Most routers/switches out there store their configuration in plain text, which is nice for backups. I’m talking about Cisco, Juniper, HPE, etc. The configuration of our routers are being changed several times a day by the operators, and in this case we lacked some proper way of tracking these changes.

Some of these routers come with their own mechanisms for doing backups, and depending on the model and version perhaps they include changes-tracking mechanisms as well. However, they mostly don’t integrate well into our preferred version control system, which is git.

After some internet searching, I found rancid, which is a suite for doing tasks like this. But it seemed rather complex and feature-full for what we required: simply fetch the plain text config and put it into a git repo.

Worth noting that the most important drawback of not triggering the change-tracking from the router/switch is that we have to follow a polling approach: loggin into each device, get the plain text and the commit it to the repo (if changes detected). This can be hooked in cron, but as I said, we lost the sync behaviour and won’t see any changes until the next cron is run.

In most cases, we lost authorship information as well. But it was not important for us right now. In the future this is something that we will have to solve.

Also, some routers/switches lack some basic SSH security improvements, like public-key authentication, so we end having to hard-code user/pass in our worker script.

Since we have several devices of the same type, we just iterate over their names.

For example, this is what we use for hp comware devices:

# run this script by cron

DEVICES="device1 device2 device3 device4"


TMP_DIR="$(mktemp -d)"
if [ -z "$TMP_DIR" ] ; then
	echo "E: no temp dir created" >&2
	exit 1

GIT_BIN="$(which git)"
if [ ! -x "$GIT_BIN" ] ; then
	echo "E: no git binary" >&2
	exit 1

SCP_BIN="$(which scp)"
if [ ! -x "$SCP_BIN" ] ; then
	echo "E: no scp binary" >&2
	exit 1

SSHPASS_BIN="$(which sshpass)"
if [ ! -x "$SSHPASS_BIN" ] ; then
	echo "E: no sshpass binary" >&2
	exit 1

# clone git repo
$GIT_BIN clone $GIT

for device in $DEVICES; do
	mkdir -p $device
	cd $device

	# fetch cfg

	# commit
	$GIT_BIN add -A .
	$GIT_BIN commit -m "${device}: configuration change" \
		-m "A configuration change was detected" \
		--author="cron <>"

	$GIT_BIN push -f
	cd ..

# cleanup
rm -rf $TMP_DIR

You should create a read-only user ‘git’ in the devices. And beware that each device model has the config file stored in a different place.

For reference, in HP comware, the file to scp is flash:/startup.cfg. And you might try creating the user like this:

local-user git class manage
 password hash xxxxx
 service-type ssh
 authorization-attribute user-role security-audit

In Junos/Juniper, the file you should scp is /config/juniper.conf.gz and the script should gunzip the data before committing. For the read-only user, try is something like this:

system {
	login {
		class git {
			permissions maintenance;
			allow-commands scp.*;
		user git {
			uid xxx;
			class git;
			authentication {
				encrypted-password "xxx";

The file to scp in HP procurve is /cfg/startup-config. And for the read-only user, try something like this:

aaa authorization group "git user" 1 match-command "scp.*" permit
aaa authentication local-user "git" group "git user" password sha1 "xxxxx"

What would be the ideal situation? Get the device controlled directly by git (i.e. commit –> git hook –> device update) or at least have the device to commit the changes by itself to git. I’m open to suggestions :-)