Saturday, July 9, 2016 in Packet Tracer, Part 3

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In two previous blog posts, which can be found here and here, I started going through the labs on the Free CCNA Workbook website and attempting to perform the labs in Packet Tracer.  My focus lately has been more on my own studies with my first attempt at the SENSS exam scheduled for next month, but with Cisco finally releasing Packet Tracer to the world (you no longer need to be a Cisco Network Academy student to legally download a copy), I've been wanting to revisit this topic.  So in this post I'm going to move on to Section 5, Configuring Wide Area Network Links.

And in the interest of full disclosure, I've upgraded Packet Tracer from 6.2 to 6.3 on my computer since the previous two posts, which covered Sections 1 through 4.  I doubt it will have much impact though.  And no, I'm not going to go back through the first 4 Sections and see if version 6.3 fares any better.

In Lab 6-1, Configuring Static Routing, begins with a basic Frame Relay setup.  We never seem to be able to shake our old friend Frame Relay which is here today, gone tomorrow, back next week.  In other words, when you think it's gone for good, they'll bring it back, so you may as well just learn it.

Starting with the basic Frame Relay setup, I found that we're missing the serial restart-delay 0 command.  No biggie here, the 12.2 command reference states that this command is to set "the amount of time that the router waits before trying to bring up a serial interface when it goes down."  In ohter words, it's merely a convenience.  But all the other Frame Relay commands are supported, as is the ip route command used to set a static route.  Since the whole purpose of this lab is to demonstrate static routes, I'll call this lab highly supported.

In Lab 6-2, Configuring a Floating Static Route, builds upon what we learned in 6-1 by utilizing ip route's option to add a distance metric for a route.  Packet Tracer supports this option.  The rest of the lab is virtually identical to 6-1 except for the fact that Matt has expanded the Frame Relay portion in order to provide for a little more practice.  So again, I'll call this lab highly supported.  We're 2 for 2 now.

And last but not least, in Lab 6-3, Configuring a Static Default Route, is the final lab of Section 6.  In it, we start out with the familiar 3 router Frame Relay setup we saw in the previous two labs, and we build upon what was learned previously by configuring a specific type of static route, the default route.  Since configuring a default route uses the same command as configuring any other type of static route, we can consider this lab to be highly supported as well since it doesn't go any further.

To summarize, Section 6 is all highly supported in Packet Tracer.  Let's move on to Section 7, Configuring Routing Information Protocol (RIP).  RIP is another protocol like Frame Relay, no matter how hard you try to shake it, it just never goes away for good.  So even if you don't see it specifically stated in the exam objectives in the version of the CCNA exam you're studying for, it would still be a good idea to know it.

In Lab 7-1, Configuring Routing Information Protocol (RIP) begins by taking our routers as they were at the end of Lab 6-3, and removing all of the static routes on the three routers.  Next, we set up a basic RIP configuration on the three.  Since it's so basic, every command used in this lab is supported.

In Lab 7-2, Configuring RIPv1 and RIPv2, simply switches the RIP network over to version 2 to observe the proper propagation of subnet masks.  Ultimately, we've used the version 2 command, and it's supported.  Therefore Lab 7-2 is fully supported.

In Lab 7-3, Configuring RIP Timers, starts to delve into some more advanced features of RIP.  First we see the timers basic command, used to tweak the basic timers used by the protocol.  No problem there, however the final two commands are not supported.  The command ip rip advertise 10 is used to override the default timer on a per interface level, and the command show ip rip timers is used to show the currently configured timers.  This last command is stated to be an undocumented command, and googling for "show ip rip timers" shows this page being the only one using this exact command, so I would expect it to be unsupported in Packet Tracer.  However, ip rip advertise is something that I would consider to be a big deal, so this lab is half supported.

In Lab 7-4, Configuring RIP Triggered Updates is a pretty simple lab, focused primarily around the ip rip triggered command.  Unfortunately, this command is not present.  This lab is not supported.

In Lab 7-5, Configuring RIP Interface Parameters, starts by introducing three new commands.  None of the three, ip rip send version, ip rip recieve version, and ip rip v2-broadcast are supported.  The final command, debug ip rip events is, however it really does't matter at this point.  This lab is not at all supported.

In Lab 7-6, Configuring RIP Static Neighbors fares a little better, with half of the new commands working.  The command neighbor x.x.x.x does not work, but passive-interface name#/# does.  This lab is half supported.  Better, but still no good.

I'm not going to continue on with the RIP labs, as this entire section has been a big failure.  I didn't stop at RIP, because it was not an exam topic at one point, so there's a chance that's why it isn't supported well. Quickly spot checking these labs, it's clear that the command support is about the same as it was with RIP.  So I moved on from here to the next section, which covers the EIGRP routing protocol.  The basic introductory labs are well supported, but the more advanced labs have half the commands or less supported.

So for now, this series is ending here, at Part 3.  I really don't expect the support to get significantly better in the OSPF, IPv6 or IP Services sections, and it definitely fails in supporting CCP, which I'm going to assume is still on the exam.  If Packet Tracer improves it's command set in the future, I may revisit the topic.  Perhaps I could have improved the results by selecting different models of routers.  But if that's the case, the usability of this program really fails.

So I'm concluding that Free CCNA Workbook cannot be completed in Packet Tracer.  I don't know if that means Free CCNA Workbook goes beyond the exam material, or if it means Packet Tracer really isn't adequate for the CCNA.  But that's a topic for another discussion.  I'm also going to just assume that it isn't adequate for the current edition of any other Cisco associate level certification.


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