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Aruba Airwave 8.2.4 and no CLI / shell access

BE AWARE: reading and applying this blog is at your own risk. Following the below procedure could affect the support validity on your Aruba AirWave appliance.

All AirWave firmware versions prior to 8.2.4 gave you shell access to the CentOS operating system. Once you upgrade from 8.2.3 to 8.2.4 you receive the message that the root user won’t be used anymore and you need to log in with the user ampadmin.

Your system has been converted to use AMPCLI. You may now log in as ampadmin. If you lose the password for ampadmin you may log in as amprecovery (password recovery) on the console to reset the ampadmin password.

Remove any OS user accounts you may have created to complete the securing of the system.

Once you log out, the linux shell will no longer be accessible.

Starting from 8.2.4 you only have a basic options menu and no shell access anymore. To me, this is a burden because I cannot install VMware Tools anymore or configure scheduled backups to offsite storage. Luckily there is a way to restore the shell access, but the guidelines below need to be applied directly after the upgrade from 8.2.3 to 8.2.4 and cannot be done on a new 8.2.4 installation.

Some additional information: /etc/passwd file stores essential information, which is required during login i.e. user account information. /etc/passwd is a text file, which contains a list of the system’s accounts, giving for each account some useful information like user ID, group ID, home directory, shell, etc. /etc/passwd contains the following entry before you start the upgrade.

root:x:0:0:root:/root:/bin/bash

Just start the upgrade as you always do, but do not log off after the upgrade is completed. Take another look at the /etc/passwd file and especially the entry for the user root.

root:x:0:0:root:/root:/sbin/nologin

The entry changed and /sbin/nologin disables the shell access for the root user. Change the entry to the default value and you are good to go!!! You should still have access to the shell after logging off or rebooting the appliance.

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René Jorissen

Co-owner and Solution Specialist at 4IP Solutions
René Jorissen works as Solution Specialist for 4IP in the Netherlands. Network Infrastructures are the primary focus. René works with equipment of multiple vendors, like Cisco, Aruba Networks, FortiNet, HP Networking, Juniper Networks, RSA SecurID, AeroHive, Microsoft and many more. René is Aruba Mobility First Expert (AMFX #26), Aruba Certified Mobility Expert (ACMX #438), Aruba Certified ClearPass Expert (ACCX #725), Aruba Certified Design Expert (ACDX #760), CCNP R&S, FCNSP and Certified Ethical Hacker (CEF) certified. You can follow René on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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