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Fully packaged Linux-based computer science lab exercises with an initial emphasis on cybersecurity

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Labtainers include more than 40 cyber lab exercises and tools to build your own. Import a single VM appliance or install on a Linux system and your students are done with provisioning and administrative setup, for these and future lab exercises.

  • Consistent lab execution environments and automated provisioning via Docker containers
  • Multi-component network topologies on a modestly performing laptop computer (50 second Demo)
  • Automated assessment of student lab activity and progress
  • Individualized lab exercises to discourage sharing solutions

Labtainers provide controlled and consistent execution environments in which students perform labs entirely within the confines of their computer, regardless of the Linux distribution and packages installed on the student's computer or VM.  The only requirement is that the Linux system supports Docker.  See Labtainers Papers below for additional information about the framework.

This initial release of the Labtainer framework includes over thirty lab exercises summarized here.   The framework is free and open, making it easy for educators to create and share their own Labtainer exercises.  And while the initial lab exercises are geared for individual student use, Labtainers supports creation of labs that may also be run in a multi-user mode, allowing students to collaborate (or compete) on shared infrastructure.  Please refer to the Lab Designer User Guide for details on using the framework to create and adapt lab exercises.

Labtainer Student and Instructor Downloads


Framework installation (25 MB tar file for installation on an existing Linux host, e.g. VM)


Virtual Machine images (Optional 4 GB VM images of a Linux host for use with VirtualBox and VMWare)

Instructor Guide

Student Guide

Lab Manuals (Copies all lab manuals, which are also available when running each lab).

Lab Designer Downloads (includes source files for individual containers)

Designer Framework installation (160 MB)

Lab Designer User Guide


Thompson, M.F.,  and Irvine, C.E, "Individualizing Cybersecurity Lab Exercises with Labtainers," in IEEE Security & Privacy, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 91-95, March/April 2018.  (Link).  And selected for publication in May issue of IEEE ComputingEdge 

Irvine, C.E., Thompson,  M.F., McCarrin, M., Khosalim, J., "Labtainers: A Docker-based Framework for Cybersecurity Labs", 2017 USENIX Workshop on Advances in Security Education, Vancouver, BC August 2017.(PDF) (Presentation slides)

Irvine, C.E., Thompson, M. F., and Khosalim, J., "Labtainers: A Framework for Parameterized Cybersecurity Labs Using Containers", Proceedings National Security Summit, Huntsville, AL, June 2017. (PDF)


If you'd like to be notified of updates to the Labtainer framework, please send an email to
labtainers-request [at] freelists.org with 'subscribe' in the Subject field OR by
visiting our mail list page at http://www.freelists.org/list/labtainers.

You may also be interested in using CyberCIEGE in your classes.  This is a teaching tool we have developed that uses a video game format.

The Labtainer framework and labs were developed with initial funding from the National Science Foundation.

Many of the Labtainer exercises come from the SEED project at Syracuse University, http://www.cis.syr.edu/~wedu/seed/labs.html.