From Nsnam
Revision as of 08:03, 5 May 2009 by Mathieu.lacage (Talk | contribs) (ns-3 options)

Jump to: navigation, search

Main Page - Current Development - Developer FAQ - Tools - Related Projects - Project Ideas - Summer Projects

Installation - Troubleshooting - User FAQ - HOWTOs - Samples - Models - Education - Contributed Code - Papers

This is a detailed installation guide for ns-3. Basic installation instructions can be found at the Getting Started page or in the ns-3 tutorial.

Supported platforms

ns-3 is primarily developed on GNU/Linux platforms, and the minimal requirements to run basic simulations are a gcc installation of gcc-3.4/g++-3.4 or greater, and python 2.4 or greater.

ns-3 is also supported on the following primary platforms:

  1. Linux x86/x86-64 gcc-4.x
  2. Linux x86/x86-64 gcc-3.4
  3. Mac OS X, x86/ppc, gcc-4.x
  4. Cygwin (a Linux-like environment for Windows)

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. ns-3 may also run on currently unsupported platforms. Additional maintainers are invited to make more platforms supported.

ns-3 options

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:
Threading Primitives          : enabled
Real Time Simulator           : enabled
Emulated Net Device           : enabled
Tap Bridge                    : enabled
GtkConfigStore                : enabled
XmlIo                         : not enabled (library 'libxml-2.0 >= 2.7' not found)
SQlite stats data output      : enabled
Network Simulation Cradle     : enabled
Python Bindings               : not enabled (disabled by user request)
Use sudo to set suid bit      : not enabled (option --enable-sudo not selected)
Static build                  : not enabled (option --enable-static not selected)

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 of the most recent release version (ns-3.4):

Option status
Option Linux gcc-4.x Linux gcc-3.4 OS X Cygwin
Optimized build X 1
Python bindings X 2
Real-time simulator X X
Emulated Net Device X X
Tap Bridge X X
Network simulation cradle note3 X X

Key: ( )(empty space) = supported; X = not supported; ? = unknown; dev = support in ns-3-dev (next release)


  1. only supported for gcc-3.4.6
  2. Cygwin limitation explained here
  3. NSC works best with gcc-3.4 or gcc-4.2 or greater series. Try to avoid 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 3.4 or greater, and python 2.4 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). Also note that installation should be similar for Red Hat/Fedora based systems, with "yum" replacing "apt-get".

  • minimal requirements for C++ (release): This is the minimal set of packages needed to run ns-3 from a released tarball.
 sudo apt-get install gcc g++ python
  • minimal requirements for Python (release): This is the minimal set of packages needed to work with Python bindings from a released tarball.
 sudo apt-get install gcc g++ python python-dev
  • Running regression tests requires mercurial to fetch the trace repositories. mercurial is also needed in general to work with ns-3 development repositories.
 sudo apt-get install mercurial
  • Running python bindings from the ns-3 development tree (ns-3-dev) requires bazaar
 sudo apt-get install bzr
  • A GTK-based configuration system
 sudo apt-get install libgtk2.0-0 libgtk2.0-dev
  • Debugging:
 sudo apt-get install gdb valgrind 
  • Doxygen and related inline documentation:
 sudo apt-get install doxygen graphviz imagemagick
 sudo apt-get install texlive texlive-pdf texlive-latex-extra
  • The ns-3 manual and tutorial are written in Texinfo (doc/tutorial or doc/manual):
 sudo apt-get install texinfo dia texlive-extra-utils texi2html
  • The Network Simulation Cradle (nsc) requires the flex lexical analyzer and bison parser generator:
 sudo apt-get install flex bison
  • Some basic mobility visualization tests require goocanvas:
 sudo apt-get install libgoocanvas-dev
  • To install gcc-3.4 for some Network Simulation Cradle (nsc) stacks:
 sudo apt-get install g++-3.4 gcc-3.4
  • To read pcap packet traces
sudo apt-get install tcpdump
  • Database support for statistics framework
sudo apt-get install sqlite sqlite3 libsqlite3-dev
  • Xml-based version of the config store (requires libxml2 >= version 2.7)
sudo apt-get install libxml2
  • Support for Gustavo's ns-3-pyviz visualizer
sudo apt-get install python-pygraphviz python-kiwi python-pygoocanvas


The ns-3 code is available in Mercurial repositories on the server (look for the latest release e.g., "ns-3.4"). 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 Mercurial

One practice is to create a directory called repos in one's home directory under which one can keep local Mercurial 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 Mercurial):

 mkdir repos
 cd repos
 hg clone

As the hg (Mercurial) command executes, you should see something like the following displayed,

 destination directory: ns-3-allinone
 requesting all changes
 adding changesets
 adding manifests
 adding file changes
 added 26 changesets with 40 changes to 7 files
 7 files updated, 0 files merged, 0 files removed, 0 files unresolved

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. 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.

We have had a regression testing framework in place since the first release. For each release, a set of output files that define good behavior are saved. These known good output files are called reference traces and are associated with a given release by name. For example, in you will find a repository named ns-3.1 which is the first stable release of ns-3. You will also find a separate repository named ns-3.1-ref-traces that holds the reference traces for the ns-3.1 release. It is crucial to keep these files consistent if you want to do any regression testing of your repository. This is a good idea to do at least once to verify everything has built correctly.

The current development snapshot (unreleased) of ns-3 may be found at and the associated reference traces may be found . 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.

Since the release numbers are going to be changing, we will stick with the more constant ns-3-dev here, but you can replace the string ns-3-dev with your choice of release (e.g., ns-3.4 and ns-3.4-ref-traces) in the text below. 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 common options type the following into your shell (remember you can substitute the name of your chosen release number instead of ns-3-dev)

 ./ -n ns-3-dev -r ns-3-dev-ref-traces

After download process completes, you should have several new directories under ~/repos/ns-3-allinone:*     constants.pyc*  ns-3-dev-ref-traces/  pybindgen/*       ns-3-dev/     nsc/                  README      util.pyc

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

 AUTHORS       examples/  regression/    scratch/  waf*
 bindings/     LICENSE  src/      waf.bat*
 CHANGES.html  ns3/       RELEASE_NOTES  utils/    wscript
 doc/          README     samples/       VERSION

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-3.4.tar.bz2

If you change into the directory ns-allinone-3.4 you should see a number of files:*     ns-3.4-RC2/             nsc-0.5.0/     ns-3.4-RC2-ref-traces/  pybindgen-

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

Building ns-3 with ns-3-allinone

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-3-allinone-3.4 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/debug/examples/first. You can debug the executable directly by:

 ./waf --shell
 cd build/debug/examples
 gdb first

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/optimized/examples/first.

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:

 ./waf check

which should produce output like:

Compilation finished successfully 
PASS GlobalRouteManagerImpl
PASS EventGarbageCollector
PASS OlsrRoutingTable
PASS OlsrHeader
PASS UdpSocket
PASS Packet

To run the regression tests mentioned above:

 ./waf --regression

Using Python

See this page.


See this page.

Craigdo 06:17, 1 April 2009 (UTC)