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RANCID Tool Keeps Config Files Clean


Here's how to get started with RANCID: First, if you're not already running a version of Linux or Unix, go to or download Red Hat Linux at, as we did in our Syracuse Real-World Labs®. We monitored a switch and router with RANCID 2.3.1 on Red Hat 9.0. The RANCID package uses Perl 5.0 and later versions as well as Tcl Expect scripts. If you're unfamiliar with Perl and Expect, don't worry--RANCID will work anyway.

Perl and Tcl Expect are usually part of Linux distributions, but there are plenty of free packages available if you don't already have them. ActiveState ( is a good site to get free versions of both Perl and Tcl, as well as more advanced paid versions. You need these base Perl and Tcl Expect environments to run the first RANCID install task, a configuration script. John Ousterhouse, who created Tcl, runs an Expect site at


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RANCID, which is a compressed tar file, can be downloaded from If you're living on the character interface, tar -vxf filename should decompress the distribution into a file directory under your current user name. If you run Red Hat or another Linux distribution, the GUI file manager will offer an "extract" option. By default, the directory name will show the RANCID version you've just extracted--in our case, rancid-2.3.1.

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