I'm using Vagrant boxes for several purposes, and in most cases the prepared boxes I can download are totally sufficient. However, sometimes I need one or a few additional packages installed on the box—for regular activities, not one-time use.

For example, I have a Vagrant box on my Mac (Linux guest on Mac host) which I primarily want for easy access to built-in Linux documentation (man pages, info pages, etc.) However, the box I am using doesn't have the man package installed when I first vagrant up.

If I just install the package manually, it will only last until the next vagrant destroy. If I use vagrant halt instead, I'll build up cruft on my system, which defeats the purpose of using vagrant as opposed to simply a Virtual Box.

I know the general answer to this is vagrant provisioning, and it could be as simple as a script with a single command sudo yum install man. (Although actually I don't even know specifically how to do that.) However, rather than downloading the man package and all dependencies each time I start the vagrant box, I would rather download those packages once, store them on my host system, and load them into the vm each time I vagrant up.

I have already run sudo yum install man --downloadonly on the guest, to get the packages I need, and sudo cp -r /var/cache/yum/x86_64/6/base/packages/ /vagrant/ to put the package files on my host.

So my question is really twofold:

  1. What is the vagrant provisioning syntax to use for: (a) calling a script (to be stored in the same directory as the Vagrantfile), or (b) if possible, embedding a single command in the Vagrantfile (such as sudo yum install man)?

  2. How can I give yum the option flags needed to install a package from a local directory (/vagrant) and to install any needed dependencies from that same local directory rather than from an online repository?

2 Answers 2


For example, I have a Vagrant box on my Mac (Linux guest on Mac host)

It would be interesting to know which distribution this is... Given that you're trying to use yum I imagine this is some RH/CentOS/.. stuff?

which I primarily want for easy access to built-in Linux documentation (man pages, info pages, etc.) However, the box I am using doesn't have the man package installed when I first vagrant up.

I don't know any distribution that doesn't install manby default.

If I were you, I'd use one of the official boxes on ATLAS, Debian comes to mind: https://vagrantcloud.com/debian/

Reply to Q1

Add this to your vagrantfile:

$script = <<SCRIPT
echo I am provisioning...
date > /etc/vagrant_provisioned_at

Vagrant.configure("2") do |config|
  config.vm.provision "shell", inline: $script

Example taken from http://docs.vagrantup.com/v2/provisioning/shell.html#inline-scripts

This would execute the script at the top, resulting in the creation of /etc/vagrant_provisioned_at

Further adapted to your question:

$script = <<SCRIPT
yum install man

Vagrant.configure("2") do |config|
  config.vm.provision "shell", inline: $script

The provisioning script is run as UID0, so no need for sudo.

Reply to Q2

I'm a Debian user and as such RedHat illiterate ;-)

IMHO this would be rpm -hiv <filename>(i =install, h = hashmarks, v = verbose).

Related manpage

  • Perfect! Yes, I'm using CentOS; the vm box is "bento/centos-6.7" and it doesn't come with man. (Which is an odd setup; my physical CentOS install does.) rpm isn't smart enough to handle dependencies and just exits with an error if given the single file, BUT it is smart enough to put a list of filename arguments in dependency sequence. Since I already downloaded the dependencies as described in my question, I just used rpm -i /vagrant/packages/* and it puts them in order and installs them all! (No need for -hv as it's just run during provisioning.)
    – Wildcard
    Oct 9, 2015 at 13:08
  • 1
    I found the puppetlabs base boxes quite "vanilla", try one of those: atlas.hashicorp.com/puppetlabs They have a good naming scheme btw...
    – Jan
    Oct 9, 2015 at 13:14
  • Aha! Even better; I've just switched over. Thanks! Still great to have the provisioning data/know-how; I will use that for my own setup and package installs in the future (rather than stuff like man which should already be there....)
    – Wildcard
    Oct 9, 2015 at 13:28

I just encountered this use case again; I will make a succinct record here of how I handled it.

I wanted to download (but not install) Git and PostgreSQL, and then install them during the vagrant provision process.

I used the following command from a fresh VM to download the packages with all dependencies (after sudo mkdir /vagrant/packages):

sudo yumdownloader --destdir=/vagrant/packages/ --resolve -y git postgresql

The trick with this command is, it downloads way too much. The next step was to establish the RPMs that I actually needed for the install. I did this by attempting:

sudo yum install /vagrant/packages/git-1.7.1-4.el6_7.1.x86_64.rpm /vagrant/packages/postgresql-8.4.20-6.el6.x86_64.rpm

And pressing "No" at the confirmation prompt because I could see it was planning to download dependencies. I took the listed dependencies and added them to my command:

sudo yum install /vagrant/packages/git-1.7.1-4.el6_7.1.x86_64.rpm /vagrant/packages/postgresql-8.4.20-6.el6.x86_64.rpm /vagrant/packages/perl-* /vagrant/packages/postgresql-libs-8.4.20-6.el6.x86_64.rpm

This would successfully work without downloading anything, so I then ran:

cd /vagrant/packages/
mkdir save
mv /vagrant/packages/git-1.7.1-4.el6_7.1.x86_64.rpm /vagrant/packages/postgresql-8.4.20-6.el6.x86_64.rpm /vagrant/packages/perl-* /vagrant/packages/postgresql-libs-8.4.20-6.el6.x86_64.rpm save/
rm *.rpm
mv save/* .
rmdir save

Result: A "packages" directory with only the dependencies actually needed from the fresh Vagrant image.

Then by adding the shell provisioning command to my Vagrantfile:

  config.vm.provision "shell", inline: <<-SHELL
    yum install -C -y /vagrant/packages/*

...I have Git and PostgreSQL installed and ready to use after any vagrant up, even if vagrant destroy was run.

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