Creating a Base Box Manually

Warning: Advanced Topic! Creating a base box can be a time consuming and tedious process, and is not recommended for new Vagrant users. If you're just getting started with Vagrant, we recommend trying to find existing base boxes to use first.

We strongly recommend using Packer to create reproducible builds for your base boxes, as well as automating the builds.

This page documents the box format in case if you want to create your own base boxes manually, from the existing virtual machine.

Prior to reading this page, please check out the basics of the Vagrant box file format.


A Parallels base box is a compressed archive of the necessary contents of a Parallels "pvm" file. Here is an example of what is contained in such a box:

$ tree
├── Vagrantfile
├── box.pvm
│   ├── NVRAM.dat
│   ├── VmInfo.pvi
│   ├── config.pvs
│   └── harddisk.hdd
│       └── ...
└── metadata.json

config.pvs and <diskname>.hdd are strictly required for a Parallels virtual machine.

There is also the "metadata.json" file used by Vagrant itself. This file contains nothing but the defaults which are documented on the box format page.

Installed Software

Base boxes for the Parallels provider should have the following software installed, as a bare minimum:

  • SSH server with key-based authentication setup. If you want the box to work with default Vagrant settings, the SSH user must be set to accept the insecure keypair that ships with Vagrant.

  • Parallels Tools so that things such as shared folders can function. There are many other benefits to installing the tools, such as networking configuration and device mapping.

Box Size Optimization

Prior to packaging up a box, you should shrink the hard drives as much as possible. This can be done with prl_disk_tool:

$ prl_disk_tool compact --hdd /path/to/harddisk.hdd


Remove any extraneous files from the "pvm" folder and package it. Be sure to compress the tar with gzip (done below in a single command) since Parallels hard disks are not compressed by default.

$ cd /path/to/my/box.pvm/..
$ tar cvzf ./box.pvm ./Vagrantfile ./metadata.json