Using SNMP to upgrade IOS on Cisco devices

Following on from my previous post regarding using SNMP to initiate TFTP backups, it’s also possible to use SNMP to remotely upgrade IOS on a Cisco device.

I’ll reuse and extend the setup and configuration from the previous article so apply that first. The IOS device then needs the following additions:

router(config)#snmp-server view myview ciscoFlashOps included
router(config)#snmp-server view myview lts.9 included
router(config)#snmp-server system-shutdown

The first command grants SNMP write access to allow us to manipulate the flash storage in the device. The remaining commands allow us to trigger a reload/reboot of the device remotely via SNMP.

On our “management station” we’ll need a few more MIB files installing under ~/mibs or wherever you put them:


Update the $MIBS environment variables to include them, you’ll need something like the following:


Now, my devices don’t have enough flash storage to hold two IOS images so I normally have to delete the current version (which is loaded into memory, so it doesn’t affect the operation of the device) to free up space and then upload the new version, reload, and pray it works.

To find the filename of the current IOS image we can use the SNMP equivalent of dir flash:/:

# snmptable -v 3 -l authPriv -a MD5 -A authsecret -x DES -X privsecret -u myuser -Cb -Ci -Cw 80 ciscoFlashFileTable
SNMP table: CISCO-FLASH-MIB::ciscoFlashFileTable
 index           Size     Checksum Status                                Name
 1.1.1      576 bytes        "0x0"  valid                                   /
 1.1.2 16459360 bytes "0xDEADBEEF"  valid c870-advsecurityk9-mz.124-15.T9.bin
SNMP table CISCO-FLASH-MIB::ciscoFlashFileTable, part 2
 index      Type Date
 1.1.1 directory    ?
 1.1.2   unknown    ?

The index is a composite of the flash device, partition and file, so 1.1.2 is the second file on the first partition of the first flash device. Unless you have multiple flash devices and/or partitions you can largely ignore these details, take a look at ciscoFlashDeviceTable & ciscoFlashPartitionTable if you want more information.

With the filename, we now need to construct a request to delete it. This sort of operation along with tasks such as erasing the flash, etc. uses the ciscoFlashMiscOpTable SNMP table. Using the same technique I demonstrated in the previous article insert a new row and activate it:

# snmpset -v 3 -l authPriv -a MD5 -A authsecret -x DES -X privsecret -u myuser \
ciscoFlashMiscOpCommand.23 i delete \
ciscoFlashMiscOpDestinationName.23 s c870-advsecurityk9-mz.124-15.T9.bin \
ciscoFlashMiscOpEntryStatus.23 i createAndGo
CISCO-FLASH-MIB::ciscoFlashMiscOpCommand.23 = INTEGER: delete(3)
CISCO-FLASH-MIB::ciscoFlashMiscOpDestinationName.23 = STRING: c870-advsecurityk9-mz.124-15.T9.bin
CISCO-FLASH-MIB::ciscoFlashMiscOpEntryStatus.23 = INTEGER: createAndGo(4)

Note that I’m using createAndGo instead of active for the row status because it’s part of the same initial set request. Now check the table to see if the operation was successful:

# snmptable -v 3 -l authPriv -a MD5 -A authsecret -x DES -X privsecret -u myuser -Cb -Ci -Cw 80 ciscoFlashMiscOpTableSNMP table: CISCO-FLASH-MIB::ciscoFlashMiscOpTable
 index Command                     DestinationName                 Status
    23  delete c870-advsecurityk9-mz.124-15.T9.bin miscOpOperationSuccess
SNMP table CISCO-FLASH-MIB::ciscoFlashMiscOpTable, part 2
 index NotifyOnCompletion         Time EntryStatus
    23              false 0:0:00:56.24      active

It worked so checking the flash storage should confirm the file is now absent. Now we can upload the new IOS image, you’ll need to have it copied to /tftpboot on your TFTP server. This uses another SNMP table but the procedure is exactly the same, insert a row describing the operation we want to perform:

# snmpset -v 3 -l authPriv -a MD5 -A authsecret -x DES -X privsecret -u myuser \
ciscoFlashCopyCommand.23 i copyToFlashWithoutErase \
ciscoFlashCopyProtocol.23 i tftp \
ciscoFlashCopyServerAddress.23 a \
ciscoFlashCopySourceName.23 s c870-advsecurityk9-mz.124-24.T4.bin \
ciscoFlashCopyEntryStatus.23 i createAndGo
CISCO-FLASH-MIB::ciscoFlashCopyCommand.23 = INTEGER: copyToFlashWithoutErase(2)
CISCO-FLASH-MIB::ciscoFlashCopyProtocol.23 = INTEGER: tftp(1)
CISCO-FLASH-MIB::ciscoFlashCopyServerAddress.23 = IpAddress:
CISCO-FLASH-MIB::ciscoFlashCopySourceName.23 = STRING: c870-advsecurityk9-mz.124-24.T4.bin
CISCO-FLASH-MIB::ciscoFlashCopyEntryStatus.23 = INTEGER: createAndGo(4)

Chances are this operation will take a minute or two to complete, keep checking ciscoFlashCopyTable until it completes:

# snmptable -v 3 -l authPriv -a MD5 -A authsecret -x DES -X privsecret -u myuser -Cb -Ci -Cw 80 ciscoFlashCopyTable
SNMP table: CISCO-FLASH-MIB::ciscoFlashCopyTable
 index                 Command Protocol ServerAddress
    23 copyToFlashWithoutErase     tftp
SNMP table CISCO-FLASH-MIB::ciscoFlashCopyTable, part 2
 index                          SourceName DestinationName RemoteUserName
    23 c870-advsecurityk9-mz.124-24.T4.bin                               
SNMP table CISCO-FLASH-MIB::ciscoFlashCopyTable, part 3
 index               Status NotifyOnCompletion         Time EntryStatus Verify
    23 copyOperationSuccess              false 0:0:05:03.71      active  false
SNMP table CISCO-FLASH-MIB::ciscoFlashCopyTable, part 4
 index ServerAddrType ServerAddrRev1 RemotePassword
    23           ipv4    ""              ?

With the new image uploaded it’s time for the coup de grâce, reloading the device:

# snmpset -v 3 -l authPriv -a MD5 -A authsecret -x DES -X privsecret -u myuser \
tsMsgSend.0 i reload
OLD-CISCO-TS-MIB::tsMsgSend.0 = INTEGER: reload(2)

Your device should now reboot and after a short while come back up running the updated IOS image. You can confirm the source of the reboot request with the following:

router#show version | i reason
Last reload reason: snmp shutdown request

Powerful stuff. Needless to say, don’t make this accessible to the world with an SNMPv2 community of “private”.

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