By Brian Scheibe
Can Boson’s Cisco Network Simulator, NetSim 8.0, be used in a classroom setting? You bet! You can create the components required for lab packs to allow you to deliver custom labs in the classroom, or as homework for students.
NetSim’s Lab Compiler feature is one of its best features. It allows you to create custom labs or custom lab packs. NetSim makes it possible for instructors to create customized labs that can either be used in the classroom, or as homework for students. Let’s take a look at the five steps required to create a lab and a lab pack.
These are the five steps required to create a lab kit:
1. Create the Lab Document – This document describes the steps to be taken in the lab. Create the Topology File – This is a file that describes the devices that will be used to create the lab’s simulated network. Loading Configuration Files are optional running configuration files that you can be as detailed as you like. Grading Configuration Files are optionally completed configuration files that contain all the commands the student was required for the lab. Combine the files with Lab Compiler – This is used to combine all of the pieces created in the previous four steps and then export the compiled lab pack.
We will create files for use in a laboratory using the steps below. Here are some samples of the files that have been completed.
To create a custom laboratory, you will need two things.
1. Lab Document – This document describes the steps to be taken in the lab. The document must be in XPS format for NetSim 8. To get the correct format, you can create the document in any format that you like and then “print” it with an XPS printer. Topology File – This file defines the devices that will be used to simulate the network in the lab. NetSim 8 allows you to create custom topologies using the tools available on the NetMap tab. After you have added the devices and connections, save the topology in a folder that you will use for the lab. The file will be saved with the.top extension. Loading Configuration files (optional). This allows you to start running configuration files. You can be as detailed as you like or as sparse. Grading Configuration files (optional). – Final configurations for the devices after all steps have been completed in the lab document.
Step 1: Create the lab document
Everybody knows how to create documents, so I won’t go into detail. This document, TestLab.xps will be included in the lab pack.
1. This will allow you to sketch out the lab document and outline the tasks you want to complete. This will allow you to plan the network topology that you want to simulate in your lab. Add a graphic showing the topology created and label the interfaces accordingly. If necessary, explain why the step is being performed. Use Courier New font to show the device output in your document. This will ensure that it is properly aligned and is easier for you to read. You can save both the original file and the XPS document to make changes later if necessary.
Now that we have created a lab document, let’s get to the fun part: creating the topology.
Step 2: Create the Topology file1. Start NetSim 8 and click on the NetMap tab.
In my document, I created a network diagram in MS Visio. The graphic was then pasted into the lab document. This design will be used to create the network topology which will be simulated in lab.
2. Click Navigation to see the options available to add devices to your topology.
3. Click Add Device and choose 3640 from the available routers.
a. While the Add Device dialog box remains open, choose 2 in the Number Of Add-ons field. Select 2 Ethernet and 1 Serial as the connection types for Add-on #1 & Add-on 2.