Cisco Networking: User EXEC Operating Mode
When you first connect to a Cisco network router, switch, or firewall, the initial prompt will indicate that you are in User EXEC operating mode. The initial prompt will look like the following (but bear in mind that it could say switch or firewall as well):
The text in the prompt represents the hostname of the device, which by default is the device type; but you may have already renamed your devices, in which case it could now be anything. The greater-than (>) sign denotes that you are in User EXEC mode, or User EXECute mode.
This mode has only a few commands that you can execute, including the following, and these are commands that you should find in all devices, be they routers, switches, or firewalls:
connect: Opens a terminal session to another switch or router.
disconnect: Closes a session that was opened from a remote switch or router.
enable: Enters Privileged EXEC mode or enables privileged commands.
ping: Sends ping or Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) echo request packets to a remote IP host, which could be a switch or router.
show: Displays configuration information. The information that can be viewed at this level is very limited.
systat: Displays information regarding management connections.
telnet: Opens a Telnet connection to a remote device, which could be a router or switch.
traceroute: Traces a route to a destination displaying connectivity results along the path.
This limited command set does not allow you to do very much on the system itself, which is good because you can get to this mode without a password.