I have three vagrant boxes I usually need simultaneously so I created a Makefile to start them all at once. Well, one after the other actually.

The Makefile looks like this basically:

        cd box1 && vagrant up;
        cd box2 && vagrant up;
        cd box3 && vagrant up;

They are starting one after the other, which means it takes a lot of time. But a lot of that time is just waiting, there is not a lot happening. So I figured I want to start them in parallel to reduce the needed time.

Simply putting an & after vagrant up doesn't work. Neither if I put it between $(), "" or ``.

What do I need to do to make these boxes start in parallel?

I use zsh as shell BTW.

  • make -j N starts multiple jobs concurrently, that is probably what you should use. Or invoke parallel. You can also make a shell script that starts them all (using &), but that defeats the purpose of the Makefile.
    – Anthon
    Sep 11, 2017 at 7:10
  • @Anthon can you give an example of how to use make -j N? The documentation is not clear for me and I cannot find good examples. Sep 13, 2017 at 8:27

1 Answer 1


I can answer this question myself now. The Makefile should look like this:

.PHONY: up box1_up box2_up box3_up

up: box1_up box2_up box3_up

    cd box1 && vagrant up;

    cd box2 && vagrant up;

    cd box3 && vagrant up;

And invoke like this: make -j3 up

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