Development environment setup with Vagrant


The setup in this guide is demonstrated in below video as well if you want to watch and follow the guide at the same time!
Setting up Platform backend, recorded in Mac OS

Installing the API

This guide relies heavily on Vagrant and assumes some previous knowledge of how to use and/or troubleshoot vagrant.
If you want to learn more about vagrant, please refer to their docs here
Problems with the setup? Make sure to check our section Issues and solutionsbelow!


Please make sure you install everything in this list before you proceed with the platform setup.
  • Vagrant
  • Recommended: Vagrant host-updater plugin - this is useful to avoid having to update /etc/hosts by hand (Note: The plugin homepage says that this plugin is not maintained anymore. For now, it still seems to work fine, so you can ignore this warning.)
  • VirtualBox - Note: Windows users may be required to Enable VT-X (Intel Virtualization Technology) in the computer's bios settings, disable Hyper-V on program and features page in the control panel, and install the VirtualBox Extension Pack (installation instructions here.)
  • Composer
  • PHP >=7.0 <7.2 - if you are using Platform V4.0.0
  • PHP >=7.1 <7.4 - if you are using Platform V4.1.0 or later
  • PHP >=7.2 <7.4 - if you are using Platform V4.4.0 or later

Additional requisites setup

  • VirtualBox > 6.1.28 . As described here , you may need to add the virtual internal network to a configuration file in VirtualBox. Our Vagrant/Homestead setup is coded to use the network. Please create the file /etc/vbox/networks.conf (or equivalent in Windows (?)) and make sure it has the following line in it: *\

Getting the API Code

Clone the repository (this will create a directory named platform)
git clone
Go into the platform directory
cd platform
Switch to the develop branch
git checkout develop
If you haven't used git before or need help with git specific issues, make sure to check out their docs here

Getting the web server running

Once you have the code, the next step is to prepare a web server. For this part, we will use vagrant, with the Vagrant and Homestead.yml files that ship with Ushahidi.
First up we need to install the PHP dependencies. In the platform directory, run:
composer install --ignore-platform-reqs
Without using --ignore-platform-reqs you might run into an error like "The requested PHP extension ... is missing from your system". That's ok. You don't need all the PHP extensions on your host machine, since the vagrant setup already has them.
If you get a warning like "In MemcachedConnector.php line 69: Class 'Memcached' not found" at this point you can safely ignore it, we will come back to it later.
Bring up the vagrant server. Since this is the first time you run it, it will also provision the machine from scratch:
vagrant up
Our vagrant box is built on top of Laravel's Homestead, a pre-packaged Vagrant box that provides a pre-built development environment. Homestead includes the Nginx web server, PHP 7.1, MySQL, Postgres, Redis, Memcached, Node, and all of the other goodies you might need.
If you see an error like "Vagrant was unable to mount VirtualBox shared folders..."
  • Verify that Vagrant and VirtualBox are up to date.
  • Verify that the VirtualBox Guest Additions were installed (and fix it if they weren't)
    • vagrant ssh (to ssh into the machine. If you get an error like 'the path to your private key does not exist' when doing vagrant ssh, you need to generate a key, or if you already have one, double-check the path in the file "Homestead.yaml" . One good guide on generating keys is found here:
    • lsmod | grep vboxguest
    • If this command doesn't return anything, VB Guest additions are likely not installed correctly. A fix for this is to install the vbguest vagrant plugin.
    • if you are in the vagrant box, type exit and hit the return key to exit it
    • run vagrant plugin install vagrant-vbguest
    • run vagrant up --provision to continue
  • If that doesn't work, and you are in a linux or MacOS environment (this is not compatible with Windows!):
  • open the Homestead.yml file
  • Add type: "nfs" to the two directory mappings as shown below
  • run vagrant up
map: "./"
to: /vagrant
type: "nfs"
map: "./"
to: /home/vagrant/Code/platform-api
type: "nfs"
Now that you (hopefully) have a working vagrant machine, you will have to ssh into it to finish installing the dependencies.
vagrant ssh
Change to the project directory. This is shared by Vagrant / VirtualBox between your virtual server and your machine for easy updating during development:
cd ~/Code/platform-api
Set required php version. For current version of Ushahidi this should be 7.3:
sudo update-alternatives --set php /usr/bin/php7.3
sudo systemctl stop php7.1-fpm.service
sudo systemctl disable php7.1-fpm.service
sudo systemctl enable php7.3-fpm.service
sudo systemctl start php7.3-fpm.service
sudo sed --in-place=.php7.1.bak "s/php7.1-fpm/php7.3-fpm/g" /etc/nginx/sites-available/*
sudo systemctl restart nginx.service
composer install
Important: If you didn't setup vagrant-hostupdater, or if it failed for any reason, you will need to add the following lines to /etc/hosts in your host machine. platform-api api.ushahidi.test
Don't be surprised: This IP address is automatically set up by Vagrant, see Homestead.yaml and used in a couple of places.
At this point you should have a running web server, but your deployment isn't set up yet. We still need to configure the database and run the migrations.

Setting up the deployment's database

  • Copy the configuration file .env.example to make sure the platform can connect to the database.
cp .env.example .env
  • Run the migrations. This is required to be able to use your deployment, since it includes basic data such as an initial "admin" user, roles, the database schema itself, etc.
composer migrate
  • Go to in your browser to check the API is up and running. You should see some JSON with an API version, endpoints and user info.
Example JSON

Installing the client

Congratulations! You have set up the API. You may want now to build and install the web client for a full experience.

Issues and solutions

Vagrant says "The IP address configured for the host-only network is not within the allowed ranges. Please update the address used to be within the allowed ranges and run the command again."
According to information found here , a change in VirtualBox's handling of networking can render Homestead installations invalid.
The solution seems to involve creating a /etc/vbox/networks.conf file with the following content: