Vagrant, Serf, Packer, and Consul create and manage development environments

Strong Quad

Radio Transmitters

Serf not only determines whether nodes are down, it can also dispatch events predefined by the admin. These events then trigger certain actions on the node. For example, the nodes could search for updates and install them.

Serf is written in Go and licensed under the Mozilla Public License 2.0. Source code is available on GitHub [12], with prebuilt packages for Windows, Mac OS X, Free BSD, OpenBSD, and Linux. For Linux, you have the choice of x86 or x86_64 variants and even an ARM version. Commissioning and operation of Serf strongly resembles the process for Consul: Again, you unpack the ZIP archive to reveal a command-line utility – the agent. You need to start the agent on each node to be monitored and introduce the agents to one another: Just introduce an agent to its neighbor; it then discovers all the others automatically.


HashiCorp offers four extremely useful tools for the DevOps lifecycle: Vagrant helps simplify development and Packer helps with deployment, whereas Consul and Serf take care of operations and maintenance. Using these tools is extremely simple: In Vagrant, for example, a single command line is all it takes to launch a custom development environment.

The documentation provided by HashiCorp is exemplary for all four tools. It is complete, comprehensive, and above all understandably written. Useful introductions help you get started. Users in the appropriate Google groups [14] or in IRC chats on Freenode help clear up any questions you might still have. For Vagrant, the IRC channel is #vagrant . Additionally, O'Reilly has released a book on Vagrant, and the author is none other than Mitchell Hashimoto [15].


  1. Vagrant:
  2. Commercial VMware plugin for Vagrant:
  4. Vagrantcloud:
  5. Price list for Vagrantcloud:
  6. Vagrant source code:
  7. Packer:
  8. Packer source code:
  9. Consul:
  10. Consul source code:
  11. Serf:
  12. Serf source code:
  13. Comparing functions between Consul and Serf:
  14. Vagrant Google Group:!forum/vagrant-up
  15. Hashimoto, Mitchell. Vagrant: Up and Running . O'Reilly, 2013, ISBN 978-1-4493-3583-0

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