Test Rig 2.0

An automated optimized network testing platform


During the course of diagnosing off site network performance issues it is often necessary to run a variety of tests on a machine at the far end of the network path. If the investigator has root access to a device at this location this process is usually quickly finished and relatively painless. However, it is often the case that the far end of path is located within another organizations network where security and accounting considerations makes this difficult if not impossible. In these cases it is necessary for the investogator to work with a user who may or may not have appropriate authority and/or the skill set to run a full set of diagnostsic tests. Likewise, variations in the installed operating system on of the remote host may, at times, obscure issues that exist entirely within the network. The end result is that it may take days, if not weeks, for network performance problems to be accurately identified. Not because of technical problem but, almost always, because of unavoidable logistical impediments to the diagnostic process.

In an attempt to obviate some of these obstacles PSC has developed Test Rig 2.0. Based on ideas first developed by Jeff Semke during his time at PSC, Test Rig is full suite of automated tests performed within a known optimal environment that is easily performed by even quite naive users. The foundation of the system is the distribution of a ‘live’ linux ISO (Ubuntu 10.04) that is burned by the user on to a bootable CD. This is used to non-destructively boot a test machine into a known optimal configuration from which a standardized set of diagnostic tests are run. The results of these tests are then packaged and transfered to PSC where upon they are reviewed by a network engineer. Upon completion the user simply reboots the machine to return it to it’s original configuration.


There are a number of advantages to Test Rig

  • Optimized OS environment is standardized across all tests.
  • Tests are run with out any user intervention.
  • No need for root access.
  • Tests are completely self contained – no additional software to install.
  • Users are given the option of running the tests with multiple congenstion controll algorithms.
  • Tests are often completed and the results returned within a few minutes.
  • No need to modify the host operating system.
  • No specialized skill set required on the part of the user.


  1. Contact the TestRig team (testrig @ psc.edu) to get the current (v18) Test Rig 2.0 ISO.
  2. Burn the ISO to a CD.
  3. Boot the host in question from the CD.
  4. Type ‘live’ at the boot prompt.
  5. Type ‘net_test.pl’ at the command prompt.
  6. Answer three questions and let the test complete.
  7. A network engineer with get in touch with you shortly.