Vagrant environment setup tutorial

This section guides first-time contributors through installing the Zulip development environment on Windows, macOS, Ubuntu and Debian.

The recommended method for installing the Zulip development environment is to use Vagrant with VirtualBox on Windows and macOS, and Vagrant with LXC on Ubuntu. This method creates a virtual machine (for Windows and macOS) or a Linux container (for Ubuntu) inside which the Zulip server and all related services will run.


If you encounter errors installing the Zulip development environment, check Troubleshooting and Common Errors. If that doesn’t help, please visit #provision help in the Zulip development community server for real-time help, send a note to the Zulip-devel Google group or file an issue.

When reporting your issue, please include the following information:

  • host operating system
  • installation method (Vagrant or direct)
  • whether or not you are using a proxy
  • a copy of Zulip’s vagrant provisioning logs, available in /var/log/provision.log on your virtual machine


Installing the Zulip development environment with Vagrant requires downloading several hundred megabytes of dependencies. You will need an active internet connection throughout the entire installation processes. (See Specifying a proxy if you need a proxy to access the internet.)

  • All: 2GB available RAM, Active broadband internet connection, GitHub account.
  • macOS: macOS (10.11 El Capitan or newer recommended)
  • Ubuntu LTS: 18.04, 16.04, or 14.04 64-bit
    • or Debian: 9.0 “stretch” 64-bit
  • Windows: Windows 64-bit (Win 10 recommended), hardware virtualization enabled (VT-X or AMD-V), administrator access.

Other Linux distributions work great too, but we don’t maintain documentation for installing Vagrant and LXC on those systems, so you’ll need to find a separate guide and crib from the Debian/Ubuntu docs.

Step 0: Set up Git & GitHub

You can skip this step if you already have Git, GitHub, and SSH access to GitHub working on your machine.

Follow our Git Guide in order to install Git, set up a GitHub account, create an SSH key to access code on GitHub efficiently, etc. Be sure to create an ssh key and add it to your GitHub account using these instructions.

Step 1: Install Prerequisites

Jump to:


  1. If you are running MacOS High Sierra, make sure you are not running a version with a buggy NFS implementation. Versions 10.13.2 and above have the bug fixed.
  2. Install Vagrant (2.0.2).
  3. Install VirtualBox (latest).

(For a non-free option, but better performance, you can also use VMWare Fusion with the VMWare Fusion Vagrant plugin.)

Now you are ready for Step 2: Get Zulip Code..


If you’re in a hurry, you can copy and paste the following into your terminal after which you can jump to Step 2: Get Zulip Code:

sudo apt-get -y purge vagrant && \
wget && \
sudo dpkg -i vagrant*.deb && \
sudo apt-get -y install build-essential git ruby lxc lxc-templates cgroup-lite redir && \
vagrant plugin install vagrant-lxc && \
vagrant lxc sudoers

For a step-by-step explanation, read on.

1. Install Vagrant

For Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic, you can just install from apt:

sudo apt install vagrant

For Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial and 14.04 Trusty, you’ll need a more recent version of Vagrant than what’s available in the official Ubuntu repositories.

First uninstall any vagrant package you may have installed from the Ubuntu repository:

$ sudo apt-get purge vagrant

Now download and install the .deb package for Vagrant 2.0.2:

$ wget

$ sudo dpkg -i vagrant*.deb

2. Install remaining dependencies

Now install git and lxc-related packages:

$ sudo apt-get install build-essential git ruby lxc lxc-templates cgroup-lite redir

3. Install the vagrant lxc plugin:

$ vagrant plugin install vagrant-lxc
Installing the 'vagrant-lxc' plugin. This can take a few minutes...
Installed the plugin 'vagrant-lxc (1.2.1)'!

If you encounter an error when trying to install the vagrant-lxc plugin, see this.

4. Configure sudo to be passwordless

Finally, configure sudo to be passwordless when using Vagrant LXC:

$ vagrant lxc sudoers
[sudo] password for christie:

If you encounter an error running vagrant lxc sudoers, see this.

Now you are ready for Step 2: Get Zulip Code.


The setup for Debian 9.0 “stretch” is very similar to that for Ubuntu above. Follow those instructions, except with the following differences:

Apt package list. In “2. Install remaining dependencies”, the command to install the dependencies is a bit shorter:

$ sudo apt-get install build-essential git ruby lxc redir

Set up LXC networking. After completing “2. Install remaining dependencies”, you will have to set up networking for LXC containers, because Debian’s packaging for LXC does not ship any default network setup for them. You can do this by following the steps outlined in Debian’s LXC docs.

Then return to the next step in the Ubuntu instructions above. After finishing those steps, you will be ready for Step 2: Get Zulip Code.

Windows 10

  1. Install Git for Windows, which installs Git BASH.
  2. Install VirtualBox (latest).
  3. Install Vagrant (version 2.0.2 is best tested).

(Note: While Git BASH is recommended, you may also use Cygwin. If you do, make sure to install default required packages along with git, curl, openssh, and rsync binaries.)

Also, you must have hardware virtualization enabled (VT-X or AMD-V) in your computer’s BIOS.

Running Git BASH as an administrator

It is important that you always run Git BASH with administrator privileges when working on Zulip code, as not doing so will cause errors in the development environment (such as symlink creation). You might wish to configure your Git BASH shortcut to always run with these privileges enabled (see this guide for how to set this up).

Step 2: Get Zulip Code

  1. In your browser, visit and click the fork button. You will need to be logged in to GitHub to do this.
  2. Open Terminal (macOS/Ubuntu) or Git BASH (Windows; must run as an Administrator).
  3. In Terminal/Git BASH, clone your fork of the Zulip repository and connect the Zulip upstream repository:
git clone --config pull.rebase
cd zulip
git remote add -f upstream

This will create a ‘zulip’ directory and download the Zulip code into it.

Don’t forget to replace YOURUSERNAME with your git username. You will see something like:

christie@win10 ~
$ git clone --config pull.rebase
Cloning into 'zulip'...
remote: Counting objects: 73571, done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (2/2), done.
remote: Total 73571 (delta 1), reused 0 (delta 0), pack-reused 73569
Receiving objects: 100% (73571/73571), 105.30 MiB | 6.46 MiB/s, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (51448/51448), done.
Checking connectivity... done.
Checking out files: 100% (1912/1912), done.`

Now you are ready for Step 3: Start the development environment.

Step 3: Start the development environment

Change into the zulip directory and tell vagrant to start the Zulip development environment with vagrant up.

christie@win10 ~
$ cd zulip

christie@win10 ~/zulip
$ vagrant up

The first time you run this command it will take some time because vagrant does the following:

  • downloads the base Ubuntu 14.04 virtual machine image (for macOS and Windows) or container (for Ubuntu)
  • configures this virtual machine/container for use with Zulip,
  • creates a shared directory mapping your clone of the Zulip code inside the virtual machine/container at ~/zulip
  • runs the tools/provision script inside the virtual machine/container, which downloads all required dependencies, sets up the python environment for the Zulip development server, and initializes a default test database. We call this process “provisioning”, and it is documented in some detail in our dependencies documentation.

You will need an active internet connection during the entire process. (See Specifying a proxy if you need a proxy to access the internet.) vagrant up can fail while provisioning if your Internet connection is unreliable. To retry, you can use vagrant provision (vagrant up will just boot the guest without provisioning after the first time). Other common issues are documented in the Troubleshooting and Common Errors section. If that doesn’t help, please visit #provision help in the Zulip development community server for real-time help.

On Windows, you will see The system cannot find the path specified. message several times. This is expected behavior and is not an error.

Once vagrant up has completed, connect to the development environment with vagrant ssh:

christie@win10 ~/zulip
$ vagrant ssh

You should see something like this on Windows and macOS:

Welcome to Ubuntu 14.04.4 LTS (GNU/Linux 3.13.0-85-generic x86_64)

 * Documentation:

  System information as of Wed May  4 21:45:43 UTC 2016

  System load:  0.61              Processes:           88
  Usage of /:   3.5% of 39.34GB   Users logged in:     0
  Memory usage: 7%                IP address for eth0:
  Swap usage:   0%

  Graph this data and manage this system at:

  Get cloud support with Ubuntu Advantage Cloud Guest:

0 packages can be updated.
0 updates are security updates.

Or something as brief as this in the case of Ubuntu:

Welcome to Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS (GNU/Linux 4.4.0-21-generic x86_64)

 * Documentation:

Congrats, you’re now inside the Zulip development environment!

You can confirm this by looking at the command prompt, which starts with (zulip-py3-venv)vagrant@. If it just starts with vagrant@, your provisioning failed and you should look at the troubleshooting section.

Next, start the Zulip server:

$ ./tools/

You will see several lines of output starting with something like:

2016-05-04 22:20:33,895 INFO: process_fts_updates starting
Recompiling templates
2016-05-04 18:20:34,804 INFO: Not in recovery; listening for FTS updates
Validating Django
System check identified no issues (0 silenced).

Django version 1.8
Tornado server is running at http://localhost:9993/
Quit the server with CTRL-C.
2016-05-04 18:20:40,716 INFO     Tornado loaded 0 event queues in 0.001s
2016-05-04 18:20:40,722 INFO     Tornado  95.5% busy over the past  0.0 seconds
Performing system checks...

And ending with something similar to:

webpack result is served from http://localhost:9991/webpack/
content is served from /srv/zulip

webpack: bundle is now VALID.
2016-05-06 21:43:29,553 INFO     Tornado  31.6% busy over the past 10.6 seconds
2016-05-06 21:43:35,007 INFO     Tornado  23.9% busy over the past 16.0 seconds

Now the Zulip server should be running and accessible. Verify this by navigating to http://localhost:9991/ in the browser on your main machine.

You should see something like this:

Image of Zulip development environment

The Zulip server will continue to run and send output to the terminal window. When you navigate to Zulip in your browser, check your terminal and you should see something like:

2016-05-04 18:21:57,547 INFO       GET     302 582ms (+start: 417ms) / (unauth via ?)
[04/May/2016 18:21:57]"GET / HTTP/1.0" 302 0
2016-05-04 18:21:57,568 INFO       GET     301   4ms /login (unauth via ?)
[04/May/2016 18:21:57]"GET /login HTTP/1.0" 301 0
2016-05-04 18:21:57,819 INFO       GET     200 209ms (db: 7ms/2q) /login/ (unauth via ?)

Now you’re ready for Step 4: Developing.

Step 4: Developing

Where to edit files

You’ll work by editing files on your host machine, in the directory where you cloned Zulip. Use your favorite editor (Sublime, Atom, Vim, Emacs, Notepad++, etc.).

When you save changes they will be synced automatically to the Zulip development environment on the virtual machine/container.

Each component of the Zulip development server will automatically restart itself or reload data appropriately when you make changes. So, to see your changes, all you usually have to do is reload your browser. More details on how this works are available below.

Zulip’s whitespace rules are all enforced by linters, so be sure to run tools/lint often to make sure you’re following our coding style (or use tools/setup-git-repo to run it on just the changed files automatically whenever you commit).

Understanding debugging output

It’s good to have the terminal running up as you work since error messages including tracebacks along with every backend request will be printed there.

See Logging for further details on the console output.

Committing and pushing changes with git

When you’re ready to commit or push changes via git, you will do this by running git commands in Terminal (macOS/Ubuntu) or Git BASH (Windows) in the directory where you cloned Zulip on your main machine.

If you’re new to working with Git/GitHub, check out our Git & GitHub Guide.

Maintaining the development environment

If after rebasing onto a new version of the Zulip server, you receive new errors while starting the Zulip server or running tests, this is probably not because Zulip’s master branch is broken. Instead, this is likely because we’ve recently merged changes to the development environment provisioning process that you need to apply to your development environment. To update your environment, you’ll need to re-provision your vagrant machine using vagrant provision (this just runs tools/provision from your Zulip checkout inside the Vagrant guest); this should complete in about a minute.

After provisioning, you’ll want to (re)start the Zulip development server.

If you run into any trouble, the #provision help in the Zulip development community server for is a great place to ask for help.

Rebuilding the development environment

If you ever want to recreate your development environment again from scratch (e.g. to test as change you’ve made to the provisioning process, or because you think something is broken), you can do so using vagrant destroy and then vagrant up. This will usually be much faster than the original vagrant up since the base image is already cached on your machine (it takes about 5 minutes to run with a fast Internet connection).

Any additional programs (e.g. Zsh, emacs, etc.) or configuration that you may have installed in the development environment will be lost when you recreate it. To address this, you can create a script called tools/custom_provision in your Zulip Git checkout; and place any extra setup commands there. Vagrant will run tools/custom_provision every time you run vagrant provision (or create a Vagrant guest via vagrant up).

Shutting down the development environment for use later

To shut down but preserve the development environment so you can use it again later use vagrant halt or vagrant suspend.

You can do this from the same Terminal/Git BASH window that is running by pressing ^C to halt the server and then typing exit. Or you can halt vagrant from another Terminal/Git BASH window.

From the window where is running:

2016-05-04 18:33:13,330 INFO       GET     200  92ms /register/ (unauth via ?)
(zulip-py3-venv)vagrant@vagrant-ubuntu-trusty-64:/srv/zulip$ exit
Connection to closed.
christie@win10 ~/zulip

Now you can suspend the development environment:

christie@win10 ~/zulip
$ vagrant suspend
==> default: Saving VM state and suspending execution...

If vagrant suspend doesn’t work, try vagrant halt:

christie@win10 ~/zulip
$ vagrant halt
==> default: Attempting graceful shutdown of VM...

Check out the Vagrant documentation to learn more about suspend and halt.

Resuming the development environment

When you’re ready to work on Zulip again, run vagrant up. You will also need to connect to the virtual machine with vagrant ssh and re-start the Zulip server:

christie@win10 ~/zulip
$ vagrant up
$ vagrant ssh

$ ./tools/

Next Steps

Next, read the following to learn more about developing for Zulip:

Troubleshooting and Common Errors

Below you’ll find a list of common errors and their solutions. Most issues are resolved by just provisioning again (by running ./tools/provision (from /srv/zulip) inside the Vagrant guest or equivalently vagrant provision from outside).

If these solutions aren’t working for you or you encounter an issue not documented below, there are a few ways to get further help:

When reporting your issue, please include the following information:

  • host operating system
  • installation method (Vagrant or direct)
  • whether or not you are using a proxy
  • a copy of Zulip’s vagrant provisioning logs, available in /var/log/provision.log on your virtual machine. If you choose to post just the error output, please include the beginning of the error output, not just the last few lines.

The output of tools/diagnose run inside the Vagrant guest is also usually helpful.

Vagrant guest doesn’t show (zulip-py3-venv) at start of prompt

This is caused by provisioning failing to complete successfully. You can see the errors in var/log/provision.log; it should end with something like this:

ESC[94mZulip development environment setup succeeded!ESC[0m

The ESC stuff are the terminal color codes that make it show as a nice blue in the terminal, which unfortunately looks ugly in the logs.

If you encounter an incomplete /var/log/provision.log file, you need to update your environment. Re-provision your vagrant machine; if the problem persists, please come chat with us (see instructions above) for help.

After you provision successfully, you’ll need to exit your vagrant ssh shell and run vagrant ssh again to get the virtualenv setup properly.

Vagrant was unable to mount VirtualBox shared folders

For the following error:

Vagrant was unable to mount VirtualBox shared folders. This is usually
because the filesystem "vboxsf" is not available. This filesystem is
made available via the VirtualBox Guest Additions and kernel
module. Please verify that these guest additions are properly
installed in the guest. This is not a bug in Vagrant and is usually
caused by a faulty Vagrant box. For context, the command attempted

 mount -t vboxsf -o uid=1000,gid=1000 keys /keys

If this error starts happening unexpectedly, then just run:

vagrant reload

This is equivalent of running a halt followed by an up (aka rebooting the guest). After this, you can do vagrant provision and vagrant ssh.

ssl read error

If you receive the following error while running vagrant up:

SSL read: error:00000000:lib(0):func(0):reason(0), errno 104

It means that either your network connection is unstable and/or very slow. To resolve it, run vagrant up until it works (possibly on a better network connection).

Unmet dependencies error

When running vagrant up or provision, if you see the following error:

==> default: E:unmet dependencies. Try 'apt-get -f install' with no packages (or specify a solution).

It means that your local apt repository has been corrupted, which can usually be resolved by executing the command:

apt-get -f install

ssh connection closed by remote host

On running vagrant ssh, if you see the following error:

ssh_exchange_identification: Connection closed by remote host

It usually means the Vagrant guest is not running, which is usually solved by rebooting the Vagrant guest via vagrant reload. See Vagrant was unable to communicate with the guest machine for more details.

Connection timeout on vagrant up

If you see the following error after running vagrant up:

default: SSH address:
default: SSH username: vagrant
default: SSH auth method: private key
default: Error: Connection timeout. Retrying...
default: Error: Connection timeout. Retrying...
default: Error: Connection timeout. Retrying...

A likely cause is that hardware virtualization is not enabled for your computer. This must be done via your computer’s BIOS settings. Look for a setting called VT-x (Intel) or (AMD-V).

If this is already enabled in your BIOS, double-check that you are running a 64-bit operating system.

For further information about troubleshooting vagrant timeout errors see this post.

Vagrant was unable to communicate with the guest machine

If you see the following error when you run vagrant up:

Timed out while waiting for the machine to boot. This means that
Vagrant was unable to communicate with the guest machine within
the configured ("config.vm.boot_timeout" value) time period.

If you look above, you should be able to see the error(s) that
Vagrant had when attempting to connect to the machine. These errors
are usually good hints as to what may be wrong.

If you're using a custom box, make sure that networking is properly
working and you're able to connect to the machine. It is a common
problem that networking isn't setup properly in these boxes.
Verify that authentication configurations are also setup properly,
as well.

If the box appears to be booting properly, you may want to increase
the timeout ("config.vm.boot_timeout") value.

This has a range of possible causes, that usually amount to a bug in Virtualbox or Vagrant. If you see this error, you usually can fix it by rebooting the guest via vagrant reload (or equivalently, vagrant halt followed by vagrant up):

Vagrant up fails with subprocess.CalledProcessError

The vagrant up command basically does the following:

  • Downloads an Ubuntu image and starts it using a Vagrant provider.
  • Uses vagrant ssh to connect to that Ubuntu guest, and then runs tools/provision, which has a lot of subcommands that are executed via Python’s subprocess module. These errors mean that one of those subcommands failed.

To debug such errors, you can log in to the Vagrant guest machine by running vagrant ssh, which should present you with a standard shell prompt. You can debug interactively by using e.g. cd zulip && ./tools/provision, and then running the individual subcommands that failed. Once you’ve resolved the problem, you can rerun tools/provision to proceed; the provisioning system is designed to recover well from failures.

The zulip provisioning system is generally highly reliable; the most common cause of issues here is a poor network connection (or one where you need a proxy to access the Internet and haven’t configured the development environment to use it.

Once you’ve provisioned successfully, you’ll get output like this:

Zulip development environment setup succeeded!
(zulip-py3-venv) vagrant@vagrant-base-trusty-amd64:~/zulip$

If the (zulip-py3-venv) part is missing, this is because your installation failed the first time before the Zulip virtualenv was created. You can fix this by just closing the shell and running vagrant ssh again, or using source /srv/zulip-py3-venv/bin/activate.

Finally, if you encounter any issues that weren’t caused by your Internet connection, please report them! We try hard to keep Zulip development environment provisioning free of bugs.

pip install fails during vagrant up on Ubuntu

Likely causes are:

  1. Networking issues
  2. Insufficient RAM. Check whether you’ve allotted at least two gigabytes of RAM, which is the minimum Zulip requires. If not, go to your VM settings and increase the RAM, then restart the VM.

yarn install warnings

$ yarn install
yarn install v0.24.5
[1/4] Resolving packages...
[2/4] Fetching packages...
warning fsevents@1.1.1: The platform "linux" is incompatible with this module.
info "fsevents@1.1.1" is an optional dependency and failed compatibility check. Excluding it from installation.
[3/4] Linking dependencies...
[4/4] Building fresh packages...
$ browserify node_modules/sockjs-client/lib/entry.js --standalone SockJS > node_modules/sockjs-client/sockjs.js
Done in 23.50s.

These are warnings produced by spammy third party JavaScript packages. It is okay to proceed and start the Zulip server.

vagrant-lxc errors

Permissions errors

When building the development environment using Vagrant and the LXC provider, if you encounter permissions errors, you may need to chown -R 1000:$(id -g) /path/to/zulip on the host before running vagrant up in order to ensure that the synced directory has the correct owner during provision. This issue will arise if you run id username on the host where username is the user running Vagrant and the output is anything but 1000. This seems to be caused by Vagrant behavior; for more information, see the vagrant-lxc FAQ entry about shared folder permissions.


If you see the following error when you try to install the vagrant-lxc plugin:

/usr/lib/ruby/2.3.0/rubygems/specification.rb:946:in `all=': undefined method `group_by' for nil:NilClass (NoMethodError)
  from /usr/lib/ruby/vendor_ruby/vagrant/bundler.rb:275:in `with_isolated_gem'
  from /usr/lib/ruby/vendor_ruby/vagrant/bundler.rb:231:in `internal_install'
  from /usr/lib/ruby/vendor_ruby/vagrant/bundler.rb:102:in `install'
  from /usr/lib/ruby/vendor_ruby/vagrant/plugin/manager.rb:62:in `block in install_plugin'
  from /usr/lib/ruby/vendor_ruby/vagrant/plugin/manager.rb:72:in `install_plugin'
  from /usr/share/vagrant/plugins/commands/plugin/action/install_gem.rb:37:in `call'
  from /usr/lib/ruby/vendor_ruby/vagrant/action/warden.rb:34:in `call'
  from /usr/lib/ruby/vendor_ruby/vagrant/action/builder.rb:116:in `call'
  from /usr/lib/ruby/vendor_ruby/vagrant/action/runner.rb:66:in `block in run'
  from /usr/lib/ruby/vendor_ruby/vagrant/util/busy.rb:19:in `busy'
  from /usr/lib/ruby/vendor_ruby/vagrant/action/runner.rb:66:in `run'
  from /usr/share/vagrant/plugins/commands/plugin/command/base.rb:14:in `action'
  from /usr/share/vagrant/plugins/commands/plugin/command/install.rb:32:in `block in execute'
  from /usr/share/vagrant/plugins/commands/plugin/command/install.rb:31:in `each'
  from /usr/share/vagrant/plugins/commands/plugin/command/install.rb:31:in `execute'
  from /usr/share/vagrant/plugins/commands/plugin/command/root.rb:56:in `execute'
  from /usr/lib/ruby/vendor_ruby/vagrant/cli.rb:42:in `execute'
  from /usr/lib/ruby/vendor_ruby/vagrant/environment.rb:268:in `cli'
  from /usr/bin/vagrant:173:in `<main>'

And you have vagrant version 1.8.1, then you need to patch vagrant manually. See this post for an explanation of the issue, which should be fixed when Vagrant 1.8.2 is released.

In the meantime, read this post for how to create and apply the patch.

It will look something like this:

$ sudo patch --directory /usr/lib/ruby/vendor_ruby/vagrant < vagrant-plugin.patch
patching file bundler.rb

VT-X unavailability error

Users who are unable to do “vagrant up” due to a VT-X unavailability error need to disable “Hyper-V” to get it to work.

Permissions errors when running the test suite in LXC

See “Possible testing issues”.

ImportError: No module named ‘…’ on MacOS during Vagrant provisioning

If you see following error (or similar) when you try to provision Vagrant environment by vagrant provision (or during first run vagrant up):

    default: ImportError: No module named 'zerver.lib.emoji'
    default: Error running a subcommand of ./lib/ tools/do-destroy-rebuild-database
    default: Actual error output for the subcommand is just above this.
    default: Traceback (most recent call last):
    default:   File "./lib/", line 413, in <module>
    default:     sys.exit(main(options))
    default:   File "./lib/", line 349, in main
    default:     run(["tools/do-destroy-rebuild-database"])
    default:   File "/srv/zulip/scripts/lib/", line 163, in run
    default:     subprocess.check_call(args, **kwargs)
    default:   File "/usr/lib/python3.4/", line 561, in check_call
    default:     raise CalledProcessError(retcode, cmd)
    default: subprocess.CalledProcessError: Command '['tools/do-destroy-rebuild-database']' returned non-zero exit status 1
    default: Provisioning failed!
    default: * Look at the traceback(s) above to find more about the errors.
    default: * Resolve the errors or get help on chat.
    default: * If you can fix this yourself, you can re-run tools/provision at any time.
    default: * Logs are here: zulip/var/log/provision.log
The SSH command responded with a non-zero exit status. Vagrant
assumes that this means the command failed. The output for this command
should be in the log above. Please read the output to determine what
went wrong.

This error is caused by a bug in the MacOS NFS file syncing implementation (Zulip uses Vagrant’s NFS feature for syncing files on MacOS). In early versions of MacOS High Sierra, files present in the directory on the host machine would appear to not be present in the Vagrant guest (e.g. in the exception above, zerver/lib/ is missing). This bug is fixed in MacOS High Sierra 10.13.2 and above, so the fix is to upgrade to a version of MacOS with a working NFS implementation.

You can read more about this here.

Specifying a proxy

If you need to use a proxy server to access the Internet, you will need to specify the proxy settings before running Vagrant up. First, install the Vagrant plugin vagrant-proxyconf:

vagrant plugin install vagrant-proxyconf

Then create ~/.zulip-vagrant-config and add the following lines to it (with the appropriate values in it for your proxy):

HTTP_PROXY http://proxy_host:port
HTTPS_PROXY http://proxy_host:port
NO_PROXY localhost,,

Now run vagrant up in your terminal to install the development server. If you ran vagrant up before and failed, you’ll need to run vagrant destroy first to clean up the failed installation.

If you no longer want to use proxy with Vagrant, set values of HTTP_PROXY and HTTPS_PROXY to "" in ~/.zulip-vagrant-config file and restart Vagrant.

You can also change the port on the host machine that Vagrant uses by adding to your ~/.zulip-vagrant-config file. E.g. if you set:


(and halt and restart the Vagrant guest), then you would visit http://localhost:9971/ to connect to your development server.

If you’d like to be able to connect to your development environment from other machines than the VM host, you can manually set the host IP address in the ‘~/.zulip-vagrant-config’ file as well. For example, if you set:


(and restart the Vagrant guest), your host IP would be, a special value for the IP address that means any IP address can connect to your development server.