Which virtualization software VirtualBox or VMware?

VMware Workstation versus Player

VMware ESXi

Download the GNS3 VM

Import GNS3 VM into VMware Workstation

Local GNS3 VM Setup Wizard

Using the GNS3 Setup Wizard

Last updated
January 25, 2018

David Bombal
Julien Duponchelle
Edit this Article
Last updated
January 25, 2018

David Bombal
Julien Duponchelle
Edit this Article

GNS3 Setup wizard with the GNS3 VM

Which virtualization software VirtualBox or VMware?

In this document we will explain the import of the GNS3 VM for VMware but instructions for VirtualBox are similar.

VMware is a better option because it’s faster and supports nested virtualization (the VM inside the VM are accelerated by your CPU). The speed difference is important and some VM will be to slow on VirtualBox.

VMware Workstation versus Player

GNS3 supports both VMware Workstation Pro and VMware Fusion (Paid software), as well as VMware Player (Free software).

NOTEVMware Player requires the installation of additional free software (VMware VIX). If you forget to install this, GNS3 will prompt you to do so (and open a browser to the link on VMware’s website).

NOTEYou can get 20% off VMware Workstation Pro and VMware Fusion thanks to our deal with VMware.

VMware ESXi

VMware ESXi is for advanced users only and is not covered by this document.

Download the GNS3 VM

Read this documentation

Import GNS3 VM into VMware Workstation

In this section, you will how to import the GNS3 VM into VMware Workstation on your local Windows PC.

NOTEThis document assumes that you already have VMware Workstation installed on your local Windows PC. Please refer to VMware documentation for the process to download and install VMware Workstation.


Unzip the downloaded zip file:



In VMware Workstation, click Open a Virtual Machine:


Alternatively, click File menu, and then Open...:


Navigate to the directory where the extracted GNS3 VM.ova is located and click Open to open the OVA:


Leave the virtual machine name as GNS3 VM and click Import:


WARNINGWith VMware Player it’s recommended to keep the default location. GNS3 will try to detect VMs outside, but unlike Workstation VMware Player doesn’t offer a central database with all VMs location.

VMware Workstation will import the GNS3 VM:

The GNS3 VM will show as available in VMware Workstation. Leave all settings at their defaults:



Congratulations! You have successfully imported the GNS3 VM. In the next section you will integrate GNS3 with the GNS3 VM.

Local GNS3 VM Setup Wizard

The GNS3 Setup Wizard is displayed when GNS3 starts up for the first time. This provides an easy way to initially configure GNS3 options:






You can also manually start the Setup Wizard at any time by clicking Help and then Setup Wizard in the GNS3 software:


Optional: You can disable the Setup Wizard from displaying by selecting the Don't show this again checkbox:                                  

Using the GNS3 Setup Wizard

Select Local GNS3 VM in the Wizard and click Next > :             


IMPORTANTThis guide explains the Local GNS3 VM server configuration. For a Local Server (Dynamips) configuration click here.

The Virtualization software you are going to use needs to be selected. In this example, VMware (recommended) is selected:


The Setup Wizard will detect the presence of the GNS3 VM in VMware Workstation. If the GNS3 VM is not displayed, click the Refresh button and ensure that the VM was imported correctly into VMware Workstation:

Change the VCPU cores and RAM values to the amount that your computer supports and then click Next > :

IMPORTANT           GNS3 recommends a minimum of 1 vCPU core and 2GB RAM. However, if you want to run large topologies with many devices, more CPU cores and RAM are recommended. You can adjust the settings later using the GNS3 GUI.


Click Next

GNS3 will start up the GNS3 VM:


VMware view:

 Once booted successfully, the IP address of the GNS3 VM will be displayed: 


The option Add an IOS router using a real IOS image (supported by Dynamips) is selected by default. This is the option we will use for this guide. For all other options, see other guides on the GNS3 website.

Click Finish:

In the New IOS router template window, select Run the IOS on the GNS3 VM and click Next > :



The New IOS router template window displays. Click Browse... to find a local IOS image on your computer:


 Browse to the folder where you have stored your Cisco IOS images, select the image and click Open:


GNS3 can decompress IOS images to allow for quicker booting of routers in your GNS3 topologies. This is recommended for a better user experience. Click Yes to uncompress the image:

The image is automatically uploaded to the GNS3 VM:

The uploaded image is shown. Click Next > to continue the setup:

The Name and platform window displays. Confirm the Platform selection, and configure the router Name as desired and click Next > :


A Default RAM setting is displayed. It is important that you check your Router's minimum memory requirements using the Cisco website. Click the Check for minimum and maximum RAM requirement option:


The Cisco Feature Navigator is opened in your default web browser. Select Image Name and enter the name of the image you are using:  

Click Search for Image(s):    


The minimum DRAM requirements for the IOS are displayed. Note the value for your IOS image:

Set the Default RAM value to the value recommended by the Cisco Feature Navigator (yours may be different to the screenshot) and click Next > :


Select your preferred Network adapters. This is device dependant.

In this example both Ethernet and Serial interfaces have been added to the router. Once selected, click Next > :

As an NM-4T was selected in the previous step, WIC modules can now be added.  This option will depend what you selected in the previous step. Once completed, click Next > :

It is important for optimum GNS3 performance that an Idle-PC value be  selected. If a green Idle-PC value is NOT shown then click the Idle-PC finder button to find an Idle-PC value:


If you selected the Idle-PC finder button (only necessary if no value was detected automatically), GNS3 will calculate a value:


An Idle-PC value is displayed. Click OK to complete:


If no Idle-PC value is displayed, try clicking the Idle-PC finder button again. You may also need to reboot your computer and try again is no value is found.                                                      


Click Finish to complete the GNS3 Setup Wizard:     

The Preferences window displays showing the settings you have configured through the Setup Wizard. Click OK to complete the process: 

The New Project Window displays. Give your new Project a Name and click OK:

The GNS3 workspace displays:

Congratulations! You are now ready to create your first GNS3 topologies.

Continue here for a basic GNS3 topology