Virtuals Labs: Easier and Somewhat Safer

Why built a new system image every time you need to restore or configure lab computers or networks when you take an easier approach?

In a new whitepaper, Using Virtual Machines to Provide a Secure Teaching Lab Environment," Harry Bulbrook of Durham Technical Community College explains his rational for using VM technology:

"One of the main reasons to use VM’s is their increased manageability. Instead of installing operating system software, application software, and configuring an existing machine, a previously configured virtual machine could be distributed. An exercise that requires several hours of setup (making it difficult to assign to a large class) can be configured once, then distributed. Specific exercises could be tuned for specific virtual machines, allowing for extremely focused topic demonstration (such as a buffer overflow), instead of being concerned about the configuration of one exercise conflicting or interfering with another. A huge benefit is that even if the entire virtual machine is formatted or destroyed, another environment can be deployed as simply as copying a file to the system."

Bulbrook goes on to explain how he manages some particular configuration needs. You can download a copy of the whitepaper in PDF format here. Note that he mentions a VM-based IPCop image and, but the URL in the whitepaper is incorrect. The correct URL is

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