I would like to know if there's a way to force a Boot Loader rewrite on Cisco Catalyst 2960-X switches.

I got one model that runs this release of the Boot Loader: BOOTLDR: C2960X Boot Loader (C2960X-HBOOT-M) Version 15.2(3r)E1, RELEASE SOFTWARE (fc1) and this appears to be the latest version from Cisco, even installing the latest firmware release from Cisco, as today it's 15.2(7)E2, it does not update the Boot Loader:

Checking for Bootloader upgrade..
Boot Loader upgrade not needed(v)

So there's a way to force the Boot Loader to be rewritten? I want to validade that the shipped Boot Loader isn't tampered.

EDIT: I may have used wrong terms, and sorry for that, so what I was trying to achieve is a rewrite of the Boot Loader, if I understood correctly. And this as far as I know it's shipped on the Firmware and updated only if needed.

Why I want to do this: to validade if the new units are legit or counterfeit. They are bought from an oficial Cisco reseller, but the reality is that I got some counterfeit units form the same source and they are "out of warranty" since I don't have a SMARTnet contract. Those units are new so I can replace them if they fail to boot after the Boot Loader upgrade, or rewrite.

I always suspected that something was wrong because two units broke after an update the rewrote the Boot Loader, the release 15.2(4)E6 (fc4) of IOS, and with the news about counterfeit 2960-X devices here I finally could understand what happened. And in fact this is what I got inside one of the switches:

enter image description here

EDIT: Fixed the terms, I was really trying to talk about the Boot Loader and not the BOOTROM, sorry for the confusion. I've messed with the terms.

EDIT: According to Cisco and on this site there's nothing illegal in downloading and installing software updates without an SMARTnet contract.

  • The IOS and boot loader are separate. You should be able to get the latest boot loader for your device from Cisco through your SmartNet contract.
    – Ron Maupin
    Jul 22, 2020 at 21:51
  • @RonMaupin I've edited the question with additional info. Jul 22, 2020 at 22:24
  • "installing the latest firmware release from Cisco" and "since I don't have a SmartNet contract." Then you did not have the right to update the IOS. If you cannot update the boot loader, then you cannot update the IOS. You must have a SmartNet contract to do either, otherwise you are breaking the law.
    – Ron Maupin
    Jul 22, 2020 at 23:39
  • 3
    What about this? Jul 23, 2020 at 0:14
  • 3
    @RonMaupin 150% INCORRECT, and I'm tired of seeing this knee-jerk reaction. There are several product lines with firmware support without smartnet. (2960's are one of them) All you need is a CCO account to download firmware. One can also legally acquire updated firmware directly from TAC without smartnet under certain circumstances. Please visit cisco.com and learn the difference between a lock icon (login required) and the page with a lock in it icon (login and service contract required)
    – Ricky
    Jul 23, 2020 at 4:22

1 Answer 1


What issue(s) are you trying to fix? Bootloader and "BOOTROM" (aka. ROMMON) are different things. (basically, the difference between GRUB and BIOS on a PC.)

I don't see an updated ROMMON available from Cisco. And that wouldn't replace the "ROM" based ROMMON, but loads into the "upgrade ROMMON" area.[*] (I have upgraded ROMMON by physical replacement of chips before, but that was decades ago.) If the booted IOS doesn't think anything needs to be changed, then it likely doesn't need to be changed.

[*] Because an upgrade failure would brick the device. With the chip no longer socketed, it's an involved process to fix in the field.

  • Edited the question with a better explanation Jul 22, 2020 at 22:12
  • 1
    If you have fake gear, you'll need to contact Cisco and the supposedly reputable seller. As I understand it, Cisco does want to know about these cases. Yes, it can be very difficult to spot the fakes, even with it disassembled. (the mod chip is a dead give away, which is why they've moved on to integrating it into the board.)
    – Ricky
    Jul 23, 2020 at 4:27
  • I already contacted the seller, but I would like to confirm this two new ones, since I'm afraid of the integrated mod chip as you said, so I will not even accept the switches. Jul 23, 2020 at 4:32
  • I just don't want to end up with what happened on the 2960 that I've used on the example, without SMARTnet and 4 years later discovering that the unit was counterfeit and broken after the 15.2(4)E6 firmware update. Jul 23, 2020 at 5:00

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