I have bought 3 c3560 and 2 c3750 of ebay, 3 NIC’s to my desktop and quite a few ethernet cables (just cat5e’s and a pair of stackwise cables).
If it comes to the labs for switching I have mainly used INE workbooks and my 5 devices + interconnecting everything through GNS3 so I could get much more devices out of it and real L2.
I pretty much have 4 NIC’s on my PC so that has given me 4 ports to use to connect with GNS3
If it comes to TSHOOT I have recreated the whole topology using GNS3 for L3 topology part and real switches for L2 part of it (all of my switches were MLS anyway so I could use some routing there too regarding EIGRP ). I have used two of the switches as hosts and was able to use my 4 NIC cards in the following way :
- 2 to connect DSW1 and DSW2 to R4 (which was run in GNS3)
- 1 port for Host2 PC
- 1 port for FTP server
I have actually used ubuntu docker (as an FTP server) by installing tftpd server on it. Subsequently I have installed python3 on it to run a homemade script (quite poor but did the trick hehe) for “breaking” devices randomly , one at a time (one problem at a time) .
p.s. Go here https://devnetsandbox.cisco.com/ for cisco VIRL sandbox time (for free , not kidding just reserve and play with it ).