Practical Internet eXperience (PIX) Lab

Master-level hands-on lab course on how to build and evolve your own miniature Internet.



The Internet is a fundamental backbone of today’s society and shapes how we communicate with friends, buy things, or consume entertainment. At the same time, the Internet is becoming increasingly complex due to increasing numbers of connected devices and newly emerging technologies such as 5G or Satellite-Internet. Furthermore, changing usage patterns, e.g., due to the pandemic, strain the infrastructure in unexpected ways.
Thus, even experienced network operators often struggle to maintain connectivity at all times. This fact was, for example, demonstrated by the large-scale outage at Facebook’s data centers in October 2021 that led to the prolonged unreachability of popular platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, or Instagram. Even more recently, the temporary outage of Amazon Web Services in December 2021 showed that even day-to-day operations potentially cause cascading problems that impact the network as a whole and affect the availability of connected services.

Course Subjects

In this lab, you will get the chance to become involved as a network operator in our mini-Internet and gain first-hand experience on what it is like to maintain and advance your own Autonomous System (AS). Thus, by collaborating with your fellow students, you will jointly build your own miniature version of the Internet.

Phase 1 (Small groups or individually):

To familiarize yourself with your task and challenges as a network operator and the basic principles required for Internet-wide connectivity, you will first configure inter-domain and BGP-grade routing strategies and thus establish the mini-Internet. The concept of this phase is inspired by the corresponding course at ETH Zurich:

Phase 2 (Teams):

After full connectivity has (hopefully) been achieved, we will then use our mini-Internet infrastructure to dive deeper into advanced protocols and concepts. In this phase, several research assistants will provide short pitches describing attractive research domains, focusing both on extending the mini-Internet itself as well as using the mini-Internet for advanced projects. Possible topics could be, e.g., extending the existing infrastructure by P4 programmability, investigating how the networks could be best monitored or how to deploy network configurations automatically.

The following technologies are sure to be featured in this course:

  • SSH to access development and testing infrastructure we will provide
  • GIT as version control system
  • Open vSwitch to realize L2 switches
  • FRRouting to implement L3 routing (open source Internet routing protocol suite including BGP, OSPF, RIP, and many more)
  • Network measurement tools (e.g., ping and traceroute)

Project topics possibly include but are not limited to:

  • Measurements
  • Security
  • Monitoring
  • Advanced Routing (e.g., MPLS)
  • Quality of Service
  • Software-Defined Networking


We expect basic knowledge in data communication as taught in the 'Data Communication and Security' lecture. Additional knowledge as taught in our advanced courses (for example, on BGP, P4, or MPLS) is helpful, but not required as we will provide short introductions into the topics.

- Impressum | Datenschutz -