Vagrant and Symfony2

Now that you know the basics of what makes a Vagrantfile work, it's time to build ourselves a reusable Symfony 2 box.

After watching this video, you will have learned how to:

  • Customise your Vagrant box to meet your own needs
  • Create one or more MySQL databases as part of your build script
  • Configure shared / synced folders so you no longer need to upload files
  • Avoid a nasty slow down issue when using Symfony and Vagrant

Let's break down each step.

Customising Your Vagrant Box

We've covered the Vagrantfile already, but in this video we are going to make some tweaks that you would likely need to make if you want to use this in a real project.

Firstly, we bump up the RAM from 1024 to 2048.

v.memory = 2048

Next, we cover how to change the box name. To do this, you will need to edit three files:

  • Vagrantfile
  • provisioning/playbook.yml
  • provisioning/inventory

Make sure you change the machine name in any place where you find the word lemp. Replace it with whatever you see fit.

Whatever you change this too will become the name of your webserver - so by default, you are going to end up with a Symfony 2 site running at http://lemp, which you may not like.

Host File

Don't forget to update your local host file.

With the given Vagrantfile you will get a machine running on, so be sure to edit your hosts file to add in e.g. :

# /etc/hosts lemp

Be sure to update inline with your own settings / chosen name.

Adding MySQL Database(s)

You likely need some persistence. MySQL is as good a choice as any (DB holy wars notwithstanding), so let's make use of Jeff Gerling's Ansible MySQL Role.

I'm making this as generic as possible so you can use it on any project, or customise it to make it more specific as you see fit.

Inside our provisioning/playbook.yml file we want to add in the following to our vars section:

    # * snip *
      - name: devdb
      - name: dbuser
        password: dbpass
        host: "%"
        priv: "*.*:ALL"

Of course, feel free to change this as you see fit.

These settings will give you the ability to connect from your local / development machine to your Vagrant MySQL instance using the client you are used to - Sequelpro, SQLYog, or what have you.


I want to stress that this is a Development config.

The root user is insecure by default. There is no password on the root account.

Also, this setup is wide open - allowing anyone to connect from anywhere. This isn't an issue for development as we are using a private network - your Vagrant box is only accessible by your local machine.

Use a proper set up in production please!!! If in doubt, ask your host.

Setting Up A Shared / Synced Folder

Next, we want to configure our Vagrantfile so that it synchronises the local development folder containing our Symfony folders and files, with the directory nginx is serving from on the server.

This is clever, but also a little confusing.

We are going to synchronise a folder, relative to the location of our Vagrantfile, and this is going to replace the contents of the /var/www/lemp directory which our Ansible provisioning script will have created for us already.

What happens to the existing contents of the /var/www/lemp directory?

Well, they get hidden. Not removed. If you had data in there that you wanted, be sure to comment out the synced_folder line we are about to configure, and then do a vagrant reload to get access to that data.

The idea is, we have a directory structure like this:

# our-development-project
|-- our-symfony-folder 
|-- our-vagrant-folder
    |-- provisioning
    |-- Vagrantfile

We want to go one directory 'up' from our-vagrant-folder and access / share / sync the our-symfony-folder.

We could do this by specifying the absolute path to the folder on our system (e.g. /home/codereview/development/our-development-project). However, this would severally hamper the ability to easily share the Vagrantfile with colleagues / others.

Instead, we use a relative path:

config.vm.synced_folder "../our-symfony-folder", "/var/www/lemp", :nfs => true

Let's break this down further.

"../our-symfony-folder" - this is the relative path from our Vagrantfile to the folder we want to share. Up one directory essentially.

"/var/www/lemp" - this is the folder we want our shared folder to be available from on the vagrant box itself. When the box is booted, we want /var/www/lemp to contain everything / anything that lives inside our local our-symfony-folder folder.

This is a two way read / write.

:nfs => true - more on this below in the Speeding Up Symfony and Vagrant section.

As we have changed our Vagrantfile, be sure to run vagrant reload to apply these changes. If you have mucked up your relative path, you may find a nasty red error telling you the folder you reference does not exist.

Speeding Up Symfony and Vagrant

The inclusion of :nfs => true is what makes this whole setup actually usable.

Without this setting you can expect response times somewhere in the 2 second+ range. This is fine, if you have the patience of a saint.

Personally, I like to smush the reload key in anger. Smush, smush, smush! We all know that reloading four or five times is an essential step in the debugging process ;) What did Einstein say about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome?

Anyway, by simply enabling NFS, you should be able to smash your response times down into the 300ms area.

Not bad for a one line change.

Now, you may need to install some additional requirements to get NFS to work.

The latest version of OSX seems to play nicely with no extras needed.

Ubuntu, I found, generally needs sudo apt-get install nfs-kernel-server.

Windows... not entirely sure.

There is a really helpful post called Speedup Symfony2 on Vagrant boxes by Benjamin Eberlei with loads of great advice, and the comments as much as the post itself are gold on this subject.


# Title Duration
1 Beginners Guide to Vagrant 07:58
2 Vagrant Ansible Provisioning 14:35
3 Vagrant Housekeeping 03:12
4 Vagrant and Symfony2 13:50