Configuring Cisco ASAv in GNS3

I was looking for a new convenient lab solution to run on natively on my PC rather than fire up my noisy dedicated HP Proliant Lab server, in order to use the Cisco ASAv. I’ve used GNS3 for IOS devices regularly but never had the chance to use the ASAv. This blog post details the configuration steps I took in order to configure Cisco ASAv with GNS3.

GNS3 Configuration

The ASAv image file is added to GNS3 as a QEMU VM Template, this is where I ran into my first issue, evidently for best performance I need to download GNS3 VM, it is recommended to run this within VMware Workstation rather than VirtualBox.

  • Download the Cisco ASAv hda image file (asav952.qcow2) from the Cisco website.
  • Download VMware Workstation Player 12.1.1 and install using the default settings
  • Download VMware VIX 1.15 application and install using the default settings
  • Download the GNS3 VM for VMware Workstation v 1.5.1 from the GNS3 website
  • Extract the contents of the GNS3 VM zip to a folder

  • Assuming VMware Workstation Player and VIX is already installed, double click the file and it will prompt to import the Virtual Machine

  • Once imported there appears to be no configuration required, close the VM for now by selecting “Shutdown” from the menu

  • Open GNS3 application, click “Help” from the menu bar
  • Select “Setup Wizard”
  • Select “Local GNS3 VM”, click Next

  • Select “VMware (recommended), modify the vCPU and RAM settings if required. Make sure your computer has enough CPU and Memory.

  • If GNS3 detects the VM previously created it will appear on the list. I manually selected a different drive and folder to import the VM to and I found if the VM is not located the default location of “\Documents\Virtual Machines” that GNS3 will not detect the VM. I moved the VM into the folder GNS3 was expecting the VM to be located in, hit refresh and GNS3 found the VM successfully.
  • Click Next to continue
  • The Local GNS3 VM will now automatically start

  • The VMware Workstation Player application should automatically appear and load the GNS3 VM. You can safely minimise this.
  • Continue the GNS3 Setup Wizard – Select “Add a Qemu virtual machine”. Click Finish


  • Select “Server Type” as “Run the Qemu VM on the GNS3 VM”, click Next
  • Appropriately name the VM eg “ASAv”, click Next
  • Select the correct Qemu binary from drop down list; select enough memory for the ASAv – 2048MB works. Click Next

  • Select the “Disk image (hda):” – this is the ASAv qcow2 file previously downloaded. Click Finish

  • Import is now complete, click Edit to complete the configuration of the ASAv Template
  • Under the “General Settings” change the “Category” to “Security Devices”
  • Change the icon by changing the symbol by browsing to the ASA symbol
  • Change “Console Type” to be “vnc”
  • Under the “Network” tab within the QEMU VM Configuration
  • The first interface on an ASAv is the Management Interface, change “First port name” to “Management” or something equivalent.

  • As default the name format for the remaining interfaces is “Ethernet” this is the label within GNS3 but not within the ASAv – the interfaces are GigabitEthernet. This maybe confusing to some people, regardless I change the “Name Format” to “Gig0/{0}”
  • On the “Advanced Settings” tab I “Activate CPU throttling” and set 80%

  • Un-tick “Use as a linked based VM” FOR NOW – we’ll come back to that later
  • Click Ok to finish configuration of the ASAv Template
  • Once configuration is now complete the ASAv should appear under “Security Devices” window on the main GNS3 screen
  • Create a new project and start the ASAv image running.
  • Wait until the device finishes configuring itself and is at the login prompt

  • At this point I login to the ASAv Template and pre-configure a few useful settings such as Management IP Address, Username/Password and copy the ASDM file to the local device.
  • I connect a Windows XP host VM to the Management interface of the ASAv Template and confirm Mgmt access and to transfer the ASDM file to the device

  • Save the configuration then shutdown the ASAv VM
  • Modify the configuration of the ASAv Template
  • Under “Advanced Settings” re-tick the option “Use as a linked base VM”

  • Create a new project, add 2 x ASAv to the project (notice the name of the ASA should now have -1, -2 etc. after the name). This indicates the device has been cloned and is unique.


  • Start the ASAv devices, you will notice each ASAv device has the all the settings previously configured in the Template (ASDM Image, Management IP address, Username/Password etc.).
  • The Cisco ASAv is ready for use



3 thoughts on “Configuring Cisco ASAv in GNS3

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