Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Whether you're working on your CCNA or CCNP, Cisco certification exams are the most demanding computer certification exams in the IT field. Cisco exams are not a test of memorization, they're a test of your analytical skills. You'll need to look at configurations and console output and analyze them to identify problems and answer detailed questions. To pass these demanding exams, you've got to truly understand how Cisco routers and switches operate - and the key to doing so is right in front of you.

The debug command.

Of course, there is no single "debug" command. Using IOS Help, you can quickly see that there are hundreds of these debugs, and I want to mention immediately that you should never practice these commands on a production router. This is one major reason you need to get some hands-on experience with Cisco products in a home lab or rack rental. No software program or "simulator" is going to give you the debug practice you need.

Now, why am I so insistent that you use debugs? Because that's how you actually see what's going on. It's not enough to type a frame relay LMI command, you have to be able to see the LMIs being exchanged with "debug frame lmi". You don't want to just type a few network numbers in after enabling RIP, you want to see the routes being advertised along with their metrics with "debug ip rip". The list goes on and on.

By using debugs as part of your CCNA and CCNP studies, you're going beyond just memorizing commands and thinking you understand everything that's happening when you enter a command or two. You move to a higher level of understanding how routers, switches, and protocols work -- and that is the true goal of earning your CCNA and CCNP.

Chris Bryant
CCIE #12933

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