What does Cisco LINA stand for? What is Cisco LINA?

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What does Cisco LINA stand for? What is Cisco LINA?

Both really good questions….

LINA

The Cisco ASA uses a single monolithic binary (ELF) running directly on the main CPU, and the ASA firmware is a Linux operating system running a single ELF called LINA.  The older PIX devices ran on a custom OS called PIX OS and had a similar binary running on them. The term “Lina” was said to come from the name of someones pet hamster in Sweden, and was used to describe this ELF.

However, the truth is that LINA stands for Linux on ASA, at least thats what I thought until Aug 2021…now the real author of LINA posted the history:

Back in the PIX firewall days (probably about 2006) , a contraption called “IOU” has appeared internally in Cisco, and as someone who worked in TAC at the time I heavily appreciated it, since it allowed super fast creation of the lab setups. And as someone who dealt with a lot of PIX customer issues I wanted the same. So with a lot of heavy linker hacks and tricks, I managed to compile the PIX firewall code to run it on Linux. I had to call the file something, and since it was running on LInux NAtively (as opposed to in an emulator), it seemed like an obvious moniker to call it LINA.

One of the ASA lead architects who was my good friends (after working on quite a lot of issues together :) thought the name was cute, and they “borrowed” it.

The rest is history.

So no, no animals were involved in creation of this name. :-)”

(Big thanks to Andrew Yourtchenko for his valuable insight)

Why is this important? Because Cisco is using this term again to describe the code used before and after the SNORT process in the new Cisco FTD devices, as shown in the diagrams below.

4 Comments

  1. Funny to see the name appear on the internet. The explanation provided here is not correct, there was no pet hamster :-)

    Back in the PIX firewall days (probably about 2006) , a contraption called “IOU” has appeared internally in Cisco, and as someone who worked in TAC at the time I heavily appreciated it, since it allowed super fast creation of the lab setups. And as someone who dealt with a lot of PIX customer issues I wanted the same. So with a lot of heavy linker hacks and tricks, I managed to compile the PIX firewall code to run it on Linux. I had to call the file something, and since it was running on LInux NAtively (as opposed to in an emulator), it seemed like an obvious moniker to call it Lina.

    One of the ASA lead architects who was my good friends (after working on quite a lot of issues together :) thought the name was cute, and they “borrowed” it.

    The rest is history.

    So no, no animals were involved in creation of this name. :-)

    1. This is awesome. No where other than Lammle.com does this explanation exist now!! LOL… :)
      I had seriously heard back in the day, 2004 I think, that it was a pet in Sweden somewhere and I couldn’t disprove that theory at all. For a while, I had the only definition on google for “Linux on ASA”…after that, it was all over cisco and on the slide decks fro their firepower training…so you can see why everyone picked up that definition after that…I’ll be sure and correct everyone from now on! :)
      Thank you very much! Please feel free to post more on lammle.com for me!!

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