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Considerations for a community network planning to join Community-Lab

The Community-Lab testbed offers community networks a chance to join the testbed as it provides means to run experiments and experimental services on hosts embedded in community networks. These experiments can come from either external researchers or from community members involved in the testbed.

What does it mean joining the testbed? It means deploying a number of Research Devices (RD from now on: nodes for running experiments, this article provides an overview) in locations of a Community Network (CN from now on). In other words: RDs are (preferably indoor devices) connected via Ethernet to a node in a Community Network.

Experiments or experimental services:

  • Deployed in several virtual machines (containers inside several RDs), can run for short, long or indefinite time, can be used by few or many users involved in the experimentation.
  • Should follow and are responsible under the Acceptable Usage Policy for Community-Lab + the Community Licenses for the CN involved (in effect the researchers “temporarily” and “remotely” join these CN during the experimentation). They are expected to be “friendly” or the experimentation will be suspended by the support team in case of any problem.


  • Research Devices: each costs around 300 EUR. We use x86 arch low power hosts. For indoor locations we use computers such as the Intel NUC DC3217IYE or D54250WYK (2014), or the Jetway (2013): JBC372F36W Intel Atom N2600, SSD 120G, 4G RAM). They consist on a low-power Atom CPU, SSD 120 Gb, 2-4 Gb RAM, with power consumption around to 9 Watt at 100% CPU (e.g. during an experiment), that is connected via Ethernet to a node of the Community Network. We also used Alix based Systems in outdoor locations (2011-2013 but still operational). In contrast with the other device, Alix based systems can work in outdoor conditions, but its computing capacity is much more limited. The first model is more capable or running more experiments with more CPU, RAM and storage, while the second is more adequate for small experiment requiring outdoor conditions (e.g. outdoor radio links).
  • Internal network traffic: Experiments can generate traffic within the CN which might be disturbing, although a limit on the amount of traffic could be set if needed. However a CN can benefit from investing in required upgrades to accommodate RDs (add/replace/expand CN nodes, links).
  • CN Internet access: RDs need to contact the Community-Lab controller periodically (approx every 5 mins). Done through a VPN initiated at the RD (can be direct or behind a NAT). However a CN can benefit from investing in improvements of the Internet connection for this purpose.
  • On-site personal support: for instance a community network member with a node at home can take one Research Device already configured in a local CN meet-up and connect it to power and his community node. Software maintenance is usually done remotely by testbed admins. Research Devices seldom need a hard reset or USB reinstall (If so, it is never urgent and can be done whenever the host has spare time).
  • Power: 9 Watt of consumption (a node running 100% all the time) during a month gives a worst case of 6 KWh (e.g. 14 EUR per year with electricity costs in Spain in September 2013)

Support by Community-Lab

Support for users (researchers) and node hosts can be from:

  • Support community (mailing list, email support, tickets) that coordinates actions
  • Documentation, training
  • Monitoring, etc.

So persons hosting RD connected to CN nodes should not worry, they will receive an email in case his “hands on” are required. Everything else will be done remotely.

Benefits for the Community Network

Apart from the visibility, engagement in research activities, motivation, participation, learning, contribution to resolve problems and improve operation of community networks, the more tangible:

  • RDs are low power computers that belong to the CN.
  • The infrastructure for the CN (nodes, links, Internet link) can be improved as a result of the need to host experiments and RDs.
  • CN can deploy services on RD (as long-running experiments) like a micro-cloud provider using the Community-Lab controller for managing services. Examples can be file repositories, streaming servers, DNS servers, web proxies, VOIP servers, etc.
  • CN members can participate in related dissemination activities: e.g. participation in IS4CWN, Battlemesh, and other community, commercial or academic international events.
  • CN can have a more close interaction with other CN also involved in Community-Lab.
testbeds/oc2.txt · Last modified: 2015/03/05 12:25 by leandro