Welcome!

Blog Feed Post

Building Vagrant Machines with Packer

Building Vagrant Machines with Packer

Sharing a common development environment with everyone on your team is important. It is really hard though to keep the same dependencies, database versions and other systems in sync between different machines.

Vagrant is a great tool that helps with this and manage the lifecycle of a virtual machine. As nice as Vagrant is, provisioning machines with it has always been a pain. A couple of months ago Mitchell Hashimoto, the creator of Vagrant, launched Packer.

Packer lets you build Virtual Machine Images for different providers from one json file. You can use the same file and commands to build an image on AWS, Digital Ocean or for virtualbox and vagrant. This makes it possible to use exactly the same system for development which you then create in production.

In this blog post we will show you how you can use Packer to build your vagrant machines. In a follow up post we will focus on how we use Packer for building all of our Continuous Deployment Infrastructure.

Prerequisites for building Vagrant Machines

You need Virtualbox and Packer installed. Virtualbox provides packages for different Operating systems. Packer is even easier, just download the right zip for your system and unzip it into your PATH

Building your Virtual Machine with Packer

We’ve collected all the files necessary to build a Vagrant Machine with Packer in our Packer Example repository.

Packer uses builders, provisioners and post-processors as the main configuraition attributes. A builder can for example be virtualbox or AWS. A provisioner can be used to run different scripts. Post-processors can be run after the machine image is done. For example converting a Virtualbox image into a suitable image for vagrant is done in a post-processor.

Here is the main packer.json file. You can see the builder, provisioner and post-processor defined:

{
  "provisioners": [
    {
      "type": "shell",
      "scripts": [
        "scripts/root_setup.sh"
      ],
      "override": {
        "virtualbox": {
          "execute_command": "echo 'vagrant' | sudo -S sh '{{ .Path }}'"
        }
      }
    },
    {
      "type": "shell",
      "scripts": [
        "scripts/setup.sh"
      ]
    }
  ],
  "builders": [
    {
      "type": "virtualbox",
      "boot_command": [
        "<esc><esc><enter><wait>",
        "/install/vmlinuz noapic preseed/url=http://{{ .HTTPIP }}:{{ .HTTPPort }}/preseed.cfg <wait>",
        "debian-installer=en_US auto locale=en_US kbd-chooser/method=us <wait>",
        "hostname={{ .Name }} <wait>",
        "fb=false debconf/frontend=noninteractive <wait>",
        "keyboard-configuration/modelcode=SKIP keyboard-configuration/layout=USA keyboard-configuration/variant=USA console-setup/ask_detect=false <wait>",
        "initrd=/install/initrd.gz -- <enter><wait>"
      ],
      "boot_wait": "4s",
      "guest_os_type": "Ubuntu_64",
      "http_directory": "http",
      "iso_checksum": "4d1a8b720cdd14b76ed9410c63a00d0e",
      "iso_checksum_type": "md5",
      "iso_url": "http://releases.ubuntu.com/13.10/ubuntu-13.10-server-amd64.iso",
      "ssh_username": "vagrant",
      "ssh_password": "vagrant",
      "ssh_port": 22,
      "ssh_wait_timeout": "10000s",
      "shutdown_command": "echo 'shutdown -P now' > shutdown.sh; echo 'vagrant'|sudo -S sh 'shutdown.sh'",
      "guest_additions_path": "VBoxGuestAdditions_{{.Version}}.iso",
      "headless": false,
      "virtualbox_version_file": ".vbox_version",
      "vboxmanage": [
        [
          "modifyvm",
          "{{.Name}}",
          "--memory",
          "2048"
        ],
        [
          "modifyvm",
          "{{.Name}}",
          "--cpus",
          "4"
        ]
      ]
    }
  ],
  "post-processors": ["vagrant"]
}

It builds for virtualbox and then exports it into vagrant. The http folder contains a preseed.cfg file that is necessary to set up Ubuntu.

In the scripts folder you can find a root_setup.sh and setup.sh scripts.

The root_setup.sh script sets up necessary packages and parameters for Vagrant:

#!/bin/bash

set -e

# Updating and Upgrading dependencies
sudo apt-get update -y -qq > /dev/null
sudo apt-get upgrade -y -qq > /dev/null

# Install necessary libraries for guest additions and Vagrant NFS Share
sudo apt-get -y -q install linux-headers-$(uname -r) build-essential dkms nfs-common

# Install necessary dependencies
sudo apt-get -y -q install curl wget git tmux firefox xvfb vim

# Setup sudo to allow no-password sudo for "admin"
groupadd -r admin
usermod -a -G admin vagrant
cp /etc/sudoers /etc/sudoers.orig
sed -i -e '/Defaults\s\+env_reset/a Defaults\texempt_group=admin' /etc/sudoers
sed -i -e 's/%admin ALL=(ALL) ALL/%admin ALL=NOPASSWD:ALL/g' /etc/sudoers

#Install Redis
sudo apt-get -y -q install libjemalloc1
wget -q http://d7jrzzvab3wte.cloudfront.net/checkbot/deb/redis-server_2.6.13-1_a...
sha1sum redis-server_2.6.13-1_amd64.deb | grep 'ab50cf037fd63e160946f8946b6d318cdf11800d'
dpkg -i redis-server_2.6.13-1_amd64.deb
rm redis-server_2.6.13-1_amd64.deb

# Install required libraries for RVM and Ruby
sudo apt-get -y -q install gawk libreadline6-dev zlib1g-dev libssl-dev libyaml-dev libsqlite3-dev sqlite3 autoconf libgdbm-dev libncurses5-dev automake libtool bison pkg-config libffi-dev libxml2-dev libxslt-dev libxml2


# Install Postgresql
sudo apt-get -y -q install postgresql libpq-dev postgresql-contrib

# Set Password to test for user postgres
sudo -u postgres psql -c "ALTER USER postgres WITH PASSWORD 'test';"

The setup.sh script install different dependencies like ruby or redis to set up the virtual machine exactly how you need it:

#!/bin/bash

set -e

echo "Instaling for rof"

# Installing vagrant keys
mkdir ~/.ssh
chmod 700 ~/.ssh
cd ~/.ssh
wget --no-check-certificate 'https://raw.github.com/mitchellh/vagrant/master/keys/vagrant.pub' -O authorized_keys
chmod 600 ~/.ssh/authorized_keys
chown -R vagrant ~/.ssh

# Node.js Setup
wget --retry-connrefused -q -O - https://raw.github.com/creationix/nvm/master/install.sh | sh
source ~/.nvm/nvm.sh

nvm install 0.10.18
nvm alias default 0.10.18

echo "source ~/.nvm/nvm.sh" >> ~/.bash_profile

# RVM Install
wget --retry-connrefused -q -O - https://get.rvm.io | bash -s stable
source /home/vagrant/.rvm/scripts/rvm

rvm autolibs read-fail

rvm install 2.0.0-p195

gem install bundler zeus

You don’t have any limits what you can run in your virtual machine through these scripts.

Building the Machine

We’ve added a create_box.sh script that makes it easy for you to get started

#!/bin/bash

set -e

#export PACKER_LOG=1
rm packer_virtualbox_virtualbox.box || true
packer build -only=virtualbox packer.json
vagrant box remove vagrant_machine || true
vagrant box add vagrant_machine packer/packer_virtualbox_virtualbox.box

You will then see Virtualbox start up and build the machine

Packer Virtualbox

Run the script and it will create the packer machine and import it into vagrant. Then all you have to do is run

vagrant destroy
vagrant up

And you have your development environment set up.

You can now get into the machine with vagrant ssh and start coding.

Codeship – A hosted Continuous Deployment platform for web applications

Conclusions

Vagrant is an incredibly powerful tool and together with Packer it is easy to build development environments for your whole team.

But this is only the beginning. Packer can go much further than just providing your development environment. We are currently implementing Packer as the tool to build all of our test infrastructure servers. This new set of tools is great for Immutable Infrastructure and Continuous Deployment so you can build more stable, secure and easy to change infrastructure than ever before.

Let us know in the comments how you use Packer and Vagrant. We are excited to hear your thoughts!

Additional Links

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Manuel Weiss

I am the cofounder of Codeship – a hosted Continuous Integration and Deployment platform for web applications. On the Codeship blog we love to write about Software Testing, Continuos Integration and Deployment. Also check out our weekly screencast series 'Testing Tuesday'!

Latest Stories
What sort of WebRTC based applications can we expect to see over the next year and beyond? One way to predict development trends is to see what sorts of applications startups are building. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Arin Sime, founder of WebRTC.ventures, discussed the current and likely future trends in WebRTC application development based on real requests for custom applications from real customers, as well as other public sources of information.
Your homes and cars can be automated and self-serviced. Why can't your storage? From simply asking questions to analyze and troubleshoot your infrastructure, to provisioning storage with snapshots, recovery and replication, your wildest sci-fi dream has come true. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, provided a ChatOps demo where you can talk to your storage and manage it from anywhere, through Slack and similar services with...
The financial services market is one of the most data-driven industries in the world, yet it’s bogged down by legacy CPU technologies that simply can’t keep up with the task of querying and visualizing billions of records. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Karthik Lalithraj, a Principal Solutions Architect at Kinetica, discussed how the advent of advanced in-database analytics on the GPU makes it possible to run sophisticated data science workloads on the same database that is housing the rich...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to w...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Massive Networks mission is simple. To help your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions. Improve your customer's experience with outstanding connections to your cloud.
In the enterprise today, connected IoT devices are everywhere – both inside and outside corporate environments. The need to identify, manage, control and secure a quickly growing web of connections and outside devices is making the already challenging task of security even more important, and onerous. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Rich Boyer, CISO and Chief Architect for Security at NTT i3, discussed new ways of thinking and the approaches needed to address the emerging challenges of security i...
"We want to show that our solution is far less expensive with a much better total cost of ownership so we announced several key features. One is called geo-distributed erasure coding, another is support for KVM and we introduced a new capability called Multi-Part," explained Tim Desai, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Hitachi Data Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
There is a huge demand for responsive, real-time mobile and web experiences, but current architectural patterns do not easily accommodate applications that respond to events in real time. Common solutions using message queues or HTTP long-polling quickly lead to resiliency, scalability and development velocity challenges. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ryland Degnan, a Senior Software Engineer on the Netflix Edge Platform team, will discuss how by leveraging a reactive stream-based protocol,...
FinTechs use the cloud to operate at the speed and scale of digital financial activity, but are often hindered by the complexity of managing security and compliance in the cloud. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Sesh Murthy, co-founder and CTO of Cloud Raxak, showed how proactive and automated cloud security enables FinTechs to leverage the cloud to achieve their business goals. Through business-driven cloud security, FinTechs can speed time-to-market, diminish risk and costs, maintain continu...
DX World EXPO, LLC., a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Mike Johnston, an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io, discussed how to use Kubernetes to set up a SaaS infrastructure for your business. Mike Johnston is an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io with over 12 years of experience designing, deploying, and maintaining server and workstation infrastructure at all scales. He has experience with brick and mortar data centers as well as cloud providers like Digital Ocean, Amazon Web Services, and Rackspace. H...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
"The Striim platform is a full end-to-end streaming integration and analytics platform that is middleware that covers a lot of different use cases," explained Steve Wilkes, Founder and CTO at Striim, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Everything run by electricity will eventually be connected to the Internet. Get ahead of the Internet of Things revolution and join Akvelon expert and IoT industry leader, Sergey Grebnov, in his session at @ThingsExpo, for an educational dive into the world of managing your home, workplace and all the devices they contain with the power of machine-based AI and intelligent Bot services for a completely streamlined experience.
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, will examine the regulations and provide insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence...