Vagrant Docker

If you are build a saas, using VMs and management tools. You will find vagrant is useful for additional features.

But Virtual machines take too much time to load. Now there is a new trending called using docker. Docker is written in go, if you haven’t heard of, you should probably go to check it out. In this article I am going to run a docker container in vagrant virtual machine

What is vagrant

Vagrant is a tool for building complete development environments. With an easy-to-use workflow and focus on automation, Vagrant lowers development environment setup time, increases development/production parity, and makes the “works on my machine” excuse a relic of the past.

you can also think it as a VM without the GUI. At its core, Vagrant is a simple wrapper around Virtualbox/VMware.

A few interesting features:

  • Boatloads of existing images, just check for example.
  • Snapshot and package your current machine to a Vagrant box file (and, consequently, share it back).
  • Ability to fine tune settings of the VM, including things like RAM, CPU, APIC…
  • Vagrantfiles. This allows you to setup your box on init: installing packages, modifying configuration, moving code around…
  • Integration with CM tools like Puppet, Chef and Ansible.

Install vagrant

Check the docs


Docker is a Linux container, based on lxc (self-described as “chroot on steroids”) and AUFS. Instead of providing a full VM, like you get with Vagrant, Docker provides you lightweight containers, that share the same kernel and allow to safely execute independent processes.

Docker is attractive for many reasons:

  • Lightweight; images are much lighter than full VMs, and spinning off a new instance is lightning fast (in the range of seconds instead of minutes).
  • Version control of the images, which makes it much more convenient to handle builds.
  • Lots of images (again), just have a look at the docker public index of images.

Now Let’s get started.

  • You should have virtualbox and vagrant ready.
  • download an image
$ vagrant init precise64
$ vagrant up
$ vagrant ssh
  • you are all done
  • There’s a 4 if you want to access your (soon to be) deployed app; you will need to dig around the Vagrant documentation to perform port forwarding, proper networking and update manually your Vagrantfile

in virtualbox now

 $ sudo apt-get update
 $ sudo apt-get install linux-image-generic-lts-raring linux-headers-generic-lts-raring
 $ sudo reboot
 $ sudo sh -c "curl | apt-key add -"
 $ sudo sh -c "echo deb docker main > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/docker.list"
 $ sudo apt-get update
 $ sudo apt-get install lxc-docker
  • verity it worked by trying to build your first container:

$ sudo docker run -i -t ubuntu /bin/bash

  • let’s create a Dockerfile to build a new image
FROM ubuntu

 # Update apt sources list to fetch mongodb and a few key packages
 RUN echo "deb precise universe" >> /etc/apt/sources.list
 RUN apt-get update
 RUN apt-get install -y python git

 # Finally - we wanna be able to SSH in
 RUN apt-get install -y openssh-server
 RUN mkdir /var/run/sshd
 RUN echo 'root:screencast' | chpasswd

 # And we want our SSH key to be added
 RUN mkdir /root/.ssh && chmod 700 /root/.ssh
 ADD /root/.ssh/authorized_keys
 ADD /root/.ssh/
 ADD id_rsa /root/.ssh/id_rsa
 RUN chmod 400 /root/.ssh/authorized_keys && chown root:root /root/.ssh/* && chmod 600 /root/.ssh/*

 # Expose a bunch of ports .. 22 for SSH and 3000 for our node app
 EXPOSE 22 3000

 CMD /usr/sbin/sshd -D
  • get ssh-key
$ ssh-keygen
$ cp -a /home/vagrant/.ssh/ .
$ cp -a /home/vagrant/.ssh/id_rsa .
  • Now build it, more info about ssh into docker can be found here

sudo docker build -t eg_sshd .

Then run it. You can then use docker port to find out what host port the container’s port 22 is mapped to:

$ sudo docker run -d -P --name test_sshd eg_sshd
$ sudo docker port test_sshd 22

And now you can ssh to port 49153 on the Docker daemon’s host IP address (ip address or ifconfig can tell you that):

$ ssh root@ -p 49153

Now you are in a docker container. Yeah! Finally, clean up after your test by stopping and removing the container, and then removing the image.

$ sudo docker stop test_sshd
$ sudo docker rm test_sshd
$ sudo docker rmi eg_sshd

Let’s wrap it up

So we just saw (roughly) how these tools can be used, and how they can be complementary:

Vagrant will provide you with a full VM, including the OS. It’s great at providing you a Linux environment for example when you’re on MacOS. Docker is a lightweight VM of some sort. It will allow you to build contained architectures faster and cheaper than with Vagrant.

It takes a bit of reading to get more familiar with these tools, this kind of technology allows you to automate and commoditize huge parts of your development and ops workflows. I strongly encourage you to make that investment. It has helped me tremendously increase the pace and quality of my throughput.