• How to create a simple network topology

    Today I’m going to explain a simple way to create a network topology for your home needs. The solution provided would probably good enough for small offices as well, while bigger networks will need professional solutions.

    The topology the we are going to draw are to be considered as references for small networks that are slowly increasing in size. For example a few years ago we generally saw one computer per house, maybe with a modem connection to the Internet, but today we have more than one PC, smartphones, tablets, laptops, media centers, TV and small servers all connected to the internet in small/big home network.

    Therefore I see more and more often people struggling to remember what is connected to what or even what is supposed to be stored where or which name or IP are assigned to what. Summarizing… A mess…

    So in my research to solution to this problem I’ve thought to try to use something freely available to many and simple to use: LibreOffice Draw.

    I thought as well that it would have been nice to be able to use those nice Cisco icons that you can find in products like Cisco Packet Tracer and I’ve surprisingly discovered that Cisco has made available those icons to everybody in many different formats.

    Thanks to this we can now start preparing our home-made network  topology:

    1.download and install Libreoffice from this link;

    2. download the Cisco icons in JPG format at this link and uncompress the file in a folder of your choice;

    3. run Libreoffice Draw;

    4. Choose the menu Tools -> Gallery

    5. Now we are going to create a specific Theme by clicking on the button New Theme (this will open a new window);

    6. In the new window we can put a nice title (ie. “Cisco”) and then we need to choose the tab called Files;

    7. Now we choose Find and go to the folder where we decompressed the Cisco icons and then choose the path with OK;

    8. All the icons will be imported (it will take a few seconds) and then you can confirm with OK;

    9. The icons have been imported  but now you will need to have the icons window and the editing window both visible. To do this move the theme bar to the left or right of the screen. In this way you will see the editing area and the icons visible.

    10. Now you can start adding icons to the main area and by double clicking on them you’ll be able to write a multiline description (like the hostname and the IP address).

    See an example I’ve quickly drawn below:

    Sample Network Topology

    Sample Network Topology

    Now you can have all the information you want at hand and maybe do proper planning on your network for future expansion!


    UPDATE 30/07/2014: as commented by Mark Oellermann (see comments below), he has made available under a Creative Commons Attribute-ShareAlike V3 license which allows commercial and non-commercial use, modification and redistribution as long as the terms of the license are met. These are available at: http://www.vrt.com.au/downloads/vrt-network-equipment

    Incoming search terms:

    • libreoffice draw network exemple
  • Process Explorer 11.21 – update

    I’ve been really busy in the last two months, but now I’m back and I’ll go ahead with the analysis of Process Explorer.


    Always on top – used to put the main Process Explorer’s windows on top of all the others

    Replace Task Manager – Really interesting function. When selected, the Process Explorer will replace the original Task Manager. If you want to put the task manager back, just click again on the same option and it will be restored.

    Hide when minimized – when flagged, only the icon in the traybar will be displayed and not the icon in the taskbar.

    Allow only one instance – if enabled, it will prevent to open more than one Process Explorer at the same time.

    Confirm Kill – if checked, everytime you try to kill a process, you’ll be asked for confirmation

    CPU History in tray icon – when enabled you’ll see an icon in the traybar next to the clock with the CPU usage history

    I/O History tray icon – same than the previous option, but the I/O output will be shown

    Verify Image Signatures – If enabled, Process Explorer will checks if a process’ image has been digitally signed by a certificate authority that is trusted by the computer. The Process Explorer will show Trusted (if it’s signed and trusted), Unsigned, or “Not Verified” (if is not trusted).

    Configure Symbols – Taken from the Help file: ”

    on Windows NT and higher, if you want Process Explorer to resolve addresses for thread start addresses in the threads tab of the process properties dialog and the thread stack window then configure symbols by first downloading the Debugging Tools for Windows package from Microsoft’s web site and installing it in its default directory. Open the Configure Symbols dialog and specify the path to the dbghelp.dll that’s in the Debugging Tools directory and have the symbol engine download symbols on demand from Microsoft to a directory on your disk by entering a symbol server string for the symbol path. For example, to have symbols download to the c:symbols directory you would enter this string:


    ning in the Tray

    Configure Highlighting – Use it to define which colors you want to assign to every kind of processes

    Difference Highlight Duration Define how much time will the new processes appears in green and the closing/killed ones in red. The default is 1 second.

    Font… – Choose the font that the software will use.

    Next step is to describe the View and the Proces menus… Hope this will happen soon!

    Thank you.

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  • Process Explorer 11.21 (procexp)

    Hi All,

    today I’ll start a review of all the softwares I’ve mentioned some days ago, and I think that the “Process Explorer” is a very good start.

    Process Explorer has been created by Mark Russinovich, and is the best replacement for the original Microsoft Windows’ Task Manager.

    I’ve used process explorer for various years, and it helped me a lot to troubleshoot and solve a large number of issues.

    Process Explorer's appearance

    Process Explorer

    In this image we can see Process Explorer’s appearance:

    On the top part we have the standard Menu bar and Toolbar. The main window lists the processes running on the machine and the last window shows (depending on how you configure it) the DLLs or the Handles associated to the process we highlight.

    Now, let’s analyse the Menu Bar; we can see 8 menu items: File, Options, View, Process, Find, Handle, Users and Help. In this post I’ll explain the first two menus: File and Options, just to avoid to make it too long:


    Run: this will allow you to start an executable by writing its name in the proper field or by browsing your drives and double click on it.

    Runas: this will allow you to start an executable like the option “Run“, but before the program starts, you’ll be prompted for alternate credentials.

    Save: using this option will save the full content of both process window and the DLLs/Handles windows in TXT format.

    Save as: same as the previous option, but with the option to change the TXT filename.

    Shutdown: this will give you the opportunity to Logoff, Shutdown, Stand by, Lock or Restart your machine.

    Exit: use it to close the program.


    Always on top: put Process Explorer’s window on top of all the others.

    Replace Task Manager: replace the original Task Manager with the Process Explorer. Please note that the change can be reverted by choosing this option again.

    Hide when minimized: enabling this option will make the process explorer’s window disappear from the traybar when minimized (please note that the cpu usage monitor in the systray will remain – if enabled – and from there you’ll be able to restore it).

    Allow only one instance: allow or not to have more than one Process Explorer opened.

    Confirm Kill: ask confirmation when you try to kill a process.

    CPU History in Tray Icon: swap the  CPU history icon in the systray with the CPU Realtime usage icon.

    I/O History Tray Icon: enable/disable the I/O history icon in the systray.

    Verify Image Signatures: enable/disable will check or not if a specific process has a trusted signature (signed by a trusted root certificate authority).

    Configure symbols: this is to specify the path of the file dbghelp.dll. This is part of the Debugging tools for Windows, used by Process Explorer to identify the thread’s start addresses when you see the “threads” tab in the process’s properties.

    Configure Highlighting: specify colors for every different type of process.

    Difference Highlight Duration: this will change the amount of seconds (default 1) that new processes are shown in Green (started) or Red (killed/closed).

    Font: This is to change the default font used by Process Explorer.

    In the next post I’ll discuss the other options and in the last one I’ll give some tips and explanations on how to use it to solve specific issues.

    Have a good weekend!