Download vIOS-L2 Image for GNS3

When it comes to creating a network, GNS3 and vIOS-L2 are among the first things that come to mind when switching topics. You can better understand these tools without the need for actual hardware.

To make GNS3 work well, you’ll need specific files, like the vIOS-L2 image. That’s because you’re not only using one switch in the emulator program. Additionally, you’ll use a router to help information move between networks.

Download vIOS-L2 Image

What is vIOS-L2 Image in GNS3?

vIOS-L2 is short for Virtual IOS-Layer 2. This image acts like Cisco IOS. In easy words, it emulates to be a Cisco Layer 2 Switch device.

Users use this image a lot with GNS3 network software. This way, they don’t have to buy an actual Layer 2 Switch. By adding the virtual images to the program, they can save money.

Features of Virtual IOS-Layer 2 Device

Here are the essential things about this image that acts like an L2 device and has a VMDK extension:

  1. Layer 2 Switch

This image mimics to be like Cisco’s Layer 2 devices. In other words, it means it does the same things as a switch does. For example, it learns MAC addresses, sends frames, or helps information move between virtual networks.

  1. Command-Line Interface (CLI)

Similar to real devices, vIOS-L2 also works with the Command Line Interface (CLI).

  1. VLAN Support

You can make virtual local networks and talk between them. This way, you can communicate with users on different layers through VLAN routing.

  1. Spanning Tree Protocols

vIOS-L2 also supports Spanning Tree. So, it allows you to test and prevent loops in your virtual network.

  1. Link Aggregation

Another cool thing is Link Aggregation and EtherChannel. Thus, you make more bandwidth for data and have a backup plan in your setup.

  1. Quality of Service (QoS)

With QoS support, you can set up which data packets are most important in GNS3.

  1. Multicast Support

The L2 image also knows how to do multicast. This means that users can simulate data streaming from a single location to multiple points.

  1. Port Security

If you want to control who can use a port based on MAC addresses, you can turn on Port Security. For instance, you can make sure only allowed people can use a port in a company network.

  1. Network Redundancy

To make sure the network stays strong, you can turn on protocols like HSRP or VRRP.

Advantages of Using vIOS-L2 with GNS3


  1. Layer 2 Capability

It helps you use Cisco’s actual Layer 2 switches. For instance, with the Virtual IOS-Layer 2 image, you can make VLANs (Virtual Local Area Networks). Plus, you can set up virtual LANs with Spanning Tree.

  1. Compatible with GNS3

This virtual device works with the GNS3 emulator program. So, you can use a smooth Layer 2 Switch, letting you explore more advanced switching stuff in virtual environments.

  1. Power Requirement

The vIOS device works more efficiently than an actual device. So it doesn’t need extra power from your PC.

  1. Proper Solution

In education, users often prefer using vIOS over real devices. That’s because even though Cisco’s network devices are popular, they can be pretty expensive. So, using the L2 device is a cheaper choice for you.

  1. Implementing Real Scenarios

Once you download vIOS-L2, you can try out actual network applications. It makes the experience better with lots of protocols and features. This way, you practice with devices like the ones you’d use in real-world network setups.

  1. Education and Training Use

If you’re teaching about networks, it lets your students take a good look at Cisco switches. That’s why schools often use this L2 image for training.


  1. Limited Layer 3 Ability

In GNS3, the primary purpose of vIOS-L2 is to mimic Layer 2 devices. Thus, it does not have full support for Layer 3 routing features.

  1. Lack of Updates

It might have some of the features that the newest Cisco L2 devices have. You can go to the company’s website and download the latest versions of these images.

Download vIOS-L2.vmdk

To create more advanced network designs in GNS3 software, you can safely download the vIOS-L2.vmdk file from our guide.

After downloading the file, we uploaded it with the RAR extension and extracted it to a folder using WinRAR. Then, open GNS3 and import it from the QemuVMs settings under Edit > Preferences. You can also follow our guide with more straightforward steps.

Download vIOS File

Sample LAB Experiences

You can do almost everything an actual device can do with L2.vmdk. For example, we’ve done a bunch of lab tests using this virtual device in the past.

With this Switch IOS image, you can get ready quickly for CCNA Switching exams. But, for the more advanced CCNP stuff, we suggest using Cisco IOU.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About GNS3 and vIOS-L2

  1. What is vIOS-L2, and why do I need it for GNS3?
Simply put, vIOS L2 is a virtual device that emulates Cisco Layer 2 Switches. It is an image developed by Cisco. The reason you need this in the GNS3 program is to learn about Switching.
  1. Can this simulate Layer 3 functions?
Absolutely not. This image only does what L2 can do. So, if you want to emulate the L3 devices, you should check out other options.
  1. What are the system requirements to run vIOS-L2?
What your computer needs for this virtual network device depends on how strong your computer is. If your PC is good, you can make more complicated setups. But, to use this device well, you should have at least 8 GB of RAM.
  1. Can I use it for free?
Yes, you can use it for free, but check out the licensing rules from Cisco. The newer ones need a Cisco account and a license. But, people often use the older ones for learning in schools.


To sum up, we suggest getting vIOS-L2 for GNS3. This device is helpful for both beginners and professionals. Instead of buying actual equipment, practice in virtual environments first. This way, it helps you learn how to set up networking devices. Also, you can become really good at networking over time!


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