Basics of HashiCorp Vagrant

by Bachu Paul, DevOps Engineer, Rackspace Technology

As per the Vagrant official website, “Vagrant is a tool for building and managing virtual machine environments in a single workflow. With an easy-to-use workflow and focus on automation, Vagrant lowers development environment setup time, increases production parity, and makes the works on my machine excuse a relic of the past.”


In this blog, you will see how easily and quickly you can spin up multiple virtual machines. This allows configuring the environment with desired tools without affecting the host machine. Vagrant supports multiple virtualization providers such as VirtualBox, VMware Fusion and Hyper-V.


  1. Install the latest version of Vagrant
  2. Install any virtualization provider tool – VirtualBox, VMware Fusion  Hyper-V

Reference Link

In my example, I am using a VirtualBox tool.

Initialize your vagrant project
Create a directory and change it into that directory. This directory will act as the root directory for your project. Many of the vagrant configurations will be relative to this directory.

{{< highlight bash >}}
mkdir vagrant_dir/
cd vagrant_dir/
{{< /highlight >}}

Create your first virtual machine

The following command will create a *Vagrantfile* and download Ubuntu 18.04 LTS 64-bit base image on your host. For this version of Ubuntu image, you need to run it once.

"vagrant init generic/centos7"

Check the file named Vagrantfile created in the current directory

"ls -al"

vagrant 1

The Vagrantfile consists of default configurations required to launch a virtual machine. In this file, you can define the type of machine and resources you want to run and can pass scripts to install tools and OS configurations before the virtual machine is ready to use.

Run the following command to start the virtual machine

"vagrant up"

With just two commands, you got your virtual machines started, and ready for use.

Run the following command to check the status of your virtual machine:

"vagrant status"

Vagrant 2

Connecting to a new virtual machine

To login/ssh into your virtual machine, run:

"vagrant ssh"

Terminate SSH session

To terminate the SSH session press *COMMAND+D* in mac (in other OS *CTRL+D*) or type `logout` or `exit`

Suspend the virtual machine

"vagrant suspend"

 Forcefully shut down the virtual machine

"vagrant halt"

Destroy your virtual machine

To destroy your virtual machine run the following command. This will terminate your virtual machine. To run your virtual machine again just run vagrant up.

"vagrant destroy"

Vagrant 3

Vagrant Box

To start a virtual machine, you need one base image. In vagrant, these base images are called **boxes**. You need to download a desired box only once, then Vagrant uses this box to quickly clone a virtual machine. Any changes to this box will apply only to the copy of the box and the original box is left unchanged.
To quickly add a box without creating a Vagrantfile, you can run the following command:

"vagrant box add generic/centos7"

To get a catalog of boxes go to HashiCorp’s Vagrant cloud You can also host your custom box here.

If you want to manually create a script file and add a box in it, write the following code in a file named Vagrantfile.

"vim Vagrantfile
Vagrant.configure("2") do |config| = "generic/centos7"
 To add a specific version
  config.vm.box_version = "3.6.12"
  Below line will sync your host directory
  to a VM directory.
  First argument is a host path
  Second argument is a VM path
  config.vm.synced_folder "./", "/vagrant_data"

Start the virtual machine

"vagrant up
vagrant status
vagrant ssh"

Vagrant 4

 Synchronize host and guest files

There are times when you want to copy some files to and from your host to the virtual machine. It can be some scripts or your entire project directory. This functionality is quite handy when you want to edit your program files in your host machine on your favourite IDE and run them inside your virtual machine.
By default, vagrant syncs the Vagrantfile with the virtual machine at *path /vagrant*. This path is different from the one you will be after SSH into the virtual machine *(/home/vagrant).*
To test this feature, create a file/folder inside the virtual machine at location /vagrant and check the same in your host machine.

"ls -l /vagrant_data/
touch /vagrant_data/myfile

Vagrant 5

If syncing is not working, then follow the troubleshooting tip #1 at the end of the blog. 

Provision a custom virtual machine

With the following Vagrantfile, you need to pre-install apache web server and configure it before you login in to the VM. This is useful when you want to automatically install desired tools every time you start your virtual machine.

Configure Vagrant File

"vim Vagrantfile
Vagrant.configure("2") do |config| = "hashicorp/bionic64"
  config.vm.provision "shell", path: "scripts/"
  config.vm.synced_folder "./", "/vagrant"


Create a directory in your host machine and add an index file

"mkdir html/
vim html/index.html
    <h3>Welcome to vagrant tutorial !!!</h3>

Create a script to configure and start the apache web server

"mkdir scripts/
vim scripts/

#!/usr/bin/env bash
apt-get update
apt-get install -y apache2 w3m
if ! [ -L /var/www ]; then
  rm -rf /var/www
  ln -fs /vagrant /var/www

If you are provisioning this virtual machine for the first time, then run

"vagrant up"

Else if you have already run the above command, and your virtual machines are in a running state, then instead of destroying and recreating virtual machines you can just reload the changes with

"vagrant reload ---provision"

In case you get the following error then follow troubleshooting tip #1

Vagrant 6

You need to run the following commands for accessing the apache webserver :

"vagrant ssh
curl http://localhost:80
w3m http://localhost:80"

Port forwarding configuration

Vagrant port forwarding allows you to access a port on the virtual machine by linking it to a port on the host machine. Now let’s see how it works. You will access a port on the host machine, and all the network traffic is internally routed to the configured port on a virtual machine.

Modified Vagrantfile with port forwarded looks like the following (highlighted port forwarded code)

vim Vagrantfile
Vagrant.configure("2") do |config| = "hashicorp/bionic64"
  config.vm.provision "shell", path: "scripts/"
  config.vm.synced_folder "./", "/vagrant" "forwarded_port", guest: 80, host: 1234

Reload your virtual machines to let your changes take effect 

Now try to access your webserver from a browser in your host machine


List Box Files

"vagrant box list"

To remove a particular box file

"vagrant box remove hashicorp/bionic64
vagrant box remove generic/centos7"

Troubleshooting Tips:

  1. If syncing between host and guest is not working, then install vagrant-vbguest plugin.

Note: This is not a vagrant official plugin

"vagrant plugin install vagrant-vbguest
vagrant reload --provision"

By using HashiCorp’s vagrant tool, you can easily create and manage virtual machines and automate the process of configuring virtual machines. For more functionalities of Vagrant visit the official website of HashiCorp’s Vagrant here.

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