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Discovering computer networks: hands on in the Open Networking Lab
Discovering computer networks: hands on in the Open Networking Lab

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10.2 Modes within the Cisco CLI

Now you know how to connect to the routers, it is important to understand how to navigate around the command-line interface of a Cisco router.

You will now have the opportunity to use the command-line interface. Be aware that there are multiple modes within the Cisco internetwork operating system (IOS). Each mode allows the user to achieve different tasks; for example, each mode can be password-protected so specific people can only use specific modes. Watch the video below (which is about 2 minutes long) to see how to identify different modes and how to navigate between them.

Box _unit6.2.2 CLI modes

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Activity _unit6.2.2 Activity 2 Try it out

10 minutes

Open PT Anywhere [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] in a new tab or window so you can read these instructions.

  1. Select the router and open its CLI by selecting ‘Open console’ from the menu bar. Remember to answer ‘no’ to the question ‘Continue with configuration dialogue?’
  2. Practise moving between modes by using the commands enable and configure terminal. Can you use the configure terminal command in user exec mode? How does the prompt change when you move from one mode to another?
  3. Later in the course you will be using the commands interface g0/0 and show running-configuration. Try to discover what modes you must be in to use these commands. (Hint: remember you can use the ? command to show what commands are available in each mode.)
  4. When you’re in privileged exec mode what happens when you enter the command exit?


You should have found you were unable to use the command configure terminal in the user exec mode (where the prompt is a ‘greater than’ symbol). To use this command you need to be in the privileged exec mode (where the prompt is a hash symbol).

You should have found that the commands show running-config and configure terminal are available in the privileged exec mode but not in the user exec mode. When you enter configure terminal the prompt changes to (config)# which indicates you have entered global configuration mode.

When in privileged exec mode, the command exit takes you back to user exec mode. In fact, in any mode, the command exit will take you to the next higher mode (for example from global configuration mode to privileged exec mode and from privileged exec to user exec mode).

You’ve now tried using some commands in the Cisco CLI. You should become confident with moving around it and knowing where the majority of commands should be used, but this comes with practice. The next section of this session moves on to start configuring the router.