Sunday, August 25, 2019

Using Bluetooth with Cisco's Catalyst 9500

With release 16.12.1 Cisco added support for Bluetooth dongles for management. From the release notes:

The connected dongle acts as a Bluetooth host and serves as a management port connection on the device.

Being able to log on wirelessly using a tiny USB dongle seemed worth some time to figure out. I have an Air-console and it works great but it has to be charged, have a serial to USB cable and is larger than a USB Dongle.

Where to get a Bluetooth USB dongle
I had my Air-Console laying on the table and remembered that it has a USB Bluetooth dongle. I popped it into my Ubuntu laptop and ran "lsusb" to see what chipset it had:

Bus 001 Device 012: ID 0a12:0001 Cambridge Silicon Radio, Ltd Bluetooth Dongle (HCI mode)

That is a very common chipset and USB dongles with that chipset are available on ebay for around $4. Search for "CSR 4.0 dongle". If it works on the C9500 that would be great.

Linux has great terminal tools for working with Bluetooth devices. One of them is hciconfig. I ran it to see if the dongle was working on Ubuntu and it was:

hci1:    Type: Primary  Bus: USB
    BD Address: 02:BF:28:F8:B1:ED  ACL MTU: 310:10  SCO MTU: 64:8
    RX bytes:730 acl:0 sco:0 events:56 errors:0
    TX bytes:4877 acl:0 sco:0 commands:56 errors:0

My laptop has Bluetooth built in and it mounts as hci0 so the dongle mounted as hci1. You can see the dongle is working.

Does it work on the C9500

After inserting the dongle I ran:

show platform hardware bluetooth
Controller: 2:bf:28:f8:b1:ed
Type: Primary
Bus: USB
Name: BOED-C9500
HCI Version: 4.0

Looks like the dongle from the Air-Console will work and I can use the $4 dongles off ebay. Notice that the switch reports HCI Version 4.0. HCI stands for Host Controller Interface and is the protocol that allows communiction between the host and the controller (Chipset).

The PSCAN means Page Scan and ISCAN means Inquiry scan. See the links in the refeences below for more information.

One thing to note: If you run:
show interface bluetooth 0/4

and there isn't an active Bluetooth connection, it will show Down/Down. You have to use the "show platform hardware bluetooth" to see if the dongle is up.

Configuring the switch

config t
interface bluetooth 0/4
no shut

bluetooth pin 1111

This configures the interface and sets a Bluetooth paring PIN of 1111.

I enabled Bluetooth discovery on my iPhone. I saw a device with the hostname of switch and selected it. It connected but it doesn't show the IP address on the bluetooth info page.

Back on the switch I ran:

sh int bluetooth 0/4

Bluetooth0/4 is up, line protocol is up
  Hardware is BT management port, address is 02bf.28f8.b1ed (bia 02bf.28f8.b1ed)
  Internet address is

I opened Termius on my iPhone and created a host using It connected to the switch and I was in!

On the terminal session on my laptop I saw:

000422: *Aug 25 15:40:08.370: %SEC_LOGIN-5-LOGIN_SUCCESS: Login Success [user: cisco] [Source:] [localport: 22] at 15:40:08 PDT Sun Aug 25 2019

Some useful show commands

show platform hardware bluetooth - Show information about the dongle
show ip interface bluetooth 0/4 - Show IP information
show interface bluetooth 0/4 - Show interface information

show ip interface bluetooth 0/4
Bluetooth0/4 is up, line protocol is up
  Internet address is
  Broadcast address is
  Address determined by configuration file
  MTU is 1500 bytes
  Helper address is not set

sh int bluetooth 0/4
Bluetooth0/4 is up, line protocol is up
  Hardware is BT management port, address is 02bf.28f8.b1ed (bia 02bf.28f8.b1ed)
  Internet address is
  MTU 1500 bytes, BW 1000000 Kbit/sec, DLY 10 usec,
     reliability 255/255, txload 1/255, rxload 1/255
  Encapsulation ARPA, loopback not set
  Keepalive set (10 sec)


Cisco's officially supported dongles
The following external USB Bluetooth dongles are supported:
    BTD-400 Bluetooth 4.0 Adapter by Kinivo
    Bluetooth 4.0 USB Adapter by Asus
    Mini Bluetooth Wireless USB 4.0 Dongle Adapter by Adnet
    Bluetooth 4.0 USB Adapter by Insignia

Configuring an External USB Bluetooth Dongle - Requires a Cisco CCO login
Linux bluetooth setup with bluez and hcitool
Bluetooth Page Scan
Bluetooth Basic - Sparkfun

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