The VLab is a cluster of powerful server computers, a fast network, and a large storage system that is dedicated to education in experimental computer systems and networks. It serves the needs of undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty in EECS in that capacity.
The VLab is a unique resource because it runs virtualization software, specifically VMware Virtual Server, that makes it possible to create virtual computers (also known as virtual machines or VMs) that are equivalent to physical computers. A single VLab computer can support many VMs, each of which can run almost any OS, including Linux, Windows, Solaris, FreeBSD, NetBSD, and QNX. Undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty can create their own private or public VMs on which they have full root and console privileges.
The VLab is generously funded by a Murphy Society grant to NSRG.
You only need a VLab account if you want to create or manage your own VMs. Accounts within an individual VM are handled by its owner.
Directly using the VLab servers is strongly discouraged and will be stopped. The purpose of the VLab is to run VMs. The owner of a VM can do as he pleases within it. The real question is Do I need my own VM(s) to support experimental computer systems education or related areas?
If you are an undergraduate, graduate student, or faculty in EECS, and you need to create and manage your own VM(s) in order to support experimental computer systems education or a related area, you can request an account by sending email to r o o t at e e c s . n o r t h w e s t e r n . e d u with the following information:
You should also cc your sponsor. You'll receive a response message describing the account and password.
Once you have an account, you'll have full access to the VLab machines with no cpu, disk, or memory quotas. Along with this power comes responsibility. You should monitor your own resource use and be accommodating to other's needs. In a VM environment, this includes:
If we notice what seems to be unreasonable use of the VLab, we will investigate and likely ask you to comply by deleting VMs or suspending your account. If the reasonable person principle does not work out for the VLab, we'll institute quotas and all the rest of that painful stuff.
The next page describes how to create a VM and install your operating system of choice on it.