Ubuntu VM Installation

If you have a Windows- or MacOS-based computer and would like to use netsim-tools with libvirt1 or run network devices as containers, you’ll have to run the whole toolchain needed to create networking labs (netsim-tools ⇨ Vagrant ⇨ libvirt ⇨ KVM) within a Linux virtual machine. The easiest way to do that is to create a Ubuntu virtual machine and use netlab install command within that virtual machine to install the required software packages2.

Running Ubuntu VM on a desktop OS

Warning

Running ‌libvirt within a Ubuntu VM requires ‌nested virtualization. Nested virtualization was available in VMware Workstation/Fusion for years and was recently added to VirtualBox. While VMware products perform flawlessly, you might get unacceptable performance with VirtualBox nested virtualization on some Intel CPUs (example: MacBook Pro 2020, Intel Core i5 CPU).

The easiest way to set up a Ubuntu VM is to use Vagrant. Vagrant will automatically:

  • Download the required virtual disk image

  • Start the virtual machine

  • Enable SSH access to the virtual machine

  • Provision the software on the virtual machine

You can also create the virtual machine yourself (using, for example, VirtualBox or VMware GUI)

Creating Ubuntu VM with Vagrant

Installation steps:

  • Install VirtualBox or VMware Fusion/Workstation

  • Install Vagrant

  • Install Vagrant VMware provider if you’re using VMware Workstation/Fusion.

  • Create an empty directory. Create Vagrantfile with the following content in that directory. Change the memory/memsize or cpus/numvcpus settings to fit your hardware.

Vagrant.configure("2") do |config|
#  config.vm.box = "ubuntu/focal64"
  config.vm.box = "bento/ubuntu-20.04"

  config.vm.provider "virtualbox" do |vb|
    vb.memory = "8192"
    vb.cpus = 4
    vb.customize ['modifyvm', :id, '--nested-hw-virt', 'on']
  end

  config.vm.provider "vmware_fusion" do |v|
    v.vmx["memsize"] = 8192
    v.vmx["numvcpus"] = "4"
    v.vmx["vhv.enable"] = "TRUE"
  end

  config.vm.provider "vmware_desktop" do |v|
    v.vmx["memsize"] = 8192
    v.vmx["numvcpus"] = "4"
    v.vmx["vhv.enable"] = "TRUE"
  end

  config.vm.provision "shell", privileged: false, inline: <<-SHELL
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get install -y python3-pip
    sudo pip3 install --ignore-installed netsim-tools
    netlab install -y ubuntu ansible libvirt containerlab
  SHELL
end
  • Execute vagrant up and wait for the installation to complete. If you’re using VMware Workstation or Fusion you MUST specify the –provider argument in vagrant up command when you’re creating the VM (but not on subsequent starts).

  • Log into the virtual machine with vagrant ssh and test the installation with netlab test

Manual Virtual Machine Provisioning

  • Create a Ubuntu 20.04 virtual machine within your virtualization environment (you’ll find plenty of tutorials on the Internet)

  • Log into the virtual machine

  • Execute these commands to download Python3 and install netsim-tools, Ansible, vagrant, libvirt, KVM, containerlab, and Docker.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install -y python3-pip
sudo pip3 install --ignore-installed netsim-tools
netlab install -y ubuntu ansible libvirt containerlab
  • After completing the software installation, you might have to use usermod to add your user to libvirt and docker groups.


1

The libvirt Vagrant plugin starts all network devices in parallel, resulting in much faster lab setup than using Vagrant with Virtualbox.

2

See also the tutorial created by Leo Kirchner.