The training platform is designed to run directly on the hardware (or "bare metal"), because it makes heavy use of virtualization. If you were to run it inside a VM then you would be doing "nested" virtualization - VMs inside VMs - and it is hard to make this perform acceptably well.

Specification

The server needs to meet the following minimum specifications:

  • Quad-core i7 processor
  • 32GB of RAM
  • 250GB of SSD
  • Gigabit ethernet NIC (ideally two)

Having 64GB RAM and 500GB SSD, or the ability to upgrade to these later, is desirable.

Portable devices

If the training kit needs to be portable, we recommend the following devices:

  • Intel NUC10i7FNH (formerly known as "Frost Canyon")
    • Takes one M2 (NVMe) SSD module and/or one 2.5" (SATA) drive.
  • Intel NUC8i7BEH (formerly known as "Bean Canyon")
    • Takes one M2 (NVMe) SSD module and/or one 2.5" (SATA) drive.
  • Intel NUC6i7KYK (formerly known as "Skull Canyon")
    • Older generation but still available
    • Takes two M2 (NVMe) SSD modules, no 2.5" drive
  • Apple Mac Mini 2018
    • Available with 4 or 6 cores
    • RAM is upgradable to 64GB
    • On-board SSD is not upgradable: best to buy with 500GB for future-proofing
    • 10G NIC option at purchase time

The Intel NUCs prior to NUC10 officially only take 32GB RAM, but are widely reported ( 1, 2 ) as working with 64GB. We have successfully deployed two Samsung 32GB DDR4-2666 SO-DIMM unbuffered non-ECC 1.2V in a Skull Canyon with BIOS revision KY0063. With an older device it is possible that you will need to upgrade the BIOS.

If buying an SSD for the Bean Canyon or Frost Canyon then you'll get better performance from an NVMe module (e.g. Samsung 970 EVO / EVO Pro) than from a SATA drive.

Second NIC

You will need two ethernet NICs: one for the classroom LAN, and one for the external uplink.

If only a single NIC is present, then you can use a plug-in network adapter for the uplink, such as this one. We have tested adapters that use the r8152 chipset.

A USB3 NIC with USB-A connector is the safest option. A USB-C connected NIC could be either USB3 or Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt NICs should work, but the Linux Thunderbolt subsystem might not be as well tested.

A USB2 and/or 100Mbps NIC will work fine too. Throughput will be less than a gigabit, but you probably won't be using that much bandwidth on your uplink anyway.

Wireless access point

For students to access the network, you will need a wireless access point.

We have found the Unifi AP AC Lite to be extremely reliable, but other access points may be fine.

Switch

For a very large class or a permanent installation, you may wish to use two APs. In that case, you'll need a switch as well. A switch also lets you provide wired connections to students whose wifi adapter is not working well.

A managed switch is a preferred since it can be used as an SNMP target in classroom exercises, and if it has PoE outputs then it can power the wifi access point(s) directly. A fanless switch is preferred to avoid distracting noise.

The Netgear GS110TP meets all of these requirements. It is a "Smart Managed Pro" switch, which includes SNMP and a CLI (telnet to port 60000 - has to be enabled in the web interface first).

However, beware that some APs need higher power PoE+ (802.3at) rather than PoE (802.3af), in which case you may need a different model of switch.

Also beware that Netgear "Smart Managed Plus" switches are not fully managed, with only a basic web UI and no SNMP or CLI.

Accessories

You will need at least three CAT5 cables: wireless access point to power injector, power injector to server (LAN), server (WAN) to external Internet connection.

The power supplies for all of the above should be multi-voltage and work in any country - but check before you travel. It can be helpful to carry your own power strip and a universal adapter.

For a permanent classroom installation, UPS power is strongly recommended. When travelling, ask the host if they can loan you a small UPS.

You'll need a USB flash drive for the OS installation, and it's useful to carry a few for transferring files.