CCNA Study Guide

How to Install GNS3 Step by Step Explained

This tutorial explains how to install GNS3 for CCNA exam preparation step by step in detail with screenshots. Default installation of GNS3 includes several features and functionality which are neither required nor recommended for CCNA exam preparation. Learn how to perform a customized GNS3 installation for CCNA exam.

Real Cisco devices cost a lot of money which everyone cannot afford for CCNA exam preparation.
Network simulator software provides cost effective solution for exam preparation by simulating necessary devices.
For CCNA exam practice, Packet Tracer and GNS3 are the most widely used network simulator software. In this tutorial, we will learn how to install GNS3 step by step.

To learn how to install and configure Packet Tracer, see this tutorial

Download and install packet tracer in Windows and Linux

Download GNS3 installation file from its official webpage

Double click the installation file to start the installation

ios file

Depending on UAC (User access control) setting Windows may ask for confirmation. If it prompts, click yes to confirm the installation. Upon confirmation, installation starts in a wizard.

First screen of wizard shows a welcome message and suggestion to close other applications before starting the installation of GNS3. It’s only a suggestion not a requirement.

You can install GNS3 while other applications are running, but in this case you must have to restart the system before you can use it.

Click Next to start the installation

welcome screen gns installation wizard

Next screen show license agreement. Click I Agree to accept the license agreement

license agreeement gns

Next screen allows us to customize the Start Menu Folder name. By default wizard uses GNS3 as start menu folder name.

If you wish to use something else, change it here. If you wish to keep the default name, no action is required here.

Make you choice and click Next button

start menu folder name

Next screen allows us to select the components which we want to install.

default components

By default several components are selected including third party tools.
Third party tools are used to build and test the complex network. These tools are generally not required in
CCNA lab. Furthermore these tools are downloaded and installed during the install which consume a lot of
additional data and time. To make situation worse, any broken link may halt the installation process. For
example version 2.1.4 uses an outdated link of WinPCAP 4.1.3. If we install this version with default
selection, installation process will be failed.

For CCNA lab we only need following components

  1. GNS3
  2. Dynamips
  3. Cpulimit
  4. Npcap.

Uncheck all components excepts these four components and click Next button

selected components

Next screen allows us to customize the installation folder location. By default wizard installs GNS3 in Windows partition\\Program Files\\GNS3 folder.
If you want to install GNS3 in other folder, update the folder location.

Keep default or select the appropriate folder location and click Install button to start the installation

installation folder location

Now wizard installs GNS3 with selected components and options

gns installation running

During this phase, if any third party tool is selected, wizard downloads and installs that automatically.

In our example we have selected one third party tool (Npcap) which will be installed now.

Accept the License agreement.

npcap license agreeement

Check “Automatically start the Npcap driver at boot time” option and keep the other options as they are.

Click Install button to start the installation of Npcap

npcap options

Now wizard installs Npcap with selected options

npcap installation running

Next screen shows the result of installation. Click Next to continue

npcap installed

Click Finish button to close the Npcap installation wizard.

npcap installed

Just like Npcap, if any other third party tool is selected, that will be installed in this phase. Once all components and third party tools are installed, Wizard shows a summary screen which displays the log messages of installation process.

Click Next to continue

gns3 installed

GNS projected is supported by Solarwinds. It offers its standard toolset freely with GNS3.
We don’t need these tool sets for CCNA lab. Select No and click Next

solarwind toolset

On last screen, wizard offers an option to start GNS3 just after the installation. By default this option is selected. If we don’t want to run GNS3 just after the installation, we have to uncheck this option.

Click Finish to close the installation wizard.

gns3 installed

Configuring GNS3 for CCNA Lab

Start the GNS3 and click Help menu item. From submenu click Setup Wizard

setup wizard

On first run, GNS3 automatically launches this wizard. If you skipped it that time, you can launch it again anytime from this option. It doesn’t make any difference, how you access this wizard, configuration is same in both cases.

First screen of Setup Wizard allows us to choose the type of server which we want to run.

By default “Run modern IOS(IOSv or IOU), ASA and appliances from non Cisco manufactures” option is selected.
For CCNA lab we have to select the second option “Run only legacy IOS on my computer”.

Select second option and click Next button.

server type

In next screen, we have three configuration values; Server path, Host binding and Port.

configuration options

Server path

If you have installed GNS3 in custom location, provide the gns3server.exe file path in first option.
If you have installed it in default location, wizard will automatically select the correct path.

Host binding

Select loopback IP address from dropdown options.


Use any non-standard port such as 6000

select configuration values

Once all values are configured, click Next button

values configured

Now wizard implements all configured values. If any error occurs, next screen displays that error.

If everything is fine, next screen displays the success message. Click Next button to continue.

server setup complete

Final screen of this wizard displays the summary of configuration values. Click Finish button to close the wizard.

server setup summary

Once necessary configurations are applied, GNS3 is ready to use.

gns3 configured

By default GNS3 does not contain any Cisco IOS. In order to use any Cisco device such as router and switch, we must have to install
that device’s IOS in GNS3. Next part of this tutorial explains how to install Cisco IOS in GNS3 step by step.

Learn how to add, install or import IOS in GNS3 Step by Step

That’s all for this tutorial. If you face any issue or error while installing and configuring GNS3, let me know. I will assist you in setting up the GNS3 correctly for CCNA Lab. If you like this tutorial let the other know by sharing it through your favorite social network.

Prerequisites for 200-301

200-301 is a single exam, consisting of about 120 questions. It covers a wide range of topics, such as routing and switching, security, wireless networking, and even some programming concepts. As with other Cisco certifications, you can take it at any of the Pearson VUE certification centers.

The recommended training program that can be taken at a Cisco academy is called Implementing and Administering Cisco Solutions (CCNA). The successful completion of a training course will get you a training badge.

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