One of my main issues with GNS3 for studying that there are no end devices (PC’s) by default. Ok you can set up loopback interfaces, or add in an extra router and just configure one interface with an IP to act an an end device. But loopbacks don’t really show well when looking at the topology on screen, and adding a whole router (or creating a Qemu host) seems to be a bit much when all you need is a device that can reply to and send pings and/or run trace routes.
However the other day I came across VPCS! There is actuly a down load for this at the bottom of the GNS3 site (here), and it is so simple and easy to get up and running that I suggest any one who uses GNS3 has a look.
Simple unpack the zip file to a folder and then run the VPCS.exe file. this will by default create 3 PC’s with various IP addresses. However it is simple to configure it to create up to 9 separate simulated PC’s with either static or DHCP assigned addresses. These can then be easily added to GNS3 topologies by adding a cloud (see later in the post for how to make them look pretty), and configuring a NIO_UDP port. Really it takes all of 10 seconds to get it up and running. Then you have a simple CLI interface to the “virtual PC’s” where you can run Pings and Traceroutes.
There is only one thing to be careful of. You may find the cygwin1.dll file is a different version in GNS3 as to the version that comes with VPCS and this can casue issues. I find the simple way around this is to delete the cygwin1.dll file from the VPCS folder, and then copy the one form the GNS3 program folder in. (even better copy it to a system path such as c:\window\system32, and then delete it from both folders, and just keep a single copy they both can use).
The following is a link to a blog post on www.firstdigest.com with a video tutorial of how to set it up. (GNS3 and VPCS Video)
Now your GNS3 topology’s can actuly look and run like proper topologies and with our the overheads of emulating entire routers of operating systems. OK if you really need more complex hosts then there are other ways to do that, but for simple end devices that can ping and be pinged it is GREAT!!