An Integrated Experimental Environment for Distributed Systems and Networks

Brian White, Jay Lepreau, Leigh Stoller, Robert Ricci, Shashi Guruprasad Mac Newbold, Mike Hibler, Chad Barb, Abhijeet Joglekar

October 2002

Flux Research Group
School of Computing, University of Utah
50 S. Central Campus Drive Rm. 3190
Salt Lake City, Utah 84112-9205 USA,


Three experimental environments traditionally support network and distributed systems research: network emulators, network simulators, and live networks. The continued use of multiple approaches highlights both the value and inadequacy of each. Netbed, a descendant of Emulab, provides an experimentation facility that integrates these approaches, allowing researchers to configure and access networks composed of emulated, simulated, and wide-area nodes and links. Netbed's primary goals are ease of use, control, and realism, achieved through consistent use of virtualization and abstraction.

By providing operating system-like services, such as resource allocation and scheduling, and by virtualizing heterogeneous resources, Netbed acts as a virtual machine for network experimentation. This paper presents Netbed's overall design and implementation and demonstrates its ability to improve experimental automation and efficiency. These, in turn, lead to new methods of experimentation, including automated parameter-space studies within emulation and straightforward comparisons of simulated, emulated, and wide-area scenarios.

Full paper appears in Proceedings of the 5th Symposium on Operating Systems Design & Implementation, pp. 255-270, December 2002:

The slides from the OSDI talk:

BibTex entry