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GNS3 and vmWare IOSv part4: ARISTA Switches

Updated on February 28, 2015

NOW we will add Arista Switches to GNS3

Now that we have a nice shiney new vROUTER to play with in GNS3 ... how about Switches? Historically, GNS3 was never able to really fully emulate switching. But, now with Arista virtual switches, all that begins to change.

This article, and accompanying video, is for a setup using Windows7.

GNS3 integrates really well with Virtual Box. In fact, what we do is start by setting up the Arista switches we want to use under Oracle's, Virtual-Box.

The major thing I've "noticed" about using IOSv at the same time as Arista switches (under GNS3) is the IOSv-Routers tend to be resource-hogs when they are starting up. ONE single IOSv, will cause a core of your CPU to "peg" at max... and it essentially stays there, till the Router finishes coming up. So, depending upon your PC, you might cause QEMU to crash, if you try pushing the envelope, by starting 2 or more IOSv Routers, AND Arista switches at the same time. I recommend starting the Arista switches FIRST, then, when they've settled down... you can begin to configure your Arista switches, while you (patiently) begin starting your IOSv-Routers one at a time...

Once the Arista switches have "started", they don't have much impact on CPU-usage, but each VM takes one gig of ram. The IOSv-Routers? Likewise, once done "booting-up", they have low impact on the system, but each takes 384megs of RAM...

Sometimes when starting a IOSv-Router, you come back to check it's progress, and you find QEMU has simply quit on you, necessitating a restart of that VM... no biggie, it's par for the course. BUT, if you DO wish to crash your system... just finish creating a topology, and then, upon loading that topology, try starting "ALL" machines at the same time... it ain't happenin'... unless you've got loads of RAM.

But... moving on to the Arista configuration in GNS3..... here we go!


First, register with Arista website and download the pertinent files. In my video I describe everything step-by-step. (In the video I also was experimenting with a cam setting to include my dual-screen setup).

After downloading the Arista files - start Virtual-Box

You will begin by clicking on "New" to create a Virtual Machine. Select a name for it like "Arista" or whatever you deem appropriate. Select the operating system as a Linux, Febora-64bit OS. Following that, increase the memory allotment to 1024mb. That's the minimum that Arista will run comfortably with, you can always increase it, if you wish... but give it 1gig of RAM, minimum.

Create a new VM as a "Linux Fedora-64bit"

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In this article, I know some of these screen shots are a little bit "borderline" on clarity. ... I very rarely make such an error. ... if you check most of my articles I'm quite quite GOOD at the video stuff. But I was rushing to finish this article, AND I was experimenting with video settings... and I failed to take a lot of "live screen captures" ... so, .... forgive me... I'll try to repair / improve the photos later... maybe... possibly ....................... perhaps.

Here's the Video - detailing these steps

Next - do NOT add a hard drive

Do not add a hard drive to the new VM. In fact, this is the most important part of the setup. You'll be adding the "Aboot-iso" image as the boot-drive for this machine, and the *.vmdk file will be the virtual hard disk.

One symptom of something "amiss" is if you swap around which is the primary drive vs, secondary or slave drive. Sometimes the VM can be "stuck" in a cycle of starting over, again and again. If this happens to you, it's probably the "priority" or the "boot-order" of the Aboot-iso vs. the vmdk-file.

The vmdk-file is setup as the IDE-primary-MASTER. And the Aboot-iso-file is setup as the IDE-secondary-MASTER. You can see me configure it in my video.

do NOT "create a hard drive" - we'll do that later

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Under Virtual-Box settings check the boot-order of devices

As you look at system-settings under Virtual-Box, you'll notice that a floppy disk is set to be first in boot order. Deselect the floppy, it's unnecessary. When all is finished, we want to be sure that the CD-drive boots first, followed by the hard drive.

Also, in my own case, you notice below that? In my video, you can see this... It lists a "pointing device" as being a "USB-Tablet". For the life of me, I don't know why. But earlier, when I tried getting rid of the "USB" devices, the system settings told me that it was "invalid" to do so. That's because the setup was insisting that I have a "USB tablet" as a pointing device. After I changed it to "PS2-mouse", I was able to deselect "USB" from the settings. And it was "valid" to do so. You will see what I am talking about plainly, in the video. It will make sense when you view it.

Setting boot-order: SYSTEM / MOTHERBOARD settings

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After we have gone over the settings of the new Arista VM, we will be adding our own bootable devices. You must be sure we are booting to an IDE-interface. Then, you will hang two bootable devices off that interface. One is a virtual hard drive, and the other a virtual cd. The *.vmdk file will be the Primary-MASTER. And the Aboot-.iso-image will be the Secondary-MASTER.

IDE-Primary-Master, is the vmdk-file - IDE-Secondary is Aboot-iso

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Now it's time to power-up the new VM and test it

Now you can power-up the Arista Switch, to test it's basic function. If you end up at a "login" prompt, and you get to what appears to be a Cisco-Like switch-console. You're "done", and the machine creation was successful.

There are of course, various "odd errors" you could get, I've seen a couple of the common ones.

One common error has verbiage that goes something like this. The virtual machine literally does not run, and you get an error message similar to this: "FAILED TO OPEN A SESSION FOR THE VM ARISTA" and "UNABLE TO LOAD R3 MODULE C:\PROG~" with the detail E_FAIL component: Console Interface: IConsole ---"

Now, in my case, I did check many things in an effort to correct this. But the thing that seemed to work, was to run sfc /scannow. And once the system file checker had corrected a few things. That error went away, and I was able to run Arista Switches.

Finished creating the VM in Virtual-Box - POWER-ON!


After you have verified fundamental proper function of the VM, you then CLONE it as many times as you wish to have instances running under GNS3.

I recommend you setup 2 Arista VM's just to test the concept of this, and get the ball "rolling". Again, all these steps are detailed in my video.

Clone / duplicate the vm - make at least 2 VM's

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And you're ready to use these VM's in GNS3 now

Now that you've created a successful VM and cloned it. You will run those two new machines in GNS3, by adding them under "Edit - Preferences - VirtualBox".

One of the most important things you will do, and most people neglect to mention this one in configurations... Before this will even work in GNS3, you must browse to VBoxManager.exe under the Oracle directory (your VirtualBox installation). After that, you may have to restart GNS3.

GNS3 uses "VBoxManager" in order to "know" what vm's are available.

So, with VBoxManager integrated with GNS3 now, select a VBox VM from the drop-down menu that appears. In my case I selected Arista-01 and went through it's settings, such as... the number of ports per VM.

Virtual Box can assign these Arista switches a max of 8 ports (under Windows). You can give it fewer ports if you wish.

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You have to BROWSE to find VBOXManage.exe --- it's UNDER THE ORACLE DIRECTORY for VirtualBox
You have to BROWSE to find VBOXManage.exe --- it's UNDER THE ORACLE DIRECTORY for VirtualBox
You have to BROWSE to find VBOXManage.exe --- it's UNDER THE ORACLE DIRECTORY for VirtualBox

But that's about it. Hopefully, this can help to get Arista Switches up and running under GNS3.

The Arista Switches boot-up takes a little while. I'm able to start 2 or 3 of them at the same time without crashing VBox. But, when it comes to starting the IOSv switches? They tend to be more of a pain. One IOSv Router, will entirely hog all resources of one core of your cpu. And, depending upon your machine, if you try to launch 2 or more IOSv Routers at the same time?

There's a tendency for QEMU to fail... to "choke". And it may halt entirely causing you to restart the launch of your network devices.

IF... you choose to run IOSv at the same time as some Arista Switches? You could launch 2, 3 or 4 Arista switches... and after they've settled down, you can begin to configure the switches while you monitor IOSv Routers starting ONE AT A TIME... If you do this patiently, and let the IOSv Routers start, explicitly --- one, at a time... you should have no problem at all. And you'll be able to start configuring various network topology's WHILE IOSv Routers finish coming up. ... Note: sometimes you DO have to "restart" a router. You may come back to a newly started Router to find it simply crashed / quit on you.


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