Let the timer count down to auto-select the installation options. After the timer counts down, the installer prompts you for the terminal type.
    Terminal type? [vt100]
    Press the Enter key to continue, or specify the terminal type you are using. We recommend that you use vt100.
    The system posts a number of messages, and then installation starts. Once installation starts, you can use the arrow and Tab keys to navigate the presented options. You can select an option from a menu using the Enter key or the highlighted character key, and you can toggle select boxes on or off using the spacebar.
  3. Respond to the installation script prompts for the following information:
    • You can specify a syslog server if you want a log of the installation process. Type the IP address of the syslog server you want to use, or continue without typing an IP address if you do not want to specify a syslog server.
      Note: The syslog option is not present when the controlling terminal is the console. You see this option only when you are performing the installation through an SSH connection.
    • After the syslog screen, you are prompted for an installation server URL or path.
      The installation script provides the information about the installation server you created. We recommend you use the installation server found by the installation script. The format for the URL is: http://<installserver>/cdserver or nfs://<installserver>/cdserver
    • You are then prompted for the installation location. An installation location is a portion of a drive with adequate space required for an installation. If the hardware supports multiple installation locations, you can create more than one installation by installing the software on each location. At boot time, you can select which installation you want to boot. To install on multiple installation locations, follow the on-screen instructions.
    • Next, you have the option to roll forward any supported configurations (config.ucs files) found on the system.
  4. After responding to each prompt, review the installation options you have selected. Select Yes on the final BIG-IP install screen to begin installing.

The software takes only a few minutes to install. Once the installation is complete, the unit reboots to the installation in slot 0 or CF (CompactFlash® media drive). You can use the switchboot utility to specify which installation you want to boot by default. For more information about the switchboot utility, see Using the switchboot utility.

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Adding an IP address to the management interface using the config command

After you complete the installation of the software, and before you license the software, run the config command to configure an IP address, net mask, and gateway on the management port (MGMT). The config command is a command line utility created for this purpose. You can run the config command from the serial console you used during installation.

To run the config command, type the following command:


After you run this utility and add an IP address, net mask, and gateway to your management port, you can log on to the Configuration utility (graphical user interface), and license the unit.

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Licensing the software using the Configuration utility

Before you can convert your configuration files or configure the system, you must license the software. To activate the license for the system, you must have a base registration key. The registration key is a 27-character string that lets the license server know which F5 products you are entitled to license. If you do not already have a registration key, you can obtain one using the dossier from a licensed 4.5.x or 4.6.x system (

To activate the license using the Configuration utility
  1. Open a web browser on a work station attached to the network on which you configured the management port. If you have not configured this IP address, see Adding an IP address to the management interface using the config command.
  2. Type the following URL in the browser, where <IP address> is the address you configured for the management port (MGMT):
    https://<IP address>/
  3. At the password prompt, type the default user name admin and the default password admin, and click OK.
    The Licensing screen of the Configuration utility opens.
  4. To begin the licensing process, click the Activate button.
    Follow the on-screen prompts to license the system. For additional information, click the Help tab.

Note: If you create a stand-alone Global Traffic Manager installation or a Local Traffic Manager/Global Traffic Manager installation, after licensing the Global Traffic Manager, the system requests that you perform a software reboot. This statement is intended to indicate that you should restart the system (such as through the command bigstart restart before moving the system into a production environment.

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Contacting F5 Networks

  Phone: (206) 272-6888
Fax: (206) 272-6802

For additional information, please visit

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