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Visual Network Simulator To Teach Basic Networking?

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the sounds-like-a-good-video-game-too dept.

Education 138

unteer writes "I am a US Peace Corps volunteer currently teaching a computer technician course at a technical college in Kenya. My students have all completed the Kenyan equivalent of high school and have been accepted into a program where they give a year of nation-building non-military service in return for a technical education. My students' course load includes an introduction to computer networking, and this is where my problem lies. Do any of you know of a visual network simulator that can create an interactive network map that allows me, the instructor, to manipulate various components of a network, including the physical media, routing configuration, and which applications are being used to submit data? An example would be to have a visual of the differences between mail traffic and web traffic, and be able to show how the configuration of a wireless network might be different from a wired network. I know this may seem silly, but visuals of all this are critical to getting ideas across. It doesn't even have to be technically accurate, but rather just pictorially accurate, possibly just labeling the various components correctly. Also, it would be highly preferable if it ran on Linux, as I teach using FOSS only."

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Application (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32467164)

My students' course load includes an introduction to computer networking, and this is where my problem lies. Do any of you know of a visual network simulator that can create an interactive

Teach 'em to hack into the government computers and find Barry Sotero's birth certificate.

Kenyan, that is. Black fraud.

Re:Application (-1, Offtopic)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467230)

Sean Gorman mapped out the US fiber-optic telco fiefdoms.
Parts of his dissertation where "removed". He showed the choke points and critical links.
I am not sure how the Kenyan equivalent of the FBI/NSA would respond to a US Peace Corps volunteer mapping out their telco network.
Most parts of the world are very suspicious of US Peace Corps and the US State department goes to great efforts to try and isolate them from other areas of the US gov.
If you do map out the network, careful around anything AFRICOM (United States African Command) as they have drones.

Re:Application (2, Informative)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467558)

i got from the summary that the simulation would be of a fictional network, allowing the instructor to change parameters and view the effects... not sure how any government agency would care about that.

Re:Application (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32467592)

arts of his dissertation where "removed".

It's "were", not "where".

I have to ask - what's up with the increase in word misuse on Slashdot? I've noticed an enormous change, and not just of the "lose/loose" variety. "Where/were" is increasingly misused here, and number (single/plural) mismatches have increased noticeably as well, as has improper verb conjugation. It's not just with the higher UID posters, whose spelling and grammar is generally execrable anyway, but with people that have been posting on Slashdot "forever" - five, four, occasionally three-digit UID posters are affected as well.

Re:Application (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32467628)

Observation bias. You just didn't notice it before (you noticed it).

Re:Application (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32467776)

It's the cellphones, y'see.
First it was the bees; now the collective grasp of the English language on /..

I fear by this time tomorrow, we'll all be posting in idle. And liking it.

Cisco Packet Tracer (5, Informative)

MikeK7 (1826472) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467176)

The idea is not silly at all. When I did a Networking Fundamentals subject, we used Cisco Packet Tracer to do most of what you mentioned above. Unfortunately, it isn't exactly FOSS.

Re:Cisco Packet Tracer (1)

Ruede (824831) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467186)

i thought of it too when i read the article. should do good ^^

Re:Cisco Packet Tracer (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32467246)

I believe that you have to be a member of Cisco Academy to use Packet Tracer - typical Cisco licensing agreement.

Re:Cisco Packet Tracer (1)

xSauronx (608805) | more than 3 years ago | (#32468568)

you do but, perhaps, he could talk to cisco about getting academy status for cheap or free? might be good PR for them. packet tracer is an excellent tool for the novice networker, even though its not a full replacement for hands on experience, its a damn decent start.

Re:Cisco Packet Tracer (4, Informative)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467332)

We use CNET [uwa.edu.au], it lets you simulate any layer of a network stack, but really its better for teaching low-level networking by getting you to recreate a the OSI stack, rather than teaching you how to configure this or that type of node/router.

If you want you can see frames and acks between this and that node as they travel across the various links needed to reach the final point, a thorough way to visualize what's going on, but not the fastest way to teach someone how to use ifconfig or configure a cisco router.

Re:Cisco Packet Tracer (3, Insightful)

speedwaystar (1124435) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467588)

...written by my Comp-Sci lecturer the incomparable Mr Chris McDonald!

Re:Cisco Packet Tracer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32469298)

...written by some dork who either isn't getting good grades, or wants something more from his lecturer. Watch out for this one, Chris McDonald!

Re:Cisco Packet Tracer (2, Insightful)

jimboindeutchland (1125659) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470194)

I also had Chris McDonald as a lecturer when I was at UWA [uwa.edu.au] several years ago and he was by far the best lecturer that I had in my time there. Just about everyone that took one of his courses would comment on how interesting and relevant his classes were. I'm not at all surprised speedwaystar is making the same comment.

Although, it is a bit of a brown noser comment...

Re:Cisco Packet Tracer (1)

Noitatsidem (1701520) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467420)

I'd second this program, it's very good-- not FOSS, but it's also Linux-compatible. It's a very good program, I used it while taking networking in school (cisco's curriculum)

GNS3 / Dynamips (5, Informative)

WML MUNSON (895262) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467728)

GNS3 [gns3.net] is OSS. It runs best on a system with lots of RAM and a multi-core processor.

All you need beyond the initial download is a router image file (Cisco 7200, etc).


Re:GNS3 / Dynamips (1)

Comen (321331) | more than 3 years ago | (#32469474)

I have played with Dynamips before a couple years ago, and was wondering when someone would write a nice GUI for it, this is pretty awsome, this is exactly what the poster needs to use.

Re:Cisco Packet Tracer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32467798)

One YouTube video.... IP Warriors... I've never looked at ICMP the same way ;)

Re:Cisco Packet Tracer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32467824)

Sorry that should have been "warriors of the net"

Re:Cisco Packet Tracer (1)

nzwasp (1826456) | more than 3 years ago | (#32468930)

The idea is not silly at all. When I did a Networking Fundamentals subject, we used Cisco Packet Tracer to do most of what you mentioned above. Unfortunately, it isn't exactly FOSS.

You can run Packet Tracer through WINE

Re:Cisco Packet Tracer (1)

MattBD (1157291) | more than 3 years ago | (#32469666)

I did the same course and used that. It was an interesting way to learn about networking. I'd love to find something similar that was free to use.

Boson? (4, Informative)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467180)

There's a program from Boson(I think, not sure if the spelling is correct) that does this sort of thing. You drag and drop icons of computers, switches, routers, etc, and draw lines between them. It then simulates this network. You can see the various packets, such as ARP packets, routing protocol packets, etc, and can examine the various header bits and bytes. We used it in the network lab at the school I attended. I'm pretty sure it wasn't open source, though.

Ridiculous! (-1, Troll)

gbutler69 (910166) | more than 3 years ago | (#32468500)

This sounds completely useless. No wonder I as an actual application developer am always having to solve the network problems for the so-called "Network Engineers". It's because they're playing around with toys like this that serve no actual purpose rather than reading specs and troubleshooting the network and most of all THINKING. What a JOKE!

Visual Netkit (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32467202)

The Visual Netkit project may interest you.

OMNeT++ is available for free for academic use. (5, Informative)

gabort (1826542) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467206)

Hi, I would advise to try OMNeT++ it is widely used at various universities. The source code is open, and you can use it for free for non-profit and academic purposes. You can make it as simple, or as complicated as you like. Simulations can be explored live, and there is a useful animation and sequence chart feature that will make complex processes easier to communicate and understand. some links to look at: www.omnetpp.org main community page. This walkthrough of the INET Framework might actually be useful: http://www.omnetpp.org/doc/INET/walkthrough/tutorial.html [omnetpp.org] To get a feel for the whole thing, I suggest you check out some of the videos (for example, the one titled "Using the IDE" from here: http://www.omnest.com/web-demos.php [omnest.com] Or get some working demos (still the old version, but the idea is the same) from here: http://www.omnest.com/download-demosim.php [omnest.com] I hope that helps.

give up (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32467210)

Just give up. Everyone knows you can't teach niggers anything.

Cisco Packet Tracer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32467222)


We used this for largely what you describe during a training course.

try GNS3 (5, Informative)

bhenson (1231744) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467224)

I use GNS3 located at http://www.gns3.net/ [gns3.net] and it works very well and is very easy to learn and teach others to ues

Re:try GNS3 (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467294)

If you want to do GNS3 legally you are going to have to shell out some cash though. It uses actual cisco firmware. If you are in the peace corp in Kenya and don't care the firmware is easy to find online.

Re:try GNS3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32467348)

I was going to suggest Dynagen [dynagen.org], which GNS3 is based on. It's a great tool if you want to study for the CCNA, CCNP, etc. It (well, Dynamips, which runs underneath) emulates Cisco hardware and you run actual IOS images in a virtual environment. This is great if you're studying for a Cisco test, but it's definitely a problem if you want to avoid copyright infringement.

OPNET (4, Interesting)

radradrobotank (1742836) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467236)

The academic version is free. Unfortunately OPNET is Windows only.

OPNET and Wireshark make for some very informative lab work.

URL to some labwork used by various universities:

http://faculty.kfupm.edu.sa/coe/ashraf/RichFilesTeaching/COE081_540/BPG_OPNET/BrownLabManauls [kfupm.edu.sa]

(I'm not sure where these labs came from, I think from a book. My networks lecturer used them as lab work for a 2nd/3rd year network course)

You have a problem (2, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467244)

Also, it would be highly preferable if it ran on Linux, as I teach using FOSS only."

You are sacrificing your effectiveness as a teacher, and potentially failing to help your students learn, in the name of supporting FOSS?

Look.. I like FOSS, when available and when the most suited to the task, it's great.

I believe in the classroom, you should be using the most effective instructional tools available, not ones whose licensing model you personally prefer

Of course if the Non-FOSS options' license model is so restrictive, a restriction will prevent you using it in the classroomas an instructional tool (highly doubtful), then that could be a reason to reject it.

But based on your requirements, all the decent simulation options other than you having to write some code, or put together images/mock-ups manually, are not only non-FOSS, but also not free of cost.

Perhaps you should just embrace the 'free' option, and draw up your own sketches and diagrams?

If you don't like closed solutions, that's (more or less) what you are left with. Which is not horrible, but I assume you would not have asked the question if it was the best for your students.

Re:You have a problem (4, Insightful)

Luke has no name (1423139) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467282)

I agree he might have to stick with a pencil and paper, but the question is well worth asking. GNS3 is free, but I thought it required non-free components to be useful (aka Cisco IOS isos or something).

He might require FOSS not just for philosophical reasons, but because he's a VOLUNTEER in KENYA. I doubt the budget is in the triple digits.

Re:You have a problem (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467334)

GNS3 is not an open source solution, because, yes, Cisco IOS images are required to make it work. Of course dynamips itself and GNS contain open code, however, you would have to write a clone of IOS for them to be useful given a requirement that you use only FOSS.

There is no ready-made network simulation package that meets the I teach using FOSS only. rule.

WE have a problem (4, Insightful)

Bob Esponja (1416343) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467292)

Sorry, but if we need proprietary tech to have access to knowledge, he doesn't. WE HAVE THE PROBLEM, specially in educational environment like this.

Re:WE have a problem (2, Interesting)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467356)

What do you mean by that?

Our world is full of proprietary technology.

Including things as basic as writing utensils. Ink cartridge designs are often proprietary, and the manufacturers don't release manufacturing specifications.

Does that mean Ink pens should not be used in a classroom, I think not?

It is obvious from the description that the design of the simulator itself would not be the subject of the class.

Teaching introductory network classes does not involve teaching students anything about simulators, except, perhaps, how to use one.

The simulator is a tool, just like a physical model would be a tool.

You don't need to be choosing an inferior physical model to use in your classroom, just because the manufacturer releases full specifications that would be needed to clone the model, than the more instructive choice.

Of course cost may be a legitimate factor

Re:WE have a problem (1)

Bob Esponja (1416343) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467856)

Use proprietary technology isn't the problem by self. Teach at schools proprietary technologies as the only way to learn is the real problem. In my country (Spain) Tech Enterprises uses schools like academies to perpetuate their products and the result is monopolies and the end, monopoly=abuse Teach at public schools, for example, only "cisco IOS" or "CDP" is good for Cisco, but is bad for kids and other rival companies. Kids grow-up, finds jobs in companies and buy tools and tech to work. What company has better position to sold their products? Right! Cisco. You Know. In your example. The problem isn't USE ink-pens with proprietary tech.The real problem is TEACH that the only way to learn is using ink-pens and hide the existence of pencils. Spain public education is a disaster (80% of people or more goes to public education). Few government investments. Teachers don't have recyclables courses to be up-to-date, and IT tech are always moving so fast. Companies knows this problem and tries to get profit for this situation. Simulators are tools right. But proprietary simulators aren't neutrals. They are always telling you if you uses my proprietary protocol you will have better solution less problems, etc. Actually in Spain the big problem in tech education isn't Cisco. Would be, but we have a biggest problem and is called Microsoft. ;-)

Re:WE have a problem (3, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467904)

Seriously? What the fuck are you talking about? Pens are proprietary?

Firstly, pretty much any pen you can buy will work with any paper you can buy. There is no vendor lockin. You can change pens HALF WAY THROUGH A WORD and it will have no effect. Secondly. Refillable pens (eg retractable pencils and fountain pens) will accept refills from any manufacturer. That's even less proprietary! You can even refill them yourself! I whiled away some happy hours refilling cheap fountain pen cartridges with bleach to make erasers when I was in school. You can also make your own ink if you really wish and use that. It is not too hard. You can also make your own pens, too. It is also not very hard. And you can make your own paper.

The technology for all these things is well understood and widely, openly known, and far too old to be covered by patents[*]. You can be easily go into business to make them for yourself. Of course, that does not mean it is trivial, but that is irrelevant.

Just because you're not personally able or inclined to does not make it proprietary.

[*]Maybe some fancy new pens are patented, but the kind of biros I usually use seem indistinguishable from the ones I was using 25 years ago.

Re:WE have a problem (1)

ekgringo (693136) | more than 3 years ago | (#32469136)

I find it ironic that in your talk about the "openness" of pens, you use the word "biro", which is a specific brand of pen. This implies that the Biro brand has become so ingrained in your thoughts that you use it to refer to all pens in general, like Kleenex, Band-Aid, Jello, etc.

Re:WE have a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32467370)

In the immortal words of Tonto the Indian, "What do you mean 'we', paleface?" I don't have a problem with it.

Re:You have a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32467804)

I believe in the classroom, you should be using the most effective instructional tools available, not ones whose licensing model you personally prefer

The licensing model is part of the effectiveness of it, if for no other reason that he can make copies on the spot if and when he needs them.

Your personal fanaticism, blinding you to a simple fact like that, suggests you really should get out more.

But based on your requirements, all the decent simulation options other than you having to write some code, or put together images/mock-ups manually, are not only non-FOSS, but also not free of cost.

Yes, a fanatic. There are a number of options mentioned by other posters. Education is about having a rich open environment that students can explore, not blinkered, one use tools that encourage blinkered thinking. Please, get out more, you sound like the product of such an educational environment.

Re:You have a problem (3, Informative)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467862)

I don't think he said "I refuse to use non-Foss tools", I think it's more "I currently only use FOSS tools". This, because he said it should run on Linux preferably, which means he's willing to use Windows if the tool needs it.

Who has a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32467894)

The commenter posted, in bold, "...not ones whose licensing model you personally prefer"
I don't think the original poster said that he personally PREFERS any particular model. He states what he DOES " ...as I teach using FOSS only." but that is different from stating a PREFERENCE.
It is possible that he uses only FOSS because that is what his students in Kenya can afford.
It is possible that as a volunteer teacher for the Peace Corps that is what he can afford.
It could be that he really does have the preference the commenter ascribes to him, but without more knowledge, I am not sure we can make that claim (in bold none-the-less).

As I read this comment, I felt as though the poster was being attacked for stating what he does AND wrongfully having reasons ascribed to those actions without full understanding of WHY he does it.

Just sayin's all.

Re:You have a problem (3, Informative)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467976)

He mentioned "preferable", perhaps because Free solutions can be expanded Freely. His students can have personal copies of ALL the software he uses and spread it legally as they teach others.

Re:You have a problem (2, Interesting)

Patrick In Chicago (1571139) | more than 3 years ago | (#32468742)

You act like the kids are paying for a univerisity education and the OP is shorting them because he hates Windows. News flash: he is a *volunteer* in the Peace Corps. He's teaching in Kenya. That would be in Africa, bordering coutries like Ethopia and Somalia. Do you think it's possible that he's using FOSS to maximize his budget?

Re:You have a problem (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#32469114)

That's what it sounds like when someone says they have a policy of teaching using only FOSS tools. If the FOSS tools are just as good or better for instructional purposes as the Non-FOSS tools, that's great.

However, you don't hand students an Abacus to use in a Calculus class, instead of a calculator, just because you the instructor prefer non-electronic devices.

In teaching about computer network, and making graphical simulations, however, the FOSS tools would have a lot of catching up to do.

As I mentioned, cost could be a legitimate reason. If you can't afford an instruction tool, then you can make do with a poorer tool. There are also legitimate reasons like unable to find or figure out how the better tool works, logistical concerns, etc.

But there are instructional tools that are available gratis for educational purposes, or that you can use without incurring more costs, that just are not FOSS.

ns2 / nam (5, Informative)

happylight (600739) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467406)

Not sure if it's exactly what you want but check out ns2 [isi.edu] / nam [isi.edu]. It's a pretty good network simulator. It's open source and runs on linux.

Re:ns2 / nam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32467432)

Plus it will indefinately prolong your stay at Kenya! NS2 is good for researchers, not for educators. Don't waste your time.

Re:ns2 / nam (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32467996)

NS2 is what we use at the University of Leuven (Belgium). It can be scripted, so it is very good for simulations of "Suppose a storm blows out cables 1, 4, and 6. What happens?". It can simulate UDP and TCP traffic, it can simulate RIP and BGP routing protocols as well.

why simulate? (4, Interesting)

andy753421 (850820) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467444)

I assume you have some lab computers that are already part of a network, can't you just install wireshark on them and use the existing network? You won't be able to teach everything, but you can probably cover a lot of it that way. Learning tends to be easier for me when I'm looking at the actual thing anyway. If you trust them with root access (or have automatic restores) they can experiment with different configurations too.

CORE (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32467460)

Take a look at CORE (http://cs.itd.nrl.navy.mil/work/core/) its open source and works on Linux/BSD

Custom machines? (2, Interesting)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467516)

Is there one that I can load Windows, Linux, BSD, and any other system on? That can also emulate other CPUs?
I would like to be able to do something similar to this [xkcd.com] XKCD, but with random software and routers.

Re:Custom machines? (1)

David_Hart (1184661) | more than 3 years ago | (#32469206)

GNS3 lets you tie in external systems via ethernet interfaces as well as run virtual machines.

I am using a couple of network lab systems to simulate a WAN. GNS3 is running on one of them, VMWare is running on the other. I am tying the two together via a switch using VLANs to isolate the traffic. This way I can simulate a routed wan with a server on one end a client on the other. The only piece that I am missing, and am planning on acquiring, is a system that lets me introduce additional latency, jitter, and dropped packets.


Re:Custom machines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32469302)


A Less Sophisticated Approach (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467526)

Visuals are fine, and certainly useful for teaching generally, and illustrating broad concepts specifically.

I'll go out on a limb here and suggest that you don't underestimate the value of physical objects. There's something to be said for physical wires and connections. It's a truism to say that "hands on experience" is often the best method for learning: a user plugging in a network cable and configuring things by typing in a terminal before using it to view or analyse network traffic is about as hands-on as you can get. Bonus points for plugging the cable into the wrong jack or accidentally disconnecting it.

If it were me, I'd use old PCs with multiple NICs, install one of the BSDs, and devote your visuals to network diagrams and the explanation of higher level concepts. That's not to say that setting up a "virtual lab" won't work; just that most would prefer a "real" one (with similarly "real" blinky lights). Seems to me a certain amount of hands-on experience in a real world environment is almost a prerequisite to dealing with or making productive use of abstractions like virtualisation software.

You're in Kenya, so the idea of acquiring used Cisco gear, for example, off eBay probably probably isn't feasible. But if some extra PCs are available and can be put to use, I'd go that route.

Re:A Less Sophisticated Approach (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#32468662)

Don't forget to ask US corps for donations of used equipment. The experience of getting up systems from parts and networking them is valuable.

Corporate types seeing this thread feel free to offer some up for that tax-deductable love. :)

NS2 : network simulator (1)

soumyamandi (1826632) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467528)

I agree with happylight . network simulator is i think what you want . It includes utility where you can visualise the data packets sent from computer nodes . You can also write simple scripts to adjust network settings such as capacity of link etc . It also demonstrates the protocols . we have used it in our computer network course at college . Find more at this link : http://www.isi.edu/nsnam/ns/edu/index.html [isi.edu] .

youtube vids (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32467538)

Youtube has some useful videos to simulate networking


Imunes (2, Informative)

untruenorth (1826690) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467708)

I've used something called Imunes in the past with great success. It runs on FreeBSD as I recall, and is the output from an academic project somewhere. It will run happily in vmware, interacting perfectly with vmware virtual switches and physical NICs in your machine. You can create hubs, switches, routers and hosts inside the environment, hook them up with point to point links, set bandwitdth and loss parameters on those links, etc. Routers can do bgp and ospf via OSS implementations (zebra/quagga). The genius of the whole thing is that the network stack is magically instantiated per-process: thus, when you have a simulated host in your setup, it actually just manifests itself as a shell window. You can use ping, traceroute, run apache, or firefox, and it will be bound to the exact bit of the virtual network you expect it to be. With imunes, I've simulated a complete wide area network, complete with simple bgp, checkpoint secureplatform firewalls (in vmware on the same box), and an imunes host at each site. I was able to run traffic end to end over encrypted vpn tunnels from one secureplatform protected imunes host to another. One of my firewalls was a physical box, hooked in via a crossover cable. Warning: it *will* warp your mind doing this stuff in vmware... E.g. Em0 in Imunes is eth0 as presented to the vmware guest which is vmnet1 which is eth2 on my host OS. I recommend a multiple-interfaced physical machine for sanity's sake.

Re:Imunes (1)

ivucica (1001089) | more than 3 years ago | (#32468152)

Indeed -- what he said.

At university (a sub-university entity called "faculty"), in our "Communication Networks" class as well as "Network Programming" class, we used in-house developed IMUNES [tel.fer.hr]. Link appears to be dead at the moment, probably because of maintenance being done in the building. I'll try to summarize, though, and you can try using Google's cache.

I'm not sure if it's open source, but I believe it is free. It's a FreeBSD mini-distro that uses an X11 piece of software to allow you to graphically construct the network, and deploy mini-virtual-machines (segments of some sort) with a single click. It allows simulation of routing, of various network speeds, of packet drops, etc. You can easily see the traffic by starting Wireshark on a node (a router, a PC, whatever). You can easily log into each of these nodes.

We received IMUNES as a VMware disk image, and it worked pretty well. We received instructions on how to link individual virtualized IMUNES machines, but I can't remember how to do it right now.

GNS3 / Dynamips (1)

WML MUNSON (895262) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467726)

GNS3 [gns3.net] is OSS. It runs best on a system with lots of RAM and a multi-core processor.

All you need beyond the initial download is a router image file (Cisco 7200, etc).


cloonix FTW (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32467730)

What about cloonix?
Take a quick look at the screenshots: http://clownix.net/

Re:cloonix FTW (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32467830)

It's in Africa. Do you mean coonix?

The US peace corps is famous (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32467744)

The US peace corps is famous for sterilizing indian women against their will in Bolivia (contrary to popular opinion, this is a fact), for being a nest of spies in Chile (I know I as there), for teaching Colombians to make cocaine, and many more atrocities. The best thing you can do is get out of there. If you want to help somebody fine, just don't let yourself be used by the US government.

Re:The US peace corps is famous (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#32468670)

Citation(s) needed or piss off. Assertions such as those could get Peace Corps volunteers snuffed, kidnapped, etc.

_Prove them_ or DIAF.

Clack Graphical Router (4, Informative)

Xolotl (675282) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467850)

I had a similar problem finding ways to teach basic networking such as addresses and masks and routing to non-computing students. Having looked into NS2 and similar things and finding them powerful but way too complicated (for the student's level), I settled on Clack:

Clack Graphical Router Project [stanford.edu]

It's written in Java, graphical and easy to use and does quite well at showing many of the important things. You can also extend it yourself if necessary (open source).

GNS3 & wireshark & NMAP and package genera (1)

einar.petersen (1178307) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467860)

As someone working as a Network Engineer I would recommend you look at GNS3 since you can install it via sources or via a deb package, you already have the address in other post in this thread. The nice thing about GNS is that if you build the network and installe the images (that is the trouble part) you need actual cisco images, you might be able to obtain them for educational purposes, and why not approach Cisco to ask. The worst thing you could get is a no on the other hand you might end up with a system that acts as the devices do in real life, an ideal playground in which to learn about networking, but to properly learn get hold of a package generator to stream your simulated environment. http://sourceforge.net/projects/packeth/ [sourceforge.net] http://sourceforge.net/projects/pacgen/ [sourceforge.net] http://bittwist.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] http://sourceforge.net/projects/traffic/ [sourceforge.net] http://gull.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] http://mc-mint.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] Are just some of the available package generators. Also someone else mentioned wireshark http://www.wireshark.org/ [wireshark.org] - That tool is a must for anyone serious about learning about networking and someone teaching about it. NMAP is another must as well http://nmap.org/ [nmap.org] Good luck with your efforts

Cisco Packet Tracer (1)

cavedweller96 (1549997) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467866)

Go with Cicso Packet Tracer. As someone pointed out It isn't open source, but there is a linux version. Its most recent version is high quality and extremely functional. When I studied for my CCNA, I used this software alot because in certain cases it provided the same learning without the hassle of physical equipment. oh yea, the most important thing is that it is free.

I know it's not exactly what you asked... (2, Interesting)

holiggan (522846) | more than 3 years ago | (#32467886)

... but I just love "Warriors of the Net". [warriorsofthe.net]

It gives a pretty good idea on how networking works, and some of the visual metaphors are quite awesome.

Re:I know it's not exactly what you asked... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32467902)

Have to disagree, this was used as an easy way to teach networking instead of bothering to teach it where I started. As I took over each course, this pretty quickly got taken out. We found the students weren't really learning from it as much as you would normally find from a visual aid, it's clearly dated ("Apple packets going the wrong way", "ping of death") bears little relevance to many more modern ideas, the graphics are hideous and some of the ways it explains things are questionable at best, flat out wrong at worst. If you have nothing else, it'll do, but to be honest a good teacher and a whiteboard will do the job better and more effectively than this old tat.

Clownix ? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32467900)

Why not http://clownix.net/ ? you can build a full network graphicaly and log on each machine to configure them

Visualis ( commercial software from BMC ) (2, Informative)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 3 years ago | (#32468016)

Some ten ( 10 ) years ago, I collaborated in the development of Visualis, a network topology manager written in Java. It has since been acquired by BMC, and now does a lot more. It should be possible to feed it with a simulated network, rather than having it discover an actual one. Have a look here: http://www.tideway.com/confluence//display/Configipedia/BMC+PATROL+Visualis+Fault+Manager [tideway.com] There is a free community download that may suit your needs. Contact me if you need more info. Note: this is not an ad. I am not in any way involved with this corporation.

Cisco games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32468042)

I believe Cisco has a number of interactive games (google Cisco games) which provides networking simulations.

Clack Graphical Router (2, Informative)

Eharley (214725) | more than 3 years ago | (#32468124)

We used a Stanford project called Clack in my Networking and Internet Protocols class. We could setup virtual networks and visualize traffic. The meat was implementing a virtual router in software and using that to route traffic in the virtual network.

Clack Homepage:
http://yuba.stanford.edu/vns/clack/ [stanford.edu]

Part of the Virtual Network System
http://yuba.stanford.edu/vns/ [stanford.edu]

Artwork of all networking equipment (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 3 years ago | (#32468172)

You can get digital artwork of many network hardware components in Visio or Omnigraffle format then extract the artwork files Then print them out and attach then to magnetic vinyl at a large size. Now you can illustrate whatever you need on a magnetized whiteboard. Or you could use corkboard and string.

Not sure about the licenses but they are free to download. Search online for .gstencil files (or go to http://www.omnigraffle.com./ [www.omnigraffle.com]

VirtualBox and Vyatta (1)

garrettg84 (1826802) | more than 3 years ago | (#32468468)

Between VirtualBox (www.virtualbox.org) and Vyatta (www.vyatta.com) you can pretty much (si/e)mulate anything networking. VirtualBox is of course virtualization software and Vyatta is an x86 open routing platform. Vyatta's command syntax is very similar to CISCO and anything you can do with a CISCO router (and to some extent, CISCO's security devices...) you can do with Vyatta. Vyatta is a custom linux distro with full blown routing capabilities. It can also serve as a client if needed. I often have to simulate networks in my line of work and Vyatta + any virtualization platform is pretty awesome at making things work. Vyatta's memory and disk requirements are pretty low and for what it's worth, you could likely even run a few Vyatta virtuals on an x86 based netbook without being too incredibly slow. About being able to tweak things on the fly, I would create an additional interface on each Vyatta box and set up a host based management network and then SSH configs with the different settings I felt necessary to explain what I was teaching. Script it, then you look like the master of your domain =) Good luck!

PacketTracer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32468676)

Just use PacketTracer by Cisco, it runs on Linux

pretty pictures? (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 3 years ago | (#32468794)

If you need pretty pictures for the students to learn networking, I think you have some more basic problems (English, math, logic) to worry about.

Re:pretty pictures? (1)

Democritus the Minor (762206) | more than 3 years ago | (#32469832)

If you think most people can learn networking without pictures or diagrams, I think you should stop assuming things about the way people learn.

wireshark (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32468810)


with the right filters can be very illustrative. bonus, it's a useful tool they'll learn how to use on the way

hownetworks (1)

dropadrop (1057046) | more than 3 years ago | (#32468834)

http://www.vmware.com/appliances/directory/354 [vmware.com] "Hownetworks" is pretty cool, but you will still be left with the problem of creating a very sterile environment. If you try teaching somebody by watching live traffic in an office or school network there will be so much noise that it will probably confuse the students. I tried looking for an updated version of the app, but could not find one...

Paul (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32468854)


As a Cisco instructor for the past 10 years, I can tell you that there is no equal to Cisco Packet Tracer. While Packet Tracer is proprietary, it is also free of charge to Cisco Academies and their students. My lab in Battle Creek, MI runs 100% Linux, and Cisco has a 32 bit version which works flawlessly.

Cisco does not charge you any fees to be an academy, but there are expenses in purchasing equipment, and they will hold you to training requirements under the Quality Assurance Plan. The effort is worth it though.

Look up the nearest regional academy near you at this link: http://cisco.netacad.net/cnams/locators/LocatorMain.jsp

Write webmaster@cisco.netacad.net or call 1-888-327-1116 (US) for more information.



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