Getting Started


ndnSIM 2.x has been successfully compiled and used on following platforms:

  • Ubuntu 20.04 (amd64)
  • Ubuntu 21.10 (amd64)
  • macOS 12 (Intel only)
  • macOS 11 (Intel only)


1. Core dependencies

  • GCC >= 7.4 or clang >= 4.0 (on Linux and FreeBSD)
  • Xcode >= 9.0 (on macOS)
  • Python >= 3.6
  • pkg-config
  • Boost >= 1.65.1
  • OpenSSL >= 1.0.2
  • SQLite 3.x


If you do not have root permissions to install boost, you can install it in your home folder. However, you need to be make sure that libboost_iostreams library is successfully compiled and is installed. Please refer to the following example for the hints how to successfully compile and install boost libraries on Ubuntu Linux.

Following are the detailed steps for each platform to install the compiler, all necessary development tools and libraries, and ndn-cxx prerequisites.

  • macOS

    • macOS with HomeBrew:
    brew install boost pkg-config openssl libxml2
    export PKG_CONFIG_PATH="/usr/local/opt/libxml2/lib/pkgconfig"   # put this line in ~/.bashrc or manually type before ./waf configure
  • Linux

    • Ubuntu Linux 18.04
    sudo apt install build-essential libsqlite3-dev libboost-all-dev libssl-dev git python-setuptools castxml
    • Ubuntu Linux 20.04
    sudo apt install build-essential libsqlite3-dev libboost-all-dev libssl-dev git python3-setuptools castxml
    • Fedora Linux
    sudo yum install gcc-g++ git sqlite-devel boost-devel openssl-devel


    ndnSIM requires boost version at least 1.54. Many linux distribution (Fedora 16, 17 at the time of this writing) ship an old version of boost, making it impossible to compile ndnSIM out-of-the-box. Please install the latest version, following these simple instructions.

2. Dependencies for NS-3 Python bindings

If you are planning to use NS-3 python bindings, a number of additional dependencies should be installed. For example, in order to run visualizer module, the following should be installed:

  • macOS

    • macOS with HomeBrew
    brew install cairo goocanvas gtk+3 graphviz gobject-introspection castxml
    export PKG_CONFIG_PATH="$PKG_CONFIG_PATH:/usr/local/opt/libffi/lib/pkgconfig"  # this needed only for running the next line
    pip install pygraphviz pycairo PyGObject pygccxml
  • Linux

    • Ubuntu Linux 18.04

      sudo apt install python-dev python-pygraphviz python-kiwi python-gnome2 ipython libcairo2-dev python3-gi libgirepository1.0-dev python-gi python-gi-cairo gir1.2-gtk-3.0 gir1.2-goocanvas-2.0 python-pip
      sudo pip install pygraphviz pycairo PyGObject pygccxml
    • Ubuntu Linux 20.04

      sudo apt install gir1.2-goocanvas-2.0 gir1.2-gtk-3.0 libgirepository1.0-dev python3-dev python3-gi python3-gi-cairo python3-pip python3-pygraphviz python3-pygccxml sudo pip3 install kiwi

Downloading ndnSIM source

ndnSIM package consists of three pieces:

  • a custom branch of NS-3 that contains a few useful patches
  • a customized python binding generation library (necessary if you want to use NS-3’s python bindings and/or visualizer module)
  • the source code of ndnSIM module
  • modified source code of ndn-cxx library and NDN Forwarding Daemon (NFD), attached to ndnSIM git repository as git submodules

The following commands download all pieces from GitHub repositories:

mkdir ndnSIM
cd ndnSIM
git clone ns-3
git clone pybindgen
git clone --recursive ns-3/src/ndnSIM

The last command downloads ndnSIM source code and source code of all submodules (i.e., ndn-cxx and NFD). If you previously cloned without --recursive flag, the correct versions of submodules can be retrieved using:

git submodule update --init

The same command should be run to update submodules when there are new changes available.


A few modification to the base NS-3 and pybindgen are necessary to run successfully compile and run ndnSIM. Some of the changes are specific to ndnSIM and some are bugfixes that we are submitting to NS-3 upstream. We also periodically update repository with the new NS-3 releases, usually in form of rebasing (and if necessary updating or eliminating) our custom patches on top of the released commits.

Compiling and running ndnSIM

ndnSIM uses a standard NS-3 compilation procedure. Normally the following commands should be sufficient to configure and build ndnSIM with python bindings enabled:

cd <ns-3-folder>
./waf configure --enable-examples


On macOS configuration stage may get stuck at detecting gtk module. Make sure you have XQuartz installed or disable python as described in the following instructions.

Python bindings is an optional and not very stable feature of NS-3 simulator. It is possible to disable python bindings compilation either to speed up compilation or to avoid certain compilation errors (e.g., “Could not find a task generator for the name ‘ns3-visualizer’”):

cd <ns-3-folder>
./waf configure --disable-python --enable-examples

For more configuration options, please refer to ./waf --help.

Simulating using ndnSIM

  • Example simulation scenarios

    When NS-3 is configured with --with-examples flag, you can directly run all examples described in examples section of this tutorial. For example, to run ndn-simple.cpp scenario, you can run the following command:

    ./waf --run=ndn-simple

    To run ndn-grid.cpp scenario:

    ./waf --run=ndn-grid

    To run the sample simulation scenarios with the logging module of NS-3 enabled (note that this will work only when NS-3 is compiled in debug mode):

    NS_LOG=ndn.Producer:ndn.Consumer ./waf --run=<scenario name>

    If you have compiled with python bindings, then you can try to run these simulations with visualizer:

    ./waf --run=ndn-simple --vis


    ./waf --run=ndn-grid --vis


    Do not forget to configure and compile NS-3 in optimized mode (./waf configure -d optimized) in order to run actual simulations.

  • Real experimentation

    Simulation scenarios can be written directly inside NS-3 in scratch/ or src/ndnSIM/examples folder.

    Alternative and a recommended way is to write simulation scenarios in a separate repository, not related to either NS-3 or ndnSIM. For example, you can use the following template to write your extensions, simulation scenarios, and metric processing scripts:

    mkdir ndnSIM
    cd ndnSIM
    git clone ns-3
    git clone pybindgen
    git clone --recursive ns-3/src/ndnSIM
    # Build and install NS-3 and ndnSIM
    cd ns-3
    ./waf configure -d optimized
    sudo ./waf install
    cd ..
    git clone scenario
    cd scenario
    export PKG_CONFIG_PATH=/usr/local/lib/pkgconfig
    export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/local/lib:$LD_LIBRARY_PATH
    ./waf configure
    ./waf --run <scenario>

    For more detailed information, refer to README file.