I have been using Cisco Packet Tracer primarily for many of my CCNA labs and I find it to be a great piece of software. Whether you don’t have access to real Cisco equipment, or you cant afford to purchase some of your own, Packet Tracer is as good as it gets.
I have a home lab that consists of several switches and routers, but I find myself away from home most of the time and cant get enough time at home to lab. I have Packet Tracer installed on my laptop and I use it all the time to practice configurations and lab concepts.
You can do simple configurations like leased line WAN links using HDLC or PPP encapsulation. You can also practice some of your more advanced configurations like Frame-Relay and even setup a Frame-Relay cloud that connects multiple sites.
I love the fact that you can actually see what the devices look like and install real world WIC cards like the WIC-1T, WIC-2T and WIC-1ENET.
I also find the CLI is very close to the real thing and only lacking some of the more advanced commands and setting like some Frame-Relay commands (no frame-relay inverse-arp), and setting up OSPF route summarization.
You have the ability to setup client machines of various types like laptops, servers, handheld devices, wireless devices, and even wireless access-points as well
Packet Tracer runs on Windows and Linux systems. I have it running on Linux using the WINE emulator, but I could install the native version as well. I find that the Windows version seems to get updated more frequently because its obviously what the majority of Cisco students use, so thats the version I prefer.
Good job Cisco on a awesome learning tool and keep up the great work!
You can download Packet Tracer from the Cisco website, but you must have a Cisco account.