Did your colleague ever tell you I am unable to run the app on my computer because … or It works on my machine? From now on, this is never going to be a problem again.

What is Vagrant?

Vagrant is a tool for building and managing virtual machine environments. Vagrant is not a virtualization tool. Therefore, you have to get some.

Vagrant comes with out-of-the-box support for Virtualbox which is the most popular, free, and cross-platform. However, it is not the only option. Vagrant also works with VMware, Hyper-V, and Docker.


  • Reproducible and portable environment
  • Automation
  • Same environment as production server
  • All configuration files are plain text files (VCS love it!)
  • Developer works in his favourite OS, the app runs in a virtual environment
  • Fast start for a new team member


It is not recommended to install Vagrant using package managers. Use direct download instead.

Install Virtualbox (or else).

Install Vagrant using a binary package. Debian, Windows, Centos, and Mac OS X systems are supported.

Getting boxes

A box is an image of a virtual machine. You can also create your own box if you desire to do so. However, for most cases, it is a huge speedup for you and your team to utilise already made boxes.

Adding a box

Naming convention of boxes is following: <username>/<box-name>

Let’s say we have chosen the ubuntu/xenial64 box. We could use the box right a way but it is useful to add the box to Vagrant so that multiple Vagrant environments can reuse it (It will take a while to download the box).

$ vagrant box add ubuntu/xenial64

Now we can verify that the box was added.

$ vagrant box list

Initialise a project with Vagrant

First, move to the root of your project. Then execute following:

$ vagrant init ubuntu/xenial64

This will create a Vagrantfile with content:

Vagrant.configure("2") do |config|
  config.vm.box = "ubuntu/xenial64"

Surprising but that’s all.

Running a VM and accessing it

Now we are ready to boot the Vagrant environment.

$ vagrant up

There is no UI to access the VM. Therefore, we use the good old SSH.

$ vagrant ssh

How do I transfer files to VM?

Everything in your project folder is automatically synchronised with VM by Vagrant. It appears in /vagrant/ folder.

Let’s try it.

1) Create a new file in your project folder (not in VM)

$ echo "Hello world!" > hello.txt

2) Then go to VM.

$ vagrant ssh

3) List files in /vagrant/ directory.

[email protected]:~$ ls -la /vagrant/
total 68
drwxrwxr-x  1 ubuntu ubuntu  4096 Jul 26 18:26 .
drwxr-xr-x 24 root   root    4096 Jul 26 18:08 ..
drwxrwxr-x  1 ubuntu ubuntu  4096 Jul 26 18:06 .vagrant
-rw-rw-r--  1 ubuntu ubuntu  3022 Jul 26 17:58 Vagrantfile
-rw-rw-r--  1 ubuntu ubuntu    13 Jul 26 18:26 hello.txt
-rw-------  1 ubuntu ubuntu 46138 Jul 26 18:08 ubuntu-xenial-16.04-cloudimg-console.log

Update your box

The following command will download the new version for your box.

$ vagrant box update

Note that updating the box will not update an already-running Vagrant machine. To reflect the changes in the box, you will have to destroy and bring back up the Vagrant machine.

If you want just to check for updates:

$ vagrant box outdated

Since updating installs new boxes (and leaves the old ones) it is a good practice to remove old boxes from time to time.

$ vagrant box prune

Finishing the work

We can either shut the VM down, suspend or destroy.

Shut down

$ vagrant halt

Halting the virtual machine shuts down the guest operating system and powers down the guest machine. You can use vagrant up when you are ready to boot it again.


$ vagrant suspend

Suspending saves the current running state of the machine and stops it. When you are ready to begin working again, just run vagrant up, and it will be resumed from where you left off.


$ vagrant destroy

Destroying the virtual machine removes all traces of the guest machine from your system. It’ll stop the guest machine, power it down, and remove all of the guest hard disks.

CLI overview

  • vagrant box add <username>/<box-name> – Add a box
  • vagrant box list – List all the boxes that are installed
  • vagrant box update – Update the box for the current environment if there are updates available
  • vagrant box outdated – Check if the box you are using in your current environment is outdated.
  • vagrant box prune – Remove old versions of installed boxes
  • vagrant up – Create and configure guest machine using your Vagrantfile
  • vagrant halt – Shut down the running machine
  • vagrant suspend – Suspend the guest machine
  • vagrant destroy – Stop the running machine and destroy all resources that were created during the machine creation process.


Setting up a development environment with the virtual machine is a piece of cake with Vagrant. Next time I am going to show you how to set up a LAMP environment.