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IPS-4260 appropriate for learning CCNA-Security

I'm sorry that today's meeting was canceled. I really looked forward to meeting people in this community.

Background:

I am building a homelab for Cisco R&S core, plus Voice, Wireless, and Security.

I've taken the 1st level Academy courses and am quite interested in taking more, but my college has a hard time keeping enrollment up--thus, canceling even CCNP-ROUTE every semester.

So, I'm self-teaching as much as I can, but I don't have deep pockets, so I have to get gear on the used market.

Questions:

Q1: Would these items still be useful for CCNA-CCNP-CCIE-level Security, and at what level of hardware and software:

IPS-4260

ASA5510

Q2: Since I don't have a Service Contract, how does a student go about applying for one? (without looking like a total dunce)

Q3: Is the Service Contract the only way to install software on an IPS box?

Q4: If my newly-arrived IPS-4260 box says "No OS installed", what do I have to do to get an OS installed on this box? Is there a BIOS to install, an an IOS image in addition to the IPS software, or is the IPS the "IOS"?

(Yes, I knew in advanced that this used item did not have everything complete, but I wanted to try to resucitate the unit because I would learn a lot in the process.)

Q5: Do I still need a "Key" or a "license key" to run the IPS-4260, or is that part of the remote-control software?

Thanks for your help (in advance) !

__Will

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