Containernet is a fork of the famous Mininet network emulator and allows to use Docker containers as hosts in emulated network topologies. This enables interesting functionalities to build networking/cloud emulators and testbeds. One example for this is the NFV multi-PoP infrastructure emulator created by the SONATA project.

Containernet in action

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Get started

Using Containernet is very similar to using Mininet with custom topologies.

Create a custom topology

To start, a Python-based network topology description has to be created as shown in the following example:

Example topology with two containers (d1, d2),
two switches, and one controller:

          - (c)-
         |      |
(d1) - (s1) - (s2) - (d2)
from mininet.net import Containernet
from mininet.node import Controller
from mininet.cli import CLI
from mininet.link import TCLink
from mininet.log import info, setLogLevel

net = Containernet(controller=Controller)
info('*** Adding controller\n')
info('*** Adding docker containers using ubuntu:trusty images\n')
d1 = net.addDocker('d1', ip='', dimage="ubuntu:trusty")
d2 = net.addDocker('d2', ip='', dimage="ubuntu:trusty")
info('*** Adding switches\n')
s1 = net.addSwitch('s1')
s2 = net.addSwitch('s2')
info('*** Creating links\n')
net.addLink(d1, s1)
net.addLink(s1, s2, cls=TCLink, delay='100ms', bw=1)
net.addLink(s2, d2)
info('*** Starting network\n')
info('*** Testing connectivity\n')
net.ping([d1, d2])
info('*** Running CLI\n')
info('*** Stopping network')

You can find this topology in containernet/examples/containernet_example.py.

Run emulation and interact with containers

Containernet requires root access to configure the emulated network described by the topology script:

sudo python containernet_example.py

After launching the emulated network, you can interact with the involved containers through Mininet’s interactive CLI as shown with the ping command in the following example:

containernet> d1 ping -c3 d2
PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=200 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=200 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=3 ttl=64 time=200 ms

--- ping statistics ---
3 packets transmitted, 3 received, 0% packet loss, time 2002ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 200.162/200.316/200.621/0.424 ms

To stop the emulation, do:

containernet> exit


Automatic installation is provided using an Ansible playbook. This requires a bare-metal machine or VM with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

sudo apt-get install ansible git aptitude
git clone https://github.com/containernet/containernet.git
cd containernet/ansible
sudo ansible-playbook -i "localhost," -c local install.yml


Containernet has been used for a variety of research tasks and networking projects. If you use Containernet, let us know.




If you have any questions, please use GitHub’s issue system or Containernet’s Gitter channel to get in touch.


Your contributions are very welcome! Please fork the GitHub repository and create a pull request. We use Travis-CI to automatically test new commits.

Lead developer

Manuel Peuster