Shell Provisioner

Provisioner name: "shell"

The Vagrant Shell provisioner allows you to upload and execute a script within the guest machine.

Shell provisioning is ideal for users new to Vagrant who want to get up and running quickly and provides a strong alternative for users who are not comfortable with a full configuration management system such as Chef or Puppet.

For POSIX-like machines, the shell provisioner executes scripts with SSH. For Windows guest machines that are configured to use WinRM, the shell provisioner executes PowerShell and Batch scripts over WinRM.


The shell provisioner takes various options. One of inline or path is required:

  • inline (string) - Specifies a shell command inline to execute on the remote machine. See the inline scripts section below for more information.

  • path (string) - Path to a shell script to upload and execute. It can be a script relative to the project Vagrantfile or a remote script (like a gist).

The remainder of the available options are optional:

  • args (string or array) - Arguments to pass to the shell script when executing it as a single string. These arguments must be written as if they were typed directly on the command line, so be sure to escape characters, quote, etc. as needed. You may also pass the arguments in using an array. In this case, Vagrant will handle quoting for you.

  • env (hash) - List of key-value pairs to pass in as environment variables to the script. Vagrant will handle quoting for environment variable values, but the keys remain untouched.

  • binary (boolean) - Vagrant automatically replaces Windows line endings with Unix line endings. If this is false, then Vagrant will not do this. By default this is "false". If the shell provisioner is communicating over WinRM, this defaults to "true".

  • privileged (boolean) - Specifies whether to execute the shell script as a privileged user or not (sudo). By default this is "true". Windows guests use a scheduled task to run as a true administrator without the WinRM limitations.

  • upload_path (string) - Is the remote path where the shell script will be uploaded to. The script is uploaded as the SSH user over SCP, so this location must be writable to that user. By default this is "/tmp/vagrant-shell". On Windows, this will default to "C:\tmp\vagrant-shell".

  • keep_color (boolean) - Vagrant automatically colors output in green and red depending on whether the output is from stdout or stderr. If this is true, Vagrant will not do this, allowing the native colors from the script to be outputted.

  • name (string) - This value will be displayed in the output so that identification by the user is easier when many shell provisioners are present.

  • powershell_args (string) - Extra arguments to pass to PowerShell if you are provisioning with PowerShell on Windows.

  • powershell_elevated_interactive (boolean) - Run an elevated script in interactive mode on Windows. By default this is "false". Must also be privileged. Be sure to enable auto-login for Windows as the user must be logged in for interactive mode to work.

  • md5 (string) - MD5 checksum used to validate remotely downloaded shell files.

  • sha1 (string) - SHA1 checksum used to validate remotely downloaded shell files.

Inline Scripts

Perhaps the easiest way to get started is with an inline script. An inline script is a script that is given to Vagrant directly within the Vagrantfile. An example is best:

Vagrant.configure("2") do |config|
  config.vm.provision "shell",
    inline: "echo Hello, World"

This causes echo Hello, World to be run within the guest machine when provisioners are run.

Combined with a little bit more Ruby, this makes it very easy to embed your shell scripts directly within your Vagrantfile. Another example below:

$script = <<SCRIPT
echo I am provisioning...
date > /etc/vagrant_provisioned_at

Vagrant.configure("2") do |config|
  config.vm.provision "shell", inline: $script

I understand that if you are not familiar with Ruby, the above may seem very advanced or foreign. But do not fear, what it is doing is quite simple: the script is assigned to a global variable $script. This global variable contains a string which is then passed in as the inline script to the Vagrant configuration.

Of course, if any Ruby in your Vagrantfile outside of basic variable assignment makes you uncomfortable, you can use an actual script file, documented in the next section.

For Windows guest machines, the inline script must be PowerShell. Batch scripts are not allowed as inline scripts.

External Script

The shell provisioner can also take an option specifying a path to a shell script on the host machine. Vagrant will then upload this script into the guest and execute it. An example:

Vagrant.configure("2") do |config|
  config.vm.provision "shell", path: "script.sh"

Relative paths, such as above, are expanded relative to the location of the root Vagrantfile for your project. Absolute paths can also be used, as well as shortcuts such as ~ (home directory) and .. (parent directory).

If you use a remote script as part of your provisioning process, you can pass in its URL as the path argument as well:

Vagrant.configure("2") do |config|
  config.vm.provision "shell", path: "https://example.com/provisioner.sh"

If you are running a Batch or PowerShell script for Windows, make sure that the external path has the proper extension (".bat" or ".ps1"), because Windows uses this to determine what kind of file it is to execute. If you exclude this extension, it likely will not work.

To run a script already available on the guest you can use an inline script to invoke the remote script on the guest.

Vagrant.configure("2") do |config|
  config.vm.provision "shell",
    inline: "/bin/sh /path/to/the/script/already/on/the/guest.sh"

Script Arguments

You can parameterize your scripts as well like any normal shell script. These arguments can be specified to the shell provisioner. They should be specified as a string as they'd be typed on the command line, so be sure to properly escape anything:

Vagrant.configure("2") do |config|
  config.vm.provision "shell" do |s|
    s.inline = "echo $1"
    s.args   = "'hello, world!'"

You can also specify arguments as an array if you do not want to worry about quoting:

Vagrant.configure("2") do |config|
  config.vm.provision "shell" do |s|
    s.inline = "echo $1"
    s.args   = ["hello, world!"]

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