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Gabriel Birke

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By default, many Vagrant boxes install a SSH key for the default user of a virtual machine image. This is fully transparent and you can log in to the machine with the vagrant ssh command. But what if you want to log in with the standard ssh command, connect with rsync or run an Ansible playbook? This article shows how to find and reuse the connection parameters for your Vagrant box.

The SSH configuration of your vagrant machine can be displayed with the command

vagrant ssh-config

The output of the command will look like this:

Host default
  User vagrant
  Port 2222
  UserKnownHostsFile /dev/null
  StrictHostKeyChecking no
  PasswordAuthentication no
  IdentityFile /home/username/vms/test/.vagrant/machines/default/virtualbox/private_key
  IdentitiesOnly yes
  LogLevel FATAL

The important information is HostName, User, Port and IdentityFile. Those can be used as connection information for your custom SSH connection. The following examples show how to use these parameters in various connections:


All following examples don't use the absolute path for the identity file but a relative path, starting with the .vagrant directory. Adjust your examples as needed.

Using a regular SSH client

ssh -i .vagrant/machines/default/virtualbox/private_key -l vagrant -p 2222 localhost

Creating an SSH tunnel for MySQL

For creating a SSH tunnel from the MySQL server inside your Vagrant box to your local machine (where you can use it with GUI SQL client)

ssh -l vagrant -i .vagrant/machines/default/virtualbox/private_key -p 2222 \
    -N -L 3306:localhost:3306 localhost

Copy files from the Vagrant box with rsync

rsync -Pav -e "ssh -i .vagrant/machines/default/virtualbox/private_key -p 2222" \
    vagrant@localhost:/var/log  /tmp/vagrant_logs

Configure Ansible inventory to use Vagrant SSH configuration

Create a file that contains the following information:



How to copy your public SSH key to the Vagrant image

All of the above commands are useful if you have an existing Vagrant box and want to access it. If you are setting up a new box with your own Vagrantfile, consider adding your own public SSH key to the default user (usually vagrant). Then you can omit the identity file configuration from the commands.

The shortest solution for that comes from user sekrett on StackOverflow, whco recommends adding the following lines to your Vagrantfile:

ssh_pub_key = File.readlines("#{Dir.home}/.ssh/").first.strip
config.vm.provision 'shell', inline: "echo #{ssh_pub_key} >> /home/vagrant/.ssh/authorized_keys", privileged: false