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FAQ

Questions?

Please file all questions and support requests at https://github.com/cdr/code-server/discussions.

How can I reuse my VS Code configuration?

The very popular Settings Sync extension works.

You can also pass --user-data-dir ~/.vscode to reuse your existing VS Code extensions and configuration.

Or copy ~/.vscode into ~/.local/share/code-server.

Differences compared to VS Code?

code-server takes the open source core of VS Code and allows you to run it in the browser. However, it is not entirely equivalent to Microsoft's VS Code.

While the core of VS Code is open source, the marketplace and many published Microsoft extensions are not.

Furthermore, Microsoft prohibits the use of any non-Microsoft VS Code from accessing their marketplace.

See the TOS.

Marketplace Offerings are intended for use only with Visual Studio Products and Services and you may only install and use Marketplace Offerings with Visual Studio Products and Services.

As a result, we cannot offer any extensions on the Microsoft marketplace. Instead, we have created our own marketplace for open source extensions. It works by scraping GitHub for VS Code extensions and building them. It's not perfect but getting better by the day with more and more extensions.

These are the closed source extensions presently unavailable:

  1. Live Share
    • We may implement something similar, see #33
  2. Remote Extensions (SSH, Containers, WSL)
    • We may reimplement these at some point, see #1315

For more about the closed source parts of VS Code, see vscodium/vscodium.

How can I request a missing extension?

Please open a new issue and select the Extension request template.

If an extension is not available or does not work, you can grab its VSIX from its Github releases or build it yourself. Then run the Extensions: Install from VSIX command in the Command Palette and point to the .vsix file.

See below for installing an extension from the cli.

How do I configure the marketplace URL?

If you have your own marketplace that implements the VS Code Extension Gallery API, it is possible to point code-server to it by setting $SERVICE_URL and $ITEM_URL. These correspond directly to serviceUrl and itemUrl in VS Code's product.json.

e.g. to use open-vsx.org:

export SERVICE_URL=https://open-vsx.org/vscode/gallery
export ITEM_URL=https://open-vsx.org/vscode/item

While you can technically use Microsoft's marketplace with these, please do not do so as it is against their terms of use. See above and this discussion regarding the use of the Microsoft URLs in forks:

microsoft/vscode#31168 (comment)

These variables are most valuable to our enterprise customers for whom we have a self hosted marketplace product.

Where are extensions stored?

Defaults to ~/.local/share/code-server/extensions.

If the XDG_DATA_HOME environment variable is set the data directory will be $XDG_DATA_HOME/code-server/extensions. In general we try to follow the XDG directory spec.

You can install an extension on the CLI with:

# From the Coder extension marketplace
code-server --install-extension ms-python.python

# From a downloaded VSIX on the file system
code-server --install-extension downloaded-ms-python.python.vsix

How is this different from VS Code Codespaces?

VS Code Codespaces is a closed source and paid service by Microsoft. It also allows you to access VS Code via the browser.

However, code-server is free, open source and can be run on any machine without any limitations.

While you can self host environments with VS Code Codespaces, you still need an Azure billing account and you have to access VS Code via the Codespaces web dashboard instead of directly connecting to your instance.

How should I expose code-server to the internet?

Please follow ./guide.md for our recommendations on setting up and using code-server.

code-server only supports password authentication natively.

note: code-server will rate limit password authentication attempts at 2 a minute and 12 an hour.

If you want to use external authentication (i.e sign in with Google) you should handle this with a reverse proxy using something like oauth2_proxy or Cloudflare Access.

For HTTPS, you can use a self signed certificate by passing in just --cert or pass in an existing certificate by providing the path to --cert and the path to the key with --cert-key.

If code-server has been passed a certificate it will also respond to HTTPS requests and will redirect all HTTP requests to HTTPS.

You can use Let's Encrypt to get a TLS certificate for free.

Again, please follow ./guide.md for our recommendations on setting up and using code-server.

How do I securely access web services?

code-server is capable of proxying to any port using either a subdomain or a subpath which means you can securely access these services using code-server's built-in authentication.

Sub-paths

Just browse to /proxy/<port>/.

Sub-domains

You will need a DNS entry that points to your server for each port you want to access. You can either set up a wildcard DNS entry for *.<domain> if your domain name registrar supports it or you can create one for every port you want to access (3000.<domain>, 8080.<domain>, etc).

You should also set up TLS certificates for these subdomains, either using a wildcard certificate for *.<domain> or individual certificates for each port.

Start code-server with the --proxy-domain flag set to your domain.

code-server --proxy-domain <domain>

Now you can browse to <port>.<domain>. Note that this uses the host header so ensure your reverse proxy forwards that information if you are using one.

Multi-tenancy

If you want to run multiple code-servers on shared infrastructure, we recommend using virtual machines with a VM per user. This will easily allow users to run a docker daemon. If you want to use kubernetes, you'll definitely want to use kubevirt to give each user a virtual machine instead of just a container.

Docker in code-server container?

If you'd like to access docker inside of code-server, mount the docker socket in from /var/run/docker.sock. Install the docker CLI in the code-server container and you should be able to access the daemon!

You can even make volume mounts work. Lets say you want to run a container and mount in /home/coder/myproject into it from inside the code-server container. You need to make sure the docker daemon's /home/coder/myproject is the same as the one mounted inside the code-server container and the mount will just work.

How can I disable telemetry?

Use the --disable-telemetry flag to completely disable telemetry. We use the data collected only to improve code-server.

How does code-server decide what workspace or folder to open?

code-server tries the following in order:

  1. The workspace query parameter.
  2. The folder query parameter.
  3. The workspace or directory passed on the command line.
  4. The last opened workspace or directory.

How do I debug issues with code-server?

First run code-server with at least debug logging (or trace to be really thorough) by setting the --log flag or the LOG_LEVEL environment variable. -vvv and --verbose are aliases for --log trace.

code-server --log debug

Once this is done, replicate the issue you're having then collect logging information from the following places:

  1. stdout
  2. The most recently created directory in the ~/.local/share/code-server/logs directory.
  3. The browser console and network tabs.

Additionally, collecting core dumps (you may need to enable them first) if code-server crashes can be helpful.

Heartbeat File

code-server touches ~/.local/share/code-server/heartbeat once a minute as long as there is an active browser connection.

If you want to shutdown code-server if there hasn't been an active connection in X minutes you can do so by continuously checking the last modified time on the heartbeat file and if it is older than X minutes, kill code-server.

#1636 will make the experience here better.

How does the config file work?

When code-server starts up, it creates a default config file in ~/.config/code-server/config.yaml that looks like this:

bind-addr: 127.0.0.1:8080
auth: password
password: mewkmdasosafuio3422 # This is randomly generated for each config.yaml
cert: false

Each key in the file maps directly to a code-server flag. Run code-server --help to see a listing of all the flags.

The default config here says to listen on the loopback IP port 8080, enable password authorization and no TLS. Any flags passed to code-server will take priority over the config file.

The --config flag or $CODE_SERVER_CONFIG can be used to change the config file's location.

The default location also respects $XDG_CONFIG_HOME.

Blank screen on iPad?

Unfortunately at the moment self signed certificates cause a blank screen on iPadOS

There does seem to be a way to get it to work if you create your own CA and create a certificate using the CA and then import the CA onto your iPad.

See #1566.

Isn't an install script piped into sh insecure?

Please give this wonderful blogpost by sandstorm.io a read.

How do I make my keyboard shortcuts work?

Many shortcuts will not work by default as they'll be caught by the browser.

If you use Chrome you can get around this by installing the PWA.

Once you've entered the editor, click the "plus" icon present in the URL toolbar area. This will install a Chrome PWA and now all keybindings will work!

For other browsers you'll have to remap keybindings unfortunately.

Differences compared to Theia?

Theia is a browser IDE loosely based on VS Code. It uses the same text editor library named Monaco and the same extension API but everything else is very different. It also uses open-vsx.org for extensions which has an order of magnitude less extensions than our marketplace. See #1473.

You can't just use your VS Code config in Theia like you can with code-server.

To summarize, code-server is a patched fork of VS Code to run in the browser whereas Theia takes some parts of VS Code but is an entirely different editor.

Enterprise

Visit our enterprise page for more information about our enterprise offerings.