How do you like to configure and maintain your Wi-Fi infrastructure? Do you use GUI or CLI? If both, when do you use CLI? When do you use GUI?

Typing on the keyboard

How we are trained might affect the way we approach management. In this episode we discuss the pros and cons of using both GUI (graphical user interface) and CLI (command line interface).

What are the pros of using the GUI?

  • Dashboards
  • Easier to configure multiple APs at the same time
  • Easier to perform multiple changes at the same time
  • Do you need a separate GUI system

What are the cons of using the GUI?

  • Debugging
  • Not all commands are available
  • Can be slower
  • Has a connotation of being for a noob

What are the pros of using CLI?

  • It’s kool 😉
  • Can be faster
  • More command available
  • Debugging and troubleshooting is easier and more thorough
  • Needed for initial setup
  • Getting the exact output

What are the cons of using CLI?

  • Need to know the commands
  • Can take more time to display some information (vs the ease of a dashboard)
  • Some operations are more complicated (file transfers)
  • Different versions for CLI

Usually, when provisioning a network device you must go through an initial set up which is done using the command line interface. Examples are setting up a wireless LAN controller or initial provisioning of an AP.

Do you use configuration templates using command line or graphical user interface? Was it custom made or defined as part of your Network Management System? How do you adapt it to a new device you want to configure?

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About the Author
Wireless Network Engineer and Owner at SemFio Networks. CWNE #180. Living in London ON Canada, born and raised in Dijon, France.

5 comments on CTS 079: GUI or CLI

  1. Tyrone says:

    Hi Guys!

    Great show like what you doing keep up the good work.
    My 2 cents on GUI or Cli I would like to shoutout for Python and especially the Netmiko libarary.

    I do all my changes using scripting, I find make changes (mass) is alot easier and faster. Using scripting I can get more eyeballs on what I’m doing by ways of peer reviews.

    We need to push the vendors in creating restAPI’s directly to the WLC because going through a layer like Prime because my experience is that it’s very limited using SNMP etc.

    Automation will only come faster if we put more pressure on the vendors because they want to sell expensive unnecessary layers which complicate our lives. GIVE US DIRECT ACCESS TO WLC API.

  2. Joe says:

    It really depends on what your trying to accomplish. If I’m provisioning a new controller, making changes to many controllers, or starting client troubleshooting; I usually start from Cisco Prime Infrastructure. I’m fortunate enough to have it integrated with MSE and ISE. Which gives me a lot of great information neatly organized. If further debugs are need I then move to the CLI.

    There are only a few tasks I use the gui for, such as code updates. I used to use it for certificate updates to webauth as well, but have now offloaded that to ISE.

    I find myself using the CLI for specific tasks, like aps failing to join the controller. I will also use the CLI to setup SSO on controllers destined for other locations divided by layer 3 boundaries.

  3. Matt Chan says:

    Hey Guys,

    Another fun show, some good info, and thanks for the tip on airconsole, in hindsight, totally obvious such a thing would exist, but I’ve never heard of them or even looked! I’ll be ordering one today for my lab!

    With regard to the topic, with cisco enterprise gear, not much choice really, you need to be comfortable with the cli, however, trying to teach myself python and investigating the NETMIKO library as mentioned by Tyrone (heard about it on Packet Pushers a while back). Firewalls and the WLC i’m starting to use I tend to opt for the GUI except for diagnostics and troubleshooting.

    Cheers!

  4. Adil says:

    Hi Francois / Rowell,

    First of all, thanks for those awsome podcasts, they are really very useful as they cover many wif areas in a practical way.
    As you mentioned, choosing between CLI or GUI depends on what are you going to configure or test, so for example in my case, when I have to create a new WLAN (on Aruba controller) I prefer to use GUI as it’s more faster, but as there is an imbeded feature with Aruba OS 6.x when configuring through GUI, after configuriation a list of all CLI commands that will be pushed to the controller is displayed in the bottom of the config webpage, it helps a lot as you can validate your steps and you can also validate in the logs in case of any issues.
    But for troubleshooting, I prefer CLI to check logs even if GUI has this log check feature as well, with CLI it’s quicker to copy logs and filter them to troubleshoot, what’s good with Aruba OS as you mentioned is that GUI provides a huge useful visual data / metrics.

    Regards.

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    I think it helps to get your mind off of work once in a while. Get outdoors and get some exercise. I bought a Wave ebike at https://waveelectricbikes.com and that was the right choice. I ride it like a traditional pedal bike until I’m tired, then I kick in the electric motor and ride on for 10 or 20 miles more, letting the ebike do all the work. Great fun!

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