Connecting Cisco CSR 1000v Series Cloud Services Router to GNS3

The goal of the article is to install Cisco Cloud Services Router (CSR) 1000v on VMware Virtual Machine and connect CSR 1000v router to the Cisco 3725 router running inside GNS3.  Testing transfer of multicast and 802.1Q tagged traffic between the routers is explained in the upcoming tutorial.

The LAB Software Requirements

The introduction part defines Cisco CSR 1000v and its use. It quotes passages presented in Cisco CSR 1000v - Series Cloud Services Router Software Configuration Guide. The guide is available here:


The Cisco Cloud Services Router (CSR) 1000v is a cloud-based router that is deployed on a virtual machine (VM) instance running on x86 server hardware. It contains selected features of the Cisco IOS-XE Operating System and it is intended for deployment in cloud data centers.

One of the main benefits of Cisco CSR 1000v is hardware independence. Once it is installed into virtual machine, it can use any x86 hardware supported by virtualization platform.

The Cisco CSR 1000v running Cisco IOS XE Release 3.9S Hardware Requirements

1. Cisco CSR 1000v Requirements

  • Server running the VMware ESXi 5.0
  •  PC running the VMware vSphere Client 5.0 application for creating, configuring and managing VMs on the VMware vCenter Server
  •  Installation Tool - VMware vCenter

2. Server Requirements

The Cisco CSR 1000v only operates only with Intel Nehalem and later generation processors.

  • AMD processor based servers are not supported.
  • The Cisco CSR 1000v uses instructions not supported on Intel pre-Nehalem generation processors. The existence of the required Nahalem or later processor instruction set is determined at boot time. If the required instructions are not present, the following message will displayed:
    %IOSXEBOOT-4-BOOT_HALT: (rp/0): Halted boot due to missing CPU feature requirement(s)

3. Virtual Machine Requirements

  • 8 GB virtual disk
  • 4 vCPUs
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • 3 or more virtual network interface cards

Cisco CSR 1000v Installation

According to Cisco CSR 1000v Software Configuration Guide, VMware ESXi 5.0 virtualization platform must be used in order to deploy the CSR 1000v router. However I was able to install and run the router using  VMware player. Although the player is feature limited it is free for non-commercial use and can be used to run Cisco CSR 1000v router in lab environment.

1. Download and Install VMware-Player-5.0.2

The VMware Player for Linux 64-bit can be downloaded here. Once a file is downloaded assign run privileges to the file.

$ chmod +x ./VMware-Player-5.0.2-1031769.x86_64.bundle

Run the VMware  installer launcher as root and graphical installer installs VMware player.

$ sudo ./VMware-Player-5.0.2-1031769.x86_64.bundle


Picture 1 - Install Menu

Once VMware player is installed three interfaces - vmnet0, vmnet1 and vmnet8 are created. They are mapped to the CSR 1000v interfaces as following:

vmnet 0 - GigabiEthernet 0
vmnet 1 - GigabitEthernet 1
vmnet 8 - GigabitEthernet 2

The interface vmnet0 is reserved for connecting Virtual Machine to the host system. This interface is not presented in the output of ifconfig command. It cannot be used to connect CSR 1000v to routers running inside GNS3. As it will be shown later in the tutorial we will use the interface for connecting  Cisco CSR 1000v to the Internet.

Other two interfaces created during VMware player installation - interfaces vmnet1 and vmnet8 are  presented in the host system. They can be used to connect CSR 1000v to devices running inside GNS3.


Picture 2 - Interfaces vmnet1 and vmnet2  presented in Fedora Linux

Note:  If you want to have more than 3 vmnet network interfaces, read this article.

Navigate to File-> Player Preferences and Check Return to the VM Library after closing a virtual machine. It will prevents to close VMware Player once the Virtual machine is powered off.

2. Download and Install Cisco CSR 1000v

Cisco CSR 1000v router can be downloaded here. Select the option Cisco CSR 1000v Series Advanced Enterprise Services - ISO  and hit the Download button. The CSR 1000v ISO file can be downloaded for free but you must log in with your free account.


Picture 3 -  Cisco CSR 1000v Release 3.9.1S ED Download Page

Start VMware player with the command.

$ /usr/bin/vmplayer

Navigate to File -> Create New virtual machine. Select the path to Cisco CSR 1000v ISO image and continue pressing the Next button.


Picture 3 - Selecting the Path to  Cisco CSR 1000v ISO Installation File


Picture 4 -  Guest Operating System Configuration

Assign 8 GB HDD space for the VMware Virtual machine.


Picture 5 - Virtual Disk Size Configuration

Click on the Customize Hardware button.


Picture 6 - Customize Hardware Window

Assign 4096 MB RAM for the Virtual machine.


Picture 7 - RAM Configuration

Select Processors option from the left panel. Increase the number of processor cores to 4.


Picture 8 - Processor Configuration

Navigate to the Network Adapter configuration. The network adapter represents the interface vmnet0. Change the default NAT mode to bridged mode under Network Connection option. Once you do it, interface vmnet0 is automatically bridged to the host Ethernet interface. In my case, the Ethernet interface presented in the host network configuration is named p3p1.


Picture 9 - Network Adapter Configuration

Click on the Add button to add another two network adapters. Change the default NAT mode to host-only mode for the both interfaces.  Always use the host-only type of a network connection for Virtual machine interfaces that connect Cisco CSR 1000v Gig Ethernet interfaces to devices running inside GNS3.


Picture 10 - Adding Network Adapter to Virtual Machine

Once you finished  the following hardware should presented in your virtual machine inventory. The network adapter 2 represents the interface vmnet1 and network adapter 3 represents the interface vmnet8.


Picture 11 - Virtual Machine Inventory

Left click on VM you have just created and select Play Virtual machine. The installation process begins.


Picture 12 -  Grub Menu

Do not interrupt installation process, Cisco CSR 1000v router will be installed without user intervention.  Once the router is installed it will reboot and start up.


Picture 13 -  Cisco CSR 1000v CLI Prompt

Connecting Cisco CSR 1000v to the Cisco 3725 router

A Cisco 3725 multiservice access router is the router that is emulated by Dynamips and running inside GNS3. Connection between the Cisco 3725 and the Cisco CSR 1000v routers is shown on the picture below.


Picture 14 -  Network Topology

The Cisco 3725 router is occupied with NM-16SW network module that offers 16 FastEthernet switchports. The module is added to the slot 1 of the router.  Left click on the router and select Configure. Under Slot tab select NM-16SW from the list.


Picture 15  - Cisco 3725 router occupied with NM-16SW

As VMware is not integrated in to GNS3, the cloud device must be used to connect both routers. Left click on the cloud and choose Configure. Navigate to NIO Ethernet tab and select the interface vmnet1 from the list. Once you press Add and Apply buttons, the cloud device connects interface vmnet1 and NIO Ethernet.


Picture 16 - Cloud configuration

Now you can connect the Cisco 3725 router interface FastEthernet 1/0 to the cloud interface NIO Ethernet. The cloud device creates a connection between NIO Ethernet and the interface vmnet1. The VMware player itself connects the interface vmnet1 to Cisco CSR 1000v interface GigabitEthernet 1. The connection is established between the  routers.


Cisco CSR 1000v

VMware installation on Linux

VMware player


4 thoughts on “Connecting Cisco CSR 1000v Series Cloud Services Router to GNS3

  1. Hi,

    I folow all the steps, seems perfect, but regarding csr1000v into the interfaces dosn't appear the same as you....appears GigabiEthernet 1 GigabitEthernet 2 GigabitEthernet 3, why dosn't me appear the "GigabiEthernet 0" and after even if "GigabiEthernet 1" it's the same than "GigabiEthernet 0" when I made show run dons't appear "vrf forwarding Mgmt-intf" and I think that will appear. Could u help me please :s?


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *