FWSM IOS upgrade

If you need to upgrade the IOS on a FWSM (Firewall Switch Module), you will soon find out, that the upgrade works slightly different to routers. You don’t have the option of using multiple ‘boot system’ commands, nor can you copy more than one IOS image to the FWSM flash. But then what about failback, if you don’t have the old/current IOS version? (and no you can’t just tftp/ftp the current image from a FWSM when in-use). So now what?

A really neat yet fairly undocumented feature is how the FWSM  addresses the space allocation of the Flash memory. Refer to the application partitions (cf:4 and cf:5), see a previous post that listed the partition break down.

Application Partition cf:4 is used by default,  but cf:5 not.  Because cf:5 provides a secondary partition to boot from,  it allows you to test config on a new IOS version. If you boot of cf:5 appose to cf:4, you have a clean and fresh ‘dir flash:‘ to load a new IOS image on, while leaving the working ‘dir flash:‘ intact .

Just change the default boot partition to cf:5 from the switch, with
boot device module {MOD-NUMBER} cf:5

Then reload the module, and load the ‘test’ IOS image to flash (now cf:5) and do any tests necessary. Once happy remove the above command and upgrade to the new IOS on the default partition cf:4.

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