Cisco 3500xl Updating IOS

I scored a cheep Cisco 3500Xl 48 port switch of ebay last week.
I am currently using Nortel switches, while i have no issues with them and they work fine, I really need to understand cisco a bit better and one of my 24 port nortel switches is full, hence the 48 port.

I am not going to tell you where or how to get IOS, i am going to assume you have a valid license and support contract :)

In order to update the IOS you will need to use tftp or zmodem. For this I will be using tftp as we can upload the whole .tar package including the useless web page. Also and we already have a tftp server set up.
The last current IOS according to Cisco at the time of writing this was 12.0-5 WC17.

Commands are in italics

  1. Copy the IOS tar file to your tftp boot server, into the tftpboot folder
  2. If you switch is low on flash space you will need to remove the old IOS and html files. You can do that with the following.
  3. Log into the switch enter the “enable” command set and run the following command :
    Check the name of current IOS boot file
    This will show you the .bin file and some other files if they exist, we only wish to remove the .bin
    in my case :-
    delete c3500XL-c3h2s-mz-120.5.2-XU.bin
    hit enter to accept the delete
    delete flash:html/*
    you will need to mash “enter” a lot, for each file under html/
  4. At this point you should try and upload a new flash via :-
    tar /x t flash:
  5. In my case the switch got rebooted! So it fails to boot..( Lets not ask now i managed this feat of dumbness)
  6. The switch should now boot to “switch:”  you will need to extact the .bin file from the .tar file and have a local copy. We need to use xmodem via serial port for this.
  7. At the “switch:” prompt enter the following command :-
    First lets set a higher baud rate
    set BAUD 115200
    You’ll need to reset up your connection after this
    copy xmodem: flash:c3500xl-c3h2s-mz.120-5.WC17.bin
    this should give you the following responce “Begin the Xmodem or Xmodem-1K transfer now…”
    So fire up your  method of xmodem I use minicom.
    point it at the local of the bin file and wait.
  8. Change you baud back to 9600 , I like to keep things standard
    set BAUD 9600
  9. then boot the new image :-
    boot flash:c3500xl-c3h2s-mz.120-5.WC17.bin
    this will also update the default boot path.
  10. You can now upload the .tar via tftp if you want the useless web site, or you can just leave it as CLI :)

That’s it, the IOS is now up todate. I still need to fix its noisy blower fan.


3 Responses to “Cisco 3500xl Updating IOS”

  1. ubaldo Says:

    Hi, I’ve been looking over your web page, you have pretty nice and decent documents in here.

    I have a question related to a Cisco Catalyst 3500 XL Inline Power Switch. Which have the following configuration:

    Cisco Internetwork Operating System Software
    IOS ™ C3500XL Software (C3500XL-C3H2S-M), Version 12.0(5.3)WC(1), MAINTENANCE
    Copyright (c) 1986-2001 by cisco Systems, Inc.
    Compiled Mon 30-Apr-01 07:51 by devgoyal
    Image text-base: 0x00003000, data-base: 0x003331F4

    ROM: Bootstrap program is C3500XL boot loader

    Switch uptime is 35 minutes
    System returned to ROM by power-on
    System image file is “flash:c3500XL-c3h2s-mz-120-5.3.WC.1.bin”

    cisco WS-C3524-PWR-XL (PowerPC403) processor (revision 0x01) with 8192K/1024K by
    tes of memory.
    Processor board ID FAA0536Y02Q, with hardware revision 0x00
    Last reset from power-on

    Processor is running Enterprise Edition Software
    Cluster command switch capable
    Cluster member switch capable
    24 FastEthernet/IEEE 802.3 interface(s)
    2 Gigabit Ethernet/IEEE 802.3 interface(s)


    I’m crazy about security stuff so i’m looking for an IOS that have security functions (or anything close to the latest IOS for this box). i manage to get an IOS over the internet, but it’s only the .bin file.

    Now here’s the question: I wonder if it’s possible to install an IOS from only the bin file or should i need the .tar file. Also, what am i missing or losing in this process.

    Thank you!


    PD: I’ll be also looking forward for hacks on installing another software in the box. Thinking of it as plain hardware with a CPU and Memory… is it Possible?

  2. Ubaldo,

    Yes you can update the IOS with just the .bin file.
    The tar file is just a bin+html.

    There’s two ways you can do this :-
    In step 4 just copy up the .bin file, instead of the .tar file

    Follow from step 5, onwards to get the switch boot into “switch:” Do the following:-
    Press the Mode button, and at the same time, reconnect the power
    You can release the Mode button a second or two after the LED above port 1 goes off.
    Then you can just my steps above to flash the .bin file you have.

    Let me know if that gets you your required outcome.

    Yes, you can also load Linux on to the 3500XL.

    They do support the 3500 and others
    , I’ve not had a chance to load Linux on to this switch as I needed in my home network. If i Can get another 3500 cheep then I’ll load Linux on it. Or maybe another cheep supported cisco device.

    Thanks for your comments.

  3. James Says:

    LPig, do you still have this rom hanging about, cant find it anywhere on the net and have 2x switchs i need to update for my son to use.
    Kind regards

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