Vagrant is a piece of software which allows (re)creation of virtual environments. By default it supports VirtualBox but other “providers” can also be used such as Amazon Web Services, VMware, etc. Vagrant creates virtual machines with specific resources and can also run post creation setup also known as provisionig. Provisioning comes as basic SSH shell commands but this can be extended with platforms such as chef, puppet, etc.
Go here to download the latest version of Vagrant.
The downloaded file needs to be installed:
sudo dpkg -i vagrant_1.3.5_x86_64.deb
Create a directory where the vagrant project will be set up:
go into the project directory and initialise vagrant:
A Vagrant file will be created called Vagrantfile. This file contains the configuration required to provision a new environment. An environment in Vagrant is called a Box. The Vagrantfile should be added to a source control of your choice.
Modify the Vagrantfile to what you want it to create.
Vagrant requires boxes which are prepackaged environments it can create from. Vagrant Cloud is the community site where people can submit boxes for others to use. These boxes are not vetted so take precausitions when choosing a box from the cloud.
One problem I had encountered was the lack of boxes when a new version of a distro comes out. Creating boxes are out of scope of this article.
The Vagrant-Omnibus plugin is required so that it can install vagrant on the new VM. Without it Vagrant won’t be able to provision anything because it doesn’t install Vagrant on the target machine. Run the following command to install the plugin:
vagrant plugin install vagrant-omnibus
The following line needs to be added to the Vagrantfile:
config.omnibus.chef_version = :latest
where :latest is the version of chef it will install. A specific version can be install by changing the above line to something like this:
config.omnibus.chef_version = "11.4.0"
Providers are software or service which provide the boxes. This can range from Virtualbox to AWS. Vagrant by default comes with Virtualbox provider. To install Digital Ocean provider:
vagrant plugin install vagrant-digitalocean
If not already done so, SSH keys need to be generated and added to Digital Ocean:
ssh-keygen -t rsa -C "firstname.lastname@example.org" -b 2048
Make sure you replace the email address above. The defaults should be ok but set a passphrase if you want to password protect the key. The -b 2048 is the key length in bits. I personally wouldn’t go lower than 2048 but it’s personal preference. Longer the key, the more of a performance degradation will appear.
To provision a new box use the following command:
This will create a new droplet of a set size and name.
To specify the provider to use e.g Digital Ocean:
vagrant up --provider=digital_ocean
To delete the VM:
Vagrant is very quick to setup and has a lot of re-usability. Once the Vagrantfile is built up, it can be sent to other people to create the exact same environment which is one of the big appeals. It uses Ruby so some knowledge of Ruby is required as well but the Debian package doesn’t need Ruby or Rails installed to run.