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Terraform Scripts for Development Environment Creation on GCP

Designed for use with the Remote - SSH VSCode extension.

These terraform scripts are designed to allow development environments to be easily created for the purposes of remote - low-bandwidth work. They create a jumpbox which allows ssh access into a development machine.

Initial Setup

Install gcloud and run gcloud auth login.

If you want to create a new project: gcloud projects create my-unique-remote-work-project-name --set-as-default. --set-as-default makes the next steps more convenient. If you want to reverse this you can use gcloud config set project my-actual-project, or you can not use this flag and set --project=my-unique-remote-work-project-name in the next gcloud commands.

Create a billing account and associate it with your project, either in console or on the command line using gcloud alpha billing projects link my-unique-remote-work-project-name --billing-account 0X0X0X-0X0X0X-0X0X0X.

Enable osLogin on your account - which will allow you to ssh to compute boxes gcloud projects add-iam-policy-binding my-unique-remote-work-project-name --member --role roles/compute.osAdminLogin.

Create a service account for your project at and save the JSON key file to a directory in the root of this repo called .creds. This folder is in .gitignore.

Create a terraform.tfvars file in the root directory of this repo with the following:

project = "my-unique-remote-work-project-name"
credentials_file = ".creds/my-project-keyfile.json"
region = "my-region1"
zone = "my-region1-a"
email = ""

Enable compute API gcloud services enable

Run ./tf setup apply to setup the VPC and add osLogin metadata.

There may be a step to setup a google ssh key - you can try to do this by creating an instance and then sshing into it using the gcloud compute ssh my-instance-name command. If you have any difficulties here please show the steps you needed in an issue on this repo - you may not need to do this step if you have already logged into another instance on GCP. You may need to run something like: gcloud compute os-login ssh-keys add --key-file ~/.ssh/ after GCP asks for you to generate a key. This allows your local key to be used to login to instances.

In order to make an image for the jumpbox, create an instance - with disk auto-delete off - and configure the ssh port on it to something non-standard - this repo currently uses 65432. Additionally on this box you could install some 2FA via something like google authenticator. Once you're done, shut down the instance and create an image from that instance's disk named jmpbx, which these scripts will boot from a clean image as your jumpbox every time you run them.

Creating a Development Environment

Each development environment consists primarily of a disk. To create a new disk, run ./diskcmd my-disk-name apply. This will create a 10GB new debian-10 disk by default. If you want to change these defaults - alter the code in ./devdisk/

Edit the make_ssh file to contain your google username, with underscores replacing periods and @ symbols.

Then, it should be as simple as running ./startup my-disk-name to point a micro instance at that disk, and to create a ssh_config file in the root directory. If your setup has been successful ssh -F ssh_config devbox should ssh you through the jumpbox and into your development instance.

This config file is also designed to work with the VSCode Remote - SSH extension, just add the ssh_config file path in this repo as the configuration path. Every ./startup this configuration is generated. If you want to customize the output you can do this in make_ssh. By default this tunnels port 8080 to localhost:65430 on your machine. This is where you might expose your other development ports.

Shutting Down a Development Environment

./shutdown my-disk-name will shut down your development environment. If you want to shut down a specific devbox without shutting down the jumpbox, please see the more detailed sub-command descriptions below. The configured VPC and some osLogin configuration will remain, as defined in the setup folder.

Github key transfer

As an example of a convenient way to transfer ssh keys for github access to your devdisks - the scripts github_init and github_devbox_init are in the root directory of this repository. github_init goes through locally creating a github key and uploading it to google secrets manager, and github_devbox_init enables download on the instance.

Using the ./tf script

This script is used to compartmentalize your terraform state, so you may have individual pieces of it up, while sharing outputs and variables between them.

The tf script:

  • Loads all the variables stored in the *_outputs.json files into environment variables
  • Shifts into the folder of the first argument
  • Runs terraform and passes it the second argument, (apply, destroy etc.)
  • Passes the same command the third argument (used for options like -auto-approve)
  • Returns to the main directory
  • Puts all outputs into the *_outputs.json file, with the first argument replacing the star

Using the ./diskcmd script

This script creates a disk for any repository you want a separated development environment for. The reason this occurs slightly differently to a regular apply or destroy command is that terraform has some trouble storing state in dynamically interpolated state file names.

The diskcmd script:

  • Creates a directory in the devdisk directory named after the first argument (repository name) if none exists
  • Moves any files in the repository-named dir to the devdisk dir
  • Runs the ./tf script for the devdisk directory, passing it the repository as a variable
  • Moves the state for the devdisk to the repository-named dir

Using the ./boxcmd script

This script creates an instance that points at a devdisk.

The boxcmd script:

  • Acts identically to the tf script, but the first argument is the devdisk name
  • It always acts on the devbox folder

Using the ./make_ssh script

This script creates a custom ssh_config file you can point SSH at.

The make_ssh script:

  • Gathers outputs from setup and the devbox that is applied currently
  • Writes a new file to ssh_config in the base directory of this repository

This script can be used either as an input to the ssh command (e.g. ssh -F ssh_config devbox) or can be pointed to by another tool, like the VSCode Remote - SSH extension.


  • Retry on a totally clean image
  • Run gcloud commands for initial project, service account setup, osLogin permissions and keygen
  • Split ssh_config so someone could ssh jumpbox or ssh devbox
  • Make port forwarding configurable


Terraform scripts for development environment to use with the VSCode Remote - SSH extension







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