Last updated: May 22, 2007.
PlanetLab is organized as a Consortium of
academic, industrial, and government institutions. Institutions join
PlanetLab by taking steps listed below. Individuals who want to use
PlanetLab must arrange to do so through their home institution. Click here for a list of sites currently hosting
Step 1: Review Documents and Apply for Membership
To begin the process, you must read the following consortium
- PlanetLab Consortium
Governance Plan: This document describes the organizational structure of
the consortium. It also describes the membership levels. Four different
membership levels are available to for-profit companies (Charter, Full,
Associate, and Sponsor), while academic institutions and non-profit
organizations may join with no fee. (Academic institutions still need to
have someone with signature authority sign the membership agreement.)
- Hosting Requirements: This documents outlines
the responsibilities of a site that hosts PlanetLab nodes. All Consortium
members (except at the Sponsor level) are expected to maintain at least one
site with each site consisting of at least two PlanetLab nodes.
- Acceptable Use Policy: This document outlines
permitted uses of PlanetLab, and the role each site plays in enforcing these
- Terms and
Conditions of Membership: This document is pages 2-4 of the actual
membership agreement. Page 1 of the agreement is the signature page for
the various contacts for the applying institution. A full agreement
(including page 1) is generated as outlined below.
Register your institution and initial site by visiting the membership
application form. As part of this
process, a PDF of the membership agreement will be generated for you.
Your application will be processed when you return a signed copy of this
agreement. You will need to supply the following information about your
- Membership Type (Charter, Full, Associate, etc.)
- Institution Name
- Institution Address
- Institution URL
All members (except at the Sponsor level) also need to supply the
following information about their initial site:
- Site Name (generally, the same as the Institution name)
- Site Address (i.e., physical address)
- Site URL (i.e., a more specific URL of your department or project)
- Site Geo Location (latitude/longitude - expressed as signed decimals)
You will also need to supply contact information (name, address, phone,
fax, personal URL, and e-mail) for these roles:
- Administrative Contact: this is the business contact (i.e.,
the person who handles contracts, invoices, etc.)
- Principal Investigator:
this is the person who accepts responsibility for researchers at your site.
It is often a professor / lead researcher and must be an employee of your
institution. Be sure that they read the Principal
Investigator Guide which describes their roles and responsibilities. (Note that in the generated membership agreement, this person is called the "technical contact.")
- Authorized Official: this is a person who can bind your institution
contractually/legally. It is often a provost or contracting officer. Even though academic and non-profit institutions do not pay a membership fee, we still require the signature of an authorized official.
- Technical Contact: this is the person
we should contact when a node goes down or when an incident occurs. This is
commonly a system administrator or graduate student. Be sure that they read
the Technical Contact's Guide which describes
their roles and responsibilities. Note that this is not listed on (and does not sign) the membership agreement.
Note that these roles do not have to be distinct people. For example, it
is not uncommon for the Principal Investigator be the same person as the
Step 2: Connect Machines
When your application is approved, all the persons listed above (except
the Authorized Official) will receive e-mail notification. You will receive
notification within 30 days of when we receive the signed agreement.
Once your membership application is approved, the second step is to
connect machines at your institution to the PlanetLab infrastructure.
The connection process is documented in the
Technical Contact's Guide. (If there are network administrators at your
site that might be involved in supporting your PlanetLab nodes, have them
read the Technical Contact's Guide as well.) Some of the steps are outlined
- Acquire at least two server-class machines that meet the minimum hardware
requirements. We strongly recommend selecting machines
from the list of machines that are known to work. We cannot ensure that
machines that have not been certified will run the PlanetLab software.
Note that the installation of PlanetLab software on these machines
will completely initialize the hard disk, destroying any information already
existing on them.
- For each of the above machines, get static IP addresses (whether
assigned via DHCP or manually) and DNS entries (forward and reverse).
Machines must be outside firewalls, not NAT'ed, and be
subject to as few traffic restrictions as possible. (The Network Requirements section
describes these requirements in more detail.)
- Provide a "remote management" service so that PLC can reboot and/or
power-cycle the machines when they are not accessible through the network.
(The PCU section describes these
requirements in more detail.)
- Install software on each machine, as outlined in the Node Installation section, to
connect it to PlanetLab.
If you have additional questions about the PlanetLab Consortium, please
send mail to
If need technical assistance connecting your machines to the PlanetLab
infrastructure, please send mail to