Vagrant is a tool rather than a technology unto itself, but as there are a lot of options and configuration that can ruin you day I’ve catalogued many things I find useful.

Provisioning with SaltStack

Provisioning a Vagrant machine using SaltStack is easy but needs a few settings to work. First, start with a recommended box - Debian Jessie x64. = "debian/jessie64" 

I like this box because it’s fairly minimal, offers a good package management system, and seems to work well for most cases. The downside is that it doesn’t have the Virtualbox guest additions installed, and using the SaltStack provisioner requires file synchronisation between host and guest.

vagrant plugin install vagrant-vbguest
config.vbguest.auto_update = true

You can then add a provisioner to use Salt.

## For masterless, mount your salt file root
## requires vbox guest additions for this to work
config.vm.synced_folder "salt/roots/", "/srv/salt/"
## Use all the defaults:
config.vm.provision :salt do |salt|
    salt.masterless = true
    salt.minion_config = "salt/minion"
    salt.run_highstate = true
    salt.verbose = true

This will run on ‘vagrant up’ during first run, or on ‘vagrant provision’ to update.

SaltStack will be covered separately, but if you are desperate for a working example, I’ve put one on GitHub here:

Tricks and tips

Vagrantfile syntax highlighting

In order to make editors such as Vi and Emacs see the Vagrantfile as Ruby, add this snippet to the top of the file. This will give you formatting and syntax highlighting.

# -*- mode: ruby -*-
# vi: set ft=ruby : 

Using libvirt on Linux

On Linux, instead of VirtualBox you may want to use libvirt as a hypervisor. This is possible by installing some plugins, converting the box, then starting using a different provider.

vagrant plugin install vagrant-libvirt
vagrant plugin install vagrant-mutate
vagrant mutate ubuntu/vivid64 libvirt
vagrant up --provider=libvirt

debug vagrant

To output verbose information when using Vagrant:

VAGRANT_LOG=INFO vagrant ssh

To output extremely verbose information when using Vagrant:


This also works with other commands, such as ‘vagrant up’ and ‘vagrant provision’, and can yield a lot of useful information when diagnosing unexpected behaviour.

Global options

If you want or need to make settings across all your machines, or want to have settings that apply to only your personal environment, you can put then in  /.vagrant.d/Vagrantfile.

Virtualbox guest additions

Installing the vagrant-vbguest plugin then adding this single line to the Vagrant file will cause the vbox guest additions to be updated or added if they are missing.

  config.vbguest.auto_update = true

Useful plugins

Vagrant can extended using plugins, many of which are rather useful.

vagrant plugin install vagrant-libvirt

Enable the libvirt provider. You can use this with:

vagrant up --provider=libvirt
vagrant plugin install vagrant-mutate

- this gives the facility to change the vagrant box to be compatible with alternative providers.

vagrant mutate ubuntu/vivid64 libvirt
vagrant plugin install vagrant-vbguest

- installs the guest addtions for virtualbox, which generally improves file sharing and GUI operations.

vagrant plugin install vagrant-proxyconf

- enables using a proxy for the guest machine. Add these lines to make it use a proxy

if Vagrant.has_plugin?("vagrant-proxyconf")
    config.proxy.http     = ""
    config.proxy.https    = ""
    config.proxy.no_proxy = "localhost,,"

You can find more information on this plugin and the source code here:


We covered some usages of Vagrant and options that can help.

  • verbose debugging output

  • how to set global options

  • useful plugins, including installation of Virtualbox guest additions, proxy configuration for corporate environments, and using libvirt on Linux.