Designs for a teaching lab for System Administration using Raspberry Pi devices.
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Designs for a teaching lab for System Administration using Raspberry Pi devices.

The goal of this project is to design a lab for teaching System Administration using inexpensive hardware. The students should be given as much hands-on access as possible, at the level of the physical hardware and the network and server configuration.

Each set of four students will have access to a "pod" consisting of a head node, a router, power control and four Raspberry Pi units. The lab will consist of one or more pods and the hardware required to provide secure remote access as well as monitoring and graphical feedback to the students as they work.

The cost must be kept as low as possible. The students should be able to take home a working server computer at the end of the sessions. The remaining infrastructure can be re-used but must also be inexpensive. Each "pod" should be priced so that it is less expensive than a set of Lego Mindstorms.

As much as possible the hardware must be off-the-shelf. Assembly of the pods must require no special tools. The Pods will require a backboard jig that will require assembly. The remaining components must attach to the backboard either with fixed velcro ties or with pre-set wall hanging fixtures.

The pods will provide the students with unrestricted network access to all of the internal components. They will have access to power control, serial consoles on the router and Pi units as well as network access once connectivity is established. Console connectivity will be provided through a "head node" to which the students will have controlled access.

A separate set of monitoring units will provide text and graphical feedback to the students through standard monitoring software. The students will have web access to the graphical tools so that they can observe the operation and changes in they behavior of their pod.

The goal is to provide the students with the experience of assembling, configuring and operating a small but complete network infrastructure. Within the pod students will configure and observe all of the standard network infrastructure services from DNS, DHCP and NTP up to web services and web frameworks.

Here we go...

Mark Lamourine markllama on Github, twitter, facebook, Google+, Linkedin and Freenode IRC