Cisco Catalyst 1900 and 2820 Initial Switch Configuration

Much like the initial configuration of a Cisco router, the initial configuration of a Cisco Catalyst 1900 switch is handled via a connection to the switch’s console port. Located on the back of the switch, the RJ-45 console port uses the same connection parameters as on the Cisco routers we looked at earlier – 9600 baud, 8 data bits, no parity, 1 stop bit and no flow control. Remember that connecting to a console port requires you to use a rollover cable.

In most cases, you will connect to the console port only long enough to configure passwords, an IP address, and perhaps a hostname. After this initial configuration is complete, it is much more common (and convenient) to access the switch via a telnet session.

Once connected to the console port, you’ll be presented with the initial system configuration menu, as shown below. The menu-driven system is presented by default, and is the only console-configuration option on switches running Standard Edition software. While the menu-driven configuration may be easier in that you won’t need to remember specific commands, it can also be somewhat confusing, in that you will need to remember (or search) for specific configurable elements within the many menu options. Using the command line is generally a much quicker option, as long as you know the specific commands to enter.

Catalyst 1900 Management Console
Copyright (c) Cisco Systems, Inc. 1993-1999
All rights reserved.
Enterprise Edition Software
Ethernet Address: 00-50-F0-5F-25-00

PCA Number: 73-3122-01
PCA Serial Number: FAB03103IYN
Model Number: WS-C1912-A
System Serial Number: FAB0312S041
Power Supply S/N: APQ0252023A
PCB Serial Number: FAB03103IYN,73-3122-01

1 user(s) now active on Management Console.

User Interface Menu

[M] Menus
[K] Command Line
[I] IP Configuration
[P] Console Password

Enter Selection:

From the main menu, press K to access the command line interface (CLI). This will bring you to the user mode command prompt, distinguished by a simple flex bracket, as shown below. Think of this prompt as being similar to the user mode prompt on a Cisco router – although it allows you to view basic switch information, to do anything useful you’ll need to access privileged mode. The command to access privileged mode is one that you are already familiar with – enable.

Enter Selection: K

CLI session with the switch is open.
To end the CLI session, enter [Exit].


Notice that the enable command brings you directly to the enable mode prompt, the pound sign. Like with our routers, to change the configuration of the switch we will need to enter global configuration mode, using the configure terminal command.

#config t
Enter configuration commands, one per line. End with CNTL/Z

The help system also works from the command line on a Cisco 1900 switch. Use ? to access a list of available commands. To view all commands starting with the letter S, use s?. Remember to leave a space following a single command to find any follow-up commands, for example show ?. Partial commands can also be completed using the tab key.

It’s generally a good idea to give the switch a hostname to make it easier to identify. From global configuration mode, issue the hostname command, followed by the name you wish to use.

(config)#hostname Cisco1912

If you ever want to get back to the menu-based configuration system from the command line, enter the menu command.


Catalyst 1900 – Main Menu

[C] Console Settings
[S] System
[N] Network Management
[P] Port Configuration
[A] Port Addressing
[D] Port Statistics Detail
[M] Monitoring
[V] Virtual LAN
[R] Multicast Registration
[F] Firmware
[I] RS-232 Interface
[U] Usage Summaries
[H] Help
[K] Command Line

[X] Exit Management Console

Enter Selection:

Author: Dan DiNicolo

Dan DiNicolo is a freelance author, consultant, trainer, and the managing editor of He is the author of the CCNA Study Guide found on this site, as well as many books including the PC Magazine titles Windows XP Security Solutions and Windows Vista Security Solutions. Click here to contact Dan.