Build Your Vagrant Box From Scratch

Introduction: Vagrant Box

Did you ever experience the pain after your DEV PC crashed? Or the tedious steps to help a new hire to set up his DEV environment? If so, you may be interested in reading the post.

The post will give step-by-step instruction on how to build a virtual DEV enviroment and use Vagrant to make it reusable and shareable. The final artifact is called a BOX in Vagrant world (

Despite there are many public boxes available, we sometimes need to build it from scratch for organization’s security compliance. Packer ( is a tool that helps your automate the build steps, but inevitably you need to build a box manually at exploring phase. And this post will focus on the manual process.

What to Include in the Box

The box we are going to build will include the following:

  • Ubuntu 14.04: with dos2unix, curl, ssh server installed, and with OpenOffice removed
  • Oracle JDK 1.8.0_144, with JCE
  • GIT 2.11.0
  • Eclipse: Oxygen, with code formatter, Gradelw and Maven pre-configured
  • Maven standalone
  • Nodejs, with npm 4.3.1, grunt and bower
  • docker 1.32
  • docker-compose 1.17.0

How to Build Virtual Machine

The following assuming your host is Windows.

  1. Download and Install VirtualBox 5.1.26  from
  2. Download its Guest addition
  3. Download and install Vagrant
  4. Download Ubuntu 14.04 desktop and install it to VirtualBox
    • user name/password: vagrant/vagrant
  5. Shutdown Ubuntu
  6. Customize your virtual machine’s CPU, memory, dual display from VirtualBox settings
  7. Restart Ubuntu, the guest addition should be installed automatically. If not, unmount and remount the cd to the downloaded guest addition ISO file. The disk autorun should kick off automatically and it will install the guest addotion.
  8. Remove Open Office:
    • sudo apt-get remove –purge libreoffice*
    • sudo apt-get clean
    • sudo apt-get autoremove
  9. Remove Amazon application (Note don’t do sudo apt-get remove unity-webapps-common)
    • /usr/share/applications/ubuntu-amazon-default.desktop
  10. Add vagrant user to su
    • $ sudo  visudo
      # Add the following line to the end of the file. 
      vagrant ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD:ALL
  11. Install vagrant public key
    • mkdir -p /home/vagrant/.ssh
    • $ wget –no-check-certificate –O /home/vagrant/.ssh/authorized_keys
    • $ chmod 0700 /home/vagrant/.ssh
    • chmod 0600 /home/vagrant/.ssh/authorized_keys
    • chown –R vagrant /home/vagrant/.ssh
  12. Install ssh server
    • sudo apt-get install -y openssh-server
    • check file /etc/ssh/sshd_config to ensure:
      • Port 22
      • PubKeyAuthentication yes
      • AuthorizedKeysFile  .ssh/authorized_keys


    • $sudo service ssh restart
  13. sudo apt-get dos2unix
  14. Hide Ubuntu taskbar and enable workspace
    • UbuntuSettings.png
  15. Optionally, you can pause here and build your first base box and test it. I omit this step to keep the post short. In fact, you can build a new box after each of the following steps to make reusable intermediate boxes. 
  16. Install Java
    • sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/java
    • sudo apt-get update
    • sudo apt-get install oracle-java8-installer
    • Ensure the file /etc/profile.d/ presents , and contains a line
    • Download JCE from java website to /vagrant, and copy the two jars into /usr/lib/jvm/java-8-oracle/jre/lib/security
    • rm the downloaded files
  17. Install GIT
    • sudo apt-get install git
  18. Install Maven
    • cd /opt
    • sudo wget
    • sudo tar -xvzf apache-maven-3.5.2-bin.tar.gz
    • sudo mv apache-maven-3.5.2 maven
    • sudo nano /etc/profile.d/
      export M2_HOME=/opt/maven
      export PATH=${M2_HOME}/bin:${PATH}
    • sudo chmod +x /etc/profile.d/
    • sudo rm apache-maven-3.5.2-bin.tar.gz
    • log out then log in
    • Edit the /opt/maven/conf/settings.xml to have your maven local and remote repos. For example
  19. Install Eclipse
    • Download Eclipse Linux version from 
    • cd ~/Download


    • tar -zxvf eclipse-inst-linux64.tar.gz


    • sudo chown -R vagrant:vagrant eclipseinstaller


    • cd eclipse-installer


    • ./eclipse-inst


    • select IDE for Java EE Developers

      Use default /home/vagrant/eclipse/jee-oxygen

      use default workspace dir /home/vagrant/eclipse-workspace

      right click the icon and lock to lanucher

      import formatter from file google-java-styleguide.xml


    • sudo nano /etc/profile.d/

      export PATH=/home/vagrant/eclipse/jee-oxygen/eclipse:${PATH}


    • sudo chmod +x /etc/profile.d/
    • Open the preference -> maven -> user settings to ensure the file is pointing to /opt/maven/conf/settings.xml
  20. Install Docker
    • sudo apt-get update
    • sudo apt-get install apt-transport-https ca-certificates curl software-properties-common
    • curl -fsSL | sudo apt-key add –
    • sudo apt-key fingerprint 0EBFCD88                                Verify that you now have the key with the fingerprint 9DC8 5822 9FC7 DD38 854A E2D8 8D81 803C 0EBF CD88
    • sudo add-apt-repository “deb [arch=amd64] $(lsb_release -cs) stable”
    • sudo apt-get install docker-ce
  21. Install docker-compse
  22. Install Node.js

Build and Test Your Vagrant Box

  1. In your Ubuntu:
    • $ sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/EMPTY bs=1M
    • $ sudo rm -f /EMPTY
    • $ sudo cat /dev/null > ~/.bash_history && history -c $$ exit
  2. Then shutdown your VM. Do the following from the host Windows:
    • vagrant package –output
    • vagrant box add ecs-java
  3. Test it from your Windows
    • Create a folder
    • Create a file named  Vagrantfile and save it with the following content
      • Vagrant.configure(“2”) do |config| = “mydev”
        config.vm.provider “virtualbox” do |vb|
        vb.gui = true
    • Run “vagrant up”
    • Wait until command finish
    • Now you can either “vagrant ssh” into it, or you can log into your VM from Ubuntu UI.

Congratulations. You have your DEV environment ready for you!

Share Your Box

Now you can share your box with your colleagues. You can either upload your box to a Vagrant repository, or put it into your shared directory (for example \\myShareDir). Then you insert a line to your vagrant file after the line “” and give it to your colleague.

config.vm.box_url = “file:////mySharedHost/mySharedDir/”

After he installed Vagrant and VirtualBox, he can just simply run “vagrant up”.




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