The creation of a laboratory has always been a discussion among technology enthusiast and hobbyist.  We are going to explain the building of a laboratory.

Naturally, not a lot of people are going to want to invest a significant amount of their hard earned dollars for a laboratory, so let's get the cost out of the way first.

How much can you expect to pay for a laboratory? Between $870.00 to $1100.00 Dollars.

* These items did not need to actually be purchased because we had them on hand.

With the exception of the TechNet Professional Subscription, all Items were purchased from Amazon.com.  Keep in mind prices are subject to change depending on where you obtain your hardware (Amazon, Newegg, TigerDirect, etc).  Remember, some items on this list may no longer be available.  Additionally, You may decide to use an old case, hard drive, monitor, keyboard, CD/DVD, etc like we did.

For a laboratory, the key elements are:

  •  A CPU's  that support virtualization
  •  Health amount of memory

The operating system - The operating system we selected was Ubuntu 12.04 long-term support (LTS) 64-Bit.  We are sure that many folks would like to put in their two cents regarding what operating systems to use, especially when dealing with virtualization.  In our case, Ubuntu met our two requirements.  It is a stable platform and it is inexpensive. http://www.ubuntu.com/

The Hypervisor -  The hypervisor we selected was Oracle VirtualBox.  Just like the selected operating system, people will have their point of view of which hypervisor to use.  Again, in our case, we were looking for a stability and costs.  VirtualBox meets these criteria. https://www.virtualbox.org/

The Virtual Machine Manager - The VM Manager we selected was phpvirtualbox, a web-based Virtual Box front-end.  It is lightweight, stable and inexpensive (We highly recommend donating to the author) http://code.google.com/p/phpvirtualbox/

Our finished product physically looks like:

This laboratory supports at 14 least Virtual Machines running at once.  Keep in mind, these machines are not running a lot of processes and we don not power them all on at he same time.  When we are conducting penetration testing to hone our skills with penetration tools (such as Nmap, nessus, metaspoit, BackTrack, etc), 12 of the 14 virtual machines are just powered on with no additional processes running, 1 is the firewall/DHCP server and 1 is the "Attack Box", A.K.A BackTrack.  12 of the virtual machines are just waiting to be scanned and exploited.

Still, we are sure you are wondering how this configuration performs with just a little bit of processing on each of the Virtual Machines.  To test this we configure 14 Virtual machines consisting of:

  • 5 Windows XP 32-Bit Machines -Running Media Play in continues loop
  • 4 Vista 64-Bit Machines - Running Media Play in continues loop
  • 3 Windows 7 64-Bit Machines - Running Media Play in continues loop
  • 1 Ubuntu 10.04 LTS 64-Bit Machine (BackTrack 5 R1) - Running a Zenmap "Slow comprehensive scan"
  • 1  Debian Linux 64-Bit (Untangle Firewall) - Acting as firewall and DHCP Server


%idle varied between 30 and 45.

Word of Caution:  We also monitored the CPU temperatures.  We used a stock AMD Heatsink and Fan and this configuration ran about 48C to 51C.  The computers is in a well ventilated area (nothing behind or above the computer) at a room temperature of 75F (23.8C).  According to AMD, the maximum temperature is  62C for this CPU.


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