Virtualbox-Based Lab on Windows or MacOS

Virtualbox-based Vagrant lab is the only option to run netlab directly on Windows or MacOS. Do not use VirtualBox on Linux; KVM/libvirt is a much better alternative fully supported by netlab.


  • We no longer have the infrastructure to test netlab on VirtualBox. It probably still works.

  • While netlab has no problem running on Apple silicon, you won’t be able to start x86-based virtual machines or containers. As of late 2023, there are no network devices available for ARM CPU[2].

  • If your system supports nested virtualization, run netlab within a Ubuntu VM.

  • We don’t test netlab on Windows and have no experience with Windows Subsystem for Linux. It might work, but if it doesn’t, you’re on your own[3].

When running netlab with virtualbox provider:

  • netlab commands create Ansible inventory and Vagrant configuration.

  • Vagrant creates virtual networks within the VirtualBox environment and starts network devices as virtual machines within VirtualBox.

  • Ansible connects to the network devices using SSH ports mapped by Virtualbox and configures them.

VirtualBox-based architecture

The VirtualBox environment is pretty easy to set up:

Creating a New Lab

To create a new lab:

  • Create lab topology file in an empty directory. Use provider: virtualbox in the lab topology to select the virtualbox virtualization provider.

  • Execute netlab up

Testing the Installation

The easiest way to test your installation is to use the netlab test command. If you prefer to do step-by-step tests, or if you don’t want to install Ansible, use this recipe:

  • Create an empty directory and topology.yml file with the following contents within that directory:

  device: cumulus

nodes: [ s1, s2, s3 ]
links: [ s1-s2, s2-s3, s1-s2-s3 ]
  • Execute netlab up --no-config to create configuration files and start the lab without configuring network devices (that step would require Ansible)

  • Connect to the Cumulus VX devices with vagrant ssh

  • Destroy the lab with netlab down

Creating Vagrant Boxes

Vagrant relies on boxes (prepackaged VM images). The following Vagrant boxes are automatically downloaded from Vagrant Cloud when you’re using them for the first time in your lab topology:

Virtual network device

Vagrant box name

Cumulus VX


Cumulus VX 5.0 (NVUE)


Generic Linux


You must download Arista vEOS and Nexus 9300v images from the vendor website (requires registration) and install them with the vagrant box add filename –name boxname command. You’ll find build recipes for other network devices on

You have to use the following box names when installing or building the Vagrant boxes:

Virtual network device

Vagrant box name

Arista vEOS


Cisco IOSv


Cisco CSR 1000v


Cisco Nexus 9300v


Juniper vSRX 3.0



  • Arista rarely ships the latest software version as a Vagrant box. You’ll usually have to build a Vagrant box to have an up-to-date EOS version.

  • Vagrantfile created by netlab create or netlab up sets up port forwarding for SSH (22), HTTP (80), and NETCONF (830), but the corresponding Ansible inventory contains only ansible_port (SSH). You could edit the final inventory by hand, add an extra file to host_vars, or fix the netlab code. Should you decide to do the latter, please get in touch with us in advance to discuss the necessary data structures.

  • If you want to add other network devices, build your own Vagrant boxes and modify the system topology-defaults.yml file or user defaults (see adding new virtualization provider for an existing device for more details).