Choosing CLI Tools

This Site’s Lab Menu Items Together Help You Choose and Use Different CLI Learning Options

Primary Purpose of Lab Menu Items

  • To provide insight into pros/cons of several CLI learning tools
  • Focuses on learning features for CCENT/CCNA
  • Introduces the tool and key points
  • Your job: research further, make your own choices

Focus Areas for Opinions Shown Here

  • Does give Wendell’s personal opinions about CLI tools
  • Does focus on certification learning features of tools
  • Does NOT analyze all aspects of each CLI tool
  • Does NOT consider use beyond CCENT and CCNA R&S prep

Points of Analysis for CLI Tools

Produced By...

Do you trust the company that produced the tool? Is there a support structure? Etc.

Includes Labs?

Does the tool include lab exercises for CCENT and CCNA? Are they written by trusted authors? Designed to cover most exam topics? Etc.

Labs on the Internet?

If not integrated, can you find lab exercises from other sources that are easily used with the tool? Are they from trusted authors, and designed to cover most exam topics?

Uses Real Cisco IOS?

Does the tool use real Cisco IOS (therefore having better command support)? Is it a simulator, and if so, how good is the command support of the tool?

Initial $$$

Simple: How much does it cost up front? Include: price for the tool, plus other required hardware and software.

Annual $$$

Does the tool require ongoing license charges or service agreements? (Most do not.)

Time: Choose til Use

How much time will a networking newbie spend learning the tool before being ready to learn about networking with the tool?

Ethical Choices

Ethical Choices

If you use the tool, will you be breaking any laws or software licensing agreements to use it?

CLI Tools Listed at this Site

Pearson Network Simulator

A simulator from Pearson Education (publisher of Cisco Press products) with tons of CCENT and CCNA lab exercises.

Real Gear

Real simple. Buy real Cisco routers and switches – typically used to keep the price down – and use real Cisco IOS software.


A virtualization platform that lets you design and run small networks using real Cisco operating systems. From Cisco Systems.


A desktop app and emulator that lets you build and run small networks with real Cisco operating systems. From

Packet Tracer

A simulator from Cisco System’s Network Academy group, with plenty of features.

Pearson Network Simulator

A simulator from Pearson Education (publisher of Cisco Press products) with tons of CCENT and CCNA lab exercises.

Legacy Info about Used Routers and Switches

  • During 2000’s and early 2010’s, real gear was the best option for CCENT and CCNA study.
  • During those years, Wendell published blog posts about choosing used gear for CCENT and CCNA study.
  • included reference pages about those used devices and related info.
  • Eventually, the other options became good enough to use instead.
  • Wendell does not update the lab gear blogs and reference pages any more. But…
  • …for those who might still want to see the old info, look to the Lab Gear branch of the Lab menu item on this site.

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