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Release Note: Installing BIG-IP software from a USB Thumb Drive
Release Note

Updated Date: 01/13/2010


This technical note documents the process of upgrading to BIG-IP® software using the USB thumb drive. For information about installing the software, please refer to the instructions below.


- Minimum system requirements and supported browsers
- Supported platforms
- Supported USB thumb drives
- About the installation
- Installing the software
- Contacting F5 Networks

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Minimum system requirements and supported browsers

The minimum system requirements for this release are:

  • 512 MB RAM (if running only Local Traffic Manager or only Global Traffic Manager)
  • 768 MB RAM (if running a combination of BIG-IP products,such as Local Traffic Manager and Global Traffic Manager, or running Link Controller)
  • 512 MB CompactFlash® media drive

Note: The 520/540 platform must meet certain requirements in order to support this version of the BIG-IP software. For more information, including memory requirements, see 520/540 Platform: Installing the BIG-IP software.

Warning: If you plan to upgrade a system licensed for Link Controller, Global Traffic Manager, or a combination Local Traffic Manager and Global Traffic Manager system, the BIG-IP unit you intend to upgrade must have a minimum of 768 MB of RAM. Originally, the BIG-IP 1000 (D39) and BIG-IP 2400 (D44) platforms were shipped with only 512 MB of memory.

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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Supported platforms

This installation method is supported only on the following platforms:

  • BIG-IP 1500 (C36)
  • BIG-IP 1600 (C102)
  • BIG-IP 3400 (C62)
  • BIG-IP 3410 (C100)
  • BIG-IP 3600 (C103)
  • BIG-IP 3900 (C106)
  • BIG-IP 6400 (D63)
  • BIG-IP 4100 (D46) - unit running Application Security Manager only
  • BIG-IP 4500 (D43) - unit running Web Accelerator System only
  • BIG-IP 6800 (D68)
  • BIG-IP 6900 (D104)
  • BIG-IP 8400 (D84)
  • BIG-IP 8800 (D88)
  • BIG-IP 8900 (D106)

If you are unsure which platform you have, look at the sticker on the back of the chassis to find the platform number.

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Supported USB thumb drives

This section describes the requirements for the USB thumb drives supported by this installation method. In order to use a USB thumb drive for this method of installation, the device must meet the following requirements:

  • USB Consortium as a Mass Storage Device certified
  • USB version 2.0 or later
  • 512 MB minimum capacity, recommended 1 GB capacity

The device capacity and capabilities are described in the following table.

Note: While smaller capacity devices are supported, we recommend using a device with at least 1 GB capacity.

Device Capacity Device Capability
512 MB to 1 GB Minimum space for BIG-IP product installation
1 GB or more Recommended size for BIG-IP product installation
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About the installation

This technical note describes how to create a bootable USB thumb drive and use it to install the BIG-IP software.

Warning: Version 4.5.x or 4.6.x installation. You cannot upgrade directly to this version from BIG-IP version 4.x. You must first upgrade to version 9.2.x, or an earlier version of 9.3.x or 9.4.x. For details about these installation methods, see the release notes for the associated release.

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

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

Important: You should perform the installation on the standby system in a redundant system. If you are satisfied with the results, failover and apply the upgrade to the other unit in the redundant system.

Important: Each unit in a redundant system must be running the same version of the software.

Important: We recommend that you run the MD5 checksum on any ISO image or IM upgrade file you download. For information about MD5 checksums, see the section Verifying the MD5 checksum of the installation file in the appropriate installation release note.

Important: If you are upgrading from 9.2.x, and you have a Global Traffic Manager unit that belongs to a sync group, you must remove the unit from the sync group before you install the software or apply the upgrade. Failure to do so may cause irrevocable damage to the units in the sync group that are running older versions of the software. Once you have upgraded all units to the same version, you can then re-create the sync group. For details on removing a unit from a sync group, see the product documentation. Once you have removed the unit from the sync group, you can proceed with the installation or upgrade. Note that this is for upgrades from 9.2.x only.

Note: We recommend installing Global Traffic Manager or Link Controller on the hard drives of BIG-IP systems. Although installation on some CompactFlash® drives is supported in most cases, it is not recommended.

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Installing the software

The process of upgrading 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 might need to use the remotely stored file in order to restore your previous configuration data. For more information about UCS archive files, see SOL4423: Overview of UCS archives.

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Downloading the installation image from F5 Networks

Before you begin the installation process, you might need to download the installation file from For details about downloading the .iso file, 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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Loading the installation image onto a bootable thumb drive

After you save the existing configuration and download the local installation .iso file, you must load the installation image onto the thumb drive. You can use the mkdisk utility to create a bootable thumb drive containing a software installation image. You can then use that thumb drive as the installation source to install the software.

When you create a bootable thumb drive, you can use a BIG-IP system, or you can use a Linux workstation. The system you use to create a bootable thumb drive must meet a number of requirements, including non-TMOS system software and third-party utilities. For information about non-TMOS system software and third-party utilities, refer to the appropriate documentation.

To create a bootable thumb drive, the system you use must meet the following requirements:

  • A system running Linux running the 2.6.x kernel
  • Perl version 5.8 or later
  • The Library for WWW in Perl (LWP) package
    For downloading and other information about the LWP Perl module collection, search the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network (CPAN) programming library, available at, or use another source, such as a Red Hat Package Manager (RPM) file (, the Advanced Packaging Tool apt-get program (, or another reliable source.
  • Utilities for disk and image manipulation
    The required utilities depend on the BIG-IP platform that you plan to use the thumb drive to install.
    • For BIG-IP platforms 1600, 3600, 3900, 6900, and 8900, the workstation must have the following utilities:
      • sfdisk: changes disk partitioning.
      • mke2fs: creates a Linux (ext2) filesystem.
      • extlinux: represents a lightweight bootloader that starts up computers with the Linux kernel.
    • For BIG-IP platforms 1500, 3400, 3410, 6400, 6800, 8400, and 8800, the workstation must have the following utilities:
      • sfdisk: changes disk partitioning.
      • mformat: creates a FAT32 filesystem.
      • syslinux: represents a lightweight bootloader that starts up computers with the Linux kernel.
      • mkisofs: creates an ISO9660 filesystem image.
      • implantisomd5: implants an MD5 checksum in an ISO9660 image.

To create the thumb drive

  1. Log on to the Linux workstation or BIG-IP system as root, since you need block-level access to the thumb drive.
  2. Mount the BIG-IP .iso file as a loopback device, or insert a BIG-IP CD-ROM into the CD-ROM drive. Either way, this process assumes that the .iso file or CD-ROM drive is mounted at /mnt/cd. (If you do not have this directory, you must create it. If you create it, use the exact name /mnt/cd.)
    To mount the .iso file, run the following command
    mount -o loop <iso_name>.iso /mnt/cd
  3. Insert the thumb drive (1 GB or larger recommended) on the Linux workstation or BIG-IP system.
  4. To change to the root directory of the mounted device, run the following command
    cd /mnt/cd
  5. To start the mkdisk script from that directory, run the following command
  6. Answer the questions the operation asks:
    • Specify the BIG-IP system you plan to use as the target for thumb-drive installation operations.
    • Specify the device to be used in the mkdisk operation (that is, the thumb drive you are creating).
    • To confirm that you want to continue, type y.
    • Specify the product that you want to transfer, or if there is only one product, type y to transfer that image.
    The operation checks for the required tools, and creates the thumb drive, which takes approximately two or three minutes on a BIG-IP 1600 system.

  7. To unmount the loopback device, run the command umount /mnt/cd

Note: The mkdisk utility offers VIPRION as one of the choices for the target of the thumb drive. The version 9.4.7 software does not support the VIPRION platform, but the utility does not prevent you from selecting the option.

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Installing the software on the BIG-IP system

You can use the newly created thumb drive to boot the target device. Place the thumb drive in the USB port of the target device and reboot it. The device automatically boots to the Maintenance OS on the thumb drive.

Note: This type of installation requires a serial console connected to the BIG-IP system. You must use the serial console to respond to the prompts presented by the installation script and to monitor the progress of the installation.

To install the new software

  1. Insert the bootable thumb drive into the USB port on the BIG-IP system.
  2. From the BIG-IP console, type the following command: reboot
  3. The system boots from the thumb drive.
  4. After the system boots into the installation script, the system presents the following prompt on the serial console connected to the BIG-IP system:

       Terminal type? [vt100]

    Press the Enter key to use vt100 emulation, or type the name of the terminal emulator you are using. We recommend that you use vt100.
  5. After a number of messages, 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.
  6. Respond to the installation script prompts for the following information:
    • First, you are prompted for the installation location. An installation location is a portion of a drive with adequate space for an installation. If the hardware supports multiple installation locations, you can follow the on-screen instructions to install on multiple installation locations.
    • Next, you have the option to roll forward any supported configurations (config.ucs files) found on the system. If you are installing this software on a system that contains an existing 9.x version of BIG-IP software, you should have already saved a UCS in the procedure Saving and backing up existing configuration data.
  7. After responding to each prompt, review the installation options, and select Yes on the final screen to begin installing.

After the installation finishes, the BIG-IP system reboots and you lose connectivity to the BIG-IP system until reboot is complete.

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Licensing the software using the Configuration utility

Before you can configure the system, you must reactivate the license for the new 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.

To reactivate 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.
  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 Reactivate button. Follow the on-screen prompts to license the system. For additional information, click the Help tab.
  5. Once you have reactivated the license, you can configure the BIG-IP system.
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Contacting F5 Networks

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

For additional information, please visit

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