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Open Source Software And Live Linux Cds: Elements Of Successful Lab Modules

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

DB & Information Integration

Tagged Division

Information Systems

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.974.1 - 11.974.10



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Paper Authors


Ed Crowley University of Houston

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Ed Crowley, a former IS Director, developed the four course security specialization at U⁈s College of Technology. This is the only NSA/CNSS certified (4011/4014) program in Houston.

Mr. Crowley holds multiple INFOSEC certifications from the National Security Agency (NSA). He has also earned the usual vendor certifications from Cisco, CompTIA, and Microsoft. In addition to having held governmental security clearances, he is a graduate of the Military Police Academy.

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Cheryl Willis University of Houston

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Open Source Software and Live Linux CDs: Elements of Successful Lab Modules Introduction

In addition to the intellectual effort, hands-on lab development can require substantial budget, labor, and laboratory resources. Often, commercial software can require a significant budget commitment. At the same time, system configuration and software installation can also require a significant labor commitment. In many colleges, incorporating laboratory activities into a class necessitates the dedication of a physical room to a single course section. In many environments, obtaining the necessary budget, labor, and room resources for hands-on lab modules is problematic.

This paper describes elements of a methodology for creating hands-on lab activities that minimize budget and support requirements. We have used this methodology to create hands-on activities in Operating System, Networking, and Security contexts. These activities provide students with concrete experience that the student can, in most cases, duplicate and extend outside of the laboratory environment. These structured activities are accompanied by questions and assignments that provoke reflection and stimulate critical thinking.

Our experience has been that Open Source Tools and Live CDs are critical elements in the design of our hands-on learning activities. These two elements produce a synergy that facilitates the creation of learning experiences that would normally require substantially greater budget and support resources.

Live CDs and Open Source Tools: Elements of Success

Four years ago, when we began to develop our security courses, we soon realized that we had neither the time nor the resources required for a conventional development process. We also knew that hands-on activities would be critical. As an analysis of the structure of hands-on activities, Jeanna Matthews1 has observed:

Nearly all (laboratory activities) involve three parts: 1. Configuring the hardware and software to prepare for a networking experiment (e.g. connecting a series of machines with routers, hubs of switches, configuring the machines with hard coded IP address, etc.) 2. Performing an experiment to generate specific network activity and capturing a trace of the activity. 3. Analyzing the trace to understand the subtleties of what occurred.”

We have found that utilizing Live CDs and Open Source Software has enabled us to minimize the amount of time on Part 1, and concentrate our limited resources on Parts 2 and 3. That is, Live CDs and Open Source Tools offered us the elements that we needed for successful hands- on activities.

Crowley, E., & Willis, C. (2006, June), Open Source Software And Live Linux Cds: Elements Of Successful Lab Modules Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1404

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