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[20090503] Concluding the Virtual Unix Lab
I've finished my PhD thesis some time ago, and as the system described in it is heavily based on NetBSD, I feel it's relevant for mentioning here. The full title is ``System Administration Training in the Virtual Unix Lab -- An e-learning system with diagnosis via a domain specific language as base for an architecture for tutorial assistance and user adaption''. The book was published in Jan 2009 by Shaker, Germany as ISBN 978-3-8322-7874-8, and it is also available for online purchase and if you look around a bit on my VUlab page, you will find a permitted local copy for downloading as well.

Here's the backmatter of the book: ``Practical exercises in system administration can render a machine unusable, and restoring the machine requires manpower which is often scarce. As a result, there is a lack of dedicated exercise machines which can be used in the education of system administration. The Virtual Unix Laboratory is an interactive e-learning system that provides a solution for this situation. After sign-up, machines are installed on which students can do their exercises with full "root"-access. At the end of the exercise, the system checks which parts were done correctly, and gives feedback.

The first part of this book describes the goals of the Virtual Unix Lab and related works, followed by observations about education of system administration. In the second part, the Verification Unit Domain Specific Language (VUDSL) is defined, and diagnosis of the Virtual Unix Lab exercise results and feedback to the user are realized with it. An evaluation of the system shows interesting results and identify areas for further improvement. The third part explains how tutoring and user adaption can be realized. An architecture for a tutoring component for the Virtual Unix Lab is described, and user adaption is based on the user model built by the tutoring component.''

The system was implemented on a machine running NetBSD, training systems available were NetBSD/sparc and Solaris/sparc. Interesting technical points where configuring access to the lab machines by enabling IPfilter rules from the user's webbrowser, and disabling the rules by an at(1) job. Also, the system to install the lab clients used disk images and NetBSD in netbooted environment.

I hope that's enough of a reason to post this here.
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