Category Archives: Cisco

MOP: The Unknown “MAC Telnet” Protocol on Cisco Routers

When I was replacing all my buggy little MikroTik RouterOS boxes and VMs with some new shiny (and also buggy) Cisco ISR1000s and CSR1000vs a few years ago, there were several things that I missed so much that existed on the former but not on the latter. One of them was the “MAC Winbox” and “MAC Telnet” capability with which you can plug your maintenance workstation into the router with an Ethernet cable, fire up a Winbox, and it will let you configure the router through a layer 2 connection. It require no valid IP configuration, so it would work as long as you doesn’t shut down the port and there is no wild switch ACL in place. Newer routers have USB console ports, and I do have a console cable in my EDC, but a router’s ability to be configured without a console cable is still its big advantage to me.

Imagine my face today when I learned that Cisco routers (IOS and IOS XE) do support a layer 2 protocol with remote console capability. And the protocol is not new. The protocol is from the 1980s and IOS has been quietly supporting it for years. It has even been enabled by default for years. It is still being supported (as of IOS XE 17.2).

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