Skip to content

Dev Setup: Vagrant

Shubhangi edited this page Jul 31, 2018 · 23 revisions

About This Method

NOTE: As we have migrated from Brunch to Webpack, some parts of this setup may be broken (for example, need to update the Vagrant provision script to use Node 6 and make sure your version of Vagrant uses a box from instead of We welcome any contributions to this!

Vagrant is a tool for rapidly creating and configuring virtual machines.

By using Vagrant, we can quickly create an environment for CodeCombat with all the necessary dependencies. Vagrant also simplifies rebuilding the environment and upgrading to newer versions of dependencies.

Vagrant supports a number of virtual machine environments. For this setup we will be using VirtualBox.


Start by installing Vagrant, VirtualBox, and Git. If running on Windows, either Git for Windows or GitHub for Windows may be used.

Choose a folder on your computer for CodeCombat and clone the repository from GitHub. If you are intending to contribute, it is a good idea to fork the repository on GitHub first, then clone your fork.

If cloning on Windows, the Git section of the Windows setup guide may be helpful. You only need to do the steps related to git clone.


Terminal / Git Bash is recommended, however, a regular Windows command prompt works too.

First open a Terminal window, change directory to where you cloned CodeCombat, then run vagrant up to start the virtual machine:

path/to/your/project$ vagrant up

The first time you run, it takes time because it will download a copy of vagrant "box", which is actually an Ubuntu Linux VM, along with various required dependencies that we will use to run CodeCombat. If you're running on Windows, you might have to give VirtualBox firewall access as requested.

If there are errors during the process, you can try vagrant provision to run the setup script again or vagrant destroy followed by vagrant up to totally dispose and recreate the virtual machine. If you aren't able to figure it out, try asking in the CodeCombat chat room.

Running CodeCombat

Once the VM is up and running, change directory in your Terminal window to where you cloned CodeCombat, run scripts/vagrant/npm run webpack -- --watch (watches client files) and scripts/vagrant/npm run proxy in order to start and connect to CodeCombat's production server:

  • Git Bash:
    • path/to/your/project$ scripts/vagrant/ run webpack -- --watch
    • path/to/your/project$ scripts/vagrant/ run proxy
  • Windows command prompt:
    • path\to\your\project\> scripts/vagrant/npm.bat run webpack -- --watch
    • path\to\your\project\> scripts/vagrant/npm.bat run proxy

Once the window shows that it has compiled the files, you can visit http://localhost:13000 in your browser and see CodeCombat running.

Shutting down

Run vagrant halt to turn off the VM. To start again, just run vagrant up.

path/to/your/project$ vagrant halt

Rebuilding the virtual machine

The virtual machine has a copy of the various node dependencies, as well as some other tools used in running CodeCombat, such as MongoDB. It may be necessary to update the virtual machine as dependencies or dependency versions are changed.

To handle dependency changes, open a command window and change to the directory where you cloned CodeCombat. Run vagrant provision. Note that this will update the MongoDB database, so be sure to read the section above if you want to save users and achievements.

To rebuild the virtual machine from scratch, run vagrant destroy followed by vagrant up. This will destroy and re-create the MongoDB database from scratch, so be sure to read the section above if you want to save users and achievements.

Extra notes

  • On Windows, if you hit Ctrl-C to interrupt Vagrant while it is in the middle of an operation, it may return to the command prompt but still be running. This prevents any other Vagrant command from working. Just hit Ctrl-C again to fully terminate the previous command.
  • The CodeCombat directory is visible inside the virtual machine as /vagrant.
    • This uses VirtualBox shared folders, using the VirtualBox Guest Additions.
    • If the Guest Additions are a different version from the installed VirtualBox (a common occurrence), then symbolic links will not work on Windows.
    • This is problematic because npm likes to make symlinks to executables in node_modules/.bin.
    • To work around this, a directory /node_modules is made inside the virtual machine and is mounted over /vagrant/node_modules.
    • This means that the node_modules directory will appear empty from outside the virtual machine. It should not be deleted.
  • Brunch was used by CodeCombat to watch for changes to Coffeescript files and recompile them automatically. In order to allow Brunch running in the virtual machine to detect changes made on the "host" machine, "polling" mode is used. This results in higher CPU usage.
    • In order to avoid this and run Brunch in regular mode, you can start Brunch manually inside the VM by vagrant ssh, cd /vagrant, and brunch w. You will need to have an SSH client installed (e.g. the one installed by Git for Windows).
    • When running Brunch in regular mode, changes must be made from inside the virtual machine (i.e. via vagrant ssh). The virtual machine is running Ubuntu Linux, so any of the normal text mode editors may be installed and used.
    • When running on a Mac, if you stop the brunch process from running and then try and start it again, it may throw and error complaining about port forwarding to port 3000. To resolve this issue, find the process running it sudo lsof -i :3000 and kill it: sudo kill -9 3267
Clone this wiki locally
You can’t perform that action at this time.