The following topic is for advanced users. The majority of Vagrant users will never have to do this. Therefore, only continue if you want to create a custom operating system. People wishing to distribute changes to an existing base box should see the packaging guide. If you continue with this guide, you will need a decent knowledge of the command line and the specific command line tools available on the system you are installing.
There is a special category of boxes in Vagrant known as a “base boxes”. These boxes are ones which contain the bare bones necessary for Vagrant to function. The basic requirements of a base box are as follows:
The above are absolutely required of a base box in order to work properly with Vagrant. The versions of those requirements however are up to you, as long as they are working properly.
While Vagrant was initially released with password-based SSH support, this proved to be difficult to support across multiple platforms. Instead, we switched to supporting only key-based authentication which has made cross platform support much easier.
Base boxes must be created using the VirtualBox tool itself. This documentation will not cover the basics of setting up the virtual machine except for some specific guidelines to follow:
Now this is really important: Make sure the network controller is set to NAT. For port forwarding to work properly, NAT must be used. Bridged connects are not supported since it requires the machine to specify which device it is bridged to, which is unknown.
Now go ahead and boot up the Virtual Machine, insert the DVD or attach the ISO file you’re installing the operating system from, and follow the install procedure.
Having an environment you can send and have others boot up is really neat, but not very portable if your file is a 5 GB download. Even 1 GB is pushing the limits. You should aim for a final Box size of no more than 500 MB. In order to achieve that size, there is a few things you can do.
--no-rdoc --no-rior consider removing all documentation afterwards using
rm -r "$(gem env gemdir)"/doc/*.
Choice is a good thing, so just about everything in Vagrant can be changed. However, it's easier for others to use Vagrant when you follow a set of conventions. Now, while these aren't enforced conventions, if you plan to distribute the box, it is recommended you follow the following where possible:
Also keep in mind that, in order to simplify configurations, Vagrant make assumptions about the main account login/password. It will assume the text 'vagrant' for both values. If any of these are changed, you will need to remember to specify them in the Vagrantfile using the appropriate configuration methods before packaging the box.
Once the Virtual Machine is created, boot it up if it isn’t already. Then let’s start by making sure the default account has proper permissions. Specifically, the main user should have password-less
sudo privileges. We do this by running
su and entering the root password you entered during the installation of the operating system. Once logged in, run
visudo and set the admin group to use no password. Additionally, set the
env_keep variable to
"SSH_AUTH_SOCK" so the connection to the forward agent is kept when
sudo is run. That way provisioners may run commands as other users and authenticate against the forward agent.
Note: Some bare bones systems will not include
sudo by default. If
visudo is not an available command, install the
sudo package for your operating system.
The line you should add in the
visudo configuration to do that looks like this:
%admin ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD: ALL
Once that is setup, you may need to make the ‘admin’ group, and you then need to assign the main user to that group (on Debian and Ubuntu systems, this is done with the
usermod utilities. Consult the documentation for the commands your operating system uses).
Then restart sudo using
/etc/init.d/sudo restart (command may differ depending on operating system). Finally, verify that sudo works without a password, but running
exit out of the root account, then
sudo which sudo. You should get output similar to
Some distros automatically enable
requiretty within the sudo
configuration. If so, there will be a line that looks like
Make sure this line is commented, otherwise Vagrant will fail.
Now we have the permissions, let’s gets shared folders and port forwarding working so we can harness the full power Vagrant has to offer. There are various guides across the internet explaining how to set up the Virtualbox Guest Additions, but for most unix-based systems, the following will work just fine.
First, build the necessary packages. You may have to look these up for your system, but they should be fairly similar. On Ubuntu and Debian based systems they are as follows:
$ sudo apt-get install linux-headers-$(uname -r) build-essential
Next, make sure to insert the guest additions image by using the GUI and clicking on “Devices” followed by “Install Guest Additions.”. Then run the following to mount the CD Rom:
$ sudo mount /dev/cdrom /media/cdrom
And finally, run the shell script which matches your system. For linux on x86, it is the following:
sudo sh /media/cdrom/VBoxLinuxAdditions.run
If you didn’t install a Desktop environment when you installed the operating system, as recommended to reduce size, the install of the VirtualBox additions should warn you about the lack of OpenGL or Window System Drivers, but you can safely ignore this.
We need to setup the software Vagrant relies on. The required software is listed below:
These are typically straightforward to install using the operating systems default package management tools, so the details won’t be gone into here. If prompted, make sure that the SSH package is set to use basic username/password authentication and write down the username/password for later.
Since Vagrant only supports key-based authentication for SSH, you must setup the SSH user to use key-based authentication. This simply requires copying a public key into
If you plan on distributing this base box as a public box, Vagrant provides an “insecure” pair of public and private keys which are available here. By using the public key in that box, any Vagrant installation will automatically be able to connect to your box since Vagrant defaults to using that insecure private key.
If this box is meant to be private, we recommend you create your own custom pair of keys and set that up. Users of your box can then specify the private key you created by setting
In order to keep SSH access speedy even when your host computer can't
access the internet, be sure to set
/etc/ssh/sshd_config. This will disable DNS lookup of
clients connecting to the server, which speeds up SSH connection.
By default, Vagrant only forwards SSH (from port 22 to 2222 with automatic port collision fixing enabled). If you want to modify any defaults or add any other ports to forward, you will have to package a Vagrantfile with your box. You can create a Vagrantfile in any directory.
In the next section when the base box is packaged, it’ll explain how to include your custom Vagrantfile.
Now that you have a completed virtual machine and possibly its accompanying Vagrantfile, the final step is to package the contents into a “box” file and distribute it. Packaging is done from Vagrant itself. Open a terminal and go to the directory where your base box’s Vagrantfile is, if you made one. If you didn’t make one, you can be in any directory.
vagrant package, specifying the name of the virtual machine in VirtualBox that you want to package. If you created a custom Vagrantfile, don’t forget to add
--vagrantfile Vagrantfile at the end of the following command as well to include that in the package.
$ vagrant package --base my_base_box
This will take a few minutes, but the export will show you a progress bar. The result is a file named
package.box within the same directory which can be distributed and installed by Vagrant users.
It would be a good idea to try and add this box to your own Vagrant installation, setup a test environment, and try ssh in.
$ vagrant box add my_box package.box $ mkdir test_environment $ cd test_environment $ vagrant init my_box $ vagrant up $ vagrant ssh