Basic Provider Usage


Vagrant boxes are all provider-specific. A box for VirtualBox is incompatible with the VMware Fusion provider, or any other provider. A box must be installed for each provider, and can share the same name as other boxes as long as the providers differ. So you can have both a VirtualBox and VMware Fusion "precise64" box.

Installing boxes has not changed at all:

$ vagrant box add \
  precise64 https://files.hashicorp.com/precise64.box

Vagrant now automatically detects what provider a box is for. This is visible when listing boxes. Vagrant puts the provider in parentheses next to the name, as can be seen below.

$ vagrant box list
precise64 (virtualbox)
precise64 (vmware_fusion)

Vagrant Up

Once a provider is installed, you can use it by calling vagrant up with the --provider flag. This will force Vagrant to use that specific provider. No other configuration is necessary!

In normal day-to-day usage, the --provider flag is not necessary since Vagrant can usually pick the right provider for you. More details on how it does this is below.

$ vagrant up --provider=vmware_fusion

If you specified a --provider flag, you only need to do this for the up command. Once a machine is up and running, Vagrant is able to see what provider is backing a running machine, so commands such as destroy, suspend, etc. do not need to be told what provider to use.

Vagrant currently restricts you to bringing up one provider per machine. If you have a multi-machine environment, you can bring up one machine backed by VirtualBox and another backed by VMware Fusion, for example, but you cannot back the same machine with both VirtualBox and VMware Fusion. This is a limitation that will be removed in a future version of Vagrant.

Default Provider

As mentioned earlier, you typically do not need to specify --provider ever. Vagrant is smart enough about being able to detect the provider you want for a given environment.

Vagrant attempts to find the default provider in the following order:

  1. The --provider flag on a vagrant up is chosen above all else, if it is present.

  2. If the VAGRANT_DEFAULT_PROVIDER environmental variable is set, it takes next priority and will be the provider chosen.

  3. Vagrant will go through all of the config.vm.provider calls in the Vagrantfile and try each in order. It will choose the first provider that is usable. For example, if you configure Hyper-V, it will never be chosen on Mac this way. It must be both configured and usable.

  4. Vagrant will go through all installed provider plugins (including the ones that come with Vagrant), and find the first plugin that reports it is usable. There is a priority system here: systems that are known better have a higher priority than systems that are worse. For example, if you have the VMware provider installed, it will always take priority over VirtualBox.

  5. If Vagrant still has not found any usable providers, it will error.

Using this method, there are very few cases that Vagrant does not find the correct provider for you. This also allows each Vagrantfile to define what providers the development environment is made for by ordering provider configurations.

A trick is to use config.vm.provider with no configuration at the top of your Vagrantfile to define the order of providers you prefer to support:

Vagrant.configure("2") do |config|
  # ... other config up here

  # Prefer VMware Fusion before VirtualBox
  config.vm.provider "vmware_fusion"
  config.vm.provider "virtualbox"

© 2010–2017 Mitchell Hashimoto
Licensed under the MPL 2.0 License.