This paper teaches skills of network management and security issues related to computer systems and networks. This highly practical paper will be useful to anyone wanting to develop some skills in the management of Small Or Home Office (SOHO) networks, and as such introduces you to skills that are very good for any person to have who wants to work with IT including programmers. It will raise security awareness of computer systems and networks to any computer users by learning security measures.

This paper has been popular with students who feel they want to pursue a career where programming is or is not a dominant skill. Beware however, that the labs can require plenty of work, depending on how familiar you are with the environment.

We use Linux (specifically Ubuntu) and Ethernet as continuing examples throughout the paper, and touch on other systems as needed.

At the conclusion of the paper, you should have amassed sufficient knowledge to begin studying for a basic certification, or to build your own home network (which is a recommended activity throughout and after the paper). The following diagram shows a skill-tree (you might be familiar with the concept from numerous computer games) of the content of this paper, in order to show how the particular topics fit together.

Skill tree showing how labs build on others
Skill tree showing how labs build on others.

Objectives and Learning Outcomes

Have sound understanding of computer systems, networks, and their security issues with hands-on experience

Understand and practise every aspect of system and network administration

Install and manage a local area network and Internet servers

Have a deeper understanding of Internet protocols and their security issues

Practise troubleshooting in computer systems and networks

Develop professional habits as a system and network administrator


The text-book for this course is the laboratory handbook. It is important that you try to read the lab notes before coming to do the lab. You will find this text-book to be very comprehensive, and very useful after the course.


The contents of the lectures will be examined in the final examination. They are held in the following locations:

  • Monday at 11am in St David Seminar Room A
  • Thursday at 11am in Quad 4

Use of the user account you have been given by the department implies acceptance of, and agreement to abide by, departmental regulations, as well as official Otago University computer user policies. You may read more by accessing the information (and following the links) on our information pages on our departmental web site


Labs are held in Lab F in the Owheo Building. There are two lab-streams. All students must attend one of each of the streams, although exceptions can be made for students with timetable clashes.

First Stream

Either Monday 12–1:50pm or Monday 2–3:50pm

Second Stream

Either Wednesday 4–5:50pm or Thursday 1–2:50pm


The assessment consists of internal assessment (50 marks) and final exam (50 marks).

Note: You will have to pass 40% of the final exam in order to pass the paper.

The internal assessment consists of two assignments and four assessed labs.

The first assignment is to build a client enabling both IPv4 and IPv6 (10 marks).

The second assignment is to build a server machine that hosts five services: DNS, DHCP, SSH, Email, and WWW (25 marks).

The assessed labs are: VPN (3 marks), VLAN (5 marks), Subnetting (2 marks), and Firewall (5 marks).

The details of the assignments and assessed labs including submission dates can be found at the Schedule page of this course website.

You are strongly suggested to work on the assignments in parallel with the relevant labs. Once you have completed the assignments, get them checked by the demonstrators as soon as possible. You should not wait until the due week. When you submit the assignments earlier, you can get feedback from the demonstrators if they are not satisfactory. With the feedback you can work on them until perfection or the deadline.

Class Representatives

We need at least one class representative, preferably two. Please give some thought to serving your class in this capacity. We really do want to receive useful feedback on how the paper progresses.

Currently we have Hayden McAlister (email: and Ayman Al Busa'Idi (email: as class representatives.

Academic Integrity and Academic Misconduct

Academic integrity means being honest in your studying and assessments. It is the basis for ethical decision-making and behaviour in an academic context. Academic integrity is informed by the values of honesty, trust, responsibility, fairness, respect and courage. Students are expected to be aware of, and act in accordance with, the University’s Academic Integrity Policy.

Academic Misconduct, such as plagiarism or cheating, is a breach of Academic Integrity and is taken very seriously by the University. Types of misconduct include plagiarism, copying, unauthorised collaboration, taking unauthorised material into a test or exam, impersonation, and assisting someone else’s misconduct. A more extensive list of the types of academic misconduct and associated processes and penalties is available in the University’s Student Academic Misconduct Procedures.

It is your responsibility to be aware of and use acceptable academic practices when completing your assignments. To access the information in the Academic Integrity Policy and learn more, please visit the University’s Academic Integrity website or ask at the Student Learning Centre or Library. If you have any questions, ask your lecturer.


Dr. Zhiyi Huang
Associate Professor
Room 126
Owheo Building
Computer Science Department
P:(03) 479-5680
Dr Haibo Zhang
Senior Lecturer
Room 247
Owheo Building
Computer Science Department
P:(03) 479-8534
Room 123
Owheo Building
Computer Science Department