We're continuing our series of postings here regarding some items that might not be entirely clear regarding Cisco Learning Labs. Again, our goal in doing this is to help the user community for Cisco Learning Labs to gain knowledge on better use and experience with the product. Today's posting is directed at  what to do when you initially purchase Cisco Learning Labs.


I purchased Cisco Learning Labs, now what?:

First of all, thank you for your purchase of Cisco Learning Labs. Using Cisco Learning Labs can greatly improve your knowledge and confidence with Cisco IOS commands and configurations on Cisco routers and switches. Next, there's some things you'll want to know so you can become productive quickly. Here's some steps that we've heard from the Cisco Learning Labs community on how to get the most out of Cisco Learning Labs when getting started.


1. Read the FAQ

The FAQ for Cisco Learning Labs is available in the Cisco User Group on Cisco Learning Network at https://learningnetwork.cisco.com/docs/DOC-12842. Many people overlook FAQs, but they are written to help users have a better understanding of what to expect and how to correct common problems. The FAQs for Cisco Learning Labs have been written based on the experiences of our users. The FAQs for Cisco Learning Labs are also available at http://www.cisco.com/go/learning labs. You can also find the FAQ inside Cisco Learning Labs by clicking on Help on the main toolbar once you've launched a lab or at the portal page where you can view your list of available labs. If you have suggestions for the FAQ for Cisco Learning Labs, please communicate that to the team so we can incorporate those to our FAQ.


2. Review the User Tutorial

We've put together an online video for you to review prior to using Cisco Learning Labs. It is available at https://learningnetwork.cisco.com/docs/DOC-11652. In this short video, you can gain a better understanding of how to use Cisco Learning Labs, how the timer works, how to reset your password, how you can review your progress, how to launch a lab exercise and how to install the provided modified version of PuTTY on your windows computer. We hope that most of your questions can be answered by viewing this short video.


3. Review the Lab Bundle List and Topologies

There are multiple lab exercise in each bundle. You can view the list of labs available to you in the portal for Cisco Learning Labs once you authenticate into the system.  You can also view the lab listing for your bundle online at http://www.cisco.com/go/learninglabs. Knowing what is in each lab will help you to prepare for your learning. It is advised that you review the associated technology area in a Cisco Press Exam Certification Guide or Authorized Self-Study Guide prior to launching a Cisco Learning Lab exercise. By learning and reviewing first, prior to beginning a lab exercise, you'll be able to apply the commands and solutions you've learned and effeciently use your purchased lab time to reinforce your learning.


4. Create a Strategy

One key area that cannot be overlooked is to have a strategic approach to Cisco Learning Labs. The users that review before hand the lab exercise as well as review key commands and solutions to be used in a lab exercise are going to do the best. For instance, those users that read through a chapter on OSPF prior to starting an OSPF lab are going to have a better experience. Those that start a lab randomly without first preparing or reviewing the technologies to be implemented may struggle with the lab exercise. One note, the lab bundles in Cisco Learning Labs generally build upon previous lab exercises, but the exercises themselves need not be completed in order. In other words, lab 1-2 will begin with configurations that include the completed configurations of lab 1-1. Any required working configuration from a previous lab will be present in subsequent labs. Some labs such as exercises dealing with troubleshooting may not have working configurations from previous lab exercises.


5. Alternate OS Specific Items, Browser Settings and Telnet Applications

Although officially, Windows operating systems XP, Vista and 7 and Internet Explorer browser versions 7, 8 and 9 are the supported operating system and browser, respectively, many of our users successfully use Cisco Learning Labs with Mac OSX and other versions of Unix operating systems. There are two key items in using Cisco Learning Labs with other operating systems and web browsers. The first is to have or know what terminal application is available in your operating system. In Mac OSX and Linux variants, the default terminal application or xterm application can be used to telnet to the IOS on Unix devices. There are other terminal applications available that you can install and use such as iTerm in Mac OSX or Secure CRT in Windows . The second key aspect, and this is where some users have struggled, is to correctly configure your web browser to handle the Telnet URL, telnet://. Some browsers will help you and popup a dialogue to set the telnet application handler if one is not already set. Other browsers can be less friendly and only display a window indicating that you could not connect to the website. The IOS on Unix devices can only be accessed through the web browser and telnet application together. You can not launch the terminal application and telnet to the IOS on Unix device directly from your computer. If you experience issues with telnet, make sure you browser is correctly configured to launch a terminal application when you click on a telnet link. Some browsers may require restarting after setting the telnet handler to work properly.


We welcome any feedback or additional information you may have on this topic.



Raymond Viscaina

Technical Support Engineer