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F5 Foray: Setting up Equipment

This is the fifth in a series of posts from CBT Nuggets trainer Scott Morris about his experiences learning and working with F5. 

f5-blog-series_EMAILAfter coming up with a story board, I had a horrible realization. To make it work, I would need LOTS of machines running. I knew that my wife was not going to support me expanding the amount of equipment that I already have running in my basement. (Here’s my home lab set up for those who haven’t ever seen it before.)

So good old VMware to the rescue. But running 20+ instances of some host, plus the VM images for F5, as well would tax any large machine. My Mac Mini is cool, but perhaps not that cool. A little research, however, led me to the wonderful world of DSL. Not Digital Subscriber Lines that many of you likely connect to the Internet with, but Damn Small Linux — a REALLY nice version of a host VM image that I can run reasonably well with 128M of RAM dedicated to it. And set up a web server on it.

I discovered fairly quickly that Apache was too big to be thinking about running on these VMs. But there were smaller implementations of web servers, as well, that came in. Midway through configuring one VM through the console on my Windows machine and I wanted to drive red-hot poker through my eye.

A few quick changes to my “production” router and I had access from my working VLAN into the VM-VLAN, and the miracles of SSH are awesome!  Now, sitting in my more comfortable chair, drink in hand, it was much easier to edit my plethora of VMs.

Soon, I had 10 different virtual machines running multiple web servers each. Always one on port 80 as expected, but another on a different port. Some machines would use port 88, others port 8,000 and still others port 8,080, just to simulate variety as well as demonstrating that our load balancing is a COMPLETE difference in connection. Standard port 80 on the front-end, while wildly different ports on that back-end.

Now we were starting to be realistic. I set up 10 more VMs to use as internet clients for the sake of our demonstrations. Those were easier since I didn’t need to run web servers on them.

Now I was ready to make the configuration videos of our initial setup and demonstrate some good real-world scenarios! At least I felt like I was ready….

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