GNS3 Setup Wizard options Explained

This tutorial explains how to run the GNS3 setup wizard. Learn how to configure GNS3 to access virtual devices from the localhost or a virtual machine.

When GNS3 starts the first time, it automatically starts the setup wizard. If you canceled or skipped this wizard on the first run, you can start it again from the Help menu option. The following image shows how to start it from the Help menu option.

starting setup wizard

The setup wizard allows us to select and configure the method that GNS3 should use to run virtual devices. GNS3 can run virtual devices from three locations. These locations are a virtual machine, a local computer, and a remote server. In this tutorial, we will discuss the first two options.

Running devices on the local computer

In this option, GNS3 runs devices directly from the local (host) computer. If this option is selected, GNS3 works differently on Windows and Linux. On Windows, it can run only limited devices but on Linux, it can run all devices.

If you have a Windows system and want to use GNS3 only for the preparation of an entry-level exam, you may use this option. This is the easiest method to use GNS3. But if you want to use GNS3 for network testing or troubleshooting or the preparation of an advanced level exam, you should the virtual machine option.

Select this option and click the Next button.

select local computer option

On the next screen, we have to specify three configuration parameters: Server path, Host binding, and Port. The Server path is the location of the gns3server.exe file. The gns3server.exe file runs all virtual appliances. Host binding and port are the parameters that GNS3 uses to connect and use the gns3server.exe file.

Use the following settings for these parameters.

Server path

If you have installed GNS3 on the default location, the wizard will automatically select the correct path. If you have installed GNS3 on the custom location, specifies the path of the gns3server.exe file.

Host binding

Select the loopback IP address from the dropdown options.


Specify any non-standard and unused port number such as 3080.

configuration values

After selecting the correct values, click the Next button.

configuration applied

Now wizard implements all configured values. If any error occurs, the next screen displays that error. If everything is correct, the next screen displays the success message. Click the Next button to continue.

configuration value applied

The final screen of the wizard displays the summary of configuration values. Click the Finish button to close the wizard.


Once necessary configurations are applied, GNS3 is ready to use.

setup complete

By default, GNS3 does not contain any Cisco IOS. To use any Cisco device such as a router and switch, we must have to import that device’s IOS in GNS3. To learn how to import Cisco IOSs in GNS3, you can check the following tutorial.

Learn how to add, install, or import IOS in GNS3 Step by Step

Running devices in a virtual machine

GNS3 supports all popular software that is used for virtualization. You can use any paid or free software to create and run a virtual system. GNS3 will use the virtual system to run its virtual devices. GNS3 also provides pre-created virtual systems for two popular software: VMware and Virtual box. VMware is paid software while Virtual box is free software. The process of importing the pre-created GNS3 virtual machine is the same in both VMware and Virtual box.

Download the pre-created virtual machine from the following webpage.

Open the folder that contains the downloaded file. The downloaded file is packed with a ZIP archive. Extract the ZIP archive.

downloaded file

Start the software that you have installed and open the extracted file on it. For example, if you have VMware, open it and click the "Open a virtual machine" option.

start vmware

Select the extracted file.

select virtual machine

Set the name of the virtual machine and provides the path where you want to store the virtual machine.

name and location of virtual machine

Click the Import button.

start import

Wait till VMware imports the virtual machine.

importing virtual machine

After importing the virtual machine, VMware displays the machine on the main window. Click the "Power on this virtual machine" option.

power on virtual machine

The virtual machine is optimized for the best performance. Unless you face any issues, you should not change any configuration of the virtual machine.

After booting, the virtual machine displays information about the virtual machine and configuration options.

virtual machine options

Now open GNS3 and run the Setup wizard again. This time select the first option on the first screen of the wizard.

setup wizard virtual machine option

Set configuration options as explained earlier and click the Next button.

configuration option

GNS3 checks whether it can access and run GNSserver.exe. On the next screen, it displays the result. If it connects successfully, click the Next button.

validate configuration options

If GNS3 fails to connect, check whether the GNS3server.exe file is available on the specified path. If the file is available, check whether GNS3 is allowed to access the file by the antivirus software or Windows firewall option.

GNS3 automatically detects the GNS3 virtual machine and connects to it.


If GNS3 connects successfully to the virtual machine, it validates the machine and displays the result on the next screen. Click the Finish button to close the wizard.

finish setup wizard

After connecting to the GNS3 virtual machine, GNS3 displays the main screen. From the main screen of GNS3, you can virtual Labs and projects for testing and learning purposes.

GNS3 ready to use

That's all for this tutorial. In the next tutorial, I will explain how to add or import IOS files in GNS3. If you like this tutorial, please don't forget to share this tutorial through your favorite social network.

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