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Vagrant vs libvirt: What are the differences?


In this article, we will discuss the key differences between Vagrant and libvirt, two popular technologies used in virtualization and cloud computing environments.

  1. Ease of Use: Vagrant is well-known for its simplicity and ease of use. It provides a high-level configuration file that allows users to define and configure various aspects of the virtual machine environment. On the other hand, libvirt is a more complex technology that requires a deeper understanding of the underlying virtualization concepts. It offers a lower-level API and a range of command-line tools for managing virtual machines.

  2. Hypervisor Support: Vagrant supports multiple hypervisors, including VirtualBox, VMware, and Hyper-V. It provides an abstraction layer that allows users to switch between different hypervisors easily. In contrast, libvirt is mainly focused on the KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) hypervisor. While libvirt does support other hypervisors, such as Xen and QEMU, its primary focus is on KVM.

  3. Community and Ecosystem: Vagrant has a large and active community of users, along with a rich ecosystem of plugins and extensions. Users can easily find and install plugins to add additional functionalities to their Vagrant environment. Libvirt, being a more low-level technology, has a smaller but dedicated community. It has its own set of tools and utilities that are specifically designed for managing KVM-based virtual machines.

  4. Networking Options: Vagrant provides a simple and intuitive networking setup using private networks, port forwarding, and synced folders. It allows users to easily access and interact with their virtual machines in a networked environment. Libvirt, on the other hand, offers more advanced networking options, such as virtual networks, VLANs, and bridged networking. These options provide greater flexibility and control over the network environment but require a deeper understanding of networking concepts.

  5. Provisioning and Configuration Management: Vagrant has built-in support for various provisioning tools like Shell, Ansible, and Puppet. It allows users to automate the setup and configuration of virtual machines. Additionally, Vagrant provides easy integration with popular configuration management tools like Chef and SaltStack. Libvirt, on the other hand, does not have built-in provisioning capabilities. Users need to rely on external tools and scripts for provisioning and configuration management.

  6. Platform Compatibility: Vagrant is a cross-platform tool that works on Windows, macOS, and Linux. It provides a consistent user experience across different operating systems. Libvirt, on the other hand, is primarily developed for Linux systems. While it can be used on other platforms with some limitations, its full capabilities are best utilized on Linux-based operating systems.

In summary, Vagrant is a user-friendly, high-level tool with support for multiple hypervisors and a rich ecosystem of plugins. It provides easy provisioning and configuration management options and works seamlessly on different operating systems. On the other hand, libvirt is a more low-level technology focused on KVM. It provides advanced networking options and is primarily designed for Linux systems. It requires a deeper understanding of virtualization concepts and has a smaller but dedicated community.

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Pros of libvirt
Pros of Vagrant
  • 2
    Low overhead
  • 2
  • 2
    Built into most Linux distros
  • 2
  • 2
    Native KVM and QEMU
  • 2
    Native hypervisor
  • 2
    Can fully manage via CLI or VirtManager
  • 2
    VirtIO direct hardware access
  • 1
    VirtIO direct hardware support
  • 352
    Development environments
  • 290
    Simple bootstraping
  • 237
  • 139
  • 130
  • 84
  • 81
    Synced folders
  • 69
  • 51
  • 44
    Very flexible
  • 5
    Works well, can be replicated easily with other devs
  • 5
    Easy-to-share, easy-to-version dev configuration
  • 3
  • 3
    Just works
  • 2
    Quick way to get running
  • 1
    DRY - "Do Not Repeat Yourself"
  • 1
    Container Friendly
  • 1
    What is vagrant?
  • 1
    Good documentation

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Cons of libvirt
Cons of Vagrant
    Be the first to leave a con
    • 2
      Can become v complex w prod. provisioner (Salt, etc.)
    • 2
      Multiple VMs quickly eat up disk space
    • 1
      Development environment that kills your battery

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    What is libvirt?

    It is an open-source API, daemon and management tool for managing platform virtualization. It can be used to manage KVM, Xen, VMware ESXi, QEMU and other virtualization technologies.

    What is Vagrant?

    Vagrant provides the framework and configuration format to create and manage complete portable development environments. These development environments can live on your computer or in the cloud, and are portable between Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

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    What companies use libvirt?
    What companies use Vagrant?
    See which teams inside your own company are using libvirt or Vagrant.
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    What tools integrate with libvirt?
    What tools integrate with Vagrant?

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    What are some alternatives to libvirt and Vagrant?
    KVM (for Kernel-based Virtual Machine) is a full virtualization solution for Linux on x86 hardware containing virtualization extensions (Intel VT or AMD-V).
    VirtualBox is a powerful x86 and AMD64/Intel64 virtualization product for enterprise as well as home use. Not only is VirtualBox an extremely feature rich, high performance product for enterprise customers, it is also the only professional solution that is freely available as Open Source Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2.
    When used as a machine emulator, it can run OSes and programs made for one machine (e.g. an ARM board) on a different machine (e.g. your own PC). By using dynamic translation, it achieves very good performance. When used as a virtualizer, it achieves near native performance by executing the guest code directly on the host CPU. it supports virtualization when executing under the Xen hypervisor or using the KVM kernel module in Linux. When using KVM, it can virtualize x86, server and embedded PowerPC, 64-bit POWER, S390, 32-bit and 64-bit ARM, and MIPS guests.
    OpenStack is a cloud operating system that controls large pools of compute, storage, and networking resources throughout a datacenter, all managed through a dashboard that gives administrators control while empowering their users to provision resources through a web interface.
    The Docker Platform is the industry-leading container platform for continuous, high-velocity innovation, enabling organizations to seamlessly build and share any application — from legacy to what comes next — and securely run them anywhere
    See all alternatives