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This is a detailed installation guide for ns-3. Basic installation instructions can be found in the ns-3 tutorial (see Getting Started chapter).

Supported platforms

ns-3 is primarily developed on GNU/Linux and macOS platforms, and the minimal requirements to run basic simulations are a C++ compiler; either g++ or clang++ compiler, and Python (version 3) interpreter. The below instructions are per-platform instructions for supplemental packages that enable optional features of ns-3 or companion tools.

Operating system and compiler support

ns-3 is supported and currently tested on the following primary platforms:

  1. Linux (x86 and x86_64): gcc/g++ versions 4.9 and above
    1. Note: If you are using RHEL or Centos, you will likely need to install a more up-to-date compiler than the default; search for how to enable 'software collections' or 'devtoolset' on these distributions. Other Linux distributions typically have a suitable default compiler (at least version 4.9).
  2. MacOS Apple LLVM: version 8.0.0 and above (version 7.0.0 may work)
  3. FreeBSD and Linux (x86_64): clang/LLVM version 3.9 and above (older versions down to 3.3 may work)

The minimum Python version supported is currently version 3.5 or greater (major version 3).

By supported, we mean that the project tries to support most or all of the build options on these platforms unless there is a good reason to exclude the option; and at least the debug build will compile. If you intend to do serious work using ns-3, and are forced by circumstances to use a Windows platform, consider virtualization of a popular Linux platform or using Windows Subsystem for Linux.

The following platforms are lightly supported:

  • Windows Visual Studio 2012 (presently being upgraded)

Some aspects of ns-3 depend on Unix (or specifically Linux) support, such as the emulation or TapBridge features, and those components are not enabled on the Windows or MacOS versions cited above.

Additional maintainers are invited to make more platforms, compilers and environments supported.

Integrated development environment support


The Eclipse IDE is not an officially supported platform, but some developers use it and have compiled a HOWTO.


NetBeans is not officially supported either, but there is a HOWTO as well.


Same rule applies to Qt Creator; it's not officially supported, but there are developers that use it and HOWTO is available.

Support for optional features

There are a few options that are not enabled by default and are not available on all platforms. At the end of the configuration process (explained below), the status of these options are shown as detected by a waf script:

---- Summary of optional NS-3 features:
Python Bindings               : not enabled (Python library or headers missing)
BRITE Integration             : not enabled (BRITE not enabled (see option --with-brite))
NS-3 Click Integration        : not enabled (nsclick not enabled (see option --with-nsclick))
GtkConfigStore                : not enabled (library 'gtk+-2.0 >= 2.12' not found)
XmlIo                         : not enabled (library 'libxml-2.0 >= 2.7' not found)
Threading Primitives          : enabled
Real Time Simulator           : enabled
Emulated Net Device           : not enabled (<netpacket/packet.h> include not detected)
Network Simulation Cradle     : not enabled (architecture None not supported)
MPI Support                   : not enabled (option --enable-mpi not selected)
NS-3 OpenFlow Integration     : not enabled (Required boost libraries not found)
SQlite stats data output      : not enabled (library 'sqlite3' not found)
Tap Bridge                    : not enabled (<linux/if_tun.h> include not detected)
PyViz visualizer              : not enabled (Python Bindings are needed but not enabled)
Use sudo to set suid bit      : not enabled (option --enable-sudo not selected)
Build tests                   : not enabled (defaults to disabled)
Build examples                : not enabled (defaults to disabled)
GNU Scientific Library (GSL)  : not enabled (GSL not found)

Generally if the platform is missing some requirement for an option it is marked as "not enabled." Note that "disabled by user request" will be shown when the user explicitly disables a feature (such as "--disable-python"); and if a feature defaults to disabled this will also be noted (e.g., option --enable-sudo not selected).

The table below is meant to help sort out the different features and on which platforms they are supported. This table reflects the status as of ns-3.15 and may have changed since then:

Option status
Option Linux FreeBSD Mac OS X
Optimized build Y Y Y
Python bindings Y Y Y
Threading Y Y Y
Real-time simulator Y Y N
Emulated Net Device Y N N
Tap Bridge Y N N
Network simulation cradle Y1  ? N
Static builds Y Y Y

Key: Y = supported; N = not supported; ? = unknown; dev = support in ns-3-dev (next release)


  1. NSC works best with gcc-3.4 or gcc-4.2 or greater series. Try to avoid using gcc-4.0 and gcc-4.1 series; some build problems have been found with these versions of compilers.


The core of ns-3 requires a gcc/g++ installation of 4.9 or greater (Linux), or a recent version of clang compiler (OS X, Linux, or BSD), and Python 3.5 or greater. As mentioned above, different options require additional support. This is a list of packages (for Debian/Ubuntu systems) that are needed to support different ns-3 options. Note that other distributions (e.g., Fedora, FreeBSD) may have different package names or capitalization (e.g. ImageMagik). Installation should be similar for Red Hat/Fedora based systems, with "yum" replacing "apt-get", but some differences exist, so below is a guide for both Ubuntu (should generally apply to Debian) and Fedora/RedHat-based systems:



Note: CentOS version 6 series (currently 6.8) requires an upgrade of both gcc and Python to meet current ns-3 requirements. See these instructions if you need to upgrade:

The below instructions are based on a CentOS 6.6 install in November 2014; other RedHat/Fedora-based installs are likely similar.

  • minimal requirements for C++ (release): This is the minimal set of packages needed to run ns-3 C++ programs from a released tarball.
 yum install gcc-c++ python3
  • minimal requirements for Python (release): Python development headers are necessary to enable the Python bindings (for writing ns-3 programs from Python):
 yum install python3-devel

The following additional packages add functionality to the build or documentation.

  • The netanim animator requires Qt5 development packages:
 yum install qt5-devel
  • Mercurial is needed to work with ns-3 development repositories.
 yum install mercurial
  • Doxygen and related inline documentation:
 yum install doxygen graphviz ImageMagick
  • The ns-3 manual and tutorial are written in reStructuredText for Sphinx (doc/tutorial, doc/manual, doc/models), and figures typically in dia:
 yum install python3-sphinx dia texlive texlive-latex
  • MPI-based parallel, distributed simulation support requires openmpi:
 yum install openmpi openmpi-devel
  • To read pcap packet traces generated by ns-3
 yum install tcpdump wireshark
  • Database support for statistics
 yum install sqlite sqlite-devel
  • Xml-based version of the config store (requires libxml2 >= version 2.7)
 yum install libxml2 libxml2-devel
  • Support for utils/ style check program
 yum install uncrustify
  • Support for openflowswitch requires some Boost libraries
 yum install boost-devel
  • Support for ns-3-pyviz visualizer

This is a bit more involved due to lack of package support in the standard repositories.

 yum install graphviz graphviz-devel python3-setuptools-devel ipython3
 sudo easy_install pygraphviz

Some additional packages are needed (goocanvas and pygoocanvas). It is suggested to enable the RPMForge repo as described here: Then, try this:

 yum install goocanvas pygtk2-devel

Then obtain the RPM for pygoocanvas and pygoocanvas-devel from here:

 rpm -ivh pygoocanvas-0.14.1-3.el6.nux.x86_64.rpm 
 rpm -ivh pygoocanvas-devel-0.14.1-3.el6.nux.x86_64.rpm 

Or, if you prefer, build pygoocanvas from source code found here:

Note, if you perform this install successfully on a CentOS server that does not have a desktop installed (i.e. a CentOS 'minimal install'), you will still not be able to see pyviz enabled; you will see the configuration report:

 PyViz visualizer              : not enabled (Missing python modules: gtk)

because the Python gtk module opens the display upon import.

  • Git is needed to fetch click modular routing and pygccxml
 yum install git
  • An optional but recommended package (for improving some wireless model fidelity) is GNU scientific library:
 yum install gsl gsl-devel
  • A GTK-based configuration system
 yum install gtk2 gtk2-devel
  • Debugging:
 yum install gdb valgrind

Jump to installation


The following list of packages should be accurate for Ubuntu 19.04 release; other releases or other Debian-based systems may slightly vary. Ubuntu 16.04 LTS release is probably the oldest release that is known to work with recent ns-3 releases.

Note: As of ns-3.30 release (August 2019), ns-3 uses Python 3 by default, but earlier releases depend on Python 2 packages, and at least a Python 2 interpreter is recommended. If working with an earlier release, one may in general substitute 'python' for 'python3' in the below (e.g. install 'python-dev' instead of 'python3-dev').

  • minimal requirements for C++ users (release): This is the minimal set of packages needed to run ns-3 from a released tarball.
 apt-get install g++ python3
  • minimal requirements for Python API users (release 3.30, 3.31, and ns-3-dev): This is the minimal set of packages needed to work with Python bindings from a released tarball.
 apt-get install g++ python3 python3-dev pkg-config sqlite3
  • minimal requirements for Python (development): For use of ns-3-allinone repository (cloned from Git), additional packages are needed to fetch and successfully install pybindgen and netanim.
 apt-get install python3-setuptools git
  • Netanim animator: qt5 development tools are needed for Netanim animator; qt4 will also work but we have migrated to qt5.
 apt-get install qt5-default mercurial
  • Support for ns-3-pyviz visualizer
    • For ns-3.28 and earlier releases, PyViz is based on GTK+ 2, GooCanvas, and GraphViz:
 apt-get install python-pygraphviz python-kiwi python-pygoocanvas libgoocanvas-dev ipython
    • For Ubuntu 18.04, python-pygoocanvas is no longer provided. The ns-3.29 release and later upgrades the support to GTK+ version 3, and requires these packages:
 apt-get install gir1.2-goocanvas-2.0 python-gi python-gi-cairo python-pygraphviz python3-gi python3-gi-cairo python3-pygraphviz gir1.2-gtk-3.0 ipython ipython3  
  • Support for MPI-based distributed emulation
apt-get install openmpi-bin openmpi-common openmpi-doc libopenmpi-dev
  • Support for bake build tool:
 apt-get install autoconf cvs bzr unrar
  • Debugging:
 apt-get install gdb valgrind 
  • Support for utils/ code style check program
apt-get install uncrustify
  • Doxygen and related inline documentation:
 apt-get install doxygen graphviz imagemagick
 apt-get install texlive texlive-extra-utils texlive-latex-extra texlive-font-utils dvipng latexmk
    • If you get an error such as 'convert ... not authorized source-temp/figures/lena-dual-stripe.eps', see this post about editing ImageMagick's security policy configuration: In brief, you will want to make this kind of change to ImageMagick security policy:
   --- ImageMagick-6/policy.xml.bak	2020-04-28 21:10:08.564613444 -0700
   +++ ImageMagick-6/policy.xml	2020-04-28 21:10:29.413438798 -0700
   @@ -87,10 +87,10 @@
      <policy domain="path" rights="none" pattern="@*"/>
   -  <policy domain="coder" rights="none" pattern="PS" />
   +  <policy domain="coder" rights="read|write" pattern="PS" />
      <policy domain="coder" rights="none" pattern="PS2" />
      <policy domain="coder" rights="none" pattern="PS3" />
      <policy domain="coder" rights="none" pattern="EPS" />
   -  <policy domain="coder" rights="none" pattern="PDF" />
   +  <policy domain="coder" rights="read|write" pattern="PDF" />
      <policy domain="coder" rights="none" pattern="XPS" />

  • The ns-3 manual and tutorial are written in reStructuredText for Sphinx (doc/tutorial, doc/manual, doc/models), and figures typically in dia (also needs the texlive packages above):
 apt-get install python3-sphinx dia 

Note: Sphinx version >= 1.12 required for ns-3.15. To check your version, type "sphinx-build". To fetch this package alone, outside of the Ubuntu package system, try "sudo easy_install -U Sphinx".

  • GNU Scientific Library (GSL) support for more accurate 802.11b WiFi error models (not needed for OFDM):
 apt-get install gsl-bin libgsl-dev libgsl23 libgslcblas0

If the above doesn't work (doesn't detect GSL on the system), consult: But don't worry if you are not using 802.11b models.

  • To read pcap packet traces
apt-get install tcpdump
  • Database support for statistics framework
apt-get install sqlite sqlite3 libsqlite3-dev
  • Xml-based version of the config store (requires libxml2 >= version 2.7)
apt-get install libxml2 libxml2-dev
  • Support for generating modified python bindings
 apt-get install cmake libc6-dev libc6-dev-i386 libclang-6.0-dev llvm-6.0-dev automake pip
 python3 -m pip install --user cxxfilt

and you will want to install castxml and pygccxml as per the instructions for python bindings (or through the bake build tool as described in the tutorial). The 'castxml' package provided by Ubuntu 18.04 and earlier is not recommended; a source build (coordinated via bake) is recommended.

Note: Ubuntu versions (through 19.04) and systems based on it (e.g. Linux Mint 18) default to an old version of clang and llvm (3.8), when simply 'libclang-dev' and 'llvm-dev' are specified. The packaging on these 3.8 versions is broken. Users of Ubuntu will want to explicitly install a newer version by specifying 'libclang-6.0-dev' and 'llvm-6.0-dev'. Other versions newer than 6.0 may work (not tested).

  • A GTK-based configuration system
 apt-get install libgtk-3-dev
  • To experiment with virtual machines and ns-3
 apt-get install vtun lxc uml-utilities
  • Support for openflow module (requires some boost libraries)
apt-get install libboost-signals-dev libboost-filesystem-dev

Jump to installation


The following list of packages should be aligned with recent Fedora releases; other releases may slightly vary. Note that these distributions sometimes change the package structure over time.

Important: If you are using RedHat or CentOS, either versions 6 or 7, the default compilers are too old to build recent ns-3 releases. You must upgrade gcc and g++ to a more recent version. See below.

Release-specific issues

  • Fedora 28 and Fedora 29 use gcc-8 by default, and this newer compiler raises warnings (that turn into compiler errors) with all ns-3 releases prior to ns-3.29.
  • RHEL 6 (and CentOS 6) uses older versions of gcc (4.4) and Python (2.6) that are no longer compatible with ns-3 releases. An upgrade of both gcc and Python is needed; see these instructions on installing a devtoolset if you need to upgrade:

Required and optional packages

  • minimal requirements for C++ (release): This is the minimal set of packages needed to run ns-3 from a released tarball.
 dnf install gcc-c++ python3
  • minimal requirements for Python (release): This is the minimal set of packages needed to work with Python bindings from a released tarball.
 dnf install gcc-c++ python3 python3-devel
  • Mercurial and git are needed to work with ns-3 development repositories.
 dnf install mercurial git
  • An optional but recommended package (for improving some wireless model fidelity) is GNU scientific library:
 dnf install gsl gsl-devel
  • Support for netanim animator:
 dnf install qt5-devel
  • A GTK-based configuration system

Prior to ns-3.29, use GTK+ version 2:

 dnf install gtk2 gtk2-devel

Starting with ns-3.29, use GTK+ version 3:

 dnf install gtk3 gtk3-devel
  • Debugging:
 dnf install gdb valgrind 
  • Doxygen and related inline documentation:
 dnf install doxygen graphviz ImageMagick
  • The ns-3 manual and tutorial are written in reStructuredText for Sphinx (doc/tutorial, doc/manual, doc/models), and figures typically in dia:
 dnf install python3-sphinx dia texlive texlive-latex texlive-fncychap texlive-capt-of texlive-tabulary texlive-eqparbox
 dnf install texlive-epstopdf texlive-titlesec texlive-framed texlive-dvipng texlive-threeparttable texlive-wrapfig
 dnf install texlive-multirow ImageMagick

Note: Sphinx version >= 1.12 required for ns-3.15. To check your version, type "sphinx-build". To fetch this package alone, outside of the Fedora package system, try "sudo easy_install -U Sphinx"

  • The Network Simulation Cradle (nsc) requires the flex lexical analyzer and bison parser generator; note, this requires older compiler support (gcc-4 series):
 dnf install flex bison
  • To read pcap packet traces
 dnf install tcpdump
  • Database support for statistics framework
 dnf install sqlite sqlite-devel
  • Xml-based version of the config store (requires libxml2 >= version 2.7)
 dnf install libxml2 libxml2-devel
  • Support for utils/ style check program
 dnf install uncrustify
  • Support for MPI distributed simulations
 dnf install openmpi openmpi-devel
  • Support for openflowswitch
 dnf install boost-devel
  • Support for ns-3-pyviz visualizer (ns-3.28 release and earlier)
 dnf install redhat-rpm-config goocanvas-devel graphviz graphviz-devel python-setuptools python-kiwi pygoocanvas ipython
 easy_install pygraphviz
  • Support for ns-3 pyviz visualizer (ns-3.29 release and later)
 pygobject3-devel python3-gobject gobject-introspection-devel goocanvas2-devel graphviz-devel graphviz ipython
 easy_install pygraphviz
  • Support for generating modified python bindings
 dnf install cmake clang-devel llvm-devel llvm-static
 pip install cxxfilt

and you will want to install gccxml and pygccxml as per the instructions for python bindings (or through the bake build tool as described in the tutorial).

  • Support for bake tool:
 dnf install make patch autoconf cvs

Jump to installation


macOS installation of ns-3 relies on the Xcode command line tools provided by Apple, and the clang/llvm compiler used therein. A third-party package manager such as Homebrew can be used for optional extensions to ns-3 such as libxml2.

The current version of macOS is 'Catalina' (10.15) and the version of Xcode is 11.2, as of this writing.

If you are having problems with ns-3.29 and macOS, please look at the Errata page for some hints, or consider to use the development version (ns-3-dev) of ns-3 which should work now. ns-3.30 is not know to have macOS issues.

The main steps to follow to prepare your macOS machine for a base ns-3 install (Xcode tools, and Python) are as follows:

  1. Download and install Xcode Command Line Tools (most recently tested version 11.2) from the App Store, or the full Xcode.
    1. If you installed full Xcode, you still need to type `xcode-select --install` to obtain the command line tools.
    2. You will also have to agree to Apple's license agreement to proceed; type 'sudo clang -v' in a terminal window to take this step.

At this point, you will likely be able to compile the main C++ libraries. The current macOS Catalina release ships with a basic Python 3 interpreter (version 3.7.3) which is enough to run the Waf build system but not much else. To use Python bindings or other Python features, a fuller install of Python is recommended. Visit to download a Python 3 release (recommended), or else, if you prefer, use Homebrew or some other package manager to install a Python development environment.

At this point, you should be able to use ns-3 in C++ or Python programs. The following options are available to add some additional libraries for more ns-3 features. In general, a third-party installer like Homebrew or MacPorts is needed:

  1. Recommended for Mojave users (for better Homebrew compatibility), install the legacy headers package found at: /Library/Developer/CommandLineTools/Packages/macOS_SDK_headers_for_macOS_10.14.pkg. We are not sure whether this is available for Catalina (10.15).
  2. If you wish to use the NetAnim animator, you must install Qt5 (although Qt4 version also works with current releases).
  3. If you wish to use mercurial, you must install it. Follow the instruction in the mercurial web site. MacPorts and Homebrew are possible package managers to accomplish this.

Note to Anaconda users: If you have installed Anaconda, you may encounter a build problem such as:

 "../src/wifi/model/ error: no matching constructor for initialization of 'WifiPhy::ChannelToFrequencyWidthMap' 
 (aka 'map<pair<unsigned short, ns3::WifiPhyStandard>, pair<unsigned int, unsigned int> >')
 WifiPhy::ChannelToFrequencyWidthMap WifiPhy::m_channelToFrequencyWidth =
 /usr/include/c++/4.2.1/bits/stl_map.h:188:9: note: candidate constructor template not viable: requires 2 arguments, but 79 were provided
       map(_InputIterator __first, _InputIterator __last)

This can be worked around by configuring Waf to use the system Python instead of the Python version provided by Anaconda. At the Waf configuration stage, try:

 ./waf --python=/usr/bin/python configure ...

When using, the argument can be passed as follows:

 ./ --enable-examples --enable-tests -- --python=/usr/bin/python

See: issue 2778 in the ns-3 tracker for more information.

For OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) and earlier, using Xcode 4 series, please see HOWTO_get_ns-3_running_on_Mac_OS_X_(10.6.2_Intel) and follow steps 1 and 2 (prerequisites) and continue reading below if you want to work with a released version, and follow all steps if you want to work with a development version of ns-3.


For Windows 10, there are two main options. Both involve using a Linux environment from within Windows. ns-3 is not compatible with the Windows Visual Studio compiler and IDE (there have been a few efforts to add Visual Studio support, but they have been abandoned).

  1. . Install a Linux virtual machine (e.g. using Hyper-V, VMware, etc.).
  2. . Windows offers a Windows subsystem for Linux, providing an Ubuntu-like environment. From within this environment, one can follow the Ubuntu installation guide and obtain most ns-3 features.

Below is some other older (possibly out-of-date) information regarding Windows:


Installation with Bake

Bake is a new tool for installing, building and finding out the missing requirements for ns-3 in your own environment.

To use Bake you need to have at least Python (2.7 or above) and Git in your machine (see the section Prerequisites above to see how to install these).

First you need to download Bake using Git, go to where you want Bake to be installed and call

 git clone

It is advisable to add bake to your path.

 export BAKE_HOME=`pwd`/bake 

After that you can use Bake to find the missing packages, download build and install ns-3 and its modules.

To find out what is missing in your system and may be needed for installing ns-3 you can call bake check: check

You should have seen something like:

> Python - OK
> GNU C++ compiler - OK
> Mercurial - OK
> CVS - OK
> GIT - OK
> Bazaar - OK
> Tar tool - OK
> Unzip tool - OK
> Unrar tool - OK
> 7z data compression utility - OK
> XZ data compression utility - OK
> Make - OK
> cMake - OK
> patch tool - OK
> autoreconf tool - OK
> Path searched for tools: /usr/lib64/qt-3.3/bin
/usr/lib64/ccache /usr/local/bin /usr/bin/bin/usr/local/sbin /usr/sbin
/sbin /user/dcamara/home/scripts/user/dcamara/home/INRIA/Programs/bin

Before downloading and building ns-3 you need to configure bake to inform it which are the modules you want added to ns-3, the standard distribution for example. configure -e ns-3.29

Then to see the modules it has added, and the specific system requirements for this configuration, you can call bake show: show   

To download the modules, build and install you can call bake deploy deploy

This will download the selected modules, all their dependencies and build ns-3 with all these independent modules. You can also perform this installation step by step, i.e. by calling download and build in different steps. download build

Manual installation

The ns-3 code is available in Mercurial repositories on the server (look for the latest release e.g., "ns-3.26"). You can download a tarball of the latest release at or you can work with our repositories using Mercurial. We recommend using Mercurial unless there's a good reason not to (See the end of this section for instructions on how to get a tarball release).

The simplest way to get started using Mercurial repositories is to use the ns-3-allinone environment. This is a set of scripts that manages the downloading and building of various subystems of ns-3 for you. We recommend that you begin your ns-3 adventures in this environment as it can really simplify your life at this point.

Downloading ns-3 Using Git

One practice is to create a directory called repos in one's home directory under which one can keep local Git repositories. If you adopt that approach, you can get a copy of ns-3-allinone by typing the following into your Linux shell (assuming you have installed Git):

 mkdir repos
 cd repos
 git clone

As the git command executes, you should see something like the following displayed,

 Cloning into 'ns-3-allinone'...
 remote: Enumerating objects: 232, done.
 remote: Counting objects: 100% (232/232), done.
 remote: Compressing objects: 100% (121/121), done.
 remote: Total 232 (delta 135), reused 197 (delta 108)
 Receiving objects: 100% (232/232), 99.76 KiB | 513.00 KiB/s, done.
 Resolving deltas: 100% (135/135), done.

After the clone command completes, you should have a directory called ns-3-allinone under your ~/repos directory, the contents of which should look something like the following:***  README

Notice that you really just downloaded some Python scripts and not yet the C++ code. The next step will be to use those scripts to download and build the ns-3 distribution of your choice.

If you go to the following link: you will see a number of repositories. Many are the private repositories of the ns-3 development team. The repositories of interest to you will be prefixed with ns-3. Official releases of ns-3 will be numbered as ns-3.release.hotfix. For example, a second hotfix to a still hypothetical release nine of ns-3 would be numbered as ns-3.9.2 on this page.

The current development snapshot (unreleased) of ns-3 may be found at The developers attempt to keep these repository in consistent, working states but they are in a development area with unreleased code present, so you may want to consider staying with an official release if you do not need newly-introduced features.

You can find the latest version of the code either by inspection of the repository list or by going to the Getting Started web page and looking for the latest release identifier.

To download the most recent release (assuming it is ns-3.30 in this case), type the following into your shell (remember you can substitute the name of your chosen release number, or omit specifying it to download the tip of ns-3-dev)

 ./ -n ns-3.30

After download process completes, you should have several new directories under ~/repos/ns-3-allinone:

 bake  ns-3.30    __pycache__       netanim      pybindgen  README

Go ahead and change into ns-3.30 under your ~/repos/ns-3-allinone directory. You should see something like the following there:

 AUTHORS  Makefile       src  waf-tools
 bindings      doc          VERSION   wscript
 CHANGES.html  examples         RELEASE_NOTES  testpy.supp  waf
 contrib       LICENSE          scratch        utils        waf.bat

You are now ready to build the ns-3 distribution.

Downloading ns-3 Using a Tarball

The process for downloading ns-3 via tarball is simpler than the Mercurial process since all of the pieces are pre-packaged for you. You just have to pick a release, download it and decompress it.

As mentioned above, one practice is to create a directory called repos in one's home directory under which one can keep local Mercurial repositories. One could also keep a tarballs directory. If you adopt the tarballs directory approach, you can get a copy of a release by typing the following into your Linux shell (substitute the appropriate version numbers, of course):

 mkdir tarballs
 cd tarballs
 tar xjf ns-allinone-3.30.tar.bz2

If you change into the directory ns-allinone-3.30 you should see a number of files:

 bake   ns-3.30           README  netanim-3.108  pybindgen-0.20.0

You are now ready to build the ns-3 distribution.

Building ns-3 with

The first time you build the ns-3 project you should build using the allinone environment. This will get the project configured for you in the most commonly useful way.

Change into the directory you created in the download section above. If you downloaded using Mercurial you should have a directory called ns-3-allinone under your ~/repos directory. If you downloaded using a tarball you should have a directory called something like ns-allinone-3.13 under your ~/tarballs directory. Type the following:


You will see lots of typical compiler output messages displayed as the build script builds the various pieces you downloaded. Eventually you should see the following magic words:

 Build finished successfully (00:02:37)
 Leaving directory `./ns-3-dev'

Once the project has built you typically will not use ns-3-allinone scripts. You will now interact directly with Waf and we do it in the ns-3-dev directory and not in the ns-3-allinone directory.

Configuration with Waf

To see valid configure options, type ./waf --help. The most important option is -d <debug level>. Valid debug levels (which are listed in waf --help) are: "debug" or "optimized". It is also possible to change the flags used for compilation with (e.g.):

 CXXFLAGS="-O3" ./waf configure 

or, alternately, the gcc compiler

 CXX=g++-3.4 ./waf configure

Note: Unlike some other build tools, to change the build target, the option must be supplied during the configure stage rather than the build stage (i.e., "./waf -d optimized" will not work; instead, do

 ./waf -d optimized configure; ./waf 

The resulting binaries are placed in build/<debuglevel>/srcpath. For example, in a debug build you can find the executable for the example as build/examples/first. You can debug the executable directly by:

 ./waf --shell
 cd build/debug/examples
 gdb ns-<version>-first-debug

Of course, you can run gdb in emacs, or use your favorite debugger such as ddd or insight just as easily. In an optimized build you can find the executable for the example as build/examples/ns-<version>-first-optimized.

In order to forcibly disable python bindings, you can provide the following option:

 ./waf --disable-python configure

In order to tell the build system to use the sudo program to set the suid bit if required, you can provide the following option:

 ./waf --enable-sudo configure

To start over a configuration from scratch, type:

 ./waf distclean

Or if you get stuck and all else fails:

 rm -rf build

followed by changing back into ns-3-allinone and doing:


will basically reset your build state.

To see all waf options:

 ./waf --help


ns-3 has unit tests that can be run to verify the installation:


which should produce output like:

PASS: TestSuite histogram
PASS: TestSuite ns3-wifi-interference
PASS: TestSuite ns3-tcp-cwnd
PASS: TestSuite ns3-tcp-interoperability
PASS: TestSuite sample

Using Python

See this page.


See this page.

Obsolete information

Older versions of ns-3, prior to 3.15, supported using cygwin to run on Windows platform.


There are three basic options for Windows support:

  1. We provide HOWTO documents describing the process for installing Linux support and getting ns-3 running using two popular virtualization products: VirtualBox (HOWTO use VirtualBox to run simulations on Windows machines) and VMware (HOWTO use VMware to set up virtual networks (Windows)).
  2. There is an experimental project, Ns3 on Windows, using Visual Studio 2012. For support on Visual Studio 2010 see ns-3 on Visual Studio 2010
  3. Cygwin has been supported in the past: gcc 3.4.4 (debug only), gcc 4.3.2 (debug and optimized). Note, however, that there are limitations with regard to Python bindings, and that Real-time simulator, Emulated Net Device, Tap Bridge and Network simulation cradle are not supported.

An alternative Windows platform is MinGW. There are maintainers who attempt to keep a subset of ns-3 running on MinGW, but it is not "officially" suppported. This means that bugs filed against MinGW will be addressed as time permits.

Cygwin can sometimes be problematic due to the way it actually does its emulation, and sometimes interactions with other Windows software can cause problems. If you do use Cygwin or MinGW; and use Logitech products, we will save you quite a bit of heartburn right off the bat and encourage you to take a look at the MinGW FAQ.

Search for "Logitech" and read the FAQ entry, "why does make often crash creating a sh.exe.stackdump file when I try to compile my source code." Believe it or not, the ``Logitech Process Monitor`` insinuates itself into every DLL in the system when it is running. It can cause your Cygwin or MinGW DLLs to die in mysterious ways and often prevents debuggers from running. Beware of Logitech software when using Cygwin.