Skip to content


Containerlab is distributed as a Linux deb/rpm package and can be installed on any Debian- or RHEL-like distributive in a matter of a few seconds.


The following requirements must be satisfied in order to let containerlab tool run successfully:

  • A user should have sudo privileges to run containerlab.
  • A Linux server/VM2 and Docker installed.
  • Load container images (e.g. Nokia SR Linux, Arista cEOS) which are not downloadable from a container registry. Containerlab will try to pull images at runtime if they do not exist locally.

Install script#

Containerlab can be installed using the installation script which detects the operating system type and installs the relevant package:


Containerlab is distributed via deb/rpm packages, thus only Debian- and RHEL-like distributives can leverage package installation.
Other systems can follow the manual installation procedure.

# download and install the latest release (may require sudo)
bash -c "$(curl -sL"

# download a specific version - 0.10.3 (may require sudo)
bash -c "$(curl -sL" -- -v 0.10.3

# with wget
bash -c "$(wget -qO -"

Package managers#

It is possible to install official containerlab releases via public APT/YUM repository.

echo "deb [trusted=yes] /" | \
sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list.d/netdevops.list

apt update && apt install containerlab
yum-config-manager --add-repo= && \
echo "gpgcheck=0" | sudo tee -a /etc/yum.repos.d/yum.fury.io_netdevops_.repo

yum install containerlab
Manual package installation

Alternatively, users can manually download the deb/rpm package from the Github releases page.


# manually install latest release with package managers
LATEST=$(curl -s | sed -e 's/.*tag\/v\(.*\)\".*/\1/')
# with yum
yum install "${LATEST}/containerlab_${LATEST}_linux_amd64.rpm"
# with dpkg
curl -sL -o /tmp/clab.deb "${LATEST}/containerlab_${LATEST}_linux_amd64.deb" && dpkg -i /tmp/clab.deb

# install specific release with yum
yum install

The package installer will put the containerlab binary in the /usr/bin directory as well as create the /usr/bin/clab -> /usr/bin/containerlab symlink. The symlink allows the users to save on typing when they use containerlab: clab <command>.

Manual installation#

If the linux distributive can't install deb/rpm packages, containerlab can be installed from the archive:

# get the latest available tag
LATEST=$(curl -s | \
       sed -e 's/.*tag\/v\(.*\)\".*/\1/')

# download tar.gz archive
curl -L -o /tmp/clab.tar.gz "${LATEST}/containerlab_${LATEST}_Linux_amd64.tar.gz"

# create containerlab directory
mkdir -p /etc/containerlab

# extract downloaded archive into the containerlab directory
tar -zxvf /tmp/clab.tar.gz -C /etc/containerlab

# (optional) move containerlab binary somewhere in the $PATH
mv /etc/containerlab/containerlab /usr/bin && chmod a+x /usr/bin/containerlab

Windows Subsystem Linux (WSL)#

Containerlab runs on WSL, but you need to install docker-ce inside the WSL2 linux system instead of using Docker Desktop3.

If you are running Ubuntu 20.04 as your WSL2 machine, you can run this script to install docker-ce.

curl -L | \

Once installed, issue sudo service docker start to start the docker service inside WSL2 machine.

Running VM-based routers inside WSL

At the moment of this writing, KVM support was not available out-of-the box with WSL2 VMs. There are ways to enable KVM support, but they were not tested with containerlab. This means that running traditional VM based routers via vrnetlab integration is not readily available.

It appears to be that next versions of WSL2 kernels will support KVM.

Mac OS#

Containerlab doesn't run on Mac OS because Docker Desktop for Mac doesn't provide the networking features containerlab relies on.

The workaround for Mac OS users is to start a Linux VM (Virtual Machine) on mac and run Containerlab inside the VM. For example, free software such as Vagrant or Virtualbox can be used to deploy a Linux VM on a Mac OS.


To upgrade containerlab to the latest available version issue the following command1:

containerlab version upgrade

This command will fetch the installation script and will upgrade the tool to its most recent version.

or leverage apt/yum utilities if containerlab repo was added as explained in the Package managers section.

From source#

To build containerlab from source:

To build containerlab from source, clone the repository and issue go build at its root.

When we release containerlab we use goreleaser project to build binaries for all supported platforms as well as the deb/rpm packages.
Users can install goreleaser and do the same locally by issuing the following command:

goreleaser --snapshot --skip-publish --rm-dist

  1. only available if installed from packages 

  2. Most containerized NOS will require >1 vCPU. RAM size depends on the lab size. Architecture: AMD64. 

  3. No need to uninstall Docker Desktop, just make sure that it is not integrated with WSL2 machine that you intend to use with containerlab. Moreover, you can make it even work with Docker Desktop with a few additional steps, but installing docker-ce into the WSL maybe more intuitive.