How to Install GNS3 VM 2.2 on Debian 12

In this article, we will examine how to set up GNS3 VM 2.2, which allows you to run Cisco Router IOS more efficiently and use L2/L3 images on a Linux Debian 12 computer, and how to import it to a VMware Workstation.

Installing GNS3 VM in Debian

How to Set Up GNS3 VM 2.2 with VMware Pro on Debian 12 Bookworm

Using the GNS3 network simulator software, you can emulate IOS images of real Cisco devices on your host computer and create basic or advanced network designs.

The higher the performance of your host PC, the more efficiently you will use the GNS3 software. However, when you want to make a very professional network design, your PC’s performance will decrease, and you will not be able to use IOU images.

Therefore, by importing the GNS3 VM into a virtual machine, you can run Routers or Switches that you will use for advanced network projects with more performance.


If you have a Linux distribution installed on your host computer, you must first install GNS3 and VMware Workstation software on your system. After installing this software, you can use the GNS3 VM on your Linux PC.

How to Download and Install the GNS3 VM

After installing the necessary software on your Debian computer, you need to download the GNS3 virtual machine and import it into the VMware program. Next, you need to activate the virtual server from the GNS3 simulator settings and add an IOS router to it.

Step 1

To download the GNS3 VM virtual machine, visit the website and click the Download the GNS3 VM link under the download options.

GNS3 VM Download

Step 2

According to the virtualization software you have installed on your Debian PC, click the Download button next to the appropriate option, namely “VMware Workstation and Fusion.” In the window that opens, save the virtual machine file with the zip extension to your computer and wait for the download process.

VMware Workstation and Fusion

Step 3

After downloading the zip file, open the terminal in the relevant location, execute the “unzip” command, and extract the archived file to the folder.


Extracting GNS3 File to Folder

Step 4

After extracting the GNS3 VM.ova file, open the VMware Workstation 16 Pro software and click File / Open from the tool menu.

Importing GNS3 VM to VMware Workstation

Step 5

Select the GNS3 VM.ova file in Downloads and open it.

Opening the GNS3 VM.ova File

Step 6

Configure the location where you want to back up the virtual machine and click the Import button.

Importing a GNS3 Virtual Machine

Step 7

Wait while the GNS3 virtual machine is installed in the location you specified.

Importing VM

Step 8

After importing the GNS3 VM, click Startup this guest operating system to run it.

Running the GNS3 Virtual Machine

Step 9

When you run the GNS3 virtual server, you can see the IP address and other information when the system is ready.

Checking the VM's IP Address

How to Enable the GNS3 Virtual Machine

After installing the GNS3 VM on Debian, you need to enable it in the simulator program’s settings. Thus, you can upload your IOS devices to the server and run them from there.

Step 1

After running the GNS3 software, select the Run appliances in a virtual machine option in the Setup Wizard window that opens and click Next.

Running Appliances in a Virtual Machine

Step 2

To connect GNS3 to GNS3 VM correctly, change the Host Binding IP address according to the IP address block of the virtual server and click Next.

Configuring Host Binding IP Address by Server's IP Address Block

Step 3

After the virtual server verification is successful, click Next.

Connection to GNS3 Server Established

Step 4

Select VMware as the virtualization software in the GNS3 VM settings, configure the vCPU value to 2, and click Next.

Choosing the VMware Virtualization Program

Step 5

Check the GNS3 Virtual Machine settings one last time and click Finish.

Checking Server Settings

How to Add a Router IOS to GNS3 Server

After connecting the GNS3 and GNS3 virtual servers, you need to add IOS Routers.

Step 1

Click Edit / Preferences from the tool menu of the GNS3 simulator software and open its settings.

Edit / Preferences

Step 2

You need to select the platform on which you want to run the IOS Router. In the Server window, select the Run this IOS router on the GNS3 VM option and click Next.

Run This IOS Router in GNS3 VM

Step 3

Click the Browse button to specify the location of the IOS image.

Adding IOS Image

Step 4

Select and open an IOS image you downloaded to your computer.

Selecting IOS Image

Step 5

Wait while the c7200 model Router IOS is being uploaded to the GNS3 virtual server.

Uploading Router Device to Server

Step 6

Edit the name and platform of the Router you added and click Next.

Configuring Name and Platform

Step 7

Determine a suitable RAM size for the Router to work efficiently on the virtual server.

Configuring Memory Size

Step 8

If there are interfaces you want to add to your device, you can make these changes in the Network Adapters settings.

Configuring Network Adapters

Step 9

Click the Idle-PC Finder button and find a suitable Idle-PC value for the Router that will run on the virtual server.

Finding Idle-PC Value

Step 10

After adding the Router to the virtual server, you can check the server location in the template section.

Checking IOS Location

How to Create a New Project

After configuring the GNS3 server, you can create a new project to test it and start creating new projects.

Step 1

Open the project wizard by clicking the new icon or CTRL + N from the tool menu of the GNS3 software, type a name suitable for the project you will create, and configure the location to be saved.

Creating a New Project

Step 2

Click on the Routers category and drag and drop two c7200 Routers into the workspace.

Adding a Router to a Workspace

Step 3

Activate the cabling option from the left panel and connect one end of the cable to the FastEthernet0/0 port of R1 and the other end to the FastEthernet 0/0 port of R2.

Cabling Routers

Step 4

Click the green arrow from the tool menu to run all the Routers you have added to the workspace, and click the Yes button to confirm the operation.

Running Routers in the Workspace

Step 5

Assign an IP address to the FastEthernet interfaces of Router R1 and R2 and open the ports.

R1# conf t
R1(config)# interface fastethernet 0/0
R1(config-if)# ip address
R1(config-if)# no shutdown
R2# conf t
R2(config)# interface fastethernet 0/0
R2(config-if)# ip address
R2(config-if)# no shutdown

Assigning IP Address of FastEthernet Ports of Routers

Step 6

Use the ping command to test the network connection between R1 and R2.

R1# ping
R2# ping

Ping Each Other From Routers

How to Disable the GNS3 Server

When you turn off the virtual server and want to run your IOS devices on your local PC, you need to do this from the settings window: delete the Router you added and add it again.

Step 1

Open Edit / Preferences and click GNS3 VM from the left panel, then uncheck Enable the GNS3 VM from the listed options and click OK.

Disabling the GNS3 Server

Step 2

Open Help / Setup Wizard from the tool menu, and this time, select Run Appliances on my local computer and click Next.

Run Devices on My Local Computer

Step 3

Change the Host Binding IP address to Localhost in the Local Server configuration and click Next.

Changing Host Binding IP Address to Localhost

Step 4

After making the local server connection, click Next.

Server Connection Check

Step 5

In the Summary window, you can now check that the IOS will work on Localhost, that is, on your local computer.

Viewing Server Summary Settings

Step 6

In the template section, you can see that the c7200 device is running on the GNS3 VM. Delete this Router, as you have turned off the GNS3 server.

Deleting IOS on Server

Step 7

To add IOS again, click the New button to open the wizard, and this time, select Run this IOS Router on my local computer.

Run IOS Router on My Local Computer

Step 8

When you add the c7200 Router again, this time you can see that the server part is Debian.

Checking IOS Location

How to Delete the GNS3 VM

To thoroughly delete the VM from your host disk after you terminate the GNS3 VM connection, open Workstation and expand the left panel. Click on Manage / Delete from Disk option and click Yes to confirm the deletion in the window that opens.

Deleting the GNS3 VM


Possible Errors

   Version Error

  • => Error while getting the VMs: GNS3 version is not the same as the GNS3 VM version 2.2.32. Please upgrade the GNS3 VM.
    GNS3 version is not the same as the GNS3 VM version 2.2.32. Please upgrade the GNS3 VM.
  • Error while getting templates list: Client version 2.2.32 is not the same as server (controller) version

If you are getting one of the above errors while connecting to the GNS3 server, the client and server versions must be the same, as explained. To fix this issue, you must install either a newer or an older version.

If you’re getting this error on your Debian computer, it’s probably because you installed the network software via pip3. To fix this problem, open the terminal and upgrade your current software to the latest version.

pip install gns3-gui==2.2.33
pip install gns3-server==2.2.33

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