Chooing one best simulating software among many options is really a hard part of your research job. While some researchers like to study and find a simulator for their need before they design and model an architecture, others on the hand work out for the simulator or emulator while it is needed in course of study. On this article, we try to figure out some of the possible and realistic approach to find the best matched and available network simulator for your design. Even though we use the term ‘network simulator’ this guide should equally apply for all types of simulators used in academics.

Some Network Simulators Softwares
Some Network Simulators Softwares

Many commercial network simulation tools have excessively feature loaded functions but costs a lot, so maybe we can focus on free and open source network simulation softwares. At the end of this article are some really useful Journal papers to help you determine and study comparison made among some network simulators. Also don’t forget to check out an article on comparison of different network simulation tools.

1. Is the simulator free or commercial?

Most of the commercial softwares have many features but they are out of reach in many cases. As a researcher and student, we would like to find the best free and open source network simulator as always.

2. Is the documentation of the simulator well maintained?

Ensure you have read documentation in specific simulator/emulator’s home page, better if you come with something like: What this Simulator does? What this Simulator does not? A good simulator (teamed up one generally) have a home page and dedicated documentation along with FAQs page.

Found on Castalia web page: What Castalia is not?

Castalia is not sensor platform-specific. Castalia is meant to provide a generic reliable and realistic framework for the first order validation of an algorithm before moving to implementation on a specific sensor platform. Castalia is not useful if one would like to test code compiled for a specific sensor node platform. For such usage there are other simulators/emulators available (e.g., Avrora).

3. What the simulator does and what it does not?

Always compare your requirement with what the specific simulator can do for you. Also check list if that network simulator can not perform some functions or maybe you are require to build a cumbersome modules on it to work (avoid this since our time is preciously dedicated to modelling not to programming.)

Found in NS2’s and JSim’s page:

NS supports only two wireless MAC protocols, 802.11, and a single-hop TDMA protocol. The single-hop TDMA MAC protocol was added in 2000, and is still considered preliminary.

JSim overview : what JSim does and how it is structured.

4. How many papers have been published about the specific simulator?

Publication from Springer
Publication from Springer

Since we can’t track how many research journal papers have used which simulator to verify their outcome, we can search that how may papers are written about this simulator. This is a great way to learn about simulator. Even more than what we learn from the simulator’s home page and documentation can be found from paper published about that.

Like for one we found many for Castalia and Atarraya

Pham, Hai N.; Pediaditakis, Dimosthenis; Boulis, Athanassios; , “From Simulation to Real Deployments in WSN and Back,” World of Wireless, Mobile and Multimedia Networks, 2007. WoWMoM 2007. IEEE International Symposium on a , vol., no., pp.1-6, 18-21 June 2007  –> Castalia (link)

Miguel A. Labrador and Pedro Wightman “Topology Control in Wireless Sensor Networks – with a companion simulation tool for teaching and research “, Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2009. ISBN: 978-1-4020-9584-9. ->Atarraya (link)

5. Does your simulator gives you options for using various modules?

It is better to check if the simulator gives you option to use if not this, then this module to use feature or not.

GloMoSim has several choices for radio propagation, CSMA MAC protocols (including 802.11), mobile wireless routing protocols, and implementations of UDP and TCP. GloMoSim is good at simulating of mobile IP networks. GloMoSim has several choices for radio propagation, CSMA MAC protocols (including 802.11), mobile wireless routing protocols, and implementations of UDP and TCP. GloMoSim is good at simulating of mobile IP networks

6. Is the development of the simulator continued?

Periodic inclusion of upcoming and new protocols, design, and improvements is a must if the simulator’s development is ongoing. Do not be enchanted by an age old simulator, that might not support modern platforms and OS. See the documentation, support available, social media presence, simulator blog, support forum and so on if you intend to rely on help while using that simulator.

Whitepaper / Simulation software research paper’s links to some of these Network Simulators as found in conference proceedings and journals:

# Omnet publications:

# Mobility Framework for OMNeT++:
# OmNet in Youtube:

# Castalia Maual:

# Link of papers:

# Lessons Learned: Simulation Vs WSN Deployment

# Paper comparing various simulators for WSN:

General CitationLaTeX - BibRef
Lamsal, E. Choosing the best Simulation or Emulation Software tool for Research, A web article, published in, 2012
author = {Lamsal, Ekendra},
title = {Choosing the best Simulation or Emulation Software tool for Research},
booktitle = {A web article, published in},
year = {2012},
location = {Bangkok, Thailand},
numpages = {4},
url = {},
keywords = {simulation software research, simulation software research papers, simulation software, how to choose simulation software, simulation, emulation, chooing simulation, choosing, simulation software, choosing simulation tool, best simulation tool},
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