GNS3 vs Eve-NG vs VIRL

With the advent of the virtual network devices, the accessibility to more advanced feature set has been realized on the finger tips. With the functions exhibited by the virtual network devices, it is easier for us to understand how the actual physical network devices are going to respond in the real world. Now, one may ask what is the role of an emulator in this whole scheme of things? Well, an emulator is basically a piece of software that connects and runs virtual network devices in the put together fashion.

There is a range of network emulators that one can opt for in order to access premium quality virtual network simulation. But when it comes to opt between the finest virtual simulation interfaces, then the comparison is ought to be between GNS3 vs Eve-NG vs VIRL.


Let us understand them briefly prior to drawing the lines of comparison among them-

  • GNS3 or Graphical Network Simulator-3 is an open-source, free server/client interface meant for virtualization and network emulation. It is a Python based platform and supports Cisco 1700, 2600, 2691, 3600, 3725, 3745, as well as 7200 router platforms.
  • Virtual Internet Routing Lab or VIRL is a Cisco invented proprietary virtual network emulator that is highly regarded by individuals and educational institutions. It is highly effective in emulating enterprise networks.
  • Emulated Virtual Environment Next Generation or EVE-NG is a form of multi-vendor virtual network simulator that has been developed for individuals and for smaller businesses. It comes in both free community edition and professional edition with a fee payable annually.

Differentiating GNS3 vs Eve-NG vs VIRL

  • With the annual subscription, one can avail access to VIRL for the network device software images. With the other network emulators, these software images are only accessible via the service contract or a program conducted by a college.
  • VIRL is easier and up with more features when it comes to the configuration automation, while comparing it with GNS3 or EVE-NG.
  • When it comes to the setbacks then VIRL faces them in the form of base resource optimum utilization of VIRL server appliance as well as the shortage of support when it comes to the serial interfaces. Both the features are better with GNS3 and EVE-NG, when compared with VIRL.
  • While comparing GNS3 vs EVE-NG, we find that GNS3 is a free, open source community that has built a well documented piece of software. It does follow a traditional client/server application model, but the best part is that the server component is easy to configure, deploy and maintain. In case of EVE-NG, it comes in both free community edition and professional paid edition. One key setback with GNS3 is that you are required to source own network device software images in order to emulate. But it is not needed to be observed as a fault because bundling software images from Cisco IOS with GNS3 would turn out to be illegal. Similarly, EVE-NG also requires licensed access in order to get to the network device software images.
  • While comparing GNS3 vs Eve-NG vs VIRL on the grounds of operating as a specialized network emulator, we would find that only EVE-NG is the one which is a clientless network emulator performing virtually. On the other hand, both VIRL and GNS3 require you to first download and then install an independent application to manipulate the functioning of network devices on the server.
  • Both VIRL and GNS3 require a separate terminal application to function, EVE-NG only needs lightweight terminal application like PuTTY, in order to build and modify a network topology. The entire process can easily be accomplished via an HTML 5 web client and it can not only be used over desktop but also on various mobile devices too!

Hence, let us see the differentiating features between the three network emulators bifurcated in a tabular format-



While comparing GNS3 vs Eve-NG vs VIRL, it is essential to take into account the current ecosystem of network emulation and simulation software. The operation process related to some of these software can be a daunting task, especially for the newcomers in the networking industry. There are multiple features and characteristics associated with these software that may allure different kinds of learners. That is the reason why we are not recommending you a particular software, but informing you about the merits and demerits of each choice, so that you could make a rational decision at your own grounds. We hope our efforts have been worthwhile!

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