[kwlug-disc] Stress-testing network switches

Brad Bierman bbierman42 at gmail.com
Wed May 5 23:22:19 EDT 2010

I don't have a specific answer for you either.

A tool that I know is good at generating traffic is:



On Wed, May 5, 2010 at 7:47 PM, unsolicited <unsolicited at swiz.ca> wrote:

> Paul Nijjar wrote, On 05/05/2010 6:06 PM:
>  This is on topic, sort of.
>> We have a bunch of older network switches. I worry that some might be
>> flaky. I would like to stress-test them, preferably with FLOSS tools.
>> My idea is to take a couple of laptops, put iPerf or netpipe on them,
>> and blast traffic between the laptops on each port of the switches.
>> Is there a better way? Are there better software tools I should be
>> looking at?
> I'll assume, given your message, that these are not smart switches wherein
> the switch itself can give you stats.
> And I don't suppose you have any hardware test equipment to hand. Stuff
> that does more than connectivity / crossover / pair testing, not being
> cheap.
> Real life tends to be the best stress test. Especially if you are sensitive
> to the possibility of a flaky switch, you'll be more inclined to switch
> ports faster should an issue develop. (You're ready for the shoe to drop, if
> it should.) It can also be more user irritating - less so if they're advised
> you're testing / there could be potential problems.
> I suppose it depends upon whether you suspect the switch backbone, or
> particular ports. If you suspect the backbone, you would need to
> simultaneously nail multiple ports (and have corresponding destinations of
> the test data). Switch fabrics / backbones being significantly faster than
> any one port, usually.
> And it probably depends upon to what use you would like to put the
> switches. e.g. If you're going to use a single switch in an one-off / by
> itself, or give it away, that's one thing, where you really want to be sure
> it's all happy before pawning off a potential problem to someone else.
> OTOH, if you'd like to make use of them in your switch stack, then putting
> two on top of your stack, and using real life testing (being sensitive and
> ready to swap ports at the first sign of trouble), may not be unreasonable.
> If it turns out the whole switch is flaky, you have the second in place for
> testing anyways.
> If the issue might be heat, then location may be the only restriction to
> use. (Ceiling / hot room, vs. under your desk as a temporary test switch.)
> Sorry I don't have a more specific answer for you, but I suppose some of
> the answer depends upon your success, or good enough, criteria.
> Also, be sensitive to the idea that some older switches don't really
> auto-negotiate all that well all the time - particularly GB adapters to MB
> ports. Depending upon the equipment attached to a particular port, a printer
> running at 10 Mbps half duplex, may be sufficient, for example.
> By any chance does the switch manufacturer, like a hard drive manufacturer,
> have any test utilities you could take advantage of?
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