I became aware of GNS3 shortly before I became aware of the book The Book of GNS3: Build Virtual Network Labs Using Cisco, Juniper, and More by Jason C. Neumann. The publisher No Starch Press was kind enough to provide me with a copy of the book to review.
What is GNS3? “Your virtual network in a suitcase”
GNS3 is software for Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows that provides a virtual network entirely in one pane of glass. GNS3 comes available as a download installer for the supported operating systems but also as a pre-built virtual appliance, making it very easy to get started. It allows you to test configurations and hardware implementations without having to buy and move physical hardware. This is great for the student studying for a network certification or the network professional building out a network. GNS3 won’t give you the production-level performance of the equivalent hardware but it will give you an environment to develop, test, snapshot, and re-configure.
Whether you are studying for your first networking exam or building out a state-wide telecommunications network, GNS3 offers an easy way to design and build networks of any size… without the need for hardware.
The Book of GNS3
Despite how simple the GNS3 summary makes it sound, it is a very complex piece of software that allows you to accomplish a variety of tasks. Given the options and wanting to get the most out of the software, thankfully there is now a book to go along with it – The Book of GNS3: Build Virtual Network Labs Using Cisco, Juniper, and More by Jason C. Neumann. Jason C. Neummann is a network engineer and an active participant in the GNS3 project and community.
GNS3 is open source software that emulates Cisco router and switch hardware to simulate complex networks. You can use GNS3 on any computer to experiment with various router configurations, study for that next big Cisco certification, or build the ubernetwork of your wildest dreams—all without plugging in a single physical network cable.
The Book of GNS3 will teach you how to harness the powerful GNS3 software to create your own virtual networks with Cisco and Juniper devices. Hands-on tutorials throughout show you how to:
- Configure Cisco IOS and ASA devices in GNS3
- Add Juniper routers to your projects with VirtualBox and QEMU
- Connect GNS3’s hub, switch, and cloud devices to physical hardware
- Integrate Cisco IOU virtual machines for advanced switching features
- Simulate a Cisco access server to practice managing devices
- Build bigger labs by distributing project resources across multiple computers
Why set up all of that expensive physical hardware before you know whether it will all work together? Learn how to build virtual networks with The Book of GNS3, and stop reconfiguring your lab every time you want to test something new.
The Book of GNS3 acts as a workbook to go along with getting started using GNS3. It is a book that can take you from day 0 to being quite proficient with the software. Even as more of an IT generalist, I was able to follow along with the book and learn the software’s interface and how it indicates network connectivity. This can provide an inexpensive, hardware-free look at different networking interfaces/operating systems as well as an environment to test should different situations arise.
The book is organized well with different chapters covering: introducing GNS3, installing and configuring a basic system, creating projects, integrating virtual hosts, using Wireshark, expanding to Juniper, implementing device nodes, live switches, and the Internet, and “cool things to do on a rainy day”. Additionally, there is a whole appendix on troubleshooting common issues along with other appendices on compatible hardware and limitations.
Sure, you can download GNS3 and fumble your way through getting started but it’s not what I would recommend after reading The Book of GNS3. If you would like a much smoother on-boarding process of learning the software and a better understanding all that can be accomplished using GNS3, I would recommend starting out with this book as your guide.
The Book of GNS3: Build Virtual Network Labs Using Cisco, Juniper, and More by Jason C. Neumann is available in paperback and on Kindle. There’s still time to add it to your holiday wish list.