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Fábio Rehm

Software Developer and Open Source Enthusiast

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So I released a lot of Vagrant plugins... Now what's next?

2013 was the year I went 100% on Vagrant, went crazy releasing plugins (10 to be more specific) and ended becoming a Vagrant core commiter back in June. To give you an idea, this is what I’ve released over the year:

Before you think I’m going nuts, I have a reason behind releasing each plugin and I have a separate blog post lined up explaining that but for the scope of this post I’ll focus on what you should expect for each one of them over 2014.

vagrant-notify

For those who haven’t met it yet, vagrant-notify is a plugin that redirects notify-send from the guest VM to the host machine. I built it because I wanted to run Guard on the guest machine and wanted notifications popping up on my laptop.

For its future, I’m planning to add support for displaying provisioning status so that I can vagrant up and go do something else while the machine gets provisioned without me “Alt-Tab”ing to check if things have finished. I also plan to allow people to opt-out from it.

With those two features in place, I’ll cut 1.0 and I’ll probably won’t get back to it for a looooong time :)

vagrant-boxen (deprecated)

This was my first attempt at building an easy to use tool for provisioning dev boxes. I ended up not doing much work on it mostly because having a tool that aims to lower the “entry barrier” of getting a manageable Vagrant machine targetted for development up and running without the need to learn Puppet or Chef” that used Puppet under the hood just felt wrong after a while.

Since then the plugin has evolved into the Vagrant + Docker combo that got released under the name of Ventriloquist. If you are interested on the gem name feel free to shoot me an email so we can arrange things.

vagrant-lxc

This is by far my most “popular” plugin until today and is the one that I have dedicated most of my time. The plugin has gone a long way since my initial spike, going through 19 releases and is really stable on its current 0.7.0 version.

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll remember that I wrote a couple posts about it that included a few big plans (like supporting lxc-clone, snapshotting and ephemeral containers) and while I’ll hopefully get to to implement them at some point, I think it is about time to lay down a more realistic plan for 1.0 as I’ve been “vagrant uping” a vagrant-lxc container every single working day since 0.1.0!

Over the following days I’ll look into setting up a nice (and doable) milestone on GitHub issues with things that I plan to ship on 1.0. Among other things, I can tell in advance that it will involve a major revamp on the codebase, improved test coverage, improved documentation, private networking support (at least for Ubuntu hosts) and locking the base box format plus shipping stable base boxes (like Vagrant itself) without releasing new versions every couple months.

On the short term, I plan to ship 0.8.0 with NFS support to help people having issues with bind mount permissions and will start looking into deprecating support for Vagrant 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3. This might make a few people angry but Vagrant has just reached 1.4 and it’s pretty hard to keep things compatible across a big range of releases. Right now I have to resort to some ugly workarounds to make sure things run smooth on 1.1 / 1.3 and I really want to reduce that kind of stuff down to a minimum.

vagrant-cachier

vagrant-cachier has gone through some really nice improvements since my initial announcement that I’ll cover on a separate post but I’m planning to get to 1.0 on the first semester of 2014.

I’ve already started working on making docs better and now that I’ll look into cleaning up the codebase so that it opens up for easier contributions, unit testing and the support for caching specific folders.

We already have a nice 1.0 milestone in place so please check it out and let us know if you think something else should be included.

On a side note, Vagrant 1.4 ships with a hook that will allow us to get rid of some ugly monkey patching we have in place to allow cache buckets to be configured around provisioners runs. Because of that, I think I’ll backport the hook support on the following version and will just drop support for Vagrant < 1.4 after that for the same reasons as I’ll do it for vagrant-lxc.

vagrant-pristine (deprecated)

UPDATE (21 JUL 2015): Similar functionality is likely to be provided by a future Vagrant release, see the following links for more https://github.com/mitchellh/vagrant/issues/5378, https://github.com/mitchellh/vagrant/pull/5410, https://github.com/mitchellh/vagrant/pull/5613

This is a really tiny plugin that has been saving me lots of keystrokes when rebuilding VMs from scratch. There’s not a lot for it to be improved apart from 2 bugs that I want to fix for a 1.0 release.

bindler (deprecated)

UPDATE (26 AUG 2014): Since Vagrant 1.5 came out with a tight integration with Bundler, Bindler is no longer being maintained as it would basically require a rewrite of the plugin. The functionality provided by the plugin is not yet provided by Vagrant itself but it is likely to be on some future release.

The Vagrant plugin ecossystem just keep growing and Mitchell has already said more than once that he has plans to eventually add support for that on Vagrant’s core. I personally have been using less that I thought I would but I know quite a few people that has been using it on their projects.

On its current state, it is still highly experimental and relies on some badass monkey patching. It’s probably broken on Vagrant 1.4 and I strongly recommend you holding back on upgrading to 1.4 while we don’t get to GH-26.

Even though things are broken when using Vagrant’s latest release, 1.4 introduces a hook that might make things less “ugly” and experimental on Bindler’s side. But, as I wrote on this comment, I still don’t have a strong need for using Bindler on a daily basis so I added @patcon and @ipwnstuff as maintainers so that they can “keep the fire burning” over there.

On a side note, there’s an open Pull Request that will allow people to use Vagrant.require_plugin with gem versions. It still does not allow people to have multiple versions of plugins as you can have with Bindler but I think that will handle some use cases that are currently covered by Bindler as of now.

vagrant-global-status (deprecated)

UPDATE (26 AUG 2014): The functionality provided by the plugin landed into Vagrant 1.6

This is another plugin that I haven’t been using as much as I thought I would. As I wrote on this comment, I hardly fire up a VirtualBox VM these days and a plain old lxc-list gives me enough information right now.

@ryuzee seems to be interested enough on the project to submit 3 Pull Requests so far. I’ll be adding him as a commiter to it soon and I hope he’ll be able to push things forward over there :)

vocker (deprecated)

Vocker was extracted from Ventriloquist and had a short life (only 4 months) as it has just been merged back into Vagrant’s core on 1.4. Because of that the plugin is now deprecated.

Please note that Mitchell decided to make things simpler when pulling the provisioner into Vagrant’s core. The DSL has changed and you should definitely have a look at the official docs to find out how things will work from now on.

ventriloquist (deprecated)

UPDATE (26 AUG 2014): I’ve stepped down as a maintainer of the plugin, feel free to reach out in case you want to take over responsibility for the project

After successfuly using Ventriloquist to build VMs for my last 3 projects, I can say that feature-wise it is stable but I’ll have to deal with the changes introduced with the new Docker provisioner DSL from Vagrant 1.4.

My plans for it is to handle those changes first, add support for PHP and then create a proper documentation website with Viewdocs.

This may sound crazy but I’m also willing to make it a first class provisioner so that it can be used outside of Vagrant as well. My long term plan is to build a standalone CLI tool that can be used to on real machines as well as Docker containers and whatever kinds of VMs that Packer supports.

I have absolutely no idea if / when I’ll get to that neither how it would look like but there seems to be enough interest on a developer friendly tool for building development environments that I’m willing to have a shot at it :)

docker-provider (deprecated)

UPDATE (26 AUG 2014): The plugin was merged into Vagrant 1.6

This is my most recent experiment on the Vagrant world and I’m not sure if someone is using it. There are a lot of limitations around it but there seemed to be many people interested on having that around so I went ahead and built it :P

I personally haven’t used it that much and I’m not sure that’s a good idea. As I wrote on the README:

Another thing to keep in mind is that Docker is all about application containers and not machine containers. I failed to boot a Docker container in what people have been calling “machine mode“ and some hacking will be required in order to run multiple processes on the container… For more information about the issues related to it, please search Docker’s issue tracker for /sbin/init and / or “machine mode”.

For now I’ll keep using Docker as a provisioner instead of a provider but if you think there’s value on that provider, please let me know so we can figure out what would be the next steps.

That’s it!

That’s a lot stuff already. I think I’ve got enough Vagrant related work for 2014 to keep me busy along with things I might be doing on core and things not related to Vagrant as well.

Stay tuned :-)


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