Ubiquiti recalls EdgeRouter firmware v2.0.1 for ER-X/ER-X-SFP and EP-R6

Much of the below is from an e-mail sent by UBNT. Always test your updates in a controlled environment. The problem is crashes and hwnat offloading.

We received a lot of crash reports of ER-X, ER-X-SFP and EP-R6 with latest firmware v2.0.1 when hwnat offloading is enabled.

Discussion can found on community forum here -> https://community.ubnt.com/t5/EdgeRouter/EdgeMAX-EdgeRouter-software-version-v2-0-1-has-been-released/td-p/2730981

We removed v2.0.1 for ER-X, ER-X-SFP and EP-R6 from http://download.ubnt.com portal, now latest stable version for those models is v1.10.9 We removed v2.0.1 for ER-X, ER-X-SFP and EP-R6 from UNMS portal and new instances of UNMS will not be able to download this firmware anymore. However this firmware will still be available in local UNMS cache if it was updated before April 10th, 2019

Suggestions for ER-X, ER-X-SFP and EP-R6 users:
If you don’t use hwnat offloading and don’t experience random reboots then you safe to keep using v2.0.1 firmware If you use hwnat offloading then you are adviced to roll back to previous stable version v1.10.9 firmware If router has been bricked after random reboot and factory reset does not help then you have following options: If router is still on warranty then you can RMA bricked router here -> https://rma.ui.com/ Or if router is out of warranty then you can try restoring v1.10.9 firmware via console as described here -> https://help.ubnt.com/hc/en-us/articles/360018189493-EdgeRouter-Manual-TFTP-Recovery (You can find console instructions here)

Where does TRILL and VXLAN fit in to your network strategy?

As networking trends yo-yo between layer-3 and layer-2 centric different protocols have emerged. Protocols such as Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links (TRILL), Shortest Path Bridging (SPB), and Virtual Extensible LAN (VXLAN) have emerged to address the need of scalability at Layer2.   Cloud scalability, spanning tree bridging issues, and big broadcast networks start to become a problem in large data center or cloud environments.

To figure out if things like TRILL is a solution for you, you must understand the problem that is being addressed by TRILL. The same goes for the rest of the mentioned protocols. When it boils down to it the reason for looking at such protocols is you want high switching capacity, low latency, and redundancy.  The current de facto standard of Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) simply is unable to meet the needs of modern layer2 networks.  TRILL addresses the problem of STP’s ability to only allow one network path between switches or ports.  STP prevents loops by managing active layer -2 paths.   TRILL applies Intermediate System-to-Intermediate System protocol (IS-IS), which is a layer3 routing protocol translated to Layer 2 devices.

For those who say TRILL is not the answer things like SPB also known as 802.1aq, and VXLAN are the alternative. A presentation at NANOG 50 in 2010 addressed some of the SPB vs TRILL debate. This presentation goes into great detail on the differences between the two.

The problem, which is one most folks overlook, is that you can only make a layer 2 network so flat.  The trend for a while, especially in data centers, is to flatten out the network. Is TRILL better? Is SPB better? The problem isn’t what is the better solution to use.  What needs to be addressed is the design philosophy behind why you need to use such things.   Having large Layer2 networks is generally a bad idea. Scaling issues can almost always be solved by Layer-3.

So, and this is where the philosophy starts, is TRILL, SPB, or even VXLAN for you? Yes, but with a very big asterisk. TRILL is one of those stop gap measures or one of those targeted things to use in specific instances. TRILL reduces complexity and makes layer-2 more robust when compared to MLAG. Where would you use such things? One common decision of whether to use TRILL or not comes in a virtualized environment such as VSPHERE.

Many vendors such as Juniper, have developed their own solutions to such things.  Juniper and their Virtual Chassis solution does away with spanning tree issues, which is what TRILL addresses.   Cisco has FabricPath, which is Cisco’s proprietary TRILL based solution. Keep in mind, this is still TRILL.   If you want to learn some more about Fabric Path this article by Joel Knight gets to the heart of Fabric path.

Many networks see VXLAN as their upgrade path.  VXLAN allows layer 2 to be stretched across layer 3 boundaries. If you are a “Microsoft person” you probably hear an awful lot about Network Virtualization using Generic Routing Encapsulation (NVGRE) which can encapsulate a layer two frame into IP.

The last thing to consider in this entire debate is how does Software Defined Networking (SDN) play into this. Many folks think controllers will make ECMP and MLAG easy to create and maintain. If centralized controllers have a complete view of the network there is no longer a need to run protocols such as TRILL.   The individual switch no longer makes the decision, the controller does.

Should you use Trill, VXLAN, or any of the others mentioned? If you have a large Layer-2 virtualized environment it might be something to consider.  Are you an ISP, there is very little case for running TRILL in anything other than your data center. Things such as Carrier Ethernet and MPLS are the way to go.

WISP teamwork for the greater good

This post is a huge shout out to Tasos Alexiou from RF Elements.  This story started out at WISPAPALOOZA Vegas this year.  I had a few clients who have been fighting noise issues. While working the Cambium booth we would go over the benefits of ePMP for noise mitigation.  This would naturally lead to an antenna discussion. You can’t have an antenna discussion without mentioning RF Elements and their horn design.  As with anything, clients are skeptical to things outside the conventional way of doing things.  It’s not that the client is closed minded, but change becomes a little harder when revenue and cash outlay are involved.  I am a very visual guy so I walked several of these clients over to the RF Elements booth so they could see the product and have it explained by the folks themselves.

These clients were getting it, but I could tell they were a little hesitant to make the leap.  This is where the teamwork of the story really comes into play.  Tasos could sense the same thing I was seeing, and came up with a plan.  In the shipment of their gear to Vegas, they had some extra gear.  After some negotiation, he told us to stop by after the show and he would see what he could do to get some gear in the hands of both of these clients.  After the show, I was able to send both of these clients home with some 30 and 45-degree horns.   Not only that, but these clients were able to talk about their specific situations, draw diagrams, and get a great understanding of how to get the best fit out of the equipment.

I am happy to say we have the first results from these horns.  Mohave Broadband was able to put up a 30-degree horn in an area where they were having clients with signal and interference issues. By adjusting their 90/120 sectors, which even have beamforming,  they were able to have the horn fit in their most troublesome area.  Some of the troubles were customers who could not connect on a certain frequency very well, but others could.  If the frequencies were changed the good customers became bad and vice versa.  Once the horn was in place we noticed a couple of things.

The first was customers in the 30-degree beam of the horn were able to connect at good signals and data rates. These were customers who were pointed right at the sectors before, not ones on the fringes.

Secondly, due to the nature of the horn we were able to select from more channels due to the lack of sidelobes from the horns.

We could go on and on how the ePMP 2000 APs with their noise filtering, and the “clean” pattern of the horn make the difference but that is not the focus of the article.  The focus is how many separate pieces of the WISP community came together to help.  From WISPA putting on the show to the willingness of Tasos and RF elements to help these customers, and the ability to sit down and draw out diagrams and antenna placement to get the best place to place antennas. For those of you who don’t attend tradeshows, this is one of the success stories with a few more to come on this blog.

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