Ubuntu image for EVE-NG – Python for network engineers

Lately I’ve started working more and more with EVE-NG to test various network scenarios, automation and in general to try and learn something everyday.

If you’re familiar with EVE-NG, you know where to find various Linux images which you can download and install . Very helpful indeed, however all of them are coming without any pre-installed tools which I need for network oriented tests. I need Python, IPerf, Ansible, various Python libraries for network automation, etc.
Basically every time when I setup a new lab in EVE-NG, I need to make sure that the Linux image has a connection to Internet to download all these tools. Doable, but too much time consuming.

Lately EVE-NG has the Pro version, where you have Docker images which support some of the tools for a network engineer needs to test automation. If you already have EVE-NG Pro, then maybe this is a bit redundant. However if you’re still using the Community version, it may sounds interesting.

I’ve developed the Ubuntu (18.04) image using the same tools that you can find in my Docker image (Ubuntu 16:04 Pfne):
* If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, please read my previous post.

  • Openssl
  • Net-tools (ifconfig..)
  • IPutils (ping, arping, traceroute…)
  • IProute
  • IPerf
  • TCPDump
  • NMAP
  • Python 2
  • Python 3
  • Paramiko (python ssh support)
  • Netmiko (python ssh support)
  • Ansible (automation)
  • Pyntc

The image is hosted on my Firstdigest Project at Sourceforge.
If you are in a hurry, download directly using this link: Ubuntu 18.04 Pfne for EVE-NG.

For convenience here are the steps, but if you run into trouble be sure to check the EVE-NG Documentation.

  • Download the image
  • Using favorite SFTP Client (WinSCP, FileZilla) connect to your EVE-NG and upload the image to the location: /opt/unetlab/addons/qemu/
  • Connect via SSH to your EVE-NG machine and go to location:

  • Unzip your uploaded image file.

  • Remove the archived image file (be sure to have a copy somewhere to avoid you have to download it again)

  • Fix permissions

The image comes with the following predefined username and password (security was not the point here):

With this image you have everything ready for your tests. You want to test QoS? Just design a network and two (client / server pair) machine using this image and push some packets with IPerf. Or maybe you want to test some automation. Here you have it, just start playing with.

Btw, I assume you have the EVE-NG installed. If not and you’re into learning topics, I’ll advise you to install this great application. You can start with Community version which is free (and honestly has enough features for most of the self-teaching engineers out there) and if you feel like go with the Pro version.

Let me know if you find it useful. In case of problems, please comment and I’ll try to help in my spare time.

Remote desktop, GNS3 crashes when drag and drop topology objects

Couple of days ago I reinstalled my machine that I use as GNS3 server. It was about time as thing started to become a bit unstable after so many patches and updates to bring it up from Ubuntu 8.04.

I picked Xubuntu 14.04 LTS as my distro because I like XFCE and with the new GNS3 installed directly from PPA following https://www.gns3.com/support/docs/linux-installation it seems to be a piece of cake the entire story.

Unfortunately the reality was different. The above machine is sitting in my lab and most of the time I do just remote desktop on it via X2GO or XRDP. The issue that I encounter was that GNS3 was starting fine, everything looked to be working correctly, but when I was trying to drag and drop an object (like router, switch) to the topology the GNS3 would crash and the logs would show a nice segmentation fault.

I spent a lot of hours reading about and it seems I’m not the only one which had this strange behavior. However nobody could actually point out a real solution to this problem.

One workaround that I found to be working is to use Thinlinc, a remote desktop server provided by Cendio. The free version supports for up to 10 concurrent users and in my case this limitation should not pose a problem. One disadvantage can be seen that it’s not open source and you need to install also the client software. Again not a big deal, at least for my scope.

If you arrived to my post looking for a solution, the above workaround can be one and it’s working fine.

However, the engineer in me was not satisfied as why the solution would not work just using the included packages in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.

Digging more, I found that the problem is not actually related to GNS3, but rather to the Qt version that comes with Ubuntu 14.04. Also it’s seems that not only GNS3 is affected by this issue, which appears to be a Qt Bug, but also other software used via a remote X11 connection – https://bugreports.qt.io/browse/QTBUG-38109

Now if you check the GNS3 Linux manual installation page, you’ll see that python3-pyqt5 must be installed. When you install it from PPA, the same python3-pyqt5 is installed, just that maybe you’ll miss it among the other packets that are added automatically.

Checking the Ubuntu 14.04 packages http://packages.ubuntu.com/trusty/python/ (search for python3-pyqt5 to avoid going via all packages) I noticed that the default version is 5.2.1 I’ve checked for particular Bugs with this version that can be related to my problems, unfortunately my search brought no conclusive result, so I had to assume that this version has a problem. I’m not a developer so this task was even harder for me.

I went to check the next Ubuntu release. 15.04 is out of the marked since January 2016 and the only alternative was 15.10. I’m not very keen on trying non-LTS versions, but desperate times require desperate measures. Searching for the same python3-pyqt5 (http://packages.ubuntu.com/wily/python/) I saw that this version is 5.4.2.

Next I tried to find a way to install the 5.4.2 python3-pyqt5 version on Ubuntu 14.04. No success here. I ran into more problems than solutions. If you have a solution to have these two versions working together, please let me know.

Having nothing to lose I downloaded the Xubuntu 15.10, installed it and…everything is working like a charm so farm. I can open GNS3 and drag and drop successfully via a remote connection (XRDP or X2GO).

As you can see I have no solution to the actual problem, but at least I can suggest 2-3 workarounds that may get you out of the woods. For me an article like this would have been very helpful while doing my research, but there was none out there, beside different community posts usually without any answer. This is the reason for which I wanted to share this story with you.

If you have this issue and found another solution, please let me know as I would like to use the 14.04 LTS version of Ubuntu, otherwise I need to wait for the release of 16.04 LTS scheduled for this year.

SSL Certificate signed by own CA

There are a lot of “how-to” on the Internet explaining the setup procedure. This is mainly a copy / paste example for those in a hurry :)

How to setup your own CA

Generate a key for CA

Pick a password and remember it!

Generate a SSL certificate for CA

How to create a new SSL certificate signed by your own CA

Request a new key for the new domain that you want to secure

Pick a password and remember it!

Request a CSR and sign it with the previous created key

Request the SSL certificate and sign it against the CA

(Optional for Linux) Secure the key on the server

To have the SSL working you need to copy on the server side
– MyServerName.key
– MyServerName.crt
– myCA.crt (that’s the CA certificate)

How to view a certificate

How to check whether a private key matches a certificate or that the certificate matches the certificate signing request (CSR)

Does anybody knows a simple script that can offer the above functionality from web interface? I was looking around for a while now, but either they are enterprise complex or do not work. Let me know in Comments if you have a good suggestion.


How to integrate F5 BIG-IP VE with GNS3

I would like to start by saying Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays season to all. In between spending time with my family, decorating the Christmas three and opening presents, I did find some time to play around with my hobby and testing something in the lab.

Lately I wanted to get a feeling how F5 BIG-IP works, you know, just to get familiar with its interfaces, rules and being capable of setting up a basic LTM or APM. Far from me the idea of becoming an expert on the first touch, but it’s nice to discover new technologies.

Beside getting the F5 BIG-IP VE (Virtual Edition), running up VMware (ESXi, Player, Fusion or Workstation) and starting the virtual machine I also wanted to emulate some kind of real environment to test. So, I did build the below topology in GNS3:

F5 BIG-IP Simple setup

Some explanation:

  • Client WIN7 is a VM in VirtualBox and integrated in GNS3
  • WWW Servers are VMs in VirtualBox and integrated in GNS3
  • WIN2008 AD DC is a VM in VirtualBox and integrated in GNS3
  • Routers are emulated in GNS3
  • F5 BIG-IP VE is a VM in VMware Workstation and integrated as a Cloud in GNS3

GNS3 is version 1.2.1 which works perfect. Why VirtualBox and VMware Workstation? Usually I have no problem to have my VMs in VirtualBox, but I could not successfully import the F5 BIG-IP VE OVA image in VirtualBox. I had to download a trial version of VMware Workstation to install the OVA image.

If you want to know more about this F5 product, Ethan Banks has a great article about the BIG-IP VE. Please note that Ethan’s article is about getting a lab license for BIG-IP VE. I just went for the trial version. You can download the OVA image and get the license here:

Download the BIG-IP VE OVA image, get a trial license (valid for 90 days) and install it in VMware Workstation. It may work with other VMware products, but in this article I’m using only VMware Workstation.

The part that gave me some headache was the how to have a successfully network communication between VMware Workstation and GNS3.

Before GNS3 1.2.1, when I had to use a “cloud” to integrate VirtualBox VMs in GNS3, I was configuring a TAP interface and use Bridge mode for the VM NIC to the TAP interface. Then on the GNS3 Cloud, I was adding the TAP as a Generic Ethernet NIO on the NIO Ethernet. If you want to refresh more deeply the above information please read my article about How to integrate GNS3 with VirtualBox.

Unfortunately, in VMware Workstation, I cannot just bridge a VMnet interface to a TAP and use that specific VMnet in a VM. I just could not make it work.

To cut it short, here are the steps that I had to follow to have this working. I assume that you have VMware Workstation installed already. Another detail is that I’m using Ubuntu 14.04 to test the entire scenario.

1. Add two VMnet interfaces in VMware Workstation Virtual Network Editor

Use the image below to have an idea what I mean.

Virtual Network Editor

2. Configure the BIG-IP VE NIC as follow in VMware Workstation

I assume that you have the BIG-IP VE OVA imported in VMware Workstation


I had 4 NICs originally, but I only need three:

  • VMnet0 is bridge to my real LAN interface so I can manage the F5 BIG-IP VE over Web / CLI interfaces
  • VMnet11 – one “internal” interface facing LAN (server side)
  • VMnet22 – one “external” interface facing WAN (client side)

3. Configure two tap interfaces for F5 BIG-IP VE to be used in GNS3

11 – internal, 22 – external

*user = the non-root user which you use on Ubuntu host.

If you are having problems to find tunctl command please do the following:

Bring the interfaces up

4. Remove the IP addresses on both TAP and VMnet interfaces

5. Bridge the TAP and the VMnet interfaces

Bring the bridge interfaces up

5. Add the F5 BIG-IP VE to GNS3

If with GNS3 1.2.1 you can add the VirtualBox VMs directly, for the VMware Workstation (Player, Fusion, etc…) VMs you still need to you the Cloud part.

My GNS3 for F5 topology looks like this:

F5 topology in GNS3

And the GNS3 Cloud (representing the F5 BIG-IP VE) settings are the following:

F5 GNS3 Cloud settings

6. Connect the GNS3 Cloud interfaces to R1 and R2

Like shown in the image above, connect the TAP interface of the Cloud to the peer routers.

I’m running all applications (GNS3, VMware Workstation, VirtualBox) as non-root user. If you’re doing the same an error may occur in GNS3. Something like:

Server error [-3200] from x.x.x.x:8000: R1: unable to create TAP NIO

If this is the case, please run the following command on Ubuntu host:

This will help you setup the environment to test F5 BIG-IP VE in a lab environment totally virtualized. I’m not going to cover here how to configure the F5 BIG-IP VE. Maybe in one of my next articles.

If you encounter problems, please let me know in Comments.

IPsec VPN Mikrotik to Linux

After writing the Mikrotik IPsec VPN article and I got some questions about how Mikrotik will work with a Linux device to build an IPsec VPN. I did notice that the questions were more oriented for a copy / paste solution, so I’ll provide one that it’s working. If you need more details about why the solution is like it this, please let me know.
Also don’t forget to customize the solution as you need.

I’ll start with the same topology like in the last post, just that the right side now it’s a Linux device.


Please consider the minimum ports needed to be open on your firewall from my earlier article. Just don’t forget to open these ports also on the Linux device.

First let’s configure the Mikrotik.

The IPsec Proposal



IP > IPsec > Proposals

The IPsec Policy



IP > IPsec > Policies

The IPsec Peer



IP > IPsec > Peers

Now, the Linux part. I’m using Ubuntu, but I’m not going to advocate here for one flavour or another. So, just use any device with Linux or you try solutions such as Amazon AWS. Install Openswan (compile it from source or install via your Linux flavour package system).

The main file for Openswan is ipsec.conf. For me this file is in /etc, but I assume it can reside in another location.

For the above example, the ipsec.conf file looks like this:

You need to associate the keyword “left” with “local” and “right” with “remote” and it will be easier to read the configuration above.

Also in the /etc location I have another file called ipsec.secrets which has the pre-shared secret key:

This is the minimal configuration that I need to apply to have the IPsec VPN up and running. I’m sure that it can be fine tuned to add more security or features, but that is not in scope of this post.

As always if you have problems please let me know in Comments.