Vagrant vs Docker

Software development has changed, and new methodologies and tools have been introduced. Some of the new methods introduced include DevOps and agile, among others. The tools speed up the development processes, promoting faster software and bug-free application delivery. Another concept in the development cycle is the use of containers and virtualization. They are essential in ensuring all the developer teams have the same configurations that make collaboration easier. Some commonly used tools for containerization and virtualization are vagrant and Docker. The article will cover several topics and differences between Docker and Vagrant.

What is Vagrant?

Vagrant is a tool that enables users to create, manage and configure boxes that consist of virtual machines using the command line. They are mainly used to manage the development environments. It works with different virtualization softwares like Hyper-V, VMWare, Virtualbox, and Docker, among others, for you to have the ability to run the virtual operating system. It helps software developers have the same configurations during the software development processes. Apart from environments, developers can also share their code which improves collaboration and cooperation amongst the team.

It also plays an important role when carrying out automated tests. It can work with other tools like Chef and Ansible. It also gives you the power to use the command line with the help of shell scripts. It is open-source, enabling users to make changes and use and share it freely.

What is Docker?

Docker is a platform that enables developers to build, deploy and manage different containers for the applications. It has various executable components that work well with the source codes of the application, the dependencies and operating system libraries enabling the application code to run in any environment. It eliminates repetitive tasks that exist in the development process, promoting faster and easy software development.

It consists of different tools like APIs, CLI and other security features to help developers during the development cycle. It is highly reliable, changing the ways developers used to work, it's cheap and makes it easy to scale applications.

It enables the software development teams like testers, developers, and engineers to use less time when fixing bugs and other issues. It allows them to remove any issues in the development stage, assuring a good application.

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Vagrant vs Docker

When comparing Vagrant and Docker, or when you want to choose which one to use in your project. There are several criteria that one must follow when they decide which tool or platform to use. Some things to check include size, collaboration, installation method, startup times, security levels, and limitations. We have discussed the differences below:

1. Setting up

When installing Vagrant, you have to install other platforms like Hyper-V, VirtualBox, VMWare etc., and then download the package to do the installation making it extremely easy. It is easy to install Docker, you can use the Docker Engine, the executable file or the commands which some developers find hard to use.

2. Collaboration

Vagrant uses a different workflow. The workflow is consistent, which offers some collaboration. Docker promotes collaboration, when a developer creates an image, they can make it accessible to the team members by uploading it to the Docker hub.

3. Resource isolation and consumption

When building the containers, the applications use the container's guest operating system like CentOs. Most containers share the operating systems and kernels, using fewer resources than Vagrant. Vagrant uses virtualization during application development, which pushes users to isolate. It uses many resources compared to Docker.

4. Startup times

When using Vagrant, you have to create virtual machines. It takes a lot of time, and sometimes it can be laborious. It can affect the startup, which can be slow sometimes. Docker uses images that help developers access them anytime on the Docker Hub, and it also uses fewer resources giving it good startup time.

5. Vagrant and Docker Virtualization

Most of the Docker containers are Linux based, while Vagrant uses virtual machines as the tool for virtualization.

6. Image build time

Vagrant takes more time when developers create virtual machines. Developers use little time when they create the Docker images when using Docker.

7. Security levels

Vagrant works like an operating system where the developers can change its settings to ensure that it meets the application's requirements. You can also do other procedures like patching, which will affect the development cycle's speed. Docker uses the required libraries during development, reducing the need for doing practices like patching. It has container-based operating systems like CoreOS, limiting the number of system services installed to increase security and reduce attacks.

8. Limitations

Vagrant supports any operating system to produce a good user experience without considering the developer's platform for production or development. Vagrant works with almost all the operating systems. Docker uses containers that are Linux based to run on different operating systems like Windows and MacOs.It runs the machines in the background providing high speed and better use of resources.

9. Size

Docker supports upto 100 MB and above, while Vagrant supports upto one GB and above.

10. Sharing

Docker uses the Docker hub as a service that helps developers find any Docker images and share them with the team members. Vagrant uses Vagrant cloud with an index of Vagrant boxes, which are public and indexed. Users can find the box they want faster using the cloud. The majority of the boxes are public, and everyone can access them.

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Vagrant or Docker - Pros and Cons Comparison

Some of the pros of using Vagrant include:

  • It is free to use.
  • It is portable.
  • It works well with the boxes and plugins.
  • It works in different environments.
  • It works with various platforms.
  • It is flexible, and it supports provisioning.

Pros of using Docker include:

  • Easy to scale applications.
  • It ensures the applications have high performance.
  • Portable
  • Ability to isolate resources.
  • Promotes agile practices at companies.

Cons of using Vagrant include:

  • When you use it on an old machine, it uses the majority of the resources.
  • It faces some compatibility issues on different operating systems like Windows 8.1.
  • It has a bad user interface making it hard for beginners.

Some of the cons of Docker include:

  • You face issues when building graphical applications.
  • The containers do not support bare metal speeds.
  • Some container products in their ecosystem do not work.
  • When containers ail, all the data gets lost unless you have a backup.

Approach to solving problems

When using Vagrant, the developers must create an entire virtual machine when dealing with virtual machines. When using Docker, the developers package all the applications into small containers, which later get deployed.

Resources required

Vagrant works give developers the power to create the entire virtual machine. It makes them use more resources and time compared to Docker. Docker allows the developers to use containers when deploying applications. It makes them perform well and faster hence using fewer resources.


Vagrant and Docker use virtual machines and containers, respectively, giving them different levels of security. Vagrant uses virtual machines with their operating systems, separating them from other machines and isolating them. Docker uses containers. Despite being isolated, they can access any guest operating system of the container, making it a bit hard to handle security.

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There are many changes in the software development field. One must keep learning, and several emerging tools can speed up the development cycle. Developers must understand how to set up and configure virtual environments and containers to make their deployment processes automated and faster. Some of the common tools used are Docker and Vagrant. 

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As a senior technical content writer for HRK tainings, srivalli patchava has a greater understanding of today's data-driven environment, which includes key aspects of data management and IT organizations. She manages the task of creating great content in the areas of software testing, DevOps, Robotic process automation. Connects with her on Linkedin and Twitter.

Yes, Docker is better than Vagrant due to the resources and other advantages it has over Vagrant.

You can use Vagrant when you have one workflow, but if you are using several virtual machines, it helps you manage and build them quickly.

Yes, several developers still use Vagrant.

There are several options you can use to run Vagrant apart from using the Virtualbox.

Vagrant is a package manager with several operating systems that help create a development environment.

Most developers use Vagrant when creating environments for their development lifecycles.