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To overcome the unsatisfactory performance offered by standard TCP variants in the challenging satellite environment, the scientific community has presented a wide variety of possible solutions, encompassing both innovative transport protocols and architectures. Among these, the paper focuses on those TCP variants that have been actually implemented in real operating systems and in Linux in particular. The aim of the paper is to present a sound emulation approach for their performance assessment. This approach relies on the set-up of a complete testbed, able to reproduce, in a fully controlled ("clean") environment, the characteristics of satellites networks, and to provide "live" data from actual implementations of TCP variants. After validating this approach by means of ns-2 results comparison (when available), the paper presents the results of a complete series of tests, which are proposed by the authors as significant elements for a possible future common evaluation benchmark.