Attack of the ZTP Server

Sub title: Simplified Aristra Zero Touch switch deployment

DISCLAIMER: You can only trust a mad scientist so much! 


Seems like I’m going a mile a minute here, but there is a great urgency to get this information out to as many people as possible, and as soon as possible. If you are building spine/leaf data centers with Arista switches, how would you like to provide a baseline configuration on a 4 spine and 8 leaf network and never touch one console cable?  You can get started just by scanning the barcode on the outside of the box!

ZTP is the nirvana state that all of us who have been doing this for a while dream of (while we’re not dreaming of other things!).  ZTP means you can pull the switch out of the box, plug in a power cable and connect the management port to the network and the switch will configure itself. It’s a neat trick that can save you a lot of keystrokes. There are several different ways of doing this and they are documented on the interwebs. No need to hash that out here. Let’s set up a simple lab and I’ll show you the way we do it here in the laboratory!


Above is a diagram of my lab. I am running 10x Arista vEOS switches in vagrant on a really big Windows 10 PC. All of them are set to zerothouch enable by default. This means if they can’t find a “startup-config file in flash, they will start broadcasting DHCP request out all ports.

You don’t need all 10, one or two will do, but I like to show off every now and then.

The ZTP server that we will implement will have a DHCP scope enabled and Option 67 as well to tell the switch who to “talk” to, to get is configuration, and possibly software as well.

First thing first! You will need to get my repo off of github at this location:

From a shell prompt on your linux workstation,

sudo git clone

You will see a newly created directory called aristaZTP.


I’m using the Ubuntu Mate distribution. It is probably one of the most “windows like” versions of linux and comes with “caja” a file explorer. Snap up a copy here:


In Ubuntu’s command shell, to avoid typing sudo in front of just about every command you can “sudo –s” and once you enter the password, you will be at a “hashtag” prompt…..sudo no more!

Once you’re at the “#” prompt, type caja and spawn a very powerful file browser.


Now let me explain the different files, the has some interesting tid bits and should be read at you leisure. There is a tftpboot directory, this is where we keep our csv variables and the configuration template. There is an interfaces file in my screenshot but these are not the droids you are looking for…….Finally, the is a shell script that will configure the entire ZTP server from scratch. You just have to change a few things.


You’re looking at the first of three sections in the file. Take a close look at what has a # in front of it. In the DHCP section the #apt-get install isc-dhcp-server is commented out. If you want to install it, and you do, get rid of the “#” in front of the command and it will change color.

Look a little more at the things you need to change.

Subnet netmask You might want to change this to match your own lab addressing. Take caution when working with multiple DHCP servers on the same network. Change the DHCP range and the ‘option tftp-server-name “”;’ to match the eth0 address of your ZTP server. A quick ifconfig should reveal the address you will need.

Next the option for the boot file. Option bootfile-name “” This is the file that you want the switch to start processing when it boots. This could be the switches startup-config, but you would need to do static DHCP entries and have a boot file for every switch! No such shenanigans here! Our file has the name which means it’s a python script and when the switch downloads the file it will start configuring the switch for you.

Let’s look at the other sections of the file.

There are two more sections in the script. One to setup the tftp server and the other sets up a ftp server but we don’t really need it for our demonstration, but what the heck, fire it up anyway!


PAY CLOSE ATTENTION to the directories listed in the tftp server sections. These must point to where you have the tftpboot directory saved. Pay attention! Change them to match your environment.

Once you made the necessary changes to the file, run it # ./…………..didn’t run? Try change the permissions of the file like this # chmod 775…….try it again.

Now the DHCP and TFTP should be up and running but you will need to CHMOD the dhcpd.leases file. It’s a pain in the butt and I have not figured out a way to not have to do this but it only needs done when you boot up the ZTP server.


OK, just a couple other things to do for successful booting of our switches. The one thing you absolutely need to know is the MAC address of all the switches. You will need this information and should be easily obtained without having to console into each switch. Barcode lables on the boxes, Perhaps they are listed on your PO?

Once we have the MAC addresses, we can pair it up with some repetitive information and just about anything you would like to see configured in the “base configuration”. I keep things like the real IP address I want the switch to have and the Cloud Vision Portal credentials. You can maintain this information in an Excel spreadsheet or you can use “switchdb” A flask application I wrote for just such things. You can find switchdb here:

Hint, Hint! install switchdb on the ZTP server…easy peazy!

Once we have all of our MAC addresses in the CSV file, you will need to store the CSV file in the tftpboot directory with the name of “varMatrix.csv”. It should look something like this.


The last piece of this puzzle is the template.txt file. It is used to create the switches configuration. In this file, everywhere we have a dollar sign “$” it “pairs” a variable in the CSV file.


You can modify this template file to add anything else that might be a common configuration for all switches. Don’t get too crazy, the next blog post will cover Ansible and we will really start deploying configurations then

NOTE: Once the switches boot with this template, they will be ready to import into Cloud Vision Portal and further configurations can be deployed there!

The real “magic” behind this ZTP process is the file. I had to do some interesting things to make this work but the process is fairly simple. Here’s the process.

Switch boots and gets DHCP and location of the file, downloads and executes it copies over the varMatrix.csv file and the template.txt file to the switches flash. opens both files for reading. finds the MAC address of the local switch and compares it to the MAC field in the CSV.

If there is a match, the dollar sign variables in the template are replaced with the CSV variables saves the result to the switches flash drive and the switch reloads

The switches will be ready to be managed after they complete their reload. There are a couple different directions we can go from here. We can import the switches into CVP check out this blog post for more information.

Next up: Whipping these switches into shape with Ansible and Docker!

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