Labtainer title


Fully packaged Linux-based computer science lab exercises with an initial emphasis on cybersecurity


Labtainers include more than 50 cyber lab exercises and tools to build your own. Import a single VM appliance or install on a Linux system and your students are done with provisioning and administrative setup, for these and future lab exercises.

  • Consistent lab execution environments and automated provisioning via Docker containers
  • Multi-component network topologies on a modestly performing laptop computer (50 second Demo)
  • Automated assessment of student lab activity and progress
  • Individualized lab exercises to discourage sharing solutions

Labtainers provide controlled and consistent execution environments in which students perform labs entirely within the confines of their computer, regardless of the Linux distribution and packages installed on the student's computer or VM.  The only requirement is that the Linux system supports Docker.  See Labtainers Papers below for additional information about the framework.

Labtainers includes over 50 lab exercises summarized here.   The framework is free and open, making it easy for educators to create and share their own Labtainer exercises.  Please refer to the Lab Designer User Guide for details on using the framework to create and adapt lab exercises.  Labtainers code and data is managed on GitHub.  Consider contributing your new labs via GitHub pull requests.

Labtainer Student and Instructor Downloads


Virtual Machine images (5 GB VM images of a Linux host for use with VirtualBox and VMWare)


Framework installation (25 MB tar file for installation on an existing Linux host, e.g. VM)

Instructor Guide

Student Guide

Lab Manuals (Copies of all lab manuals, which are also available when running each lab).

Lab Designer Downloads (includes source files for individual containers)

The easiest way to get the lab designer source is to run "./" from the labtainer directory on an existing Labtainers deployment.  

Lab Designer User Guide


Thompson, M.F.,  and Irvine, C.E, "Individualizing Cybersecurity Lab Exercises with Labtainers," in IEEE Security & Privacy, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 91-95, March/April 2018.  (Link).  And selected for publication in May issue of IEEE ComputingEdge 

Irvine, C.E., Thompson,  M.F., McCarrin, M., Khosalim, J., "Labtainers: A Docker-based Framework for Cybersecurity Labs", 2017 USENIX Workshop on Advances in Security Education, Vancouver, BC August 2017.(PDF) (Presentation slides)

Irvine, C.E., Thompson, M. F., and Khosalim, J., "Labtainers: A Framework for Parameterized Cybersecurity Labs Using Containers", Proceedings National Security Summit, Huntsville, AL, June 2017. (PDF)


Labtainers information for educators can be found here.


The Labtainer framework and labs were developed with funding from the National Science Foundation and the DoD CySP program.

Many of the Labtainer exercises derive from the SEED project at Syracuse University,


This work was supported by NSF grant DUE-1438893. The views expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Science Foundation, the Naval Postgraduate School, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.