HHVM & Hack: The painless way to get started

So we have heard about the new PHP Virtual Machine from Facebook – HHVM and the static typing flavoured new programming language called “Hack” that comes with HHVM. If you haven’t already, check out hhvm.com and hacklang.org for more details.

Now, if you are on a Linux box, setting up HHVM would seem a little less complicated. But if you are on Windows or Mac OS X, the hell breaks lose. HHVM doesn’t have any support for Windows yet. You can manually compile it on OS X or perhaps use a package manager like Homebrew (which would automate the compilation for you). However, because of some bugs in HHVM, the setup for HHVM 2.4.2 has been failing (as I found out from the homebrew repo pointing to the hhvm bugs) on homebrew. I did have an older version installed but I wanted to go cutting edge. So, I needed a Linux box. If you are on Windows, this is a solution for you as well. I setup a Ubuntu VM to install the latest HHVM. I could just download a 64 bit ISO and install inside VirtualBox but I preferred Vagrant since it’s just easier to setup and use. I am going to walk you through the setup now.

Step – 1: Get Vagrant

Head over to: http://www.vagrantup.com/ and follow the instructions for your OS. It is quite simple. You would need to have VirtualBox installed for Vagrant to work.

Step – 2: Installing and launching the Ubuntu VM

Create a directory somewhere and cd into it.

Let’s create a vagrant configuration file:

This would create a file named “Vagrantfile” which is a configuration file written in Ruby.

Let’s add a box, a box file is basically a VM image and configuration packed in one file. We shall download one of the default box, Ubuntu 12.04 64bit which we would call “precise64”. “Precise Pangolin” was the nickname of Ubuntu 12.04 if you didn’t know. And please note HHVM pre built packages are available for Ubuntu 12.04 64bit, so we can’t go for 32bit here.

(PS: If you have a bad internet connection, download the file using a download manager and then use relative path like: “vagrant box add precise64 ~/Downloads/precise64.box” – that would work as well 😀 )

Now let’s make sure that we told Vagrant to use the newly created “precise64” box as the base of our VM. My Vagrantfile roughly looks like this:

Now, let’s get the VM up:

This should setup the Ubuntu VM and we’re ready for installing the HHVM now 😀

Step – 3: Setting up HHVM

SSH into the box:

You shall be SSH’d into the linux terminal. So you can play around 🙂

Now, we are going to install HHVM from the official repo. Type the following commands one after one to install. Explanation of the commands are available in comments:

If everything goes right, we should have a working HHVM installation!

(The above instructions to setup HHVM on Ubuntu 12.04 were taken and very slightly modified from: https://github.com/facebook/hhvm/wiki/Prebuilt-packages-on-ubuntu-12.04)

Step – 4: Saying Hello!

First, let’s see if HHVM was installed correctly.

So it was installed correctly.

Let’s try some Hack:


Now, feel free to try out HHVM and Hack along with the many cool things they can do.

Some useful resources:

A sample site: https://github.com/hhvm/hack-example-site

The PHP Manual with Hack references: http://docs.hhvm.com/

Have something to say? Please leave your feedback in the comments section.

2 Comments HHVM & Hack: The painless way to get started

  1. Evo

    Great tutorial. Got Hack running in vagrant box.

    One thing to not is – at some point HHVM requires .hhconfig in the root of your project. An empty file works fine for this tutorial.


  2. chrys

    How can i sync vagrant file to linuxvm? i installed Apache and cant see the file in my www directory on my machine but they appear when i do ‘ls’


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