Introducing the Packet Life Community Lab!

By stretch | Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 6:57 a.m. UTC

After much expenditure of effort and capital, I'm happy to announce that the free Packet Life Community Lab is now online!


The lab is a collection of modern networking gear (mostly Cisco) interconnected in a dense generic topology and accessible via remote console. Access to the lab is obtained by registering as a member of the site and creating a reservation for the desired device block(s) and duration. A member can reserve some or all of the lab devices (which currently include Cisco 1841s, 2811s, Catalyst 3550s, and ASA 5505s) for up to eight hours per reservation. For the physical topology and other details, see the lab documentation.

Access to the lab is offered via Telnet and SSH; sessions are bridged directly to the physical console of each device by an Opengear CM4116 console manager. I'd like to thank Opengear for sponsoring this device and their staff for their invaluable support in getting the lab up and running.

The lab is still very much in its beta stage; please report any suspected bugs in the forums. Or, drop by #packetlife on for live assistance. (Please remember to consult the Community Lab FAQ first.)

While I am accepting voluntary donations to help cover hardware and operational costs, the lab is completely free for use, provided you register as a member (also free, of course) and agree to the user agreement.

Finally, I feel like it's worth mentioning that I routinely announce things on IRC and Twitter a day or two before I do so on the blog. So if you'd like to be one of the first in the know in the future, that's where to look.

About the Author

Jeremy Stretch is a network engineer living in the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina area. He is known for his blog and cheat sheets here at Packet Life. You can reach him by email or follow him on Twitter.

Posted in Announcements


November 14, 2009 at 7:06 a.m. UTC

Congratulations.. You are too kind.

November 14, 2009 at 7:18 a.m. UTC

Thanks Stretch for doing this. I hope all the guys/girls out there appreciate this. I know it's NEVER easy to setup a lab what more a remote one :-).

November 14, 2009 at 7:50 a.m. UTC

Thanks dude..!

November 14, 2009 at 8:44 a.m. UTC

Thanks dude, this will help everyone like me studing in full autonomy (economy) for his/her CCNA/CCNP/CC*

Great work!


November 14, 2009 at 8:55 a.m. UTC

This is fantastic! Thanks Stretch. I look forward to furthering my knowledge on kit I would not normally have had access to at a faster rate thanks to your generosity.

November 14, 2009 at 10:16 a.m. UTC

Stretch, you are Awesome! I'm equally studying CCNP, it will help for sure, Thanks.

November 14, 2009 at 10:29 a.m. UTC

This sounds like a fantastic idea. Look forward to seeing how it plays out.

November 14, 2009 at 10:59 a.m. UTC

@Stretch, lab looks great. If you need a rack, I recommend a Black Box RM391A-R2 rack. The one in my lab houses 40 devices and it’s pretty sturdy. Here’s the link:

Let me know if you need a AAA or any other equipment.

November 14, 2009 at 11:15 a.m. UTC

Thank you so much Really appreciate i hope it's helpful for all Networkers..:)

November 14, 2009 at 12:47 p.m. UTC

Thank you!

November 14, 2009 at 2:40 p.m. UTC

That is awesome! Thank You Stretch!

November 14, 2009 at 4:56 p.m. UTC

This is amazing, already booked my firt lab on monday.

November 14, 2009 at 6:16 p.m. UTC

This rocks, Stretch!

Thanks for taking the time to do this!

November 14, 2009 at 8:46 p.m. UTC

Awesome, thanks!

November 15, 2009 at 3:14 a.m. UTC

Lab looks really nice, Stretch. You mentioned that you're accepting donations, but no link?

November 15, 2009 at 11:12 a.m. UTC

The lab setup looks great Stretch!

November 15, 2009 at 4:55 p.m. UTC

Stretch, you are amazing! thank you man!!

f (guest)
November 15, 2009 at 8:33 p.m. UTC

looks like a great way to heat your house too

November 16, 2009 at 9:39 a.m. UTC

Thanks stretch for such a beautiful gift.

maxx (guest)
November 16, 2009 at 12:45 p.m. UTC

Hello Stretch, I don't know if I'll to ab^H^Huse PL lab :-) as I have my own iron to play with, but as a young networker I have to lift my hat to you for the kind effort.

November 16, 2009 at 1:25 p.m. UTC

That is really cool. Is that all running in your apartment? It must make a lot of noise.

DrScriptt (guest)
November 16, 2009 at 3:41 p.m. UTC

Stretch please take the donation that I just sent you and buy your self a drink on me!

Everyone else, let's raise our glasses (of coffee / soda / energy drink / alcohol / etc.) in a toast to Stretch.

Thank you Stretch for all you give to the community.

DrScriptt. . . .

November 16, 2009 at 9:08 p.m. UTC

Thanx Stretch! I will be taking the RS lab in 2010 and this will be very helpful. Nice job!

November 16, 2009 at 11:01 p.m. UTC

Glad everyone likes it so far! Thanks for the support!

@alex: Surprisingly, no. The 1841s are virtually silent, and I replaced the stock 2811 fans with some quieter ones. The switches are somewhat noisy but their fans face the wall so they're not too bad. There's also a 3725 I use as the FR switch but it has larger fans (2RU) so it's not too bad either.

November 17, 2009 at 4:16 a.m. UTC

Thanks Stretch,

Looking forward to using it when practising for my CCNP (wonder what are the new syllabus in January).

November 17, 2009 at 6:53 a.m. UTC

Thanks Stretch. APPRECIATE all the pain and efforts taken for setting up such a good lab. It would be very helpful for the needy guys preparing for CCNP/CCIE RnS. God bless you.

November 18, 2009 at 3:09 a.m. UTC

Thanks Stretch for "stretching" out your lab. :) It will very very helpful for us especially those who need to do commands in switches like Catalyst 3550. Keep more coming, your site really helps me a lot in my CCIE studies. Your cheat sheets rocks!!!

November 18, 2009 at 10:05 a.m. UTC

Thanks so much Stretch! Your site is a great help already. And the Lab is like an early Christmas present! Cheers from Switzerland!

November 19, 2009 at 5:26 a.m. UTC

It is not every day one can observe such a display of altruism! Jeremy, I’ve forwarded a some money through paypal to ease your finacial burden in a small way. Hope you never tire of keeping your excellent blog going.

Janne S

November 22, 2009 at 10:30 a.m. UTC

Thank you very much for setting this lab up. I've been spending time configuring it, in short sessions, and it's been very helpful working with the real hardware.

November 22, 2009 at 4:46 p.m. UTC

Thank you so much!

November 22, 2009 at 4:46 p.m. UTC

Thank you so much!

November 25, 2009 at 1:14 p.m. UTC

Thanks very very much guy!! Definitly this is an outstanding gesture of yours providing a Community Lab... God bless!!

November 27, 2009 at 6:05 a.m. UTC

Dude your the best! Once I pass my CCNP I'll I will owe it to this blog of yours. Just ping where I can send my donations

November 27, 2009 at 9:47 a.m. UTC

You are very generous, beyond words. Keep up the good spirit.

john__long (guest)
November 27, 2009 at 1:48 p.m. UTC

Thanks! Been following your blog for a while now! <3 your cheat sheets! Studying CCNA so makes it so much easier! Just need to refer to the cheat sheets in my labs!

Will deffo give the lab a look sometime!!

January 14, 2010 at 8:19 a.m. UTC

I thank you so much for your generosity.

August 16, 2010 at 3:52 p.m. UTC

Thank you so much, very inspiring...

April 25, 2011 at 12:21 p.m. UTC

Thanks you soo much dude. Dude i am not able to access the LAB will you please suggest me how to access lab my email is

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