Is GNS3 going commercial? Surely Not!

I was firstly delighted, then dismayed by an email that appeared in my inbox this morning. It read:

Hey GNS3,

We are completely rebuilding GNS3 and want your help!

In 2013, we are going to be building a brand new GNS3 software and website from the ground up.

We want your input on what you would like to see from GNS3.

We have a short survey (9 questions only) that we would like you to fill out.

And as a bonus for helping us out, you can apply to be a part of our Beta Testing Team to test out the new software and training before we release it.

The Survey can be found here:

The GNS3 Team

A New GNS3? Sounds good.

I had heard talk about a new version of GNS3 for a while, so that didn’t surprise me. What surprised me was when I went to the survey. I became suspicious when I read:

And then I and found this question:

A PREMIUM version?

As someone who has spent considerable time contributing to and promoting GNS3, I would hate to see GNS3 become anything other than an open source project. The idea of charging for a premium version of GNS3 abhors me. Charging for training or supplementary material like labs is quite a different thing.

I will concede that there are two sides to the argument. People like me who use GNS3 in training courses do get benefit from the time they put into the project. But much of my motivation comes from the enriching experience of sharing ideas and working with a diverse community of people from around the globe, and the idea that my efforts may help someone get a little more knowledge as they pursue their quest for certification or whatever.

The problem is that

a) the hard-working and dedicated code-writers don’t always have another avenue to compensate for the hours spent on the GNS3 project, and
b) hosting forums and blog sites is not free.

I can see there is a need to generate some revenue, but I don’t see that charging for GNS3 is going to be an answer – even if it is a “premium” version! Here are some of the issues that a “paid-for” version would raise.

  1. Who gets they money raised? How is it divided?
  2. Until now, Cisco has tacitly allowed GNS3 to assume users will magically find some router IOS image that has to be used with GNS3 to make it work.  Everyone knows that to the letter of the Cisco IOS agreement, the IOS can’t legally be used with GNS3. Will Cisco keep this tacit stance if there is money being made from GNS3?
  3. Who is liable if the whole project goes broke?

I don’t have a silver bullet answer for the GNS3 project, but I think that a better way to go might be to look for a sponsor – perhaps one of the big training companies.  I’d be looking at the Riverbed/Wireshark model for guidance.


About RedNectar Chris Welsh

Professional IT Instructor. All things TCP/IP, Cisco or Data Centre
This entry was posted in CCNA, Cisco, GNS3, Labs, opinion, rant, Wireshark and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Is GNS3 going commercial? Surely Not!

  1. wangji says:

    hello Chris,
    I am glad to hear gns3_not_going_commercial
    I am always delighted to read your …gns3_stuff !!!!
    Thanks for all you have made available to Public

    By the way, recently I did receive mail from stephen(as well as jeremy)
    asking me to click confirmation in the mail…(the header looked really…..spam from hacker) now, opening falls into asking to configure things…
    Does it mean gns3 forum had been hacked and users there – if click click stupidly-would bring their pc_configured_as_nginxWebServer-
    Sorry to write this here ,but since I can no more access to genuine

    • rednectar says:

      Hi wangji,

      Sounds to me as though someone has hacked your proxy configuration or hosts file OR your DNS configuration. Here’s what I would suggest you do:

      1. Check your browser proxy settings. is a popular proxy, so something may have gone awry there.

      2. Check your hosts file:
      – in windows this can be found at %systemroot%\system32\drivers\etc\hosts (where %systemroot% is usually c:\windows)
      – in OS X or Linux this can be found at /etc/hosts

      I suspect you will find a bunch of entries something like:

      if so, delete them.

      3. Check your IP configuration – in particular check to see if a static DNS entry has been added to your configuration. If you are using a static IP address, check that the DNS entry is indeed valid (change it to if yo are not sure) or if you are using dynamic addressing, remove the static entry.

      Please get back to me if this fixes your problem (and which of the above was the cause of the problem) and I’ll post a warning on the GNS3 formum

      • wangji says:

        dear Chris,
        Thank you so much for prompt reply ! I do not yet preciesely find out where I had been hacked .But Let me report clearly my present status.
        1 among my email received ,here is one verbatim with headers :

        ——– Message original ——–
        From: – Thu Dec 20 09:40:56 2012
        X-Account-Key: account1
        X-UIDL: 1108933604.168898
        X-Mozilla-Status: 0001
        X-Mozilla-Status2: 00000000
        Received: from mwinf5c20 (mwinf5c20 []) by mwinb2001 with LMTPA; Thu, 20 Dec 2012 01:08:31 +0100
        X-Sieve: CMU Sieve 2.3
        Received: from ([]) by mwinf5c20 with ME id dc8X1k00E1qFwYT01c8XeF; Thu, 20 Dec 2012 01:08:31 +0100
        X-ME-engine: default
        X-me-spamrating: 48.00
        X-me-spamcause: (40)(0000)gggruggvucftvghtrhhoucdtuddrfeehledrtddvgddtieculddtuddrfeehkedrtddtmdcutefuodetggcurfhrohhfihhlvgemucfogfenuceurghilhhouhhtmecugedttdenucgouhhnughishgtlhhoshgvugculdegtddmnecuhfhrohhmpeeonhhoqdhrvghplhihsehfohhruhhmrdhgnhhsfedrnhgvtheqnecujfgurhepuffhrhhsggfkffgtgffrigfoqfesthekjhdtredtje
        X-me-spamlevel: not-spam
        X-ME-Entity: ofr
        Received: by (Postfix, from userid 33) id DDB2F1BF7E1; Thu, 20 Dec 2012 01:08:24 +0100 (CET)
        To: undisclosed-recipients:;
        Subject: Mailing List
        X-PHP-Originating-Script: 33:functions_messenger.php
        MIME-Version: 1.0
        Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2012 01:08:24 +0100
        Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8
        Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
        X-Priority: 3
        X-MSMail-Priority: Normal
        X-Mailer: phpBB3
        X-MimeOLE: phpBB3
        X-phpBB-Origin: phpbb://
        X-AntiAbuse: Board servername –
        X-AntiAbuse: User_id – 2
        X-AntiAbuse: Username – grossmj
        X-AntiAbuse: User IP –

        The following is an e-mail sent to you by an administrator of “GNS3”. If
        this message is spam, contains abusive or other comments you find offensive
        please contact the webmaster of the board at the following address:

        Include this full e-mail (particularly the headers).

        Message sent to you follows:

        Dear user,

        We will soon add your forum email address to our official mailing list
        (only if you haven’t subscribed to it before). You will receive an email
        asking confirmation. Please feel free to accept or not.

        Best Regards,
        Jeremy – GNS3

        Thanks, the GNS3 forum.
        in the past I received something similar ,asking for beta testing list ,from ,and I click on too rapidly ! From then on browser with automatically directed to a page claiming the forum had now nginx webserver and I would have to configure for my machine !!!!!

        2 Now to solve momentarily my problem -I wish of course pinpoint precisely where –
        I boot from livecd_tinycore ,chroot to my ubuntu and change all my passwd -roo&user.
        I also delete ~user/.gstreamoutput file ,modify by adding randombytes to
        ~/.gsrteamer-0.10/registry.i686.bin ( I expect the hacker will communicate thru gstream which is the easiest automate)
        Reboot to ubuntu ,I get now normal surfing of (but I do not yet login as user in this forum) and report momentarily to you now .

        3 Later I will login gns3_forum to change my passwd there and will report if I got hacked again

        4 If after item 3 ok ,I shall try later reput back my old_user_passwd_on_ubuntu to see
        if hacked ; I shall try to look into details and shall report here

        thank you again

  2. Stephen says:

    Hey Chris (RedNectar)

    Both Jeremy and I have been excitedly reading all the surveys that have been submitted and we have been reading all the comments we could. I know Jeremy replied back to you and I just wanted to add on to what he said.

    We hope to expand the training on GNS3 a lot next year with free videos, labs, guides and articles to help our community use GNS3 better as well as study for their certifications.

    We wanted to see first what the community had to say about the direction of GNS3. We wanted to leave a couple options on the table to see what they liked best. We are, at the moment, unsure if there will be a premium version of GNS3 or not. But, both Jeremy and I are adamant about keeping GNS3 a free and open source program. We hope that the new GNS3 will add tons of new features that the community wants. If there was a premium version, it would go well above and beyond the needs of most of the GNS3 users. The premium version would be used to help develop aspects of GNS3 that we would normally not be able to create due to cost limitations.

    We want to expand GNS3 exponentially as well and have it be a place not only to download the software, but where our community can go to get a lot of free training, labs, and information on certifications and how to use GNS3 better. We want to turn to our community to create this content and we also want to be able to pay our community for doing it. We feel that this would help ensure high quality content and training while also being able to contribute revenue back to the community.

    Hopefully this helped out. We appreciate your input on this and all the contributions you have made to GNS3. Please feel free to email us about anything.

    • rednectar says:

      Glad to hear you are “unsure” if there will be a premium version. And there would be no point having a premium version if it only would be useful for a small audience. But good luck in your endeavours to get some monetary return.

  3. Jeremy says:

    Hello Rednectar,

    First of all I would like to reassure you, GNS3 is going to stay open source and free. The premium question has been suggested to us and we wanted to see people’s reaction to this idea … I guess it worked 😉

    It is true that we are looking for ways to generate some revenue and even work full time on the project which I am sure would benefit the entire community. We intend to make high quality training material and to affiliate with major training providers.

    Also, looking for a sponsor is an interesting idea, maybe later when the software is concrete and easier for developers to contribute to its development.

    Please let me know if you have any concerns about the new software. I really do appreciate your contribution to GNS3 and would you like to continue the same way.

    Thanks for you comments.

    • rednectar says:

      Great to have the reassurance that GNS3 is going to stay open source and free. And I don’t think any amount of sponsorship or premium pricing would ever compensate YOU for all the great work and time you’ve put into GNS3 – I do appreciate it. Good luck with the training material, and I hope you find a way to get some reward for all your effort. But if GNS3 stays free, I don’t quite see how the premium bit fits in, unless there is a fork and the “free” version languishes in limbo while the “premium” fork gets all the attention.

      • Jeremy says:


        Thanks for your input, you made good valid points about a “premium” version. Be sure our efforts will stay with the current and free software for a long time. Also, the survey is to hear what the community has to say and help us have some long-term thinking about the future of GNS3. So the more comments we get, the better.

Comments are closed.