How to rename a Vagrant project directory

If you’re like me, sometimes you want to rename or move your Vagrant project to a new directory. Maybe you changed the name of your project or decided that the directory structure of your Vagrant projects was suboptimal. There are a lot of cases where changing directories makes sense. Unfortunately you can’t just do mv old_directory new_directory. A subsequent vagrant up will nuke your existing VM and create a new one.

Recreating your VM environment is not the worst thing. You’ve probably lost 15-45 minutes as Puppet or Chef does its magic, but at least you don’t have to do it manually. That is unless you’ve gotten lazy and haven’t updated your Puppet manifests and instead manually installed new software - the downside of using Puppet with Vagrant is that using Puppet Forge is not integrated well or at all.

In terms of looking for a solution, none of my Google searches led to relevant results. It’s one of those queries that gets associated with other issues no matter how the terms are worded. Turns out that the solution is simple and not much digging was needed. Each vagrant project has a .vagrant folder. This folder contains some metadata and the actual VM files.

Here is an example folder structure:

                    Virtual Disk-s001.vmdk

The folder with random numbers and letters is the location of the VM. Vagrant locates the machine using the id file, which contains the fullpath to the VM directory. If the folder specified in the id doesn’t exist, a new VM will be created and the existing VM is deleted completely.

Another important file is the action_provision file, which contains the fullpath to the the .vmx file. The action_provision appears to manage the VM provisioning step. In newer versions of Vagrant, the provisioning doesn’t run every time unless specifically configured to do that in the Vagrantfile. If the path does not exist, then the provisioning step will run again.

There are other files that contain incorrect paths, such as synced_folders and the vmx file, but those get updated on vagrant up.

To recap:

  • Make sure to halt the VM before moving it
  • Change filepath in the id file
  • Change filepath in the action_provision file

One caveat that should be mentioned is that this was only tested using the VMWare Fusion provider and a single VM.