This post is based loosely on @networkjanitor’s (Kurt Bales) post on his experience starting with Python programming. You should read his experience as well.

In this post, we’re going to explore how we can construct a list of routers and get the port status and the last state change of those ports very quickly and easily. This post won’t go into the details of how to use the py-junos-eznc API, nor will it discuss Python fundamentals. Those are both left as an exercise to the reader (and perhaps to future posts).

Router Setup

Before we start, you need to ensure your router has netconf enabled. This is easy. Just log into your router and type:

configure private
set system services netconf ssh
show | compare
commit check
commit comment "Enable NetConf"

py-junos-eznc A Python library to automate Junos

@nwkautomaniac (Jeremy Schulman) has done some excellent work automating Junos. The currently-supported automation library is py-junos-eznc, which we’re going to install and use.

Open up your terminal and let’s get started!

sudo apt-get install -y python python-pip python-yaml
cd ~
mkdir -p scripts/junos && cd $_
pip install git+
pip install junos-eznc
touch port_stats
touch config.json
chmod 700 port_stats
chmod 600 config.json

This assumes the use of Ubuntu 12.04. Adjust the package installation line (the first line above) if you’re using a different distribution.

That was easy. Let’s (very quickly) test our success by opening the Python shell and importing a module:

Python 2.7.3 (default, Sep 26 2013, 20:03:06)
[GCC 4.6.3] on linux2
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> from jnpr.junos.op.phyport import *
>>> from jnpr.junos import Device
>>> import json

To open a Python shell, just type python at the command line.

If you get an error about “python2.yml” not existing, see issues #86 and #62 on the project’s GitHub page for a temporary fix.

You shouldn’t get any errors, and we should be off to the races.

Configuration config.json

Before we get started, we should define a configuration hierarchy and methodology. For this example, we’re going to use JSON, the JavaScript Object Notation. It is easy to read and write, and it’s implemented across a large variety of languages.

There are, essentially, three configuration-level variables we want: a user name, a password, and a hostname or IP address. We should think about the future, though, and take this one step further: what if we want to get port status for multiple devices at the same time? So we need to change our hostname requirement to a list of hostnames.

Now that we know what we need, let’s set up our configuration file with vim:

If you’re not familiar with vim or Linux in general, you may find my crash course on Linux helpful.

  "user": "rancid",
  "pass": "rancid",
  "hosts": [

Pretty simple, right? Two routers, a user name, and a password.

I’m using the “rancid” user here just for simplicity. I recommend you use the lowest-privileged user that is capable of the task required in the event of a system compromise.

The Meat of It The python script

Now open up port_stats and enter the following:

# Author  : Tyler Christiansen
# Purpose : Get port state for multiple routers
# Date    : 2013-01-21

from jnpr.junos import Device
from jnpr.junos.op.phyport import *
import json

config_file = open('config.json')
config = json.load(config_file)

for host in config['hosts']:
  rtr = Device(
  ports = PhyPortTable(rtr).get()
  print("Host: %s" % host)
  print("%s%s%s" % (
                     "Time Since Last Flap".ljust(45)
  print '-' * 65
  for port in ports:
    print("%s%s%s" % (

There’s quite a bit going on in there.

The verbosity of python is one the reasons I’m not particularly enchanted with it–but this is the best tool for the job right now.

Making Sense An explanation of the script

Assume that line 1 actually starts with the first line of code, which is from jnpr.junos.op.phyport import *.

Lines 1-3 import modules and code that are necessary for our script–modules to interact with the device, the port, and with our JSON configuration file.

Lines 5-7 open the configuration file, read its contents, and parse the JSON, making a Python object that we can work with later.

Line 9 starts the real magic: it begins to loop through all of the hosts we defined under the hosts key in config.json, selecting one value of the list at a time and giving it a temporary name of host, and continues until the end of the loop is reached.

Lines 10-14 use data from our config.json file and the host loop variable to build a Device object. This is what will actually build the connection, and it is necessary to gather information.

Line 16 opens the netconf session with the router, and line 17 gets all of the port information.

Lines 18-26 build a header, making use of the ljust() function to build padding to the right and left-justify the text.

The rest of the lines loop through all of the ports on the device, giving a temporary variable name of port to each, and then printing out the port name, operation status, and last state change time following the same length constraints as the header.

The Result An example in action

[email protected] [07:54:42] [~/scripts/junos]
-> % ./port_stats
Interface   Status  Time Since Last Flap

xe-0/0/0    up      2013-11-01 06:37:15 UTC (11w5d 01:17 ago)
xe-0/0/1    up      2013-12-13 06:00:45 UTC (5w5d 01:54 ago)
xe-0/0/2    up      2013-11-01 06:42:30 UTC (11w5d 01:12 ago)
xe-0/0/3    down    2013-11-01 06:14:30 UTC (11w5d 01:40 ago)

Interface   Status  Time Since Last Flap

xe-0/0/0    up      2013-12-13 06:14:28 UTC (5w5d 01:40 ago)
xe-0/0/1    up      2013-12-13 06:14:20 UTC (5w5d 01:40 ago)
xe-0/0/2    up      2013-12-18 22:39:35 UTC (4w6d 09:15 ago)
xe-0/0/3    down    2013-12-13 06:14:20 UTC (5w5d 01:40 ago)

[email protected] [07:55:02] [~/scripts/junos]
-> %

The End

This script is licensed under the BSD 2-Clause license, while the py-junos-eznc library is licensed under the Apache license. You’re free to modify my code as long as you retain notice that the original codebase was mine.

Otherwise, enjoy it!

Note: I’m not a programmer. I’m really not even a systems guy. To be honest, I’m not sure what you would call me, but this script could be a whole lot better. More features, command-line arguments, and so on. PLEASE make every effort to improve it–and then share your contributions with the rest of the community.