Switchport Configurations Explained

It always helps me to think of the English translation when trying to memorize and understand some the Cisco IOS settings I think are important.

Here are some Cisco IOS switchport configurations translated into English:

switchport mode trunk‘ says: “Always trunk on this end, and I will send DTP to attempt to negotiate a trunk on the other end.”

switchport nonegotiate‘ says: “Do not send or respond to DTP from this end. Disable all DTP on this port.” (Best used on user access ports, when trunking to non-Cisco switches, when trunking to a router1, or if you are paranoid about fast convergence2)

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VLAN Trunking using IEEE 802.1Q

IEEE 802.1Q (sometimes referred to as 1Q or DOT1Q) is a industry standards based implementation of carring traffic for multiple VLANs on a single trunking interface between two Ethernet switches. 802.1Q is for Ethernet networks only.

Unlike ISL , 802.1Q does not encapsulate the original Ethernet frame.

For Ethernet V2 frames, 802.1Q inserts a new 4-byte field between the SA and TYPE fields of the original Ethernet frame. Since the addition of this new DOT1Q field changes the original frame, 802.1Q also recomputes and rewrites the original 4-byte FCS at the end of the frame.
802.1Q Header Insertion into Ethernet II frame

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VLAN Trunking using ISL

Inter-Switch Link (ISL) is a Cisco specific implementation of trunking multiple VLANs between two Cisco switches where a single interface will carry traffic for more than one VLAN. ISL was designed to work with Ethernet, FDDI, Token Ring, and ATM.

ISL completely encapsulates the original Ethernet frame by adding a new 26 byte header and new 4 byte FCS trailer. The new ISL header contains a VLAN ID field and QoS priority information (among other things).

ISL Header (click image to enlarge)

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