Adding Host Computers to Your GNS3 Labs

Having host PC workstations and servers available in your lab is very beneficial, it allows the user to check connectivity using commands such as ping and traceroute. It also allows the user to view the ARP tables for looking up connected MAC address. 

In this free CCNP GNS3 lab we are going to use a simple GNS3 topology to demonstrate how to add host PC workstations and server to a GNS3 lab.

There are three possible techniques to add a PC workstation or server to your lab. If you just want to check connectivity using ping or traceroute, the simplest method is to use the Virtual PC Simulator (VPCS). The second method is to use a Qemu or VirtualBox guest (Qemu and VirtualBox support are integrated into GNS3). Third method is to use a router and to configure it to act like a PC.

In this article we are only going to cover using a router to act as a PC and VPCS. The method of using Qeme or VirtualBox involves much more configuration and an advanced understanding of GNS3.

Router Method:

This method is very simple but does consume lab resources and the user interface is not that of a Computer, the ping and traceroute use the IOS CLI syntax. The following is the configuration required to implement this method:

  • Router(config)# no ip routing !Turns off IP routing
  • Router(config)# interface fa0/0 !Enters FastEthernet interface mode
  • Router(config-if)# ip address address subnet_mask !Assigns IP address and subnet mask Router(config-if)# no shutdown !Turns on the interface
  • Router(config-if)# exit !Exits FastEthernet interface mode
  • Router(config)# ip default-gateway gateway_address !Configures the default gateway

Virtual PC Simulator Method:

If all you need is to check connectivity within your topology, I highly recommend using VPCS. The Virtual PC Simulator is a free application and available to download from the GNS3 website. The Virtual PC Simulator is a application that operates within Windows or Linux. It has limited functionality, but most important, it allows the use of pings and traceroutes. These are the most common testing commands used in your training labs and are usually the only commands necessary. Using VPCS you will save memory and processing power.

Within GNS3 latest release GNS3 0.8.6 there is an already configured host computer with nine pre-configured interfaces. This allows the user to add up to nine hosts to their labs. These interfaces are labeled as follows:

  • NIO_udp:30000:
  • !
  • NIO_udp:30008:

Using VPCS:

Before you can use the host in you lab you need to start the VPCS application. To do this, go to the Windows START MENU and select the VPCS application in the GNS3 folder of Programs.


This will open the following DOS window:


The following diagram shows how these interfaces would be used in a simple GNS3 lab.


Note: the NIO_udp:30000: and NIO_udp:30001: labels in the diagram. This is the interface of the attached device.

Now we need to assign and IP address, subnet and default gate way to our devices. This is done in the VPCS window the syntax is “ip [IP address] [default gateway address] [subnet mask]” To move between host devices just type the number of the host and press enter.


Once our Host PCs have an IP address, and router has been configured.

  • !
  • interface FastEthernet0/0
  • description R1 LAN
  • ip address
  • duplex auto
  • speed auto
  • !
  • interface FastEthernet0/1
  • description R1 LAN
  • ip address
  • duplex auto
  • speed auto
  • !

We are now ready to test our connectivity using the ping and trace commands from within VPCS..


I hope you have found this informative and will use VPCS in your future labs I know I will.

Download this lab now for full details:

  GNS3-Host (36.1 KiB, 3,492 hits)


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2 Responses to “Adding Host Computers to Your GNS3 Labs”

  1. Dan says:

    Thanks Barry, this was very helpful.

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