As I’ve written about before, Vagrant is handy tool for creating localized VMs. It’s a lot like firing up EC2 images, but, for the most part, things are localized (you can, by the way, use Vagrant to fire up EC2 images). If you’ve ever used VMWare before, its the same thing, except Vagrant is free. You can create VMs of various operating systems, fire them up, and tear them down all with ease.
Vagrant plays nicely with hip DevOps frameworks like Chef and Puppet and if your installations require a number of components, then these tools are defiantly the way to go. Sometimes, however, a simple Bash script is good enough as in the case for auto-installing some base component, like Java, Node.js or Ruby.
Using Vagrant’s configuration file, aptly dubbed
Vagrantfile, you can instruct a VM instance to run a series of steps – these steps can be simple shell scripts, Chef cookbooks, or the Puppet equivalent.