How To Create Aliases In Vagrantby@zachflower

How To Create Aliases In Vagrant

by Zachary FlowerApril 10th, 2021
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A few years ago, I checked off an item on my Open Source Bucket List when I pitched—and ultimately contributed—a brand new feature to HashiCorp’s Vagrant: comma

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A few years ago, I checked off an item on my Open Source Bucket List when I pitched—and ultimately contributed—a brand new feature to HashiCorp’s Vagrant: command aliases. While aliases have been a core Vagrant feature for some time, there hasn’t been a lot of coverage about what they are, and why they really matter.

An expansion on the concept of shell-based aliases, user-configurable aliases within Vagrant provide a more contextual outlet for tuning Vagrant in a way that isn’t operating system or shell dependent. Personally, I use Vagrant on both Windows and macOS machines, and while Vagrant is cross-platform, my command line aliases are not.

Who Cares?

Originally inspired by Git’s own alias functionality, aliases make your Vagrant experience simpler, easier, and more familiar by allowing you to create your own custom Vagrant commands. In a world where software developers tune and configure their environments for optimum productivity, aliases allow us to abstract away the nuances of a given tool in favor of our own preferred usability patterns.

Take, for example, a common workflow that I tend to follow: completely burning a running Vagrant box to the ground. Generally, this involves executing a

vagrant destroy
followed by removing the
directory from the project. Instead of running both of these commands every time, I can instead create an alias called
vagrant eradicate
that does all that sweet, sweet destruction on my behalf.

But How?

Defined using a standard

key = value
format, Vagrant aliases work the same way as Git aliases. By adding these aliases to the Vagrant alias file (which can be found either at
or in a custom file defined using the
environment variable), you can start crafting your own aliases almost immediately.

Let’s say that we want to implement the

vagrant eradicate
command example from above. This can be done by dropping the following line into your Vagrant aliases file:

eradicate = !vagrant destroy && rm -rf .vagrant

Internal Aliases

Internal command aliases call Vagrant’s

class directly. This allows you to alias one Vagrant command to another Vagrant command. This technique can be very useful for creating simple commands that you think should exist. For example, if
vagrant stop
feels more intuitive than
vagrant halt
, the following alias definitions would make that change possible:

stop = halt

Or, maybe you want to be able to force halt a running Vagrant box. Adding parameters and options to the alias can be done as well:

stop = halt -f

This would make the following commands functionally equivalent:

vagrant stop
vagrant halt -f

External Aliases

While internal aliases can be used to define more intuitive Vagrant commands, external command aliases are used to define Vagrant commands with brand new functionality. Similarly to Git aliases, these aliases are prefixed with the

character, which tells the command interpreter that the alias should be executed as a shell command.

As an example, let’s say that you want to be able to view the processor and memory utilization of the active project’s running Vagrant box. To do this, you could define a vagrant stats command that returns the required information in an easy-to-read format, like so:

stats = !ps aux | grep "[V]BoxHeadless" | grep $(cat .vagrant/machines/default/virtualbox/id) | awk '{ printf("CPU: %.02f%%, Memory: %.02f%%", $3, $4) }'

The above alias, from within the context of an active Vagrant project, would print the CPU and memory utilization of the running box directly to the console:

CPU: 4.20%, Memory: 11.00%

What Else?

What started out as a small idea turned into one that solved a very real pain point for me personally, and it’s one that has benefited me for years now. These are just a few examples of the types of aliases you can create in Vagrant, but what are some other examples you can think of (or are currently using)?

Previously published at