Overhauling PacketLife.net for 2014

By stretch | Monday, January 13, 2014 at 2:23 p.m. UTC

Regular readers no doubt have noticed that I haven't posted anything new in the past few months. I've been pretty busy with the holidays, home projects, and adjusting to a new job, and haven't had much time or motivation to devote to writing. Good news though: I have started on a long-overdue refresh of the Packet Life design and code base.

When I originally debuted Packet Life, I ultimately wanted it to serve as major community hub, so I built in features like the wiki and discussion forum. Although Packet Life has grown quite popular over the last few years, these areas of the site have seen little activity. Acknowledging that there are more active and useful sites out there which serve these functions, I've decided to chop off some of the bloat in favor of focusing on the blog and the site's other more popular features.

Here's the fate I've outlined for each function of the site:

Blog: The blog is the heart of the site and will remain mostly unchanged, albeit refreshed and optimized. I'm considering allow guest posts but haven't committed to the idea.

Lab: No, there are no plans to bring the community lab back online in the immediate future. Sorry. And if it is revived, it will move to LabKeeper.net (once I get back to work on that site).

Forum: The forum will be no lonegr be available, nor do I see much value in archiving its content. For general discussion and technical assistance I recommend networking-forum.com, /r/networking on Reddit, and the Network Engineering Stack Exchange site.

Wiki: Axed. It never saw much use and what little content was added was of questionable quality at best. I might republish a select set of pages as blog posts, but beyond that it will not be archived.

Captures: The packet captures database will stay. It seems to be pretty popular and I utilize it enough merely for my own needs that it's worth keeping. It also serves the blog by providing example captures to help illustrate the concepts being discussed.

Armory: I really like the idea of the armory, but the work to maintain the database of tools hasn't been proportionate to its meager interest. This concept would probably be better off on a more security-focused site. I plan to shutter the armory as well unless there's substantial objection from the community.

Library: The library will be reduced to the cheat sheets only (plus the IGP wall poster PDF). The study notes I posted there years ago are terribly outdated and won't be replaced.

Toolbox: I haven't decided whether to keep the toolbox around yet. I'm pretty proud of Ping Watcher but all of the other tools can be found elsewhere.

Of course, the revamp isn't limited to chopping off limbs. The entire codebase is being refreshed for Django 1.6, and the layout will be reincarnated as Bootstrap 3. The site will also be moving from Rackspace to Linode primarily for economic reasons, though that should be transparent to end users.

Let me know what you think about the proposed changes, or if there's any in particular you'd like to see on the renewed site. I hope to have a beta up and running before the end of the month.

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

Comments


Stefan (guest)
January 13, 2014 at 3:45 p.m. UTC

Very nice, I am looking forward to seeing more updates :)


wavemotion (guest)
January 13, 2014 at 8:35 p.m. UTC

Thanks for come back!!


packetologist (guest)
January 14, 2014 at 12:54 a.m. UTC

I agree with the changes Jeremy. As you alluded to, there are other community sites out there so the removal of the forums makes sense. Heck, even the Packet Pushers got rid of their forums in favor of other sites like the ones you suggested. There are security sites out there that keep track of the updates for all the security tools as well so again, not necessary.

I'm looking forward to seeing the new site and new content from you! Good luck and best wishes.

Keith


Dale (guest)
January 14, 2014 at 6:15 p.m. UTC

Jeremy,

Your writing and teaching styles are what make this site so great. I'd hate to see that diluted by guest posts that might not have the same impact as yours.


murphyslaww
January 14, 2014 at 10:57 p.m. UTC

Congrats on the new job! I can understand entirely. I went close to a month or more without a post on my blog after 90+ over the previous 11 months.

We're going through a NOC consolidation and I've moved into an Engineering slot in which I'm partially responsible for the training of 20+, new, network analysts.

I'll be getting back to putting labs up on labkeeper soon. I'd like to figure out the issues with the cyclades TS eventually, but may pick up an NM-16 or 32, as I plan to get together a Voice, security, and wireless rack, but have been busy building my Junos/MEF-CECP rack for my own studies.


Steve (guest)
January 16, 2014 at 12:29 p.m. UTC

With the toolbox, can you keep a list of recommended toolbox for us newbies?


tmel173 (guest)
January 17, 2014 at 9:25 p.m. UTC

I fell in love with this site when I stumbled upon it during my initial switching studies in pursuit of a network engineering career path. I liked the content presentation and the way it was written for both a practising engineer or a novice one. I am glad that you are back to revive it and look forward to a revised edition. I appreciate your thoughts on the forums. I am glad you mentioned networking-forum as one of my favorites too.


Mat (guest)
January 24, 2014 at 3:41 p.m. UTC

not the Armory !
I cant even access it from work, it is categorised as hacking! :D
one more proof that it is an interesting place!


bmyazdani
January 30, 2014 at 7:01 p.m. UTC

Blog posts is the best thing I love about packetlife; and about forum I agree with you, im not fan of packetlife forum.
BUT not the armory; please keep it!


Mo (guest)
February 2, 2014 at 9:40 a.m. UTC

Stretch:
Please keep armory. We need it.


jj (guest)
February 2, 2014 at 8:37 p.m. UTC

Please leave the armory, I havent saved all the links :D


raidomingo
February 9, 2014 at 5:02 a.m. UTC

Can we have additional categories? like vendors? so anyone who has a specialty of a specific brand of equipment can share his/her ideas. and it will be easier to navigate. thanks.


Australia_Cisco (guest)
February 26, 2014 at 6:54 a.m. UTC

Another one who wants to keep the Armory. Its my goto page when I need to find a tool for the job.


Dedan (guest)
March 7, 2014 at 3:15 p.m. UTC

I think the changes you've outlined are appropriate. I don't think I ever used the wiki and only read/posted in the forum a few times in the past couple of years. I found packetlife through the blog and find that + captures to be the meat and potatoes of this awesome site.

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