A Cisco Catalyst 2900 series switch is a great buy for a CCNA candidate. The 1900 series below it is WAY obsolete and the 3500 series above it can start at $1000 USD. Buy a useful 2900 for around $100 USD or less.
Get a 2900 series that either has a 12.X.X IOS or has the RAM and flash space to hold a 12.X.X IOS. Ask the seller. If the seller cannot get a "show version" command, look around more as many 2900s are up for sale. Keep in mind that Cisco does not have 2900 series IOS at the same revision as their more current switches and routers, so a 12.1.X is perfect.
The 2900 will already support spanning-tree protocol. Higher model 2900 switches and IOS versions may provide some later spanning-tree functions like RSTP and PVST+. The 2900 may support ISL and IEEE 802.1Q trunking, possibly on more ports than other 2900s, depending on the model and IOS version.
Get 2 switches to be able to learn the material. Spend a lot of time concentrating on spanning-tree, VLAN assignments, and trunking. Make loops between the 2 switches using various spanning-tree settings. Watch the spanning-tree times. Make VLANs on both switches and then trunk the switches together. Move hosts on each switch between VLANs. Also try ether-channels and possibly using a router with the switches that supports a VLAN trunk interface, if you want.
There is 1 CCNP exam that will focus heavily on switching. 2900s will help, but the CCNP switching exam focuses more on multi-layer switching like 3550s or above.
=========== Scott Perry =========== Indianapolis, Indiana ________________________________________