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Vagrant ManagedServers Provider

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This is a Vagrant 1.6+ plugin that adds a provider for "managed servers" to Vagrant, i.e. servers for which you have SSH access but no control over their lifecycle.

Since you don't control the lifecycle:

  • up and destroy are re-interpreted as "linking" / "unlinking" vagrant with a managed server
  • once "linked", the ssh, provision and share commands work as expected, and status shows the managed server as either "running" or "not reachable"
  • reload will issue a reboot command on the managed server (cross your fingers ;-))
  • halt, suspend and resume are no-ops in this provider

Credits: this provider was initially based on the vagrant-aws provider with the AWS-specific functionality stripped out.


  • SSH into managed servers.
  • Provision managed servers with any built-in Vagrant provisioner.
  • Reboot a managed server.
  • Synced folder support.
  • Provide access to a managed server via Vagrant Share.


Install using the standard Vagrant plugin installation method:

$ vagrant plugin install vagrant-managed-servers

In the Vagrantfile you can now use the managed provider and specify the managed server's hostname and credentials:

Vagrant.configure("2") do |config| = "tknerr/managed-server-dummy"

  config.vm.provider :managed do |managed, override|
    managed.server = ""
    override.ssh.username = "bob"
    override.ssh.private_key_path = "/path/to/bobs_private_key"

Next run vagrant up --provider=managed in order to "link" the vagrant VM with the managed server:

$ vagrant up --provider=managed
Bringing machine 'default' up with 'managed' provider...
==> default: Box 'tknerr/managed-server-dummy' could not be found. Attempting to find and install...
    default: Box Provider: managed
    default: Box Version: >= 0
==> default: Loading metadata for box 'tknerr/managed-server-dummy'
    default: URL:
==> default: Adding box 'tknerr/managed-server-dummy' (v1.0.0) for provider: managed
    default: Downloading:
    default: Progress: 100% (Rate: 122k/s, Estimated time remaining: --:--:--)
==> default: Successfully added box 'tknerr/managed-server-dummy' (v1.0.0) for 'managed'!
==> default: Linking vagrant with managed server
==> default:  -- Server:

Once linked, you can run vagrant ssh to ssh into the managed server or vagrant provision to provision that server with any of the available vagrant provisioners:

$ vagrant provision
$ vagrant ssh

In some cases you might need to reboot the managed server via vagrant reload:

$ vagrant reload
==> default: Rebooting managed server
==> default:  -- Server:
==> default: Waiting for to reboot
==> default: Waiting for to reboot
==> default: Waiting for to reboot
==> default: rebooted and ready.

If you are done, you can "unlink" vagrant from the managed server by running vagrant destroy:

$ vagrant destroy -f
==> default: Unlinking vagrant from managed server
==> default:  -- Server:

If you try any of the other VM lifecycle commands like halt, suspend, resume, etc... you will get a warning that these commands are not supported with the vagrant-managed-servers provider.

Box Format

Every provider in Vagrant must introduce a custom box format. This provider introduces a "dummy box" for the managed provider which is really nothing more than the required metadata.json with the provider name set to "managed".

You can use the tknerr/managed-server-dummy box like that:

Vagrant.configure("2") do |config| = "tknerr/managed-server-dummy"


This provider currently exposes only a single provider-specific configuration option:

  • server - The IP address or hostname of the existing managed server

It can be set like typical provider-specific configuration:

Vagrant.configure("2") do |config|
  # ... other stuff

  config.vm.provider :managed do |managed|
    managed.server = ""


Networking features in the form of are not supported with vagrant-managed-servers. If any of these are specified, Vagrant will emit a warning and just ignore it.

Synced Folders

There is minimal synced folders support for provisioning linux guests via rsync, and for windows guests via either smb, winrm or rsync (see below).

This is good enough for all built-in Vagrant provisioners (shell, chef, and puppet) to work!

Windows support

It is possible to use this plugin to control pre-existing windows servers using WinRM instead of rsync, with a few prerequisites:

  • WinRM installed and running on the target machine
  • The account used to connect is a local account and also a local administrator (domain accounts don't work over basic auth)
  • WinRM basic authentication is enabled
  • WinRM unencrypted traffic is enabled

For more information, see the WinRM Gem Troubleshooting Guide

Your vagrantfile will look something like this:

config.vm.define 'my-windows-server' do |windows|
  windows.vm.communicator = :winrm
  windows.winrm.username = 'vagrant'
  windows.winrm.password = 'vagrant'
  windows.vm.provider :managed do |managed, override|
    managed.server = ''

Synced Folders (Windows)

It is recommended that you install the vagrant-winrm-syncedfolders plugin for communicating with Windows guests (vagrant plugin install vagrant-winrm-syncedfolders). Once installed, Vagrant Managed Servers will try several different mechanisms to sync folders for Windows guests. In order of priority:

  1. SMB - requires running from a Windows host, an Administrative console, and Powershell 3 or greater. Note that there is a known bug which causes the Powershell version check to hang for Powershell 2
  2. WinRM - uses the WinRM communicator and is reliable, but can be slow for large numbers of files.
  3. RSync - requires rsync.exe installed and on your path.

Vagrant will try to use the best folder synchronization mechanism given your host and guest capabilities, but you can force a different type of folder sync with the type parameter of the synced_folder property in your Vagrantfile.

windows.vm.synced_folder '.', '/vagrant', type: "winrm"


To work on the vagrant-managed-servers plugin, clone this repository out, and use Bundler to get the dependencies:

$ bundle

Once you have the dependencies, verify the unit tests pass with rake:

$ bundle exec rake

If those pass, you're ready to start developing the plugin. You can test the plugin without installing it into your Vagrant environment by using the Vagrantfile in the top level of this directory and use bundler to execute Vagrant.

First, let's pretend we have a managed server by bringing up the local_linux vagrant VM with the default virtualbox provider:

$ bundle exec vagrant up local_linux

Now you can use the managed provider (defined in a separate VM named managed_linux) to ssh into or provision the actual managed server:

$ # link vagrant with the server
$ bundle exec vagrant up managed_linux --provider=managed
$ # ssh / provision
$ bundle exec vagrant ssh managed_linux
$ bundle exec vagrant provision managed_linux
$ # unlink
$ bundle exec vagrant destroy managed_linux

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