Community Lab FAQ
- Accessing the Lab
- Troubleshooting Lab Access
- Check the lab announcements first!
- I can't access the lab via Telnet/SSH.
- I can't authenticate to the console server.
- My reservation is gone!
- If none of the above apply...
If the lab is free, why do I need to register?
Member registration is required to create reservations and manage lab access in a sensible manner. Site registration is free and requires only a valid email address.
Can I create multiple or recurring reservations?
No, a user can only create a new reservation once any existing active reservation of his has expired or been deleted. This is done to ensure everyone gets a fair chance to reserve the lab.
How do I change my reservation?
Delete it and create a new one. To delete your reservation, go to the lab schedule and click the link at bottom to view your current reservation. (If you see the reservation form, you have no active reservation.) Click the "delete" button at the bottom of your reservation page to delete the reservation.
Accessing the Lab
How is access to the lab achieved?
The console port of each lab device has been connected to an Opengear CM4116 console server. The Opengear server is accessed via Telnet and/or SSH on the TCP ports corresponding to the desired console links (for example, telneting to port 2008 establishes a connection to the console port of the device plugged in to port 8 on the console server).
How can I power-cycle devices?
While connected via Telnet, type ~p to invoke the power menu. If connected via SSH, type ~~p (with two tildes instead of one). (If the text '~p' or '~~p' simply appears on the console, hit enter and type it again.) Type R (note that it must be a capital R) and enter to power-cycle the current device, then type . (period) and enter to return to the console.
How do I send the break signal?
A break signal is needed when performing password recovery after power-cycling a device. To send a break via Telnet, hit enter and type ~b. To send a break via SSH, hit enter and type ~~b. If performing multiple breaks in succession, be sure to hit enter each time to ensure the character sequence is properly escaped.
Can I use ASDM or CCP to configure devices?
Not at this time. The lab devices are logically and physically gapped from the Internet except for the serial console connections. ASDM and other GUI tools require IP connectivity from the workstation to the device being managed, which is not available.
Troubleshooting Lab Access
Check the lab announcements first!
The lab undergoes maintenance periodically; sometimes this maintenance is scheduled, sometimes not so much (such is the reality of running a lab out of a basement). Be sure to check for recent lab announcements and verify the status of the relevant lab devices before exhausting any effort in troubleshooting.
I can't access the lab via Telnet/SSH.
Verify that you've selected the right port for your protocol of choice
Port 20XX should be used for Telnet, port 30XX for SSH. Also consider trying the other protocol (e.g. try Telnet if you've been trying SSH).
Verify that packetlife.dnsalias.net resolves properly
If it does not, try querying it against a different name server like OpenDNS (184.108.40.206) instead of the DNS servers provided by your service provider or organization.
Verify that your outgoing connection is not being blocked
Check that your connection is not being interfered with by a software firewall or a filtering device upstream. Perform a packet capture with a tool such as Wireshark to determine whether the TCP three-way handshake (SYN, SYN/ACK, ACK) is being completed between your workstation and the lab's console server.
Verify that your IP prefix has not been banned
Certain IP prefixes have been blacklisted from accessing the lab as a consequence of abuse. Typically, this is the result of someone attempting to create multiple reservations for himself under duplicate accounts.
To verify that you are not accessing the lab from a blocked prefix, visit the lab schedule. If you see a message at the bottom of the page reading, "Your IP prefix has been banned from the lab for abuse," your IP prefix has been prohibited from accessing the lab. These bans are permanent.
I can't authenticate to the console server.
Verify your credentials
Ensure that you are logging in with the correct username for your device block (e.g. "blocka" or "blockb"). Do not try to log in with your personal username from packetlife.net. Also verify that you are using the correct password, as provided in your reservation confirmation email. Again, do not try using the password for your user account on packetlife.net.
Verify your reservation's time
My reservation is gone!
Reservations may be deleted for one of two reasons:
- You failed to successfully authenticate to the lab's console server within the first 30 minutes of your reservation. You are considered a "no-show," and your reservation is deleted to make the lab available for others during this time.
- An administrator determined that your reservation was in violation of the user agreement (e.g. multiple reservations made by the same individual under multiple accounts). When this happens, you may also find your account(s) on packetlife.net deleted and your IP prefix permanently banned from accessing the lab.
If none of the above apply...
If, after reading this section of the FAQ in its entirety and performing due diligence in an attempt to resolve the issue on your own, you still cannot access the lab, seek help via the contact form. You will not receive a response unless you include all of the following details:
- Your username
- Your reservation ID
- The reservation start time (UTC)
- The device blocks reserved
- The time at which you attempted to connect to the lab
- A detailed description of the problem
For reference, "It doesn't work" and "I can't log in!" are not detailed descriptions, and will not receive a response. Remember, if you can't think like a network engineer, you don't need the lab anyway. ;)
Please do not create a thread in the forums asking for help, as it will not guarantee a response.
Someone else has set an unknown password and the device and I'm locked out.
While reasonable precautions have been taken to prevent people from doing this, some people have a very hard time following simple instructions. (These people make poor networkers.) If you encounter a device configured with an unknown password, follow the appropriate procedure outlined in the Factory Reset Procedures guide.
Why did I receive the error message, "Abusive command detected?"
Several safeguards have been configured in the lab's console server to mitigate accidental corruption or deletion of the boot image(s) on each device. Examples of commands which ARE NOT PERMITTED include:
copy run <custom filename>
delete <software image>*
copy running-config startup-config and
copy startup-config running-config (or any abbreviation thereof) are allowed.
* The delete command can be used to delete non-critical files, such as vlan.dat on switches.
Oh no, I think I deleted an image!
If you think you've mistakenly deleted an IOS or ASA image or otherwise corrupted a device, please report it immediately. There is no penalty for accidental image deletions, but it is important to report it ASAP so that the device can be restored quickly for the next lab user.
Why don't you replicate a CCIE training provider's topology?
This free lab is intended to benefit people who have no practical access to lab gear of their own and incorporates whatever equipment I think will be useful. If you can afford to blow $1400 USD on the CCIE lab exam, you can afford to rent rack time from a training provider with the equipment and topology of your choice. There are several companies which offer CCIE training labs for just a few dollars per hour.
Where is the lab physically located?
Currently, the lab is hosted out of stretch's home in Fairfax, VA, US (on the edge of the Washington, DC metro area).
How much does it cost to power the lab?
About $25-30/mo, not factoring in the cost of air conditioning during the warmer months. Donations are appreciated to help cover this cost.