Construct Your FreeBSD Ports Testing Environment Using Vagrant

Nowadays, people who develops FreeBSD Ports are using automated tools, e.g. Poudriere, to deal with the complicated procedures, including testing, packaging, and delivering. Because Windows sucks, this tutorial uses Mac OS X as an example to illustrate the whole process you will need to take to construct a FreeBSD Ports testing environment using Vagrant.


Homebrew is a mature package management system on Mac OS X. I recommend using it to install all the third party packages you need on your Mac. Also, it’s worth mentioning the extension of Homebrew: Homebrew-Cask. Consider using Homebrew-Cask to install and manage Mac GUI applications such as Goolge Chrome and Firefox can make your life a little bit easier.

/usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install)"

After installed Homebrew, simply enter the following command to install a package:

brew install <name>


VirtualBox is an open source project which gives you the power to run virtual machines right on your host, i.e. you Mac. Don’t be confused VirtualBox with Vagrant. Vagrant is a wrapped tool which let you bring up a VM without complicated setup process, while VirtualBox being a underlying “provider” of Vagrant. Of course you can use other “provider” like VMware Fusion to meet the requirement of Vagrant, but we’ll use VirtualBox in this tutorial.

brew cask install virtualbox

Only single one command, and you’re done. The power of Homebrew-Cask!


brew install vagrant

First, create a new directory and initialize it with Vagrant.

mkdir myfreebsd
cd myfreebsd
vagrant init

Under your Vagrant directory there is a Vagrant configuration file which called Vagrantfile. The file is full of comments which could be very useful when you don’t know how to configure your Vagrant box. But we don’t need it at this time. Replace the content of the file with the following:

# -*- mode: ruby -*-
# vi: set ft=ruby :

Vagrant.configure("2") do |config|
  config.vm.synced_folder ".", "/vagrant", id: "vagrant-root", disabled: true
  config.vm.box = "freebsd/FreeBSD-10.2-RELEASE"
  config.ssh.shell = "sh"
  config.vm.base_mac = "080027D14C66"

  config.vm.provider "virtualbox" do |vb|
    vb.customize ["modifyvm", :id, "--memory", "1024"]
    vb.customize ["modifyvm", :id, "--cpus", "1"]
    vb.customize ["modifyvm", :id, "--hwvirtex", "on"]
    vb.customize ["modifyvm", :id, "--audio", "none"]
    vb.customize ["modifyvm", :id, "--nictype1", "virtio"]
    vb.customize ["modifyvm", :id, "--nictype2", "virtio"]

Fire up the VM with the config:

vagrant up

You can write your own shell script to provision the VM, or even use Ansible to do the job. Simply run the following command to do the provision work:

vagrant provision


Poudriere can benefit from ZFS. To enable ZFS on you VM, it is recommended to set you VM’s memory up to 4G or even larger. But the reality is, we don’t have that much memory available. We can still use ZFS with poor performance for testing purpose.

Append the following line to /etc/rc.conf to enable ZFS on your FreeBSD VM:


Load the ZFS kernel module by entering the following command:

sudo service zfs start

To lower the complexity of the tutorial, we don’t attach another virtual disk to the VM. There is an other way to achieve the goal using normal “file”. Prepare a big blank file to act as a hard drive. Create the zpool using the file we’ve just created. And the rest will be done by Poudriere.

sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/disk bs=1m count=8192
sudo zpool create ztank /disk

If you don’t want to mess with ZFS, it’s totally FINE to use UFS. Just skip this section. And now we’re good to go. Continue with Poudriere’s settings.


This how Poudriere is introduced in the FreeBSD handbook:

Poudriere is a BSD-licensed utility for creating and testing FreeBSD packages. It uses FreeBSD jails to set up isolated compilation environments.

Use pkg utility to install Poudriere:

sudo pkg update -f
sudo pkg install -y poudriere

Like most of the software, there must be a bunch of configuration files to be set up. Here comes /usr/local/etc/poudriere.conf! This file is also filled with well explained directives. You can remove all the content because all we need are listed as follow:

# If "ZFS" is used

# If "UFS" is used


The directory of distfiles cache must be created before any build actions happens:

sudo mkdir /tmp/DISTFILES

We’re almost there! Next, prepare the jail which is used to build the packages and the ports tree which is the source of our packages:

sudo poudriere jail -c -j 102amd64 -v 10.2-RELEASE -a amd64
sudo poudriere ports -c

Poudriere can only build certain version of packages according to the version of the OS which the jail is running. For example, a 9.1-RELEASE jail can only build the packages for 9.1-RELEASE hosts, not for 10.2-RELEASE.

The Ports tree will be named “default” because we didn’t assign any name to it.

Finally we can start building the packages. To build one single port:

sudo poudriere bulk -j 102amd64 security/sudo

If you have a list of ports to build, just craft a list in this form:


Then bulk build with this list:

sudo poudriere bulk -j 102amd64 -f pkglist

Please be patient. The execution time depends on your host’s compute power and network performance. On my Macbook Air it take about 4~5 minutes to complete the task (sudo package). And the newest packages will reside in /poudriere/data/packages/102amd64-default/All.

Integrate with Vagrant Provisioner

Follow the whole tutorial you get a complete environment which is capable building FreeBSD packages for other FreeBSD workstations. Unfortunately, the process may be repeated over and over again. What if one day you want to replace ZFS with UFS? You may want to destroy the VM and start over again. That’s quite tedious. Trust me you’ll be happier with Vagrant’s provisioning feature. We will start with the easiest provisioner, which is “shell script”.

Insert a line specifying the provisioner in Vagrantfile:

Vagrant.configure(2) do |config|


  config.vm.provision "shell", path: "provision.sh"



Then open and edit the shell script provision.sh:

#!/usr/bin/env sh

set -xe

pkg update -f
pkg install -y oudriere

cat >> /etc/rc.conf <<EOF

service zfs start
dd if=/dev/zero of=/disk bs=1m count=8192
zpool create ztank /disk

cat > /usr/local/etc/poudriere.conf <<EOF

mkdir /tmp/DISTFILES

poudriere jail -c -j 102amd64 -v 10.2-RELEASE -a amd64
poudriere ports -c

You’ll notice the content of the shell script are the steps we mentioned before right in this tutorial. And we’re all set, just start the VM as usual vagrant up. After the VM booted up, Vagrant starts to provision the VM using the shell script we specified in the Vagrantfile. It just that elegant! You can even use configuration management system like Ansible to help make the provision task more scalable and manageable.


In this post I’ve tried to introduce how to construct a testing environment for FreeBSD package bilding system right on your Mac in a more efficient way. The build time may be longer though. The fully automated installation process works like a charm. In a future post I will describe how the VMs created by Vagrant be provisioned by Ansible.

Thanks for reading!