Click here to download the INE VIRL topology and initial configs

After long anticipation, Cisco’s Virtual Internet Routing Lab (VIRL) is now publicly available. VIRL is a network design and simulation environment that includes a GNS3-like frontend GUI to visually build network topologies, and an OpenStack based backend which includes IOSv, IOS XRv, NX-OSv, & CSR1000v software images that run on the built-in hypervisor. In this post I’m going to outline how you can use VIRL to prepare for the CCIE Routing & Switching Version 5.0 Lab Exam in conjunction with INE’s CCIE RSv5 Advanced Technologies Labs.

The first step of course is to get a copy of VIRL. VIRL is currently available for purchase from in two forms, a “Personal Edition” for a $200 annual license, and an “Academic Version” for an $80 annual license. Functionally these two versions are the same. Next is to install VIRL on a hypervisor of your choosing, such as VMWare ESXi, Fusion, or Player. Make sure to follow the installation guides in the VIRL documentation, because the install is not a very straightforward process. When installing it on VMWare Player I ran into a problem with the NTPd not syncing, which resulted in the license key not being able to register. In my case I had to edit the /etc/ntp.conf file manually to specify a new NTP server, which isn’t listed as a step in the current install guide. If you run into problems during install check the VIRL support community, as it’s likely that someone has already run into your particular install issue, and a workaround may be listed there.

Once VIRL and VM Maestro (the GUI frontend) is up and running, the next step is to build your topology. For the INE CCIE RSv5 Advanced Technology Labs, this topology will be 10 IOS or IOS XE instances that are connected to a single vSwitch. All you need to do to build this is to add the 10 IOS instances, and then connect them all to a single “Multipoint Connection”. Logical network segments will then later be built based on the initial configurations that you load on the routers for a specific lab. The end result of the topology should look something like this:

You may also want to add some basic customization to the topology file and the VM Maestro interface. I set the hostnames of the devices to R1 – R10 by clicking on the router icon, then setting the “Name” under the Properties tab.

Next under the File > Preferences > Terminal > Cisco Terminal you can set the options to use your own terminal software instead of the built in one. In my case I set the “Title format” variable to “%s”, which makes it show just the hostname in the SecureCRT tab, and set the “Telnet command” to “C:\Program Files\VanDyke Software\SecureCRT\SecureCRT.exe /T /N %t /TELNET %h %p”, which makes it spawn a SecureCRT tabbed window when I want to open the CLI to the routers. Your options of course may vary depending on your terminal software and its install location.

Next, click the “Launch Simulation” button on the topology to start the routers. Assuming everything is correct with your install, and you have enough CPU & memory resources, the instances should boot and show the “ACTIVE” state, similar to what you see below:

If you right click on the device name you’ll see the option to telnet to the console port. Note that the port number changes every time you restart the simulation, so I found it easier just to launch the telnet sessions from here instead of creating manual sessions under the SecureCRT database.

You should now be able to connect to the consoles of the routers and see them boot, such as you see below:

R1 con0 is now available

Press RETURN to get started.

* IOSv is strictly limited to use for evaluation, demonstration and IOS  *
* education. IOSv is provided as-is and is not supported by Cisco's      *
* Technical Advisory Center. Any use or disclosure, in whole or in part, *
* of the IOSv Software or Documentation to any third party for any       *
* purposes is expressly prohibited except as otherwise authorized by     *
* Cisco in writing.                                                      *
R1#show version
Cisco IOS Software, IOSv Software (VIOS-ADVENTERPRISEK9-M), Experimental Version 15.4(20141119:013030) [jsfeng-V154_3_M 107]
Copyright (c) 1986-2014 by Cisco Systems, Inc.
Compiled Tue 18-Nov-14 20:30 by jsfeng

ROM: Bootstrap program is IOSv

R1 uptime is 46 minutes
System returned to ROM by reload
System image file is "flash0:/vios-adventerprisek9-m"
Last reload reason: Unknown reason

This product contains cryptographic features and is subject to United
States and local country laws governing import, export, transfer and
use. Delivery of Cisco cryptographic products does not imply
third-party authority to import, export, distribute or use encryption.
Importers, exporters, distributors and users are responsible for
compliance with U.S. and local country laws. By using this product you
agree to comply with applicable laws and regulations. If you are unable
to comply with U.S. and local laws, return this product immediately.

A summary of U.S. laws governing Cisco cryptographic products may be found at:

If you require further assistance please contact us by sending email to

Cisco IOSv (revision 1.0) with  with 484729K/37888K bytes of memory.
Processor board ID 9B2DD0A36JBLXZY7SLJTF
2 Gigabit Ethernet interfaces
DRAM configuration is 72 bits wide with parity disabled.
256K bytes of non-volatile configuration memory.
2097152K bytes of ATA System CompactFlash 0 (Read/Write)
0K bytes of ATA CompactFlash 1 (Read/Write)
0K bytes of ATA CompactFlash 2 (Read/Write)
1008K bytes of ATA CompactFlash 3 (Read/Write)

Configuration register is 0x0


With this basic topology you should have the 10 IOSv instances connected on their Gig0/1 interface to the same segment. The Gig0/0 interface is used for scripting inside the VIRL application, and can be shutdown for our purposes. The end result after the images boot should be something similar to this:

R1#show cdp neighbor
Capability Codes: R - Router, T - Trans Bridge, B - Source Route Bridge
                  S - Switch, H - Host, I - IGMP, r - Repeater, P - Phone,
                  D - Remote, C - CVTA, M - Two-port Mac Relay 

Device ID        Local Intrfce     Holdtme    Capability  Platform  Port ID
                 Gig 0/1           177              R B   IOSv      Gig 0/1
                 Gig 0/1           167              R B   IOSv      Gig 0/1
                 Gig 0/1           155              R B   IOSv      Gig 0/1
                 Gig 0/1           177              R B   IOSv      Gig 0/1
                 Gig 0/1           156              R B   IOSv      Gig 0/1
                 Gig 0/1           146              R B   IOSv      Gig 0/1
                 Gig 0/1           129              R B   IOSv      Gig 0/1
                 Gig 0/1           153              R B   IOSv      Gig 0/1
                 Gig 0/1           146              R B   IOSv      Gig 0/1

Total cdp entries displayed : 9

Next you can load your initial configs for the lab you want to work on, and you’re up and running! I’ve taken the liberty of converting the CSR1000v formatted initial configs for our Advanced Technologies Labs to the IOSv format, as the two platforms use different interface numbering. Click here to download these initial configs as well as the .virl topology file that I created.

For further discussions on this see the IEOC thread Building INE’s RSv5 topology on VIRL.

About Brian McGahan, CCIE #8593, CCDE #2013::13:

Brian McGahan was one of the youngest engineers in the world to obtain the CCIE, having achieved his first CCIE in Routing & Switching at the age of 20 in 2002. Brian has been teaching and developing CCIE training courses for over 10 years, and has assisted thousands of engineers in obtaining their CCIE certification. When not teaching or developing new products Brian consults with large ISPs and enterprise customers in the midwest region of the United States.

Find all posts by Brian McGahan, CCIE #8593, CCDE #2013::13 | Visit Website

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80 Responses to “Using Cisco VIRL for CCIE Preparation”

  1. Norbert Zehetner says:

    Hey Brian,
    many thanks for the VIRL blog and for the adapted files for VIRL. I think i will give it a try!

  2. Andy says:

    I just got a 100gb HP server from work, But It might be good for on the road. How much RAM and CPU did virl use for the 10 routers? (I think a lot of people are going to ask the same question :) )

    • This is actually on my Microsoft Surface Pro 3, which has 8GB RAM. I haven’t extensively tested features yet, but the routers boot fine and there is little delay on the CLI. Ideally you would run it on a larger machine but the IOSv image is more memory efficient than the CSR1000v image.

  3. One note if you are planning to use VMware Fusion on Mac OS X: Don’t use Fusion 7. Make sure you are running Fusion version 6. Version 7 won’t allow the Nova Compute service to come up properly, and you won’t be able to instantiate any of your VMs (your virtual routers).

  4. Danny says:

    Any other tracks that can take advantage of ViRL?

  5. Nicolas MICHEL says:

    I am trying to set it up on ESXi (running on UCS C series) and it is a pain in the ass to set up :/

  6. Jamie says:

    Hi Brian,

    This looks good and I’m glad it’s finally out. Could you perhaps elaborate on the benefits of using the INE rack rentals over using the CML/VIRL environment? I have my CCIE R&S and I’m currently preparing for CCIE SP (written will probably be v3.0 and practical v4.0). I have a number of rack rental tokens to use and I want to consider which environment would be better suited… speaking of which – what are your plans with CCIE SPv4 materials?

  7. Swandip says:

    Can we use the Viral for Data center Lab as well ?

  8. Husain says:

    it sounds interesting.
    i’m more interested in DC track rather than the R&S track, and it doesnt seems that virl will help with the DC.
    however, as the platform built on openstack, i think they should be able to do something for DC track. what do you think ? and is there any news or rumors about that ?

  9. Joshua Walton says:

    Very nice! Which version do you recommend, Personal or Academic?

    • Functionally they’re the same. I’m not exactly sure what the requirements are to qualify for the academic version.

      • Allan Zawadowicz says:

        According to the license agreement “Individuals who are affiliated with an academic institution are eligible to purchase the VIRL Personal Edition Academic Version. This includes faculty, staff, students and parents of any public or private K-12 institution or Higher Education institution.”

        That’s pretty broad. Im taking it as….Im the father of a kindergartener, so I qualify. :)

  10. Patrick says:

    Useful for CCIE Security?

  11. Khizer says:

    Hi Brian,
    Can you please also include the edited diagrams which matches the interfaces in VIRL environment

  12. Mark says:


    I’ve had numerous issues with lots of layer 2 related features across IOSv and XRv on the beta version of VIRL my company has had access to for sometime. These have consumed massive amounts of time and led to hair loss level frustration, they’ve also however been valuable in forcing me into low levels of troubleshooting several technologies before I break down and ask Cisco if they are supported. The list is somewhat long, but one of the most annoying is dot1q, based on what you’ve published I’m assuming it now works in the current version? (my version runs 15.3)

    Also, just as an FYI for others, the most frustrating for me bar none was L2VPNs, specifically on XRv. The control plane works like a champ so it looks fantastic, the data plane however is another story…

  13. Matheus says:

    HI Brian
    is it worth to buy the license instead of the physical switches and router for ccnp R&S,security ?
    thank you

  14. khizer says:

    Dear Brian,
    How do we install SecureCRT with Linux…Have you pointed out the path to the physical machine directory ???

  15. Ian Perera says:

    Hi Brian,

    I have VIRL running on VMware Workstation on a Windows 7 machine. Is there away to connect VIRL to real switches?


    Ian Perera

  16. Dan says:

    Thx Brain for useful information.

  17. mani says:

    Hi Brian, I am planning to run VIRL on VM Workstation running on Ubuntu. What is your advise?

  18. Hamood says:

    Brian , do you have the configuration for using the SecureCRT with MAC for the same .

  19. Didik says:

    Thx Brian,

    I boot up the 10 routers on Windows 7 Ultimate I5 4460 & 16G Ram PC running VMWare workstation 10; it consumes 71% of the CPU (!?) & 4.8G Ram. Is that normal? No idle-pc features like on GNS3?

  20. Ejaz says:

    How many instances supported at a time in Academic version?

  21. Vickram says:

    How to stop these messages –
    Error opening tftp://

  22. Didik says:

    I gather the default login/pas for iosxrv and nx-os are admin/admin; what’s for the Ubuntu’s?


  23. Giniyat Gabdrakhimov says:

    Hello, Everybody.

    I just start reading about VILR. First question that comes to my mind is “Can I simulate Catalyst switches?”

  24. Paul says:

    Can you run virl on Azure or Amazon cloud perhaps?

    I have installed on laptop that is too slow.. Can I just re-install on another machine; will salt servers; just override my other machine/instance existing license.. ??

    if you wanted to run 15 IOS-XR instances; how much cpu/memory would you need?

    Are you going do some video training :)

  25. TK says:

    If you’re interested on installation steps, I have a video published at Youtube :

    At time 17:56, showing how to import INE lab topology.

  26. Turki says:

    I have two laptop if I purchase 2 virl and have 30 node… can i connect all of them to real switch ?

  27. Sudheer says:

    I have the VIRL setup, up and running. I am able to create INE’s CCIE SP topologies based on sections, but do you have a netmap file (.virl) file for SP’s topology just like what was shared for RSv5?

  28. Roby says:

    Hi, I bought and i have installed cisco virl, It is work properly. My question i’m watching your site about CCIE Routing & Switching v5 Workbook. This Workbook v5 together to the cisco virl allow me to follow the tracks correctly on your workbook? By INE.VIRL.initial.configs, downloaded from your site, together WB v5 & Cisco virl has sense to study with this material? If i follow the lab example “EIGRP MD5 & SHA-256 Authentication” (on your site) and i load the eigrp initial configuration with cisco virl i’ll find correspondence?

    thanks very much

  29. Sandeep says:

    Hi Brian,

    Which platform is the best ? 10 routers with CSR 1000v over EsXi or 10 routers with VIRL and which one is more scalable for running 20 routers ?

  30. Anuoluwapo says:

    Hi… Pls does it have vASA. Thats the major reason i will go for it.. i need someone to help me with this info.


  31. Andrew says:

    What is the point of VIRL when GNS3 is free? What features do you get with a price tag of $200? I am in need of the layer 2 features. I realize you can’t use NX-OS on GNS3 but there really isn’t much difference from IOS.

  32. MikeW says:

    Didn’t see it on here and wanted to add what I had to do to get SecureCRT to work on MacOS with VIRL.

    Similar to yours with a few different options!

    open -n -a /Applications/ –args /T /N %t /TELNET %h %p

  33. Luca says:


    I just certified CCNP Routing and Switching, and I used GNS3 for the preparation, and it was useful.

    For the CCIE preparation, I read that the best way to studies is rack rentals ( To avoid to spent time learning of VIRL or GNS3 work.

    What do you advise for me the best way to studies : rentals racks, GNS3 or VIRL ?


  34. Scaramanga says:

    I waited a long time for VIRL, and was fairly disappointed when it arrived. seems like more of a resource hog than anything.

    Much easier to run the VMs directly on VMWare workstation on the laptop and avoid the need for VIRL completely

  35. MikeE says:

    Will VIRL support Layer 2 switching for Catalyst IOS images? I know right now it does not for NX-OS L2 switching?

  36. CK says:

    Hello Brian,

    Will it be possible to build CCIE SPv4 topologies given the hardware/software variants (as shown below)?

    ASR 9000 running Cisco IOS XR 5.2
    ASR 1000 running Cisco IOS XE 3.13S.15.4(3)S
    Cisco 7600 running Cisco IOS 15.5(3)S
    Cisco ME 3600 running Cisco IOS 15.5(3)S

  37. Chris says:

    Is there not a demo license or a free download URL for VIRL? I wish to try it first before I purchase.

  38. Nige W says:

    Have just spent 48hrs bringing the VIRL environment to its latest incarnation VIRL.0.9.242.

    There have been some changes that make this easily found advise slightly out of date now with the Multipoint connector no longer supported. “Crashed in attempted use once imported”. Useful information and approach though, just delete multipoint connector and insert unmanaged switch and relevant detail.
    Cheers, Silyrixxx

  39. Nathan Bender says:

    I just got the VIRL May newsletter. It states as of v0.9.242 IOS L2 switching and ASA Firewall VMs are now available.

  40. Mohamed Saad says:

    Hi Brian , will you release INE labs using the new VIRL version that support L2 ?
    It is going to be very useful :)

  41. Rahul Payasi says:

    Does VIRL supports Layer 2 now in newer version ?


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