What is the Treehouse VM?

The Treehouse Virtual Machine is a Vagrant controlled linux virtual machine. This VM is used in different Treehouse courses to facilitate the installation of Ruby on Rails and associated libraries and versions. Many of the VMs have the following installed:

  • Ruby
  • Ruby on Rails
  • MySQL
  • PostgreSQL
  • Sqlite3
  • Imagemagick
  • curl

It is not necessary to use the VM to follow along with Ruby and Rails related Treehouse courses if you already have the libraries and prerequisites installed.

Download and Install VirtualBox

VirtualBox is free virtualization software. Head on over to the following address and download the latest version of VirtualBox and the VirtualBox Extension Pack for Windows:

Then proceed to install VirtualBox as you would any other software.

Download and Install Vagrant

Vagrant is a piece of software used to control and install virtual machines. Download the latest version of Vagrant and install it as you would any other piece of software for your computer:

Once you have finished this step, please reboot your computer.

Download the Treehouse VM Files

The final download necessary is the Treehouse VM specific to the course you are taking. Head over to the following site:

Select the course you are taking and download the appropriate virtual machine. This will contain only a zip file. Once you have the zip file, unzip it and follow along with the rest of this tutorial.

Download cmdr

Download and install the full version of cmdr. This contains a nicer terminal emulator for Windows and some support files.

Launch a Terminal

  1. Launch cmdr

Set up the Project

So you’ve completed the steps above and have the vm zip file downloaded? Great! You’re almost there. Find the zip file where you downloaded the Treehouse VM and extract it. Remember the folder or directory where it was extracted. In your terminal, type the following to get to that folder:

cd projects

Now we can launch vagrant. Type the following:

vagrant up

That starts the virtual machine. If this is the first time you are running that specific virtual machine, it will need to be downloaded and configured.

Once the virtual machine has downloaded, type the following:

vagrant ssh

That will put you inside of the virtual machine and you can proceed to follow along with the course. Great work!

If you get any errors about shared folders, type the following:

vagrant plugin install vagrant-vbguest

Then reboot your computer and attempt the vagrant up section above again.

To stop the virtual machine type the following:

vagrant halt

Setting up a Rails Application

If you’re following a Rails related course, such as Build a Rails API, you need to follow just a few more steps to get everthing set up. Go back to your terminal and type the following:

cd odot
bin/rake db:create:all
touch config/secrets.yml

The last command creates a file called secrets.yml in the config directory. We need to fill that out. Open that up in a text editor (Sublime Text is a popular choice) and type the following:


Now we have to generate a secret! Go back to the terminal application and type the following:

bin/rake secret

That will spit out a long stream of letters and numbers. Paste the results after the secret_key_base: and save the file.

Go back to your terminal and type the following:

bin/rake db:migrate


Getting Help

By following the steps above, you should now have the Treehouse VM installed. If you are having trouble, post in the Treehouse Forum with as many details as possible.