Vagrant has worked on Windows for over four years. Vagrant has worked well on Windows for about two years. With Vagrant 1.5, Vagrant is excellent on Windows with dozens of bug fixes and a couple big Windows-only features: Hyper-V and SMB synced folders.
Vagrant 1.5 will ship with a Hyper-V provider out of the box. This is big news! This is the first provider other than VirtualBox to ship with Vagrant itself (with more to come). And, Hyper-V comes built-in to almost all editions of Windows 8+, meaning Vagrant works with nothing more than a Windows computer for most people.
Additionally, Windows users have the option now to use SMB synced folders. SMB is a technology built right into Windows, just like Hyper-V, making it easy for Windows users to get high performance synced folders out of the box.
Read on to learn more about these features.
Thank You Microsoft
I'd like to start this post off with a big thanks to MS OpenTech. MS OpenTech did most of the hard work implementing the Hyper-V and SMB synced folder features.
I only had to merge the code and make it more "Vagrant-friendly," which is far easier than the hard technical details to make the features work.
MS OpenTech will continue improving Vagrant for Windows in the coming months, adding more features and support across the board for Windows. The biggest feature that is on the way is first class support for Windows VMs.
Thank you MS OpenTech!
Hyper-V is a native hypervisor built by Microsoft that ships with most installations of Windows 8+. While it is built by Microsoft, it is able to virtualize any modern x86/x64 operating system, including all major distributions of Linux. Of course, it is able to run Windows very well, too.
With Vagrant 1.5, Hyper-V is a provider built-in to Vagrant. No additional plugin installs are necessary; just install Vagrant and you're ready.
A downside of Hyper-V: once it is enabled, no other virtualization technology can be used (such as VirtualBox or VMware), so it is an all-in or all-out technology choice. The upside, however, is that it is built-in to Windows with no additional software installs.
Vagrant 1.5 will be the first iteration of the Hyper-V provider. The VirtualBox and VMware providers are both extremely mature and work very well. While the Hyper-V provider works, we expect there to be some bugs and loose ends that we'll be improving over upcoming releases.
SMB Synced Folders
Along with the RSync Synced Folders coming in Vagrant 1.5, we're introducing support for SMB as a mechanism for synced folders.
SMB is a technology built into Windows that allows you to share any Windows folder over the network. For Vagrant, we use this mechanism to create a bi-directional folder share with Vagrant environments.
This is the preferred synced folder mechanism for use with the Hyper-V provider, but is not limited to only Hyper-V. SMB is available as a higher performance option for VirtualBox, similar to NFS for Linux.
You can explicitly enable the folder, as usual:
config.vm.synced_folder ".", "/vagrant", type: "smb"
Or, if you specify nothing, SMB will be used by default if VM shared folders aren't available. Therefore, it is recommended to keep your Vagrant environment compatible with all operating systems to just leave off the type.
Other Windows Improvements
Vagrant 1.5 has dozens of bug fixes to improve the experience of Vagrant on Windows. Even if the features above aren't useful to you as a Vagrant user on Windows, Vagrant 1.5 is highly recommended.
In addition to little bug fixes, the Vagrant MSI installers starting with Vagrant 1.5 will be properly signed. Over time, this should eliminate most warnings when Vagrant is downloaded and installed on Windows, and should improve confidence when you download a Vagrant update that it has not been tampered with.
This is just the first step in better supporting Windows. We have a few more bugs to fix, improvements to make to both Hyper-V and SMB, and more. Most importantly, we're gunning to support Windows guests more fully in future releases of Vagrant.
There are even more features and improvements coming in Vagrant 1.5, but this concludes the feature preview series for Vagrant 1.5. Expect a release soon.