Packer in Atlas: Automate the Building and Managing of Vagrant Boxes and Machine Images

Packer in Atlas: Automate the Building and Managing of Vagrant Boxes and Machine Images

Apr 16, 2015 | Jack Pearkes

Today we are announcing Packer integration with Atlas. Automate remotely running Packer builds, store and version artifacts, and quickly distribute Vagrant boxes to your team or the community.

Packer is an open source project by HashiCorp for building machine images. It can build AMIs, Virtualbox images, Docker images, Vagrant boxes and more, with a broad range of support for both machine and cloud provider images.

With Packer now integrated with Atlas, builds can be run remotely and the resulting artifacts, such as Vagrant boxes, can be easily stored in Atlas. Developer machines or other environments can now be freed from running Packer builds. Logs for the build and storage process are kept in Atlas to provide a full history of artifact changes, so a single person or an entire team can audit changes in a simple web interface.

Read on to learn more and see screenshots of Packer + Atlas in action.

» Getting Started

You can get started with Atlas and Packer right now. We've created an interactive tutorial to guide you every step of building and storing a Vagrant box in Atlas. Vagrant boxes are just one type of artifact — you can also build and store AMIs, Docker containers, DigitalOcean images, and more.

Visit the interactive tutorial to get started today, or read below for more details on Packer and its integration with Atlas.

» Vagrant box Creation and Management

Following a packer push of your template and associated configuration files, Atlas will automatically run Packer to build and provision the Vagrant box, and then post-process the resulting box to store it in Atlas.

Packer push

Packer push allows users – in a single step – to modify base configuration and provisioning scripts to make new Vagrant box versions. Vagrant boxes can be private or public, and both benefit from versioning and storage.

After packer push, anyone with access to the Vagrant box can use the build UI to view the progress of the build in real-time. These logs are persisted and saved.

Active Build

When a build completes, any created boxes are automatically uploaded to Atlas and made available to users.

Uploaded Box

This box is also available through the traditional Vagrant box management UI in Atlas. It is then available to anyone who has the box installed locally, either with a vagrant init or vagrant box outdated.

» The Future

Building and storing Vagrant boxes is just one feature of Packer in Atlas. We currently have support for the following Packer builders:

  • amazon-chroot
  • amazon-ebs
  • amazon-instance
  • digitalocean
  • docker
  • qemu
  • virtualbox-iso
  • vmware-iso

Within the month, Atlas will integrate with GitHub so that when a Packer template changes in GitHub, it automatically triggers a new Packer build in Atlas. Combining automated Packer builds with automated Terraform runs based on artifact changes lays the foundation for automating and managing immutable infrastructure.

Atlas is our commercial product currently in tech preview. We will be announcing pricing soon. When Atlas pricing is announced, there will be a generous free tier, so you don't need to worry about being charged for playing with Atlas. If you're using Atlas at a larger scale and have concerns, email us at and we'd be happy to talk with you.

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