VMware limitations in GNS3

Limitation of VMware Player

Why use VMware?

What about VMware Fusion?

Add a virtual machine to VMware Workstation (local server)

Add a virtual machine to GNS3 (local server)

Create a GNS3 topology:

Last updated
November 1, 2017

David Bombal
Julien Duponchelle
Edit this Article
Last updated
November 1, 2017

David Bombal
Julien Duponchelle
Edit this Article

Adding VMware VMs to GNS3 Topologies


This document explains how to add VMware virtual machines to GNS3 topologies. Even though this document discusses the use of VMware virtual machines, you can do something similar using Virtualbox.

This document will show you two methods of adding a virtual machine to GNS3:

  1. Manually using a local install of GNS3
  2. Using an appliance and adding the VM to the GNS3 VM

NOTEWe are not discussing the importing of the GNS3 VM in this document; but rather the addition of other virtual machines to GNS3 topologies which may be running in the GNS3 VM or running locally.

VMware limitations in GNS3

The data of the VMware VMs are stored outside GNS3. This mean a topology using a VMware VM will not be portable on a different computer. If you want a portable topology you will need to use Qemu.

You can’t run multiple instances of the same VMware VM if you are using VMware Player. You need a paid version of VMware to do that.

Limitation of VMware Player

The player version of VMware have limitation and if your VM are not in the default directory sometimes GNS3 could not found the VM.

This problem doesn’t occur with the paid version of VMware because a central database is available to third parties applications.

Why use VMware?

Some appliances are designed to only run in VMware. In addition, a Windows VM will work better with VMware than with Qemu.

What about VMware Fusion?

On MacOSX VMware Fusion is used instead of VMware Workstation. The user interface of VMware Fusion is different to VMware Workstation, but it works in the same way with GNS3.


Add a virtual machine to VMware Workstation (local server)

If you already have a virtual machine imported into VMware Workstation, go to the next section of this document.

Download or copy of a virtual machine ISO to your local computer. In this example, TinyCore Linux is used. This is a recommended lightweight Linux distribution:

Download link:

ISO on local PC:

In VMware Workstation, click File and then New Virtual Machine:

Follow the VMware Wizard to import create the new virtual machine. In the first step, select Typical and then click Next > :

Point to the ISO file downloaded and click Next > :

Select Linux as the Guest operating system and Ubuntu as the Version and then click Next >:


Name the VM and change the default Location if you want to. In this example the VM is called TinyCore-Local-VMware and the default Location is used. Then click Next >:

Specify the amount of disk space required by your virtual machine. In this example only 1 GB is allocated. Then click Next >:

Click Customize Hardware:


Customize the hardware of the VM as required. In this example only 96 MB of RAM is required for the VM. Once the required changes have been completed, click Close:


To complete the VM import, click Finish:

The VM is now available in VMware Workstation:

Power on the virtual machine in VMware Workstation:

Install the operating system as required. TinyCore Linux does not require this and is booted to RAM by selecting Boot TinyCore:

Complete any operating system installation setup as required. In this example, TinyCore simply boots up and no configuration is required:

Once install is completed, shut down the virtual machine:

You are now ready to integrate the new VM with GNS3.

Add a virtual machine to GNS3 (local server)

Once you have installed and configured your virtual machine in VMware Workstation, you are ready to integrate the VM with GNS3.

Start GNS3 and create a New project:

Click Edit and then Preferences:

Click VMware VMs:

Click New to add a new virtual machine:

Select the virtual machine from the VM list. In this example TinyCore-Local-VMware is selected. Then click Finish:

The new virtual machine is now available in GNS3.Click Edit to change the VM settings:

Click the Network Tab:

Check the Allow GNS3 to us any configured VMware adapter checkbox then then click OK:

Click VMware to edit the VMware configuration:


Click the Network Tab to view the available Managed VMnet interfaces:

The number set here depends on the topologies you are going to use with GNS3. Start with a range of vmnet2 to vmnet8 and then increase as needed.

Click Configure. GNS3 will create the relevant network adapters on your PC:

Once completed, click Click OK to complete the integration.

Create a GNS3 topology:

Once you have integrated the new virtual machine with GNS3, you can now create topologies that contain the new VM.

To create a new GNS3 topology, select a group of devices in the Devices Toolbar by clicking the Browse End Devices button

The new virtual machine is now available to be added to a GNS3 topology:

Drag and drop the selected node (device) to the GNS3 Workspace. An instance of the node becomes available in the Workspace. In this example, the TinyCore PC is now available:

Drag and drop another node into the GNS3 Workspace. In this example, a router was added to the GNS3 workspace. The devices available will depend on your GNS3 configuration:

Click the Toolbar Device button again to collapse the group:

Click the Add a Link button to start adding links to your topology. The mouse cursor will change to indicate that links can be added:

Click on the VM device in your topology to display available interfaces. In this example Ethernet0 is available (this is device dependant):

Click the interface and then select another device in the topology to connect the interface to. In this example Ethernet 0 on TinyCore-Local-VMware was selected and the link was joined to R1:

Select an interface on the second device to complete the connection. In this example, FastEthernet 0/0 on R2 was selected:

Click the Add a Link button to stop adding links. The mouse cursor will change back to normal to indicate that you have stopped adding links:

Click the Show/Hide interface labels button on the GNS3 Toolbar to display interface labels in your topology:

You are now ready to power on your network devices. Click the Start/Resume button on the GNS3 Toolbar to start up your network devices:

GNS3 indicates that the devices have been powered on by turning the interface connectors from red to green:

You are now ready to configure your devices. Click the Console connect to all devices button on the GNS3 Toolbar to open a connection to every device in the topology:

A console connection is opened to the router in the topology:

You can access the virtual machine console using VMware:

In this example, R1 is configured as follows:

R1# configure terminal
R1(config)# interface fastEthernet 0/0
R1(config-if)# ip address
R1(config-if)# no shutdown
R1(config-if)# end

Configure the VM with an IP address in the same subnet. In TinyCore, this is done by first selecting the Control Panel:


Click Network:


Configure the relevant IP addressing information and click Apply and then Exit:


In this example the following settings have been used:

Interface: eth0

IP address:





Open a terminal on the virtual machine:

Ping R1 from the TinyCore PC:


Result: The New TinyCore PC can ping the GNS3 router R1.

Congratulations! You have integrated a new VMware virtual machine with GNS3.