Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Nice switch, poor printed documentation.

So I ordered a Dell PowerConnect switch for my home lab setup - the specs were pretty sweet, and the push button web console made it sounds like it'd be a nice plug-n-play network for my development and testing work... then the cold reality of poor end user documentation bit me :( 
All I wanted to do with the machine was plug it into three of my laptops, and configure it to provide a private network on 192.168.3.x (I already have a 2.x network which the machine is defaulted to use), then be able to log into the switch's built in monitoring tools to observe network traffic as I play around with configurations of my software and of the network stack itself.  This is where the tricky problem started. The included "Getting Started Guide" omits some rather necessary information to those whom may not be familiar with configuring one of their switches, so here is how you can login the web console to set the switch's network:

  1. Press the "Managed Mode" pin hole button (use a paper clip). You'll see the managed mode light flicker on.
  2. Configure your PC to use as it's IP address.
  3. Login into and use 'admin' with no password to access the system (guide says admin/admin).
  4. On the web console select System > IP Interface Parameters.
  5. In the presented form enter "" with "" as the mask, then click apply.
  6. To continue using the web console you now need to change your PC's IP address to
  7. Once the switch has picked up that your PC's adapter is on you'll be able to log in again to the web console. Continue configuring as required, subsequent logins can happen from any machine on the 3.x network.

The above procedure was gleamed from reading forum posts around the web, and has been reflected into  Dell's online docs for the switch. To be clear, now that the switch is configured properly it purrs like a kitten (Jumbo frames, 1Mbit packet buffer memory, priority queues, etc, etc) - I'm nerding out now playing with settings. I'm still happy with the switch, I just would have liked the printed documentation to make it a little clearer how to set up via the web console instead of searching the webs for solutions.

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