After I received the link from where to download the software, I noticed that there are only two operating systems where this software can be used: Windows and Mac OS. Not sure if only these two are available, but if yes, then I would say that the author should give Linux a chance. I know quite a lot of Linux power users that are starting their Cisco journey. The Linux users should switch between their regular OS and the other two mentioned above when they are studying or practicing for Cisco exams which can be time consuming.
I tested the Windows version of the simulator whose installation, as one can expect, is pretty straightforward. The simplicity is at its home.
After the simulator started, I couldn’t help but notice the simplicity of the interface. Only few buttons are present, buttons where you can start a new lab and open a saved lab that you started earlier, but for any reason you didn’t have time to finish it or see the grading history.
One thing you will do a lot if you are going to use this simulator is that exercising your Cisco CLI skills. The simulator has more than 250 labs which covers all the curriculum of ICND1 100-101 exam.
The simulator is using the Wendell Odom’s book CCNA ICND1 100-101 Official Cert Guide as baseline for lab topics.
You have two ways to display the labs: by type or by chapter.
If you choose to display the labs by type, then you will have four categories. The first one is ‘Skill Builders’ and it will help you, as the name suggests, improve your speed and skills by practising short and focused tasks. The second one is ‘Subnetting Exercises’ and it’s pretty obvious what it is about. Do all these labs and I can guarantee you that you won’t have any problems with the subnetting during the exam. The third one is ‘Configuration Scenarios’ and it is similar, with regards to the topics addressed, with the first category. However, this is more complex and deals with multiple technologies, more like combining multiple labs from ‘Skill Builders’ into a single, more complex lab. As there can’t be only configuration task in a life of a network engineer, the fourth category is reserved for ‘Troubleshooting Scenarios’. Obviously, this is testing your ability to find and fix configuration problems.
The other lab sorting method is following as much as possible the same chapter order as Wendell Odom’s book that I mentioned above. Compared to the other method of displaying the labs, the chapter display methods how to put together one or more labs from each category into a single chapter. For instance, let’s say that you chose this method and you want to do the IPv4 Services – Network Address Translation section. Then in this section, you will have a few ‘Skill Builders’ labs, few ‘Configuration Scenarios’ and one or more ‘Troubleshooting Scenarios’.
Regarding the labs themselves; once you start a lab, you will have on the left side of the screen, the topology and just below it is the console connection to your devices. It’s enough to click on a specific device and the console prompt will change to that device so you can start configuring it.
Each lab has two sections. One gives you the overview of the lab, what you are going to accomplish with it and what devices will be configured. The other section will provide you detailed steps in order to help you to accomplish the tasks. Basically, for each command that you would have to configure, you would have a detailed step.
Also, inserted with the detailed steps, sometimes, but not for all steps, you have questions on how the next task should look like and a box where you can insert your answer.
However, you can skip the question, and usually, the answer is presented in the next step so that you won’t get stuck if you don’t know the answer.
But having questions like this is a good method to see how much you remembered after you read the configuration exercises from the book.
Once you finished, you can grade your lab. A pop-up box will appear and it will tell you if you failed or passed the lab. Also, it will show you what exactly you should have configured. Missing one of the commands will make you fail the lab.
You can save the lab and open it later on.
For each lab, you have a progress status so that you will know which labs you started but not finish, which weren’t started at all and which were already completed.
One interesting feature is ‘Grade History’. This will be available only after you graded a lab. You can see if you failed the lab, what commands you used, what were the actual commands needed to pass the lab. Also, you can see the answers that you provided to the questions that I mentioned before and also what the answers should have been. Also, you can get something similar to the console logs, meaning that whatever you type on the console is saved, regardless if it is correct or not. It will give you an idea after the lab is finished, how far you were from the correct answer and what other commands you typed.
The simulator is trying to use the real world devices features. For instance, you can even use cli shortcuts that you learn after you started to operate Cisco network devices. For instance, ‘conf t’ command is interpreted by the simulator as ‘configure terminal’ that puts you in configuration mode.
All in all, this is a great tool to use to prepare for ICND1 exam. If you don’t have access to physical equipments, then I would suggest you to buy this simulator, for it will considerably increase your chances of passing the exam.