How to Integrate VMWare and GNS3

While i was integrating the Vmware and Gns3, i found this article is good for my reference, feel free to read and thank to main owner.

While working through school for my IT certifications, labs were always my favorite part. You got to get hands-on experience in a stress free environment, and could experiment to really develop an understanding of how technologies worked. The problem I face now is not having access to the different school resources, and not having the money to invest in buying my own Cisco routers.

For networking experience being introduced to GNS3 was a huge asset for making sure my Cisco skills don’t rust while working helpdesk. Although it can take some tweaking initially, this is a great program that is valuable for anyone looking into networking.

On the other end were virtual machines. For me I ended up using VMware Workstation, and was also great for playing around with configuring Windows servers. However, both of these tools were separate and did not seem like I could really emulate a larger network that had servers and users on different subnets. About two months back I noticed in GNS3 that the host and cloud objects had the ability to bind to a physical adapter, and lucky enough VMworkstation will create those for me.

The following are some basic step-by-step how to setup GNS3 to interface with a VMware environment. This allows for students and professionals alike to create more complicated lab emulation, and really start to experiment.

The Toplogy:

For the purpose of this lab I’m going to be using an extremely basic addressing scheme with two routers. This will mainly be to demonstrate the capability for GNS3 and VMware to integrate together. For this lab I will be using the following topology

VMWare Setup:

For the next step what you will need to do is go to VMware’s network editor. On a windows computer with a default installation it will be in Start->All Programs->VMware->Virtual Network Editor

In this section what I ended up doing was assigned the VMnet10 to the /24 subnet, and VMnet11 to the /24 subnet. After we have it setup here for good measure also check the network adapters on your computer to make sure they are showing up and enabled:

In my case they are disabled, however, that was something I intentionally did after my last lab practicing this. After the last lab I left all the adapters enabled, and it completely crippled my internet connection when browsing, and ended up turning them off when not in use.

After enabling the VMnet10/11 adapters, I went into properties and checked the IPv4 addressing:

This is the configuration of the VMnet10 adapter. As a note I’m not 100% sure if there is a way to configure it not to even need an IP address on the host adapter. In my topologies I end up just provisioning the second addressable in the subnet assigned to the adapter. Typically as these are lab environments there isn’t an issue accounting for this. Although, now that I’m typing this I remembered I will have to re-evaluate if I want to experiment with Hot Swappable Routing Protocol.

The adapater for the VMnet11 is setup like this:

The address is the domain controller/dns server I will be configuring. Again, not 100% sure if this is really necessary as this adapter mainly allows VMware and GNS3 to connect. So far I haven’t run into an issues that I can say were a direct result of setting the DNS server here. One of the last steps I needed to take was to check the network settings for the individual VMs:

This machine (domain controller) was initially set to NAT. I changed the configurations to the Custom VMnet10 option. Once I’ve done this I went ahead and powered on the VMs.

GNS3 Setup

I will be skip putting in the router scripts here, but it is a very simple EIGRP configuration to make all devices pingable. From here I right-clicked on NA-TSDC01 and went to configure:

I selected the corresponding VMware adapter and clicked “Add”. If you note it states that administrator or root access is required. As part of my overall initial setup/troubleshooting of GNS3 I have mine set to launch as administrator each time, and not sure if that will help or if this will prompt you with a UAC box.

After setting this I went back into GNS3, and hooked the Ethernet connection from NA-WR-F1-AR1. When I did this I got the following connection options:

This is where I selected the nio_gen_eth:\device. Everything should be connected now for GNS3, and we can finally start the VMs.

Testing it out

Note: There were a few steps after this I will gloss over. At this point I still needed to:

  • Statically set the address of the domain controller
  • Install and configure the role of being a domain controller, and created the TSdom.local domain
  • Setup a few generic OUs and created a computer and user profile

After this was all done I started out with a simple ping test from the DC pinging the default router:

Next, I went over to my end user PC and checked if I could ping both the router and the domain controller:

Finally, I tested this out with a simple domain join:

After restarting, my PC was successfully on the domain and I could start controlling the computer with group policy.


This is a very basic setup for integrating these two applications, but from here we can see there is a ton of potential for experimentation.