Instead of building a virtual machine from scratch, which would be a slow and tedious process, Vagrant uses a base image to quickly clone a virtual machine. These base images are known as boxes in Vagrant, and specifying the box to use for your Vagrant environment is always the first step after creating a new Vagrantfile.
Installing a Box
If you ran the commands on the getting started overview page, then you've already installed a box before, and you don't need to run the commands below again. However, it is still worth reading this section to learn more about how boxes are managed.
Boxes are added to Vagrant with
vagrant box add. This stores the box
under a specific name so that multiple Vagrant environments can re-use it.
If you haven't added a box yet, you can do so now:
$ vagrant box add hashicorp/precise32
This will download the box named "hashicorp/precise32" from HashiCorp's Atlas box catalog, a place where you can find and host boxes. While it is easiest to download boxes from HashiCorp's Atlas you can also add boxes from a local file, custom URL, etc.
Added boxes can be re-used by multiple projects. Each project uses a box
as an initial image to clone from, and never modifies the actual base
image. This means that if you have two projects both using the
box we just added, adding files in one guest machine will have no effect
on the other machine.
Using a Box
Now that the box has been added to Vagrant, we need to configure our
project to use it as a base. Open the
Vagrantfile and change the
contents to the following:
Vagrant.configure("2") do |config| config.vm.box = "hashicorp/precise32" end
The "hashicorp/precise32" in this case must match the name you used to add the box above. This is how Vagrant knows what box to use. If the box wasn't added before, Vagrant will automatically download and add the box when it is run.
In the next section, we'll bring up the Vagrant environment and interact with it a little bit.
Finding More Boxes
For the remainder of this getting started guide, we'll only use the "hashicorp/precise32" box we added previously. But soon after finishing this getting started guide, the first question you'll probably have is "where do I find more boxes?"
The best place to find more boxes is HashiCorp's Atlas box catalog. HashiCorp's Atlas has a public directory of freely available boxes that run various platforms and technologies. HashiCorp's Atlas also has a great search feature to allow you to find the box you care about.
In addition to finding free boxes, HashiCorp's Atlas lets you host your own boxes, as well as private boxes if you intend on creating boxes for your own organization.