Integrate VSCode and Distrobox

VScode doesn’t need presentations, and it’s a powerful tool for development. You may want to use it, but how to handle the dualism between host and container?

In this experiment we will use VSCodium as an opensource alternative to VSCode.

Here are a couple of solutions.

From distrobox

Well, you could just install VSCode in your Distrobox of choice, and export it!

For example using an Arch Linux container:

~$ distrobox create --image archlinux:latest --name arch-distrobox
~$ distrobox enter --name arch-distrobox

Download the deb file HERE, or in Arch case just install

user@arch-distrobox:~$ sudo pacman -S code

Now that we have installed it, we can export it:

user@ubuntu-distrobox:~$ distrobox-export --app code

And that’s really it, you’ll have VSCode in your app list, and it will run from the Distrobox itself, so it will have access to all the software and tools inside it without problems.

image image

From flatpak

Alternatively you may want to install VSCode on your host. We will explore how to integrate VSCode installed via Flatpak with Distrobox.

For this one you’ll need to use VSCode from Microsoft, and not VSCodium, in order to have access to the remote containers extension.

First step install it

~$ flatpak install --user app/com.visualstudio.code com.visualstudio.code.tool.podman
~$ flatpak override --user --filesystem=xdg-run/podman com.visualstudio.code

Second step, extensions

Now we want to install VSCode Dev Containers extension


Third step podman wrapper

Being in a Flatpak, we will need access to host’s podman (or docker) to be able to use the containers. Place this in your ~/.local/bin/podman-host

curl -s -o ~/.local/bin/podman-host
chmod +x ~/.local/bin/podman-host

Open VSCode settings (Ctrl+,) and head to Remote>Containers>Docker Path and set it to the path of /home/<your-user>/.local/bin/podman-host, like in the example


This will give a way to execute host’s container manager from within the flatpak app.

This works for Distrobox both inside and outside a flatpak This will act only for containers created with Distrobox, you can still use regular devcontainers without transparently if needed.

Final Result

After that, we’re good to go! Open VSCode and Attach to Remote Container:


And let’s choose our Distrobox


And we’re good to go! We have our VSCode remote session inside our Distrobox container!


Open VSCode directly attached to our Distrobox

You may want to instead have a more direct way to launch your VSCode when you’re already in your project directory, in this case you can use vscode-distrobox script:

curl -s -o ~/.local/bin/vscode-distrobox
chmod +x ~/.local/bin/vscode-distrobox

This will make it easy to launch VSCode attached to target distrobox, on a target path:

vscode-distrobox my-distrobox /path/to/project