This tutorial will walk you through the process of settting up a distributed GNS3 topology where you can use different external hypervisor engines and run GNS3 topology in much easier and smoother fashion.This helps you utilize resources at hand in an efficient manner by distributing processor load across multiple hardware platforms. Most people use WindowsXP / Windows Vista on their laptop machines. However, for GNS3 and dynagen to perform at their peak, i would recommmend you to use a flavour of Linux which speeds up things to greater extent.

I will be using Ubtuntu 8.04 (Hardy Haron) as Linux Power Horse .I have a 64-bit Intel Machine with Quad Core 2+ Ghz processor coupled with 8Gigs of physical RAM at my disposal. This helps me run full CCIE topology on One machine (using 10+routers ) , multiple vmware instances while conserving resources at my relatively low-end Windows laptop . If you have multiple pc’s , you can add all of them into one GNS3 topology using distributed approach as shown in this tutorial. This will ease-up burden on single pc and make your labs run faster and better.

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For additional help and information , refer to following links/tutorials:

  • Communicating b/w local and remote hypervisors by msimone
  • GNS3 tutorial at by Mike Fuszner


Enjoy !!!

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45 Responses to “How to run multi-pc topology using distributed hypervisors in GNS3”

  1. musa raza says:

    Great tutorial just in time for me.Thanks.

  2. Peter says:

    Very nice tutorial. Thanks!!!

  3. Haris says:

    superb tutorial.

  4. Haris says:

    I have a question.Can i use gns3 on mac os x platform the way you showed?

  5. admin says:

    I am glad you guys liked the tutorial.

    @Haris, yes, you can use GNS3 across multiple platforms including Mac OS X. You can download DMG package from GNS3 source website.You can setup multi-pc external hypervisor scenario exactly as shown in this tutorial onto MAC.All you need is to start GNS3/dynamips on MAC and you should be good to go.

    Hope this answers your query.

  6. Cas says:

    Whats the best way to connect a remote hypervisors say FA0/1 to a nic or virtual such as Vmware?

  7. shakir says:


  8. Ali says:

    Nice tutorial.Thanks!

  9. admin says:

    Shakir,Ali ,Thanks for liking. You are welcome!

  10. admin says:

    @Cas, you can add remote PC’s virtual/physical interface to GNS3 topology by editing .net file and adding remote hypervisors(say Router R1) fa0/0 to the Virtual/Physical interface.

  11. usama says:

    Nice video!but tell me one thing ,same steps are followed with other operating system ?a nd the second thing:should i need to install GNS3 on both Pc or a Single Pc

  12. admin says:

    @usama, GNS3 is platform-independent in sense that once you get it installed and running (on any platform e.g Windows,MacOSX,Linux etc.), rest of steps are same.You may install GNS3 on both PC’s however, that is optional. On second PC, you only require an instance of dynagen/dynamips running to connect to from first PC.

  13. Sala says:

    Excellent Tutorial..

  14. Remo says:

    I am having ccna exam on 2 dec (with in 10 days). i have installed gns3 and struggling. i have connected 2 routers via serial and configured f/e & s int. my console ports were shutdown and says “”Error: lost communication with dynamips server localhost It may have crashed. check the dynamips server output ——— so on. can any one help me ASAP

  15. Remo says:

    can any one help me step by step

  16. admin says:

    Remo, logs suggest that your dynamips server has crashed.There can be many reasons for this to happen.I would recommend you to restart it using default settings .if you still have same problem, you may need to hop on over to hacki forum for detailed instructions.

    Good luck for your exam.

  17. remo says:

    Thank You so much admin.
    what do you mean by “hop on over to haci forum”. sorry I am new to this chat or websites.

  18. admin says:

    Remo , just google for “hacki forum” and first link will take you there. You can put up your dynamips/gns3/dynagen specific queries there.


  19. John says:


    Great Tutorial…THanks……here i have a question can we integrate PCs in such a way that gns use processor and ram of one PC and Enternet cards of other PC. Actually i have one PC with very good processor and ram but only on ehternet port other pc has 4 ethernet ports but low ram etc. I want to make a full lab if you have solution, kindly either post here or send me private message on my email address.

    Best Regards

  20. M A Hafeez says:

    Wonderful Tutorial. Keep up buddy. You are a blessing in disguise for lots of us out here, so keep on going with your good work.

  21. Khan says:

    Hi Admin & Friends , I Implemented this remote hyper visor. Im not able to load balance GNS3 with PC1 & PC2.. im getting an error connection lost .. Could any one help me for this issue ..

    Thank you



  22. admin says:

    @John, this is doable and great way to test your lab.I personally tested it using GNS3 and it works great.Keep checking for tutorial on this.


  23. admin says:

    @M A Hafeez, Thanks for appreciation.

  24. admin says:

    @Khan, if you follow steps precisely , you should not have problem you specified.Make sure that your connectivity between PC’s is fine or else you will find same error.

  25. Peter says:

    Hi, Friends, after i put this ‘ start /belownormal /min “Dynamips” “Dynamips-wxp.exe” h 7201 ‘ to command prompt, the dynamips pop out for less than half second than dissappear, it does not stay long like the video tutorial.

    Please anyone could able to help me on this ?

  26. Khan says:

    What should we do Next

    When I tried to connect Generic Ethernet NIO (Cloud) to Router it generate error message

    206 unable to create

    when i check linux (ubuntu) terminal there was a message
    gen_nio_eth unable to open device PCAP there is no such device .

  27. sweettoo says:

    Hi there, great tutorials, i thanks alot to you who has made an effort towards making these tutorials and making our life easier.
    I have a question, When we connect to remote hypervisor on remote machine running linux we use syntax for working directory /home/user/images/abs.bin,
    what if my remote machine is not linux, what would be the syntax of working directory if remote machine is running windows.

  28. admin says:

    @sweettoo, use relative file path of windows forexample- C:/gns3/images/

    Please follow the tutorial and you should not have problems stated.


  29. Christopher says:

    Hi there…Very nice tutorials.Thanks for great help.Please put similar tutorial for Macintosh MacOS-X.Thanks

  30. Craig says:

    Hi there, this is a great tutorial. I have a Vista PC running GNS3 and a Ubuntu PC running Dynamips. Whilst I can follow the tutorial and everything works ok, I am unable to create new projects (because of the ‘working directory’ problem). Are you actually using GNS3 projects in your setup?


  31. Tariq Ahmad says:

    Craig,I haven’t tested to save projects with distributed hypervisor scenario. Do you get any specific error while doing so ?

  32. palak says:

    I tried following the steps of the tutorial. I have 2 machines with address and added external hypervisors in on port 7200 and on the same machine on port 7201. I started hypervisors on both machines . But when i drag a router it uses local host ios image, as in does it does not ask which image to choose. Both are windows server 2000.

  33. palak says:

    Actually my project aim is to connect a virtual machine on pc1 and other virtual machine on pc2 via gns3 topology. thought of using distributed gns3 on both pcs. will this idea work using the above video?

  34. Yudha says:

    Hello there, it’s a nice tutorial. But I got a problem. Why i can’t ping my directly connected network (one for local hypervisor one for remote) the interface sometimes goes up and down when I saw the router CLI. I used Windows 7 and windows Vista. regards for ur help. Thx :)

  35. manishjasyal says:

    very precise and informative.. thanks for posting this… a quick query.. will GNS3 on the host find idle-pc value for the remote server? if yes, then is the process same? right click -> idle-pc ????

  36. Tibong says:

    thanks following the tutorial it works fine. but I’m not able to link my routers from both pc’s. The serial links shows status is up / protocol down.

  37. GoBabyGo says:

    Great tutorial. However, I get to the point where you have to associate the images to the local and the external Hypervisors but I do not get the pop up window entitled “IOS Please choose an imaage”. How do you get this window please,so can choose the images/hypevisors associations?
    Thank you

  38. johnnclaytorres says:

    winxp to winxp i followed the steps change port, udp, work directories.
    Only the graphics shows all links are up during the console sessions my line is up protocol is down.

  39. ARUMUGAM A.V says:

    Dear Sir,

    Please advise “How to configure Qemu hosts on Windows XP”.

  40. belleangella says:

    Hi there,

    I got problem when I begin to build the topology. When I try to map a router to my topology, and chose an IOS which is in the local PC, error message pops up saying:

    Can’t connect to the external hypervisor on

    FYI: is the local PC.

    I tried to shutdown my personal firewall but the error remails.

    Please advise. Thanks

  41. mannix says:

    Very good material.
    For a CCIE lab, a desktop-PC and a laptop it should be enough.
    Thank you !

  42. Salman says:

    Many thanks, this is great.

    Thanks for your effort.



  43. Muyiwa Abiodun says:

    I installed GNS3 on Centos 6 successfully. In using GNS 3 to create a cloud, it writes that Administrative Permission is necessary, and I am running as root.

    What next should I do?

  44. Klauss says:

    I cannot get this to work. I continually get the message ” can’t connect to the external hypervisor on ….). Did anyone really get this to work?

    I notice belleangella above had the same issue, but no response was given. If anyone got this to wrk, would you please share your settings?

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