NETSCOUT LinkRunner G2; Part 1, Nuts and Bolts

This post will be the first of a few showcasing several of the great new features that NETSCOUT has given to us via their brand new LinkRunner G2.

Building on an already solid foundation, NETSCOUT has recently released the next variation of the LinkRunner rich with new features, all running on Android.  Many of the rock solid testing features we have come to expect from NETSCOUT have been expanded in the LRG2.

The LinkRunner G2 is very close, if not exactly the same form factor as it’s brother the AirCheck G2.   On the right hand side of the device you will find two volume buttons, a mini SD card slot, and a micro USB connection.  Flipping the LRG2 over, you will see that there is an LED flash(light) and also a camera.

The top of the device has one SFP slot which will accommodate LRG2Topmost any SFP module, a copper 10/100/1000 Mbps ethernet port and another USB port which can be outfitted with a wireless USB device.  At the time of this post, the only wireless device that works with the unit is a single band Edimax adapter.  There is no integrated wireless adapter.  The power button is located in the same position as the AirCheck G2’s power button.  Charging the unit is done from the same spot as the AirCheck G2 AND via POE over the wired ethernet port on the top of the unit.

When you first fire up the device the user interface is very familiar to anyone who uses an Android device.  The screen and menus are laid out very similar to an Android phone.  The bottom of the screen has the familiar NETSCOUT logo which is a button thatLRG2Desktop opens the LinkRunner’s native testing features.  You will also notice that there is an App Store which is populated with a handful of familiar apps.  I’ve been told that if there is an App that is not in the store, you can request it be added as long as it is free.  Some of the familiar apps you will find are Microsoft Office, Wifi Analyzer, Meraki, UniFi, Aruba Utilities, and AirDroid to name a few.

 

The device is targeted to field support staff who can use the unit to receive trouble tickets via email, web, etc and a then perform several different troubleshooting steps, gather data, and ultimately upload the results of the tests to LinkLive for further analysis.

When tapping the NETSCOUT icon in the center of the bottom of the screen, you open the LinkRunner menu.

LRG2Tests

You are presented with three options near the top of the screen when the LinkRunner menu opens; Switch, AutoTest, and Cable.  Selecting “Switch” will give you information such as the port the device is connected to, the VLAN tag, port speed and duplex, and POE information if it is available.  “AutoTest” takes all of the information from the “Switch” menu and expands on it.  The information  in “AutoTest” is similar to what you would expect from a LinkSprinter except much more detail.  I will dive a bit deeper into these tests in future posts.  The “Cable” menu performs a continuity wire map test on each pin as well as a TDR on each pair.  The wire map is accomplished using the included WireView Wiremapper.  The TDR function is a great addition which will help determine distance to faults.LRG2WireMapper

This is a very high level overview of a select few features and tests that the LinkRunner G2 can perform.  As noted earlier, there will be future posts that go into greater detail of some of those features.  The LinkRunner G2 will be a welcome addition to any network engineer’s toolbag with it’s Android OS which is highly versatile as we already know.  Being able to collect trouble call information via a web browser, running tests, taking pictures of locations or faults, and possibly doing configs of network equipment via an SSH/Telnet client make this device a true one stop solution for any engineer.  I look forward to further enhancements and developments to the LinkRunner G2 which will make it an even more versatile tool.

More to come soon…

NETSCOUT AirCheck G2 v2.0

We had the opportunity while visiting with NETSCOUT at Mobility Field Day 2 to get a sneak peek of the v2.0 firmware for the G2 (yes, firmware; no need to purchase new hardware).  Many of us were very excited to see some of the newly added features and it seems as though there is even more room to grow in the future.  What we have come to trust as one of our favorite go-to tools in the wifi toolbag has only gotten more powerful and useful.  I am not going to go into a deep dive of each of the features that Chris Hinsz showed us but I will share the links because he does a way better job explaining it (because he is the Product Manager of course).

Notable features in the v2.0 release are iPerf, captive portal support/testing, interferer identification, and packet captures.  Also introduced was the NETSCOUT “Test Accessory” which will function as an iPerf server and can be placed anywhere there is a network connection with POE.

The additional features that are being introduced show that this product is as versatile as ever and should increase the confidence of its user while deployed in the field.

Here is the link to download the new v2.0 firmware.

 

Video from MFD2 featuring Chris Hinsz, Product Manager at NETSCOUT

 

Deep dive of AirCheck G2 v2.0 with Chris Hinsz

 

Video/webinar featuring Chris Hinsz of NETSCOUT and George Stefanick of Houston Methodist Hospital

NETSCOUT – Nuthin’ But a G(2) Thang

A few weeks ago at Mobility Field Day 2 I was afforded the opportunity to listen to a presentation from the fine people of NETSCOUT (all capitals because that is how Kendall Hershey told me it should be).  It was somewhat of a reunion for Brennan, Rob, and myself as we had established a relationship with NETSCOUT and their Social Media Manager, Kendall Hershey, at Cisco Live 2016 (shameless blog plug) .  It was great to see her again as well as take a deeper dive into the NETSCOUT product line, especially the AirCheck G2.

Chris Hinsz, NETSCOUT Product Manager, was the main presenter and he gave a nice overview of the NETSCOUT product line, more specifically the beloved AirCheck G2.  Many of us WLAN professionals use the AirCheck G2 at our day jobs and have come to love the simple yet powerful tool.  Chris went on to offer a closer look into what makes the AirCheck G2 so great as well as some lesser known tips and tricks.  Check out the presentation here.

Chris also gave us a quick demo of the Link-Live dashboard.  The Link-Live dashboard is a clean, easy to read area where you can collect the information that your various NETSCOUT tools gather.  I have had the opportunity to use the Link-Live dashboard with my LinkSprinters for some time and I appreciate the simple layout.  I can quickly get the information I need with a quick glance.  The dashboard organizes your tests into a table and allows you to make annotations, as well as create reports from the collected data.  NETSCOUT has definitely spent some time refining the layout making it easy to get the information you need from your test equipment.

I have been drooling over the AirCheck G2 since it was released.  We recently purchased one for work so I have only recently had the opportunity to use it on a regular basis.  I love the features of the G2 especially the touchscreen and well laid out menus.  The testing features are straight forward.  The G2 is hands down the first device we go to when we get called out for wireless issues.  The G2 saves us a significant amount of time troubleshooting.  Before the G2, troubleshooting wireless issues took much longer.  These handheld testers bring you to a solution much faster with the information that they supply.  I personally own the G2’s predecessor, the **Fluke AirCheck.  The original AirCheck is still very useful to me because it is able to extract a Meru/Fortinet/FortiRu AP ID out of a beacon’s information elements.  This makes it very easy for me to identify an AP that is a member of a Virtual Cell (virtual BSSID).  I still love my original AirCheck for this reason, but mostly because Kendall Hershey gave it to me.  I am told that they will look into adding the FortiRu information element to the G2 in the near future.

Gratuitous NETSCOUT AirCheck G2 product placement by Brett (@crabby_fi)

The AirCheck G2 has been, and continues to be, a staple in the WLAN professional’s bag of tools.  The NETSCOUT product line is built on a solid platform and is sure to deliver for the foreseeable future.  Anyone who uses a G2 will let you know how much it enhances their troubleshooting experience.  Issues that may have previously taken a few hours to figure out are easily diagnosed in a much shorter time period.  NETSCOUT is another one of those companies who I hold near and dear to my heart because they listen to their customers. I am looking forward to what NETSCOUT has coming in the future.

Blogs about the NETSCOUT G2 from my MFD2 peers:

Lee Badman – https://wirednot.wordpress.com/2017/08/06/catching-up-with-netscout-on-their-flagship-wlan-support-tool/

Clear to Send – https://www.cleartosend.net/cts-087-aircheck-g2-w-netscout-mfd2/

 

**On July 14, 2015, the following products from Fluke Networks were merged with NETSCOUT Systems; Visual TruView™, OptiView® XG, OneTouch™, LinkSprinter™, LinkRunner™, AirMagnet™ and AirCheck™. Fluke Networks continue to retain the DTX CableAnalyzer™, Versiv Cabling Certification System, LinkWare™ Live and Telecom products.