Friday, January 28, 2011

Preparing my network lab

This entry is two fold. First, provides me a record about what tools are required and how they are must be orchestrated for having a practical networking course. Second, gives a starting point to my alumni for setting up their own network lab.

Since Universidad del Valle, as many other universities, has limited resources, the networking laboratories would be executed on top of virtual environments and using open source software.

Well, let us start. As a virtualization tool I recommend VirtualBox. I know of other open source virtualization tools but I find VirtualBox particularly stable and easy to work with. VirtualBox allows the easy deployment of virtual machines running different operating systems (Windows NT, 2000, XP, Linux, Solaris, Mac OS X) that run on top of a similar number of host operating systems.

The selected guest operating system for the virtual machines(VM) is Ubuntu Server Edition. The main reason of this selection is because Ubuntu provides a JeOS (Just Enough Operating System) version of its server operating system. JeOS is characterized because it only installs the minimal set of components(operating system + system tools) that allows to barely run a Linux system.

Up to know, only the tools necessary for running virtual machines are mentioned however one interesting topic in computer networks is traffic analysis. For this task, Wireshark is the selected tool since it is the most widely used, documented and known sniffer at this time. Wireshark allows to analyse and filter network traffic by port, protocol, IP source/destination address, among others fields found in network packages/frames.

Given these tools, your first homework is:
  1. Install VirtualBox
  2. Download the current Ubuntu Server Edition
  3. Create two Ubuntu-based virtual machines. On one machine you would deploy your preferred window manager and you would also install wireshark. The second machine, no GUI or network service would be installed but SSH.
That's all.

No comments: