Who hasn’t wanted to setup an F5 in their spare time?

Posted August 16, 2018 by Matthew McGeehan

A few weeks back, I got the idea in my head to setup an F5 BIG-IP for my home lab. In a previous position, I had been utilizing the F5 Rest API to manage a bunch of BIG-IP devices. I thought it was time to take another look at the API to see what it could do. Locating a copy of the BIP-IP virtual edition wasn’t that hard. I created an account on the F5 website and filled out a request for a 90-day trial license. With that out of the way, I downloaded a copy of the OVA. The install process went relatively smooth. Feel free to continue reading if you would like to learn how to setup a BIG-IP lab environment.

BIG-IP VE -- Trial Link

BIG-IP VE Install Steps:

After downloading the OVA, log into vSphere and follow the steps listed below.

  1. Deploy OVF template.
  2. Accept the F5 EULA.
  3. Name the VM.
  4. Choose from 4 different deployment configuration options. The options range from 2 to 16 GB of RAM. The amount of RAM given to the VM will impact the number of modules that can be run. In my case, since I’m only interested in running LTM, I choose the 4 GB option.
  5. Configure storage.
  6. The template will then prompt you to map networks to 4 different NICs.
    1. Management
      • This interface will be used to manage the device.
    2. Internal
      • The BIG-IP uses this network to access pool members that sit behind the F5. This network will map to interface 1.1 on the F5.
    3. External
      • The external network will be used by clients to connect to any virtual servers on the BIG-IP. This network will map to interface 1.2 on the F5.
    4. High Availability (HA)
      • This network is only needed if you plan on configuring HA.

Management IP:

Once the OVF template has been deployed, it is time to start up the VM. If DHCP is running in the management network, it’s time to login to the BIG-IP Configuration Utility with the username admin password admin. Otherwise, follow the steps below to configure a static IP address.

  1. Go to vSphere and bring up the console for the VM.
  2. From the CLI, login and issue the config command.
  3. Follow the prompts to setup the management IP address.

Setup Utility:

After logging into the BIG-IP Configuration Utility, you will be prompted to go through the setup utility.

  1. Activate and install a license on the BIG-IP.
    • At this point a license file will need to be installed on the device.
    • If the device does not have internet access you will need to manually generate a license file.
  2. Provision licensed modules.
    • Select the modules that you would like to run on the F5. For my setup, I provisioned the LTM module.
  3. Manage device certificates.
    • For my lab environment, I didn't make any changes.
  4. Configure general system properties.
    • Configure the host name and root/admin credentials.
    • After the credentials have been updated, the BIG-IP will force you to log back in.
  5. Login to the device.

Network Setup:

The final part of the setup deals with configuring how traffic will flow through the device.

  1. Configure HA settings.
    • This section can be skipped unless you are planning on testing HA in your lab.
  2. Configure the internal and external networks.
    • For my lab setup, I chose a very simple network configuration with no VLAN tagging. I assigned 1.1 to internal with a self IP of and 1.2 to external with a self IP of

Mission Accomplished:

After completing the setup utility, the only thing left to do was add a test VIP and call it a day. Below is a diagram of my lab environment. The VIPs on the BIP-IP are accessible from the external network. Pool members reside on the internal network