Mini-CCNA-GNS3 rig

First off, I want to thank all you who are visiting this site. It feels good to share the experiences and quite frankly the fun of networking in this new virtual world /within/ a virtual world.

As I was cleaning out my storage room, I found an old “Acer Aspire One” netbook. These “widdle” guys have the following specs:

  • 1.6GHz N270 Intel Atom Processor.
  • 1GB DDR2 533MHz.
  • Windows XP Home SP3.
  • 8.9″ 1024 x 600 WSVGA glossy LED backlit display.
  • 120GB 2.5″ 5400RPM Hitachi Hard Drive (with SDHC storage expansion slot)
  • 802.11b/g Atheros Wireless.
  • 3-Cell 23Wh battery.
  • Size: 9.75″ x 6.625″ x 1.28″

So the challenge is this. Can I get a CCNA grade topology running on such a small netbook?

The answer is…yes! But here are the caveats.

1. Don’t expect this to be able to handle anything but 1 single image. You can use the same image over and over again in GNS3, but you then have to consider the operating system.

2. I chose Lubuntu for it’s lightweight footprint on such a limited hard drive.

3. I chose VIM to load as a text editor and for coding.


After the installation, the Acer didn’t come up gracefully. I was missing my mouse pointer and my wifi adapter just tanked. So there was an intermediary step of using a network cable and then plugging it into my home wifi/switch/router combo.

After you do a sudo apt-get update it took a very, very, very long time before all the updates were applied.

On the reboot, everything worked out great. I also had to add the ethernet bridge adapter so that I can route traffic to the internet off of the ethernet card.

Now that the wifi adapter works, I can surf the web that way and when I want to get my little router inside gns3 running, I can connect the ethernet cable since the bridge is actually bound to only that interface.

Finally, there is the discussion of what version of gns3. Naturally, for such a small netbook, I downloaded what was already in the Ubuntu Software Center. That version is 0.8.7 and will do the trick for a basic “Branch Topology” consisting of 1 router, 1 switch and 1 client machine in virtualbox.

To wrap up…you can get a decent “Mini-CCNA-GNS3” build loaded onto an old Acer with 1 GB of RAM. I think this build will work for kids who want to learn networking and don’t have the money for the full blown Republic of Gamers laptop I used all the time.

Now with a full blown server, I can run my own metro network…or I can work on this “mini” setup and get to an IOS just as well.


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