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Use any Linux distribution inside your terminal. Enable both backward and forward compatibility with software and freedom to use whatever distribution you’re more comfortable with. Distrobox uses podman, docker or lilipod to create containers using the Linux distribution of your choice. The created container will be tightly integrated with the host, allowing sharing of the HOME directory of the user, external storage, external USB devices and graphical apps (X11/Wayland), and audio.

Documentation - Matrix Room - Telegram Group


Documentation on GitHub strictly refers to the code in the main branch. For the official documentation Head over https://distrobox.it

What it does

Simply put it’s a fancy wrapper around podman, docker, or lilipod to create and start containers highly integrated with the hosts.

The distrobox environment is based on an OCI image. This image is used to create a container that seamlessly integrates with the rest of the operating system by providing access to the user’s home directory, the Wayland and X11 sockets, networking, removable devices (like USB sticks), systemd journal, SSH agent, D-Bus, ulimits, /dev and the udev database, etc…

It implements the same concepts introduced by https://github.com/containers/toolbox but in a simplified way using POSIX sh and aiming at broader compatibility.

All the props go to them as they had the great idea to implement this stuff.

It is divided into 12 commands:

It also includes a little wrapper to launch commands with distrobox COMMAND instead of calling the single files.

Please check the usage docs here and see some handy tips on how to use it

See it in action

Thanks to castrojo, you can see Distrobox in action in this explanatory video on his setup with Distrobox, Toolbx, Fedora Silverblue for the uBlue project (check it out!)



Refer to the compatibility list for an overview of the supported host distros HERE and container’s distro HERE.


This project aims to bring any distro userland to any other distro supporting podman, docker, or lilipod. It has been written in POSIX shell to be as portable as possible and it does not have problems with dependencies and glibc version’s compatibility.

Refer HERE for a list of supported container managers and minimum supported versions.

It also aims to enter the container as fast as possible, every millisecond adds up if you use the container as your default environment for your terminal:

These are some sample results of distrobox-enter on the same container on my weak laptop:

~$ hyperfine --warmup 3 --runs 100 "distrobox enter bench -- whoami"
Benchmark 1: distrobox enter bench -- whoami
  Time (mean ± σ):     395.6 ms ±  10.5 ms    [User: 167.4 ms, System: 62.4 ms]
  Range (min … max):   297.3 ms … 408.9 ms    100 runs

Security implications

Isolation and sandboxing are not the main aims of the project, on the contrary it aims to tightly integrate the container with the host. The container will have complete access to your home, pen drive, and so on, so do not expect it to be highly sandboxed like a plain docker/podman container or a Flatpak.

⚠️ BE CAREFUL:⚠️ if you use docker, or you use podman/lilipod with the --root/-r flag, the containers will run as root, so root inside the rootful container can modify system stuff outside the container, Be also aware that In rootful mode, you’ll be asked to setup the user’s password, this will ensure at least that the container is not a passwordless gate to root, but if you have security concerns for this, use podman or lilipod that runs in rootless mode. Rootless docker is still not working as intended and will be included in the future when it will be complete.

That said, it is in the works to implement some sort of decoupling with the host, as discussed here: #28 Sandboxed mode

Quick Start

Create a new distrobox:

distrobox create -n test

Create a new distrobox with Systemd (acts similar to an LXC):

distrobox create --name test --init --image debian:latest --additional-packages "systemd libpam-systemd"

Enter created distrobox:

distrobox enter test

Add one with a different distribution, eg. Ubuntu 20.04:

distrobox create -i ubuntu:20.04

Execute a command in a distrobox:

distrobox enter test -- command-to-execute

List running distroboxes:

distrobox list

Stop a running distrobox:

distrobox stop test

Remove a distrobox:

distrobox rm test

You can check HERE for more advanced usage and check a comprehensive list of useful tips HERE

Assemble Distrobox

Manifest files can be used to declare a set of distroboxes and use distrobox-assemble to create/destroy them in batch.

Head over the usage docs of distrobox-assemble for a more detailed guide.

Configure Distrobox

Configuration files can be placed in the following paths, from the least important to the most important:

You can specify inside distrobox configurations and distrobox-specific Environment variables.

Example configuration file:

container_manager_additional_flags="--env-file /path/to/file --custom-flag"
container_additional_volumes="/example:/example1 /example2:/example3:ro"

Alternatively, it is possible to specify preferences using ENV variables:


Distrobox is packaged in the following distributions, if your distribution is on this list, you can refer to your repos for installation:

Packaging status

Thanks to the maintainers for their work: M0Rf30, alcir, dfaggioli, AtilaSaraiva, michel-slm

Alternative methods

Here is a list of alternative ways to install distrobox.

Curl or Wget

If you like to live your life dangerously, or you want the latest release, you can trust me and simply run this in your terminal:

curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/89luca89/distrobox/main/install | sudo sh
# or using wget
wget -qO- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/89luca89/distrobox/main/install | sudo sh

or if you want to select a custom directory to install without sudo:

curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/89luca89/distrobox/main/install | sh -s -- --prefix ~/.local
# or using wget
wget -qO- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/89luca89/distrobox/main/install | sh -s -- --prefix ~/.local

If you want to install the last development version, directly from the last commit on Git, you can use:

curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/89luca89/distrobox/main/install | sudo sh -s -- --next
# or using wget
wget -qO- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/89luca89/distrobox/main/install | sudo sh -s -- --next


curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/89luca89/distrobox/main/install | sh -s -- --next --prefix ~/.local
# or using wget
wget -qO- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/89luca89/distrobox/main/install | sh -s -- --next --prefix ~/.local


Just run the curl or wget command again.

[!WARNING] Remember to add prefix-path-you-choose/bin to your PATH, to make it work.


Alternatively, you can clone the project using git clone or using the latest release HERE.

Enter the directory and run ./install, by default it will attempt to install in ~/.local but if you run the script as root, it will default to /usr/local. You can specify a custom directory with the --prefix flag such as ./install --prefix ~/.distrobox.

Prefix explained: main distrobox files get installed to ${prefix}/bin whereas the manpages get installed to ${prefix}/share/man.

Check the Host Distros compatibility list for distro-specific instructions.


Distrobox depends on a container manager to work, you can choose to install either podman, docker or lilipod.

Please look in the Compatibility Table for your distribution notes.

There are ways to install Podman without root privileges and in home. or Lilipod without root privileges and in home. This should play well with completely sudoless setups and with devices like the Steam Deck (SteamOS).


If you installed distrobox using the install script in the default install directory use this:

curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/89luca89/distrobox/main/uninstall | sudo sh

or if you specified a custom path:

curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/89luca89/distrobox/main/uninstall | sh -s -- --prefix ~/.local

Else if cloned the project using git clone or using the latest archive release from HERE,

enter the directory and run ./uninstall, by default it will assume the install directory was /usr/local if ran as root or ~/.local, you can specify another directory if needed with ./uninstall --prefix ~/.local


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