Install rancid

Connect to your PC using ssh, and become root:

$ sudo -s

Now install the Subversion Version Control System:

In addition to Subversion we will specify to install telnet and the mutt email client. Both these package may already be installed from prior exercises. If so, don't worry - the apt-get command will not reinstall them.

# apt-get install subversion telnet mutt

Install rancid itself:

# apt-get install rancid

Add alias

Add an alias for the rancid user in /etc/aliases file

RANCID by default sends emails to the users rancid-groupname and rancid-admin-groupname. We want them to be sent to the sysadm user instead and use the alias function for this.

# nano /etc/aliases

Add the following entries.

rancid-routers:         sysadm
rancid-admin-routers:   sysadm

Save the file, then run:

# newaliases

Configure rancid

Edit /etc/rancid/rancid.conf

# nano /etc/rancid/rancid.conf

Find these lines in rancid.conf:

# list of rancid groups
#LIST_OF_GROUPS="sl joebobisp"; export LIST_OF_GROUPS

And, underneath them add the following line:


(with no '#' at the front of line, and aligned to the left)

Find the line with CVSROOT:


And, change it to:


Note the lowercase "svn".

We want to use Subversion for our Version Control System, and not CVS, so find the line with the parameter RCSSYS:

RCSSYS=cvs; export RCSSYS

And, change it to:

RCSSYS=svn; export RCSSYS

Now exit and save the file.

We will proceed with creating "rancid" user in the system

# useradd -d /var/lib/rancid -s /bin/bash rancid

Set Rancid folder permission to "rancid" user

# chown -R rancid:rancid /var/lib/rancid

Set Rancid log folder permission to "rancid" user

# chown -R rancid:rancid /var/log/rancid

Change to the rancid user




Pay very close attention to what userid you are using during the rest of these exercises. If you are not sure simply type "id" on the command line at any time.

From a root prompt ("#"), switch identity to become the 'rancid' user:

# su - rancid

Check that you ARE the rancid user:

$ id

You should see something similar (numbers may be different):

uid=1002(rancid) gid=1002(rancid) groups=1002(rancid)


Create /var/lib/rancid/.cloginrc

$ nano /var/lib/rancid/.cloginrc

Add the following two lines to the file:

add method * {ssh}
add user * nmmlab
add password * lab-PW lab-EN

(The first 'nmmlab' is the username, the first 'lab-PW' is login password and second 'lab-EN' is enable password used to login to your router. The star in the name means that it will try to use this username and password for all routers whose names end

Exit and save the file.

Now protect this file so that it cannot be read by other users:

$ chmod 600 /var/lib/rancid/.cloginrc

Test login to the router of your group

Login to your router with clogin. You might have to type yes to the first warning, but should not need to enter a password, this should be automatic.

$ /var/lib/rancid/bin/clogin

(replace N with your group number. So, group 1 is

You should get something like:
spawn telnet
Trying 2001:db8:6::1...
telnet: Unable to connect to remote host: Connection refused
spawn ssh -c 3des-cbc -x -l nmmlab

Exit the from the router login:


Initialize the SVN repository for rancid

Make sure you are the rancid user before doing this:

$ id

If you do not see something like

uid=1002(rancid) gid=1002(rancid) groups=1002(rancid)

then DO NOT CONTINUE until you have become the rancid user. See earlier section for details.

Now initialize the Version Control repository (it will use Subversion):

$ /usr/lib/rancid/bin/rancid-cvs

You should see something similar to this:

Committing transaction...
Committed revision 1.
Checked out revision 1.
Updating '.':
At revision 1.
A         configs
Adding         configs
Committing transaction...
Committed revision 2.
A         router.db
Adding         router.db
Transmitting file data .done
Committing transaction...
Committed revision 3.

Do the following ONLY if you have problems

If this does not work, then either you are missing the subversion package, or something was not properly configured during the previous steps. You should verify that subversion is installed and then before running the rancid-cvs command again do the following:

$ exit
# apt-get install subversion
# su - rancid
$ cd /var/lib/rancid
$ rm -rf routers
$ rm -rf svn

Now try running the rancid-cvs command again:

$ /usr/lib/rancid/bin/rancid-cvs

Create the router.db file

$ nano /var/lib/rancid/routers/router.db

Add this line (NO spaces at the beginning please):;cisco;up;cisco;up

(remember to replace Y with your group no. as appropriate)

Exit and save the file.

Let's run rancid!

Still as the rancid user:

$ /usr/lib/rancid/bin/rancid-run

This may take some time so be patient.

Run it again, since the first time it might not commit correctly:

$ /usr/lib/rancid/bin/rancid-run

Check the rancid log files:

$ cd /var/lib/rancid/logs
$ ls -l

... View the contents of the file(s):

$ less bdr1.*

NOTE! Using "less" - to see the next file press ":n". To see the Previous file press ":p". To exit from less press "q".

Look at the configs

$ cd /var/lib/rancid/routers/configs
$ less

Where you should replace "N" with your group number.

If all went well, you can see the config of the router.

Tracking changes

Let's change an interface Description on the router

$ /usr/lib/rancid/bin/clogin

Where you should replace "N" with your group number.

At the "bdr1.campusN#" prompt, enter the command:

bdr1.campusN# conf term

You should see:

Enter configuration commands, one per line.  End with CNTL/Z.


bdr1.campusN(config)# interface LoopbackXX      (replace XX with your Server No.)

You should get this prompt:



bdr1.campusN(config-if)# description <put your name here>
bdr1.campusN(config-if)# end

You should now have this prompt:


To save the config to memory:

bdr1.campusN# write memory

You should see:

Building configuration...

To exit type:

rtrX# exit

Now you should be back at your rancid user prompt on your system:

Let's run rancid again

$ /usr/lib/rancid/bin/rancid-run

It will take some time to pull the latest router config file. Look at the rancid logs after it's completed.

$ ls /var/lib/rancid/logs/

You should see the latest rancid execution as a new log file with the date and time in the name.

Let's see the differences

$ cd /var/lib/rancid/routers/configs
$ ls -l

You should see the router config file for your group:

$ svn log

(where N is the number of your group)

Notice the revisions. You should see different revision numbers such as r6, r9 and r8. Choose the lowest and the highest one.

r9 | rancid | 2017-02-21 02:20:38 +0000 (Tue, 21 Feb 2017) | 1 line

r8 | rancid | 2017-02-21 02:02:47 +0000 (Tue, 21 Feb 2017) | 1 line

r6 | rancid | 2017-02-21 02:01:25 +0000 (Tue, 21 Feb 2017) | 1 line

new router

Let's view the difference between two versions:

$ svn diff -r6:9 | less
$ svn diff -r8:9 | less

... can you find your changes?

Notice that svn is the Subversion Version Control system command line tool for viewing Subversion repositories of information. If you type:

$ cd /var/lib/rancid/routers
$ ls -lah

You will see a hidden directory called .svn - this actually contains all the information about the changes between router configurations from each time you run rancid using /usr/lib/rancid/bin/rancid-run.

Whatever you do, DO NOT EDIT or touch the .svn directory by hand!

Check your mail

Now we will exit from the rancid user shell and the root user shell to go back to being the "sysadm" user. Then we'll use the "mutt" email client to see if rancid has been sending emails to the sysadm user.

$ exit                  (takes your from rancid to root user)
# exit                  (take you from root to sysadm user)
$ id
... check that you are now the 'sysadm' user again;

... if not, log out and in again as sysadm to your virtual host

$ mutt

(When asked to create the Mail directory, say Yes)

If everything goes as planned, you should be able to read the mails sent by Rancid. You can select an email sent by "" and see what it looks like.

Notice that it is your router description and any differences from the last time it was obtained using the rancid-run command.

Now exit from mutt.

(use 'q' return to mail index, and 'q' again to quit mutt)

Cron configuration

Let's make rancid run automatically every 30 minutes from using cron

cron is a system available in Linux to automate the running of jobs. First we need to become the root user again:

$ sudo -s

Now create or edit the file /etc/cron.d/rancid:

# nano /etc/cron.d/rancid

and add the following line to the bottom:

*/30 * * * * rancid /usr/lib/rancid/bin/rancid-run

If this file already exists then add this line and leave the rest commented out.

That's it. The command "rancid-run" will execute automatically from now on every 30 minutes all the time (every day, week and month).

More routers

Now add all the other routers. Note the hostnames:

If you have fewer routers in your class, then only include the actual, available routers.

Become the rancid user and update the router.db file:

# su -s /bin/bash rancid
$ nano /var/lib/rancid/routers/router.db

Add the two remaining devices in your campus so that the file ends up looking like this where "Y" is your campus number.;cisco;up;cisco;up;cisco;up;cisco;up

(Note that "cisco" means this is Cisco equipment -- it tells Rancid that we are expecting to talk to a Cisco device here. You can also talk to Juniper, HP, ...).

Be sure the entries are aligned to the left of the file.

Run rancid again (still as the 'rancid' user)

$ /usr/lib/rancid/bin/rancid-run

This should take a minute or more now, be patient.

Check out the logs:

$ cd /var/lib/rancid/logs
$ ls -l

... Pick the latest file and view it

$ less routers.YYYYMMDD.HHMMSS

This should be the last file listed in the output from "ls -l"

You should notice a bunch of statements indicating that routers have been added to the Subversion version control repository, and much more.

Look at the configs

$ cd /var/lib/rancid/routers/configs
$ less *

Press the SPACE bar to scroll through each file and then press ":n" to view the next file. Press "q" to quit at any time.

If all went well, you can see the configs of ALL routers

Re-run rancid

Run RANCID again just in case someone changed some configuration on the router

$ /usr/lib/rancid/bin/rancid-run

This could take a few moments, so be patient....

Play with clogin

$ /usr/lib/rancid/bin/clogin -c "show clock"

Where "N" is the number of your group.

What do you notice ?

Even better, we can show the power of using a simple script to make changes to multiple devices quickly:

$ nano /tmp/newuser

... in this file, add the following commands (COPY and PASTE):

configure terminal
username NewUser secret 0 NewPassword

Save the file, exit, and run the following commands from the command line:

$ for r in 1 2 3

Your prompt will now change to be ">". Continue by typing:

> do
> /var/lib/rancid/bin/clogin -x /tmp/newuser bdr1.campus$
> done

Now your prompt will go back to "$" and rancid clogin command will run and execute the commands you just typed above on routers campus1, campus2, and campus4. This is simple shell scripting in Linux, but it's very powerful.

Q. How would you verify that this has executed correctly ? Hint: "show run | inc"

A. Connect to campus1, campus2, campus3 and campus4. Type "enable" and then type "show run | inc username" to verify that the NewUser username now exists. Type exit to leave each router. Naturally you could automate this like we just did above.

Install ViewVC

Now we will add the RANCID SVN (Subversion) repository into ViewVC so that you can browse configurations via the web.

If you are still logged in as user rancid, get back to root. Remember you can type "id" to check what userid you are.

$ exit

Install ViewVC:

# apt-get install viewvc

Add Rancid SVN report into ViewVC config file. Edit the file

# nano /etc/viewvc/viewvc.conf

Look for this line in the config file and configure as below;

svn_roots = rancid: /var/lib/rancid/svn

Save and exit.

Next, we need to add apache web server user (www-data) into rancid group in order to grant access for apache webserver to view rancid's SVN repo.

# usermod -a -G rancid www-data

Next, create a config file in apache directory

# nano /etc/apache2/conf-available/viewvc.conf

Add ViewVC configuration into the new config file viewvc.conf

Alias       /viewvc-static /etc/viewvc/templates/docroot
ScriptAlias /viewvc /usr/lib/cgi-bin/viewvc.cgi

Save and exit the file.

Proceed to enable ViewVC with Apache and restart apache server

# a2enconf viewvc.conf
# systemctl restart apache2

Browse the rancid files from your Web browser!

Browse the files under the 'routers/configs' directory. You can see all your router configuration files here.

Securing ViewVC

You would not want the entire Internet to be able to browse your configuration files. Here are some steps you can take to secure WebSVN access. One step not included is to enforce the use of https (ssl) access. We recommend this for all your web sites wherever possible.

Edit Apache configuration file for ViewVC

# cd /etc/apache2/conf-enabled
# nano viewvc.conf

Add the configuration at the end of the file.

  <DirectoryMatch (/viewvc)>
        AuthName "Nagios Access"
        AuthType Basic
        AuthUserFile /etc/viewvc/.htpasswd
        require valid-user

Now save and exit from the file. Next we need to create a .htpasswd file in the /etc/viewvc directory:

# cd /etc/viewvc
# htpasswd -c .htpasswd sysadm

Provide a password for the user sysadm (maybe the class password?). You should see this:

New password:
Re-type new password:
Adding password for user sysadm

And, now we restart the Apache web server for the changes to take affect:

# systemctl restart apache2 

Try browsing to the WebSVN pages at and you should be asked for a username and password to be able to view the pages.

Review revisions

ViewVC lets you see easily the changes between versions.

This will show you the differences between two separate router configurations.

ViewVC is a convenient way to quickly see differences via a GUI between multiple configuration files. Note, this is a potential security hole so you should limit access to the URL http://host/viewvc using passwords (and SSL) or appropriate access control lists.

) # Optional: Fetching configs with a non-privileged rancid user

In a production environment, we'd probably want to add a "rancid" user on the devices, without config privileges, but able to retrieve do a show running-config.

One way to do this, add a user in config mode:

bdr1.campusX# conf term
Enter configuration commands, one per line.  End with CNTL/Z.
bdr1.campusX(config)# username rancid privilege 4 secret password
bdr1.campusX(config)# privilege exec level 4 show running-config view full

This creates a rancid user with privilege level 4. On the next line, we allow that user to execute show running-config

You also need to add the username and password to your /var/lib/rancid/.cloginrc

add user * rancid
add password * password
add autoenable * 1

The autoenable means the user will be in the right privilege level immediately after login and no enable is needed to run show running-config

Note: try and look at the clogin manpage to find out how you can specify another user (for example: nmmlab) when using clogin interactively, to make changes with -c or -x (as shown above).

See more at


On the use of hostnames in RANCID vs. IP Addresses

Note: it is also allowed to use IP addresses, and one could also write:

add user 10.10.* nmmlab
add password 10.10.* nsrc+ws nsrc+ws
add user rtr* nmmlab
add password rtr* nsrc+ws nsrc+ws