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  • Starting An Affordable Network Lab

    The last month or so, I've been plotting to put together a home network lab to begin studying for a couple exams, and to begin learning Backtrack3 & De-ICE: http://heorot.net/livecds/

    I'm looking at beginning with network+ and then going on to CCNA and/or MCSE.

    So I've been doing a lot of reading on routers, and I was hoping I could get some suggestions on affordable-but-not-shoddy equipment to get started.

    For Backtrack, I've got an EEE 701 that should be about perfect. Also have several old toughbook laptops I can boot off live CD for De-ICE, along with a dedicated Linksys WRT54GL to plug everything in to.

    For Cisco, though, there seems to be a lot more discussion on what to use. Some sites I've seen say a couple 2500s are fine, others swear by 2900, one guy said the 800 [esp 871] series are better than both of those due to better stock hardware and support for higher IOS.

    Any personal insights or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Eg am I missing something that I really would need, or the like.

    Thanks in advance for anything!
    " 'Yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation' yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation."
    - Willard Orman Van Quine

  • #2
    Re: Starting An Affordable Network Lab

    There are lots of router sim software packages out there.
    "\x74\x68\x65\x70\x72\x65\x7a\x39\x38";

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    • #3
      Re: Starting An Affordable Network Lab

      Boson seems to be the most well used and is concurrent with many of the Cisco Press books. VM's are a good way to go, however most laptops 4gb memory limit can be annoying that that respect. If you do VM it's best to do them on a desktop with like 16gb and as many cpu's as you can afford. Windows is more of a problem than Linux distro's are. You want enough VM memory where it doesn't try and use the swap otherwise it can become painfully slow.

      As for Cisco, you can find many old routers/switches cheap. Like most used computer gear the bottom falls out after a few years, EBay is a great source for that stuff.

      Find a local LUG, or other UG in your area. There are many folks there that announce they are tossing out their old gear and give people a change to either buy it or simply pick it up for free. You have marriage on your side when it comes to stuff like that, :-)

      xor
      Last edited by xor; January 12, 2009, 06:17.
      Just because you can doesn't mean you should. This applies to making babies, hacking, and youtube videos.

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      • #4
        Re: Starting An Affordable Network Lab

        I have an apparently bricked Cisco 1720 that you're welcome to if you want it.
        A third party security audit is the IT equivalent of a colonoscopy. It's long, intrusive, very uncomfortable, and when it's done, you'll have seen things you really didn't want to see, and you'll never forget that you've had one.

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        • #5
          Re: Starting An Affordable Network Lab

          Might I suggest GNS3 it's cheap and let's you do a lot of stuff (no switch configs) and check out blindhog.net, for some great virtual labs...
          AMFYOYO

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          • #6
            Re: Starting An Affordable Network Lab

            Originally posted by moleprince View Post
            The last month or so, I've been plotting to put together a home network lab to begin studying for a couple exams, and to begin learning Backtrack3 & De-ICE: http://heorot.net/livecds/

            I'm looking at beginning with network+ and then going on to CCNA and/or MCSE.

            So I've been doing a lot of reading on routers, and I was hoping I could get some suggestions on affordable-but-not-shoddy equipment to get started.

            For Backtrack, I've got an EEE 701 that should be about perfect. Also have several old toughbook laptops I can boot off live CD for De-ICE, along with a dedicated Linksys WRT54GL to plug everything in to.

            For Cisco, though, there seems to be a lot more discussion on what to use. Some sites I've seen say a couple 2500s are fine, others swear by 2900, one guy said the 800 [esp 871] series are better than both of those due to better stock hardware and support for higher IOS.

            Any personal insights or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Eg am I missing something that I really would need, or the like.

            Thanks in advance for anything!
            2600 Routers and 2950 switches are inexpensive and can make a good practical lab. You can find both on EBay for under $100 each. Just stay away from legacy equipment with CatOS on it (any of the bladed equipment, usually you can find these for free surprisingly).

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            • #7
              Re: Starting An Affordable Network Lab

              Thanks for the suggestions. GNS3 looks pretty handy, but would have to get the IOS still.

              I was talking to a buddy of mine and he said that the tests now go over the 1800/2800/3800 routers. Would a 2600 have too different of syntax/functionality to handle the new tests do you know?

              Streaker, thanks for the offer. I may take you up on that depending what I find in the next few days.

              Boson looks good too. Only desktop I've got is only a dual core with 4GB of RAM. Reckon that would be enough for it?
              " 'Yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation' yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation."
              - Willard Orman Van Quine

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              • #8
                Re: Starting An Affordable Network Lab

                Originally posted by moleprince View Post
                Streaker, thanks for the offer. I may take you up on that depending what I find in the next few days.
                If you're coming to Shmoo, let me know if you want it before then.

                I got one of these in the office:

                http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?inv...-07-2R&cpc=SCH

                I paid $179 for it, and now it's down to $129. I have it running CentOS 5.2 and VMware server. So far it's been really good at doing everything I've wanted it to do. It will not, however, run ESXi.
                A third party security audit is the IT equivalent of a colonoscopy. It's long, intrusive, very uncomfortable, and when it's done, you'll have seen things you really didn't want to see, and you'll never forget that you've had one.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Starting An Affordable Network Lab

                  Originally posted by moleprince View Post
                  I was talking to a buddy of mine and he said that the tests now go over the 1800/2800/3800 routers. Would a 2600 have too different of syntax/functionality to handle the new tests do you know?
                  I think you should go with the ones you mentioned. When I took the test 2 years ago IPv6 was not tested. You can put IPv6 on the 2600 but from what I read it lacks OSPFv3 support.

                  Also if you haven't done so already, get a Cisco CCO account. You will need one to download the latest and greatest IOS from Cisco for your switches and routers (It's free). You might also be able to download the same IOS that your book/reading materials is using. That would make following the labs a lot easier and give you an idea of which hardware to purchase that will run that IOS.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Starting An Affordable Network Lab

                    I'm currently studying for my CCIE and GNS/Dynamips is just awesome for it. It isn't a simulator, it actually emulates the cpu and then you run the actual Cisco images on top.

                    For CCNA, you'll also need some switching experience. That you can get from Cisco's Packet Tracer software.

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