Remote Development Tips and Tricks

This article covers troubleshooting tips and tricks for each of the Visual Studio Code Remote Development extensions. See the SSH, Containers, and WSL articles for details on setting up and working with each specific extension. Or try the step by step Tutorials to help get you running quickly in a remote environment.

Troubleshooting tips for Visual Studio Online can be found in the service's documentation.

SSH tips

SSH is powerful and flexible, but this also adds some setup complexity. This section includes some tips and tricks for getting the Remote - SSH extension up and running in different environments.

If you are still running into trouble, you may want to try the preview of Visual Studio Online's free self-hosted environment option since it does not require an SSH server or even an open / directly accessible port on the remote host. The service also allows you use its browser-based editor with the host you register.

Configuring key based authentication

SSH public key authentication is a convenient, high security authentication method that combines a local "private" key with a "public" key that you associate with your user account on an SSH host. This section will walk you through how to generate these keys and add them to a host.

Tip: PuTTY for Windows is not a supported client, but you can convert your PuTTYGen keys.

Quick start: SSH key

To set up SSH key based authentication for your remote host:

  1. Check to see if you already have an SSH key on your local machine. The public key is typically located at ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub on macOS / Linux, and the .ssh directory in your user profile folder on Windows (for example C:\Users\your-user\.ssh\id_rsa.pub).

    If you do not have a key, run the following command in a local terminal / PowerShell to generate an SSH key pair:

    ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096

    Tip: Don't have ssh-keygen? Install a supported SSH client.

  2. Add the contents of your local public key (the id_rsa.pub file) to the appropriate authorized_keys file(s) on the SSH host.

    macOS / Linux: Run the following, in a local terminal replacing user and host name as appropriate:

    ssh-copy-id your-user-name-on-host@host-fqdn-or-ip-goes-here

    Windows: Run the following in a local PowerShell, replacing the value of REMOTEHOST as appropriate:

    $REMOTEHOST="your-user-name-on-host@host-fqdn-or-ip-goes-here"
    
    scp "$env:USERPROFILE\.ssh\id_rsa.pub" "${REMOTEHOST}:~/tmp.pub"
    ssh "$REMOTEHOST" "mkdir -p ~/.ssh && chmod 700 ~/.ssh && cat ~/tmp.pub >> ~/.ssh/authorized_keys && chmod 600 ~/.ssh/authorized_keys && rm -f ~/tmp.pub"

Improving your security with a dedicated key

While using a single SSH key across all your SSH hosts can be convenient, if anyone gains access to your private key, they will have access to all of your hosts as well. You can prevent this by creating a separate SSH key for your development hosts. Just follow these steps:

  1. Generate a separate SSH key in a different file.

    macOS / Linux: Run the following command in a local terminal:

    ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096 -f ~/.ssh/id_rsa-remote-ssh

    Windows: Run the following command in a local PowerShell:

    ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096 -f "$env:USERPROFILE\.ssh\id_rsa-remote-ssh"
  2. In VS Code, run Remote-SSH: Open Configuration File... in the Command Palette (F1), select an SSH config file, and add (or modify) a host entry as follows:

    Host name-of-ssh-host-here
        User your-user-name-on-host
        HostName host-fqdn-or-ip-goes-here
        IdentityFile ~/.ssh/id_rsa-remote-ssh
  3. Add the contents of the local id_rsa-remote-ssh.pub file generated in step 1 to the appropriate authorized_keys file(s) on the SSH host.

    macOS / Linux: Run the following command in a local terminal, replacing name-of-ssh-host-here with the host name in the SSH config file from step 2:

    ssh-copy-id -i ~/.ssh/id_rsa-remote-ssh.pub name-of-ssh-host-here

    Windows: Run the following commands in a local PowerShell, replacing the value of $REMOTEHOST the host name in the SSH config file from step 2.

    $REMOTEHOST="name-of-ssh-host-here"
    
    scp "$env:USERPROFILE\.ssh\id_rsa-remote-ssh.pub" "${REMOTEHOST}:~/tmp.pub"
    ssh "$REMOTEHOST" "mkdir -p ~/.ssh && chmod 700 ~/.ssh && cat ~/tmp.pub >> ~/.ssh/authorized_keys && chmod 600 ~/.ssh/authorized_keys && rm -f ~/tmp.pub"

Reusing a key generated in PuTTYGen

If you used PuTTYGen to set up SSH public key authentication for the host you are connecting to, you need to convert your private key so that other SSH clients can use it. To do this:

  1. Open PuTTYGen locally and load the private key you want to convert.

  2. Select Conversions > Export OpenSSH key from the application menu. Save the converted key to a local location under the.ssh directory in your user profile folder (for example C:\Users\youruser\.ssh).

  3. Validate that the local permissions on the exported key file only grant Full Control to your user, Administrators, and SYSTEM.

  4. In VS Code, run Remote-SSH: Open Configuration File... in the Command Palette (F1), select the SSH config file you wish to change, and add (or modify) a host entry in the config file as follows to point to the file:

    Host name-of-ssh-host-here
        User your-user-name-on-host
        HostName host-fqdn-or-ip-goes-here
        IdentityFile ~/.ssh/exported-keyfile-from-putty

Troubleshooting hanging or failing connections

If you are running into problems with VS Code hanging while trying to connect (and potentially timing out), there are a few things you can do to try to resolve the issue.

See if VS Code is waiting on a prompt

Enable the remote.SSH.showLoginTerminal setting in VS Code and retry. If you are prompted to input a password or token, see Enabling alternate SSH authentication methods for details on reducing the frequency of prompts.

Enable TCP Forwarding on the remote host

Remote - SSH extension makes use of an SSH tunnel to facilitate communication with the host. In some cases, this may be disabled on your SSH server. To see if this is the problem, open the Remote - SSH category in the output window and check for the following message:

open failed: administratively prohibited: open failed

If you do see that message, follow these steps to update your SSH server's sshd config:

  1. Open /etc/ssh/sshd_config in an editor (like vim, nano, or pico) on the SSH host (not locally).
  2. Add the setting AllowTcpForwarding yes.
  3. Restart the SSH server (on Ubuntu, run sudo systemctl restart sshd).
  4. Retry.

Set the ProxyCommand parameter in your SSH config file

If you are behind a proxy and are unable to connect to your SSH host, you may need to use the ProxyCommand parameter for your host in a local SSH config file. You can read this SSH ProxyCommand article for an example of its use.

Ensure the remote machine has internet access

The remote machine must have internet access to be able to download the VS Code Server and extensions from the Marketplace. See the FAQ for details on connectivity requirements.

Set HTTP_PROXY / HTTPS_PROXY on the remote host

If your remote host is behind a proxy, you may need to set the HTTP_PROXY or HTTPS_PROXY environment variable on the SSH host. Open your ~/.bashrc file add the following (replacing proxy.fqdn.or.ip:3128 with the appropriate hostname / IP and port):

export HTTP_PROXY=http://proxy.fqdn.or.ip:3128
export HTTPS_PROXY=$HTTP_PROXY

# Or if an authenticated proxy
export HTTP_PROXY=http://username:password@proxy.fqdn.or.ip:3128
export HTTPS_PROXY=$HTTP_PROXY

Work around /tmp mounted with noexec

Some remote servers are set up to disallow executing scripts from /tmp. VS Code writes its install script to the system temp directory and tries to execute it from there. You can work with your system administrator to determine whether this can be worked around.

Check whether a different shell is launched during install

Some users launch a different shell from their .bash_profile or other startup script on their SSH host because they want to use a different shell than the default. This can break VS Code's remote server install script and isn't recommended. Instead, use chsh to change your default shell on the remote machine.

Connecting to systems that dynamically assign machines per connection

Some systems will dynamically route an SSH connection to one node from a cluster each time an SSH connection is made. This is an issue for VS Code because it makes two connections to open a remote window: the first to install or start the VS Code Server (or find an already running instance) and the second to create the SSH port tunnel that VS Code uses to talk to the server. If VS Code is routed to a different machine when it creates the second connection, it won't be able to talk to the VS Code server.

One workaround for this is to use the ControlMaster option in OpenSSH (macOS/Linux clients only), described in Enabling alternate SSH authentication methods, so that VS Code's two connections will be multiplexed through a single SSH connection to the same node.

Contact your system administrator for configuration help

SSH is a very flexible protocol and supports many configurations. If you see other errors, in either the login terminal or the Remote-SSH output window, they could be due to a missing setting.

Contact your system administrator for information about the required settings for your SSH host and client. Specific command-line arguments for connecting to your SSH host can be added to an SSH config file.

To access your config file, run Remote-SSH: Open Configuration File... in the Command Palette (F1). You can then work with your admin to add the necessary settings.

Enabling alternate SSH authentication methods

If you are connecting to an SSH remote host and are either:

  • connecting with two-factor authentication,
  • using password authentication,
  • using an SSH key with a passphrase when the SSH Agent is not running or accessible,

...VS Code should automatically prompt you to enter needed information. If you do not see the prompt, enable the remote.SSH.showLoginTerminal setting in VS Code. This setting displays the terminal whenever VS Code runs an SSH command. You can then enter your auth code, password, or passphrase when the terminal appears.

If you are on macOS and Linux and want to reduce how often you have to enter a password or token, you can enable the ControlMaster feature on your local machine so that OpenSSH runs multiple SSH sessions over a single connection.

To enable ControlMaster:

  1. Add an entry like this to your SSH config file:

    Host *
        ControlMaster auto
        ControlPath  ~/.ssh/sockets/%r@%h-%p
        ControlPersist  600
  2. Then run mkdir -p ~/.ssh/sockets to create the sockets folder.

Setting up the SSH Agent

If you are connecting to an SSH host using a key with a passphrase, you should ensure that the SSH Agent is running locally. VS Code will automatically add your key to the agent so you don't have to enter your passphrase every time you open a remote VS Code window.

To verify that the agent is running and is reachable from VS Code's environment, run ssh-add -l in the terminal of a local VS Code window. You should see a listing of the keys in the agent (or a message that it has no keys). If the agent is not running, follow these instructions to start it. After starting the agent, be sure to restart VS Code.

Windows:

To enable SSH Agent automatically on Windows, start a local Administrator PowerShell as and run the following commands:

# Make sure you're running as an Administrator
Set-Service ssh-agent -StartupType Automatic
Start-Service ssh-agent
Get-Service ssh-agent

Now the agent will be started automatically on login.

Linux:

To start the SSH Agent in the background, run:

eval "$(ssh-agent -s)"

To start the SSH Agent automatically on login, add these lines to your ~/.bash_profile:

if [ -z "$SSH_AUTH_SOCK" ]
then
   # Check for a currently running instance of the agent
   RUNNING_AGENT="`ps -ax | grep 'ssh-agent -s' | grep -v grep | wc -l | tr -d '[:space:]'`"
   if [ "$RUNNING_AGENT" = "0" ]
   then
        # Launch a new instance of the agent
        ssh-agent -s &> .ssh/ssh-agent
   fi
   eval `cat .ssh/ssh-agent`
fi

macOS:

The agent should be running by default on macOS.

Fixing SSH file permission errors

SSH can be strict about file permissions and if they are set incorrectly, you may see errors such as "WARNING: UNPROTECTED PRIVATE KEY FILE!". There are several ways to update file permissions in order to fix this, which are described in the sections below.

Local SSH file and folder permissions

macOS / Linux:

On your local machine, make sure the following permissions are set:

Folder / File Permissions
.ssh in your user folder chmod 700 ~/.ssh
.ssh/config in your user folder chmod 600 ~/.ssh/config
.ssh/id_rsa.pub in your user folder chmod 600 ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub
Any other key file chmod 600 /path/to/key/file

Windows:

The specific expected permissions can vary depending on the exact SSH implementation you are using. We strongly recommend using the out of box Windows 10 OpenSSH Client. If you are using this official client, cut-and-paste the following in an administrator PowerShell window to try to repair your permissions:

Set-ExecutionPolicy -ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned -Scope Process

Install-Module -Force OpenSSHUtils -Scope AllUsers

Repair-UserSshConfigPermission ~/.ssh/config
Get-ChildItem ~\.ssh\* -Include "id_rsa","id_dsa" -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue | % {
    Repair-UserKeyPermission -FilePath $_.FullName @psBoundParameters
}

For all other clients, consult your client's documentation for what the implementation expects. However, note that not all SSH clients may work.

Server SSH file and folder permissions

On the remote machine you are connecting to, make sure the following permissions are set:

Folder / File Linux / macOS Permissions
.ssh in your user folder on the server chmod 700 ~/.ssh
.ssh/authorized_keys in your user folder on the server chmod 600 ~/.ssh/authorized_keys

Note that only Linux hosts are currently supported, which is why permissions for macOS and Windows 10 have been omitted.

Installing a supported SSH client

OS Instructions
Windows 10 1803+ / Server 2016/2019 1803+ Install the Windows OpenSSH Client.
Earlier Windows Install Git for Windows.
macOS Comes pre-installed.
Debian/Ubuntu Run sudo apt-get install openssh-client
RHEL / Fedora / CentOS Run sudo yum install openssh-clients

VS Code will look for the ssh command in the PATH. Failing that, on Windows it will attempt to find ssh.exe in the default Git for Windows install path. You can also specifically tell VS Code where to find the SSH client by adding the remote.SSH.path property to settings.json.

Installing a supported SSH server

OS Instructions Details
Debian 8+ / Ubuntu 16.04+ Run sudo apt-get install openssh-server See the Ubuntu SSH documentation for details.
RHEL / CentOS 7+ Run sudo yum install openssh-server && sudo systemctl start sshd.service && sudo systemctl enable sshd.service See the RedHat SSH documentation for details.
SuSE 12+ / openSUSE 42.3+ In Yast, go to Services Manager, select "sshd" in the list, and click Enable. Next go to Firewall, select the Permanent configuration, and under services check sshd. See the SuSE SSH documentation for details.
Windows 10 1803+ / Server 2016/2019 1803+ Install the Windows OpenSSH Server.
macOS Not supported yet.

Resolving hangs when doing a Git push or sync on an SSH host

If you clone a Git repository using SSH and your SSH key has a passphrase, VS Code's pull and sync features may hang when running remotely.

Either use an SSH key without a passphrase, clone using HTTPS, or run git push from the command line to work around the issue.

Using SSHFS to access files on your remote host

SSHFS is a secure remote filesystem access protocol that builds up from SFTP. It provides advantages over something like a CIFS / Samba share in that all that is required is SSH access to the machine.

Note: For performance reasons, SSHFS is best used for single file edits and uploading/downloading content. If you need to use an application that bulk reads/write to many files at once (like a local source control tool), rsync is a better choice.

macOS / Linux:

On Linux, you can use your distribution's package manager to install SSHFS. For Debian/Ubuntu: sudo apt-get install sshfs

Note: WSL 1 does not support FUSE or SSHFS, so the instructions differ for Windows currently. WSL 2 does include FUSE and SSHFS support, so this will change soon.

On macOS, you can install SSHFS using Homebrew: brew install sshfs In addition, if you would prefer not to use the command line to mount the remote filesystem, you can also install SSHFS GUI.

To use the command line, run the following commands from a local terminal (replacing user@hostname with the remote user and hostname / IP):

export USER_AT_HOST=user@hostname
# Make the directory where the remote filesystem will be mounted
mkdir -p "$HOME/sshfs/$USER_AT_HOST"
# Mount the remote filesystem
sshfs "$USER_AT_HOST:" "$HOME/sshfs/$USER_AT_HOST" -ovolname="$USER_AT_HOST" -p 22  \
    -o workaround=nonodelay -o transform_symlinks -o idmap=user  -C

This will make your home folder on the remote machine available under the ~/sshfs. When you are done, you can unmount it using your OS's Finder / file explorer or by using the command line:

umount "$HOME/sshfs/$USER_AT_HOST"

Windows:

Follow these steps:

  1. On Linux, add .gitattributes file to your project to force consistent line endings between Linux and Windows to avoid unexpected issues due to CRLF/LF differences between the two operating systems. See Resolving Git line ending issues for details.

  2. Next, install SSHFS-Win using Chocolatey: choco install sshfs

  3. Once you've installed SSHFS for Windows, you can use the File Explorer's Map Network Drive... option with the path \\sshfs\user@hostname, where user@hostname is your remote user and hostname / IP. You can script this using the command prompt as follows: net use /PERSISTENT:NO X: \\sshfs\user@hostname

  4. Once done, disconnect by right-clicking on the drive in the File Explorer and selecting Disconnect.

Using rsync to maintain a local copy of your source code

An alternative to using SSHFS to access remote files is to use rsync to copy the entire contents of a folder on remote host to your local machine. The rsync command will determine which files need to be updated each time it is run, which is far more efficient and convenient than using something like scp or sftp. This is primarily something to consider if you really need to use multi-file or performance intensive local tools.

The rsync command is available out of box on macOS and can be installed using Linux package managers (for example sudo apt-get install rsync on Debian/Ubuntu). For Windows, you'll need to either use WSL or Cygwin to access the command.

To use the command, navigate to the folder you want to store the synched contents and run the following replacing user@hostname with the remote user and hostname / IP and /remote/source/code/path with the remote source code location.

On macOS, Linux, or inside WSL:

rsync -rlptzv --progress --delete --exclude=.git "user@hostname:/remote/source/code/path" .

Or using WSL from PowerShell on Windows:

wsl rsync -rlptzv --progress --delete --exclude=.git "user@hostname:/remote/source/code/path" "`$(wslpath -a '$PWD')"

You can rerun this command each time you want to get the latest copy of your files and only updates will be transferred. The .git folder is intentionally excluded both for performance reasons and so you can use local Git tools without worrying about the state on the remote host.

To push content, reverse the source and target parameters in the command. However, on Windows you should add a .gitattributes file to your project to force consistent line endings before doing so. See Resolving Git line ending issues for details.

rsync -rlptzv --progress --delete --exclude=.git . "user@hostname:/remote/source/code/path"

Cleaning up the VS Code Server on the remote

The SSH extension provides a command for cleaning up the VS Code Server from the remote machine, Remote-SSH: Uninstall VS Code Server from Host.... The command does two things: it kills any running VS Code Server processes and it deletes the folder where the server was installed.

If you want to run these steps manually, or if the command isn't working for you, you can run a script like this:

kill -9 `ps ax | grep "remoteExtensionHostAgent.js" | grep -v grep | awk '{print $1}'`
kill -9 `ps ax | grep "watcherService" | grep -v grep | awk '{print $1}'`
rm -rf ~/.vscode-server # Or ~/.vscode-server-insiders

The VS Code Server was previously installed under ~/.vscode-remote so you can check that location too.

Container tips

This section includes some tips and tricks for getting the Remote - Containers extension up and running in different environments.

If you are running into Docker issues or would prefer not to run Docker locally, you may want to try the preview of Visual Studio Online's managed cloud-based environments. Over time this service will support an increasing number of devcontainer.json properties and you can also use its browser-based editor in addition to VS Code.

Docker Desktop for Windows tips

Docker Desktop for Windows works well in most setups, but there are a few "gotchas" that can cause problems. Here are some tips on avoiding them:

  1. Use an AD domain account or local administrator account when sharing drives. Do not use an AAD (email-based) account. AAD (email-based) accounts have well known issues, as documented in Docker issue #132 and issue #1352. If you must use an AAD account, create a separate local administrator account on your machine that you use purely for the purpose of sharing drives. Follow the steps in this blog post to get everything set up.

  2. Stick with alphanumeric passwords to avoid drive sharing problems. When asked to share your drives on Windows, you will be prompted for the username and password of an account with admin privileges on the machine. If you are warned about an incorrect username or password, this may be due to special characters in the password. For example, !, [ and ] are known to cause issues. Change your password to alphanumeric characters to resolve. See this issue about Docker volume mounting problems for details.

  3. Make sure your firewall allows Docker to set up a shared drive. Docker only needs to connect between two machine local IPs, but some firewall software may still block any drive sharing or the needed ports. See this Docker KB article for next steps on resolving this problem.

  4. Use your Docker ID to sign in to Docker (not your email). The Docker CLI only supports using your Docker ID, so using your email can cause problems. See Docker issue #935 for details.

  5. Switch out of "Linux Containers on Windows (LCOW)" mode. While disabled by default, recent versions of Docker support Linux Containers on Windows (LCOW) that can allow you to use both Windows and Linux containers at the same time. However, this is a new feature, so you may encounter issues and the Remote - Containers extension only supports Linux containers currently. You can switch out of LCOW mode at any time by right-clicking on the Docker task bar item and selecting Switch to Linux Containers... from the context menu.

If you are still having trouble, see the Docker Desktop for Windows troubleshooting guide.

Enabling file sharing in Docker Desktop

The VS Code Remote - Containers extension can only automatically mount your source code into a container if your code is in a folder or drive shared with Docker. If you open a dev container from a non-shared location, the container will successfully start but the workspace will be empty.

To change Docker's drive and folder sharing settings:

Windows:

  1. Right-click on the Docker task bar item and select Settings.
  2. Go to the Shared Drives tab and check the drive(s) where your source code is located.
  3. If you see a message about your local firewall blocking the sharing action, see this Docker KB article for next steps.

macOS:

  1. Click on the Docker menu bar item and select Preferences.
  2. Go to the File Sharing tab. Confirm that the folder containing your source code is under one of the shared folders listed.

Resolving Git line ending issues in containers (resulting in many modified files)

Since Windows and Linux use different default line endings, Git may report a large number of modified files that have no differences aside from their line endings. To prevent this from happening, you can disable line ending conversion using a .gitattributes file or globally on the Windows side.

Typically adding or modifying a .gitattributes file in your repository is the most reliable way to solve this problem. Committing this file to source control will help others and allows you to vary behaviors by repository as appropriate. For example, adding the following to .gitattributes file to the root of your repository will force everything to be LF, except for Windows batch files that require CRLF:

* text=auto eol=lf
*.{cmd,[cC][mM][dD]} text eol=crlf
*.{bat,[bB][aA][tT]} text eol=crlf

Note that this works in Git v2.10+, so if you are running into problems, be sure you've got a recent Git client installed. You can add other file types in your repository that require CRLF to this same file.

If you would prefer to still always upload Unix-style line endings (LF), you can use the input option.

git config --global core.autocrlf input

If you'd prefer to disable line ending conversation entirely, run the following instead:

git config --global core.autocrlf false

Finally, you may need to clone the repository again for these settings to take effect.

Avoid setting up Git in a container when using Docker Compose

See Sharing Git credentials with your container in the main containers article for information on resolving this issue.

Resolving hangs when doing a Git push or sync from a Container

If you clone a Git repository using SSH and your SSH key has a passphrase, VS Code's pull and sync features may hang when running remotely.

Either use an SSH key without a passphrase, clone using HTTPS, or run git push from the command line to work around the issue.

Resolving errors about missing Linux dependencies

Some extensions rely on libraries not found in the certain Docker images. See the Containers article for a few options on resolving this issue.

Speeding up containers in Docker Desktop

By default, Docker Desktop only gives containers a fraction of your machine capacity. In most cases, this is enough, but if you are doing something that requires more capacity, you can increase memory, CPU, or disk use.

First, try stopping any running containers you are no longer using.

If this doesn't solve your problem, you may want to see if CPU usage is actually the issue or if there is something else going on. An easy way to check this is to install the Resource Monitor extension. When installed in a container, it provides information about capacity for your containers in the Status bar.

Resource use Status bar

If you'd like this extension to always be installed, add this to your settings.json:

"remote.containers.defaultExtensions": [
    "mutantdino.resourcemonitor"
]

If you determine that you need to give your container more of your machine's capacity, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on the Docker task bar item and select Settings / Preferences.
  2. Go to Advanced to increase CPU, Memory, or Swap.
  3. On macOS, go to Disk to increase the amount of disk Docker is allowed to consume on your machine. On Windows, this is located under Advanced with the other settings.

Finally, if your container is doing disk intensive operations or you are just looking for faster response times, see Improving container disk performance for tips. VS Code's defaults optimize for convenience and universal support, but can be optimized.

Cleaning out unused containers and images

If you see an error from Docker reporting that you are out of disk space, you can typically resolve this by cleaning out unused containers and images. There are a few ways to do this:

Option 1: Use the Remote Explorer

You can delete containers by selecting the Remote Explorer, right-click on the container you want to remove, and select Remove Container.

Remote Explorer screenshot

However, this does not clean up any images you may have downloaded, which can clutter up your system.

Option 2: Use the Docker extension

  1. Open a local window in VS Code (File > New Window).

  2. Install the Docker extension from the Extensions view if not already present.

  3. You can then go to the Docker view and expand the Containers or Images node, right-click, and select Remove Container / Image.

    Docker Explorer screenshot

Option 3: Use the Docker CLI to pick containers to delete

  1. Open a local terminal/command prompt (or use a local window in VS Code).
  2. Type docker ps -a to see a list of all containers.
  3. Type docker rm <Container ID> from this list to remove a container.
  4. Type docker image prune to remove any unused images.

If docker ps does not provide enough information to identify the container you want to delete, the following command will list all development containers managed by VS Code and the folder used to generate them.

docker ps -a --filter="label=vsch.quality" --format "table {{.ID}}\t{{.Status}}\t{{.Image}}\tvscode-{{.Label \"vsch.quality\"}}\t{{.Label \"vsch.local.folder\"}}"

Option 4: Use Docker Compose

  1. Open a local terminal/command prompt (or use a local window in VS Code).
  2. Go to the directory with your docker-compose.yml file.
  3. Type docker-compose down to stop and delete the containers. If you have more than one Docker Compose file, you can specify additional Docker Compose files with the -f argument.

Option 4: Delete all containers and images that are not running:

  1. Open a local terminal/command prompt (or use a local window in VS Code).
  2. Type docker system prune --all.

Resolving Dockerfile build failures for images using Debian 8

When building containers that use images based on Debian 8/Jessie — such as older versions of the node:8 image — you may encounter the following error:

...
W: Failed to fetch http://deb.debian.org/debian/dists/jessie-updates/InRelease  Unable to find expected entry 'main/binary-amd64/Packages' in Release file (Wrong sources.list entry or malformed file)
E: Some index files failed to download. They have been ignored, or old ones used instead.
...

This is a well known issue caused by the Debian 8 being "archived". More recent versions of images typically resolve this problem, often by upgrading to Debian 9/Stretch.

There are two ways to resolve this error:

  • Option 1: Remove any containers that depend on the image, remove the image, and then try building again. This should download an updated image that is not affected by the problem. See cleaning out unused containers and images for details.

  • Option 2: If you don't want to delete your containers or images, add this line into your Dockerfile before any apt or apt-get command. It adds the needed source lists for Jessie:

    # Add archived sources to source list if base image uses Debian 8 / Jessie
    RUN cat /etc/*-release | grep -q jessie && printf "deb http://archive.debian.org/debian/ jessie main\ndeb-src http://archive.debian.org/debian/ jessie main\ndeb http://security.debian.org jessie/updates main\ndeb-src http://security.debian.org jessie/updates main" > /etc/apt/sources.list

Resolving Docker Hub sign in errors when an email is used

The Docker CLI only supports using your Docker ID, so using your email to sign in can cause problems. See Docker issue #935 for details.

As a workaround, use your Docker ID to sign in to Docker rather than your email.

High CPU utilization of Hyperkit on macOS

There is known issue with Docker for Mac that can drive high CPU spikes. In particular, high CPU usage occurring when watching files and building. If you see high CPU usage for com.docker.hyperkit in Activity Monitor while very little is going on in your dev container, you are likely hitting this issue. Follow the Docker issue for updates and fixes.

Advanced container configuration tips

See the Advanced Container Configuration article for information on the following topics:

WSL tips

First time start: VS Code Server prerequisites

Some WSL Linux distributions are lacking libraries that are required by the VS Code server to start up. You can add additional libraries into your Linux distribution by using its package manager.

Debian

Open the Debian WSL shell to add wget and ca-certificates:

sudo apt-get update && apt-get install wget ca-certificates

Alpine

Open the Alpine WSL shell as root (wsl -d Alpine -u root) to add libstdc++:

apk update && apk add libstdc++

On Windows 10 April 2018 Update (build 1803) and older, /bin/bash is required:

apk update && apk add bash

Selecting the distribution used by Remote - WSL

Remote-WSL: New Window will open the WSL distro registered as default.

To open a non-default distro, run code . from the WSL shell of the distro to use or use Remote-WSL: New Window using Distro.

Opening a remote WSL window on a non-default WSL distro requires Windows 10, May 2019 Update (version 1903). With older WSL versions, VS Code can only use the default distro.

You can use wslconfig.exe to change your default as needed.

For example:

wslconfig /setdefault Ubuntu

You can see which distributions you have installed by running:

wslconfig /l

Configure the environment for the server startup

When the Remote WSL extension starts the VS Code server in WSL, it does not run any shell configuration scripts. This was done to avoid that custom configuration scripts can prevent the startup.

If you need to configure the startup environment, you can use the environment setup script as described here.

Configure the environment for the remote extension host

The environment for the remote extension host and terminal are based on the default shell's configuration scripts. To evaluate the environment variables for the remote extension host process, the server creates an instance of the default shell as an interactive login shell. It probes the environment variables from it and uses them as the initial environment for the remote extension host process. The values of environment variables therefore depend on what shell is configured as the default and the content of the configuration scripts for that shell.

See Unix shell initialization for an overview of each shells configuration scripts. Most WSL distributions have /bin/bash configured as the default shell. /bin/bash will look for startup files under /etc/profile first and for any startup files under ~/.bash_profile, ~/.bash_login, ~/.profile.

To change the default shell of a WSL distro, follow the instructions of this blog post.

Fixing problems with the code command not working

If typing code from a WSL terminal on Window does not work because code can not be found, you may be missing some key locations from your PATH in WSL.

Check by opening a WSL terminal and typing echo $PATH. You should see VS Code install path listed. By default, this would be:

/mnt/c/Users/Your Username/AppData/Local/Programs/Microsoft VS Code/bin

But, if you used the System Installer, the install path is:

/mnt/c/Program Files/Microsoft VS Code/bin

...or...

/mnt/c/Program Files (x86)/Microsoft VS Code/bin

It's a feature of WSL that paths are inherited from the PATH variable in Windows. To change the Windows PATH variable, use the Edit environment variables for your account command from the start menu in Windows.

If you have disabled the path sharing feature, edit your .bashrc, add the following, and start a new terminal:

WINDOWS_USERNAME="Your Windows Alias"

export PATH="$PATH:/mnt/c/Windows/System32:/mnt/c/Users/${WINDOWS_USERNAME}/AppData/Local/Programs/Microsoft VS Code/bin"
# or...
# export PATH="$PATH:/mnt/c/Program Files/Microsoft VS Code/bin"
# or...
# export PATH="$PATH:/mnt/c/Program Files (x86)/Microsoft VS Code/bin"

Note: Be sure to quote or escape space characters in the directory names.

I see EACCESS: permission denied error trying to rename a folder in the open workspace

This is a known problem with the WSL file system implementation (Microsoft/WSL#3395, Microsoft/WSL#1956) caused by the file watcher active by VS Code. The issue will only be fixed in WSL 2.

To avoid the issue, set remote.WSL.fileWatcher.polling to true. However, polling based has a performance impact for large workspaces.

For large workspace you may want to increase the polling interval, remote.WSL.fileWatcher.pollingInterval, and control the folders that are watched with files.watcherExclude.

WSL 2 does not have that file watcher problem and is not affected by the new setting.

Resolving Git line ending issues in WSL (resulting in many modified files)

Since Windows and Linux use different default line endings, Git may report a large number of modified files that have no differences aside from their line endings. To prevent this from happening, you can disable line ending conversion using a .gitattributes file or globally on the Windows side.

Typically adding or modifying a .gitattributes file in your repository is the most reliable way to solve this problem. Committing this file to source control will help others and allows you to vary behaviors by repository as appropriate. For example, adding the following to .gitattributes file to the root of your repository will force everything to be LF, except for Windows batch files that require CRLF:

* text=auto eol=lf
*.{cmd,[cC][mM][dD]} text eol=crlf
*.{bat,[bB][aA][tT]} text eol=crlf

Note that this works in Git v2.10+, so if you are running into problems, be sure you've got a recent Git client installed. You can add other file types in your repository that require CRLF to this same file.

If you would prefer to still always upload Unix-style line endings (LF), you can use the input option.

git config --global core.autocrlf input

If you'd prefer to disable line ending conversation entirely, run the following instead:

git config --global core.autocrlf false

Finally, you may need to clone the repository again for these settings to take effect.

Sharing Git credentials between Windows and WSL

If you use HTTPS to clone your repositories and have a credential helper configured in Windows, you can share this with WSL so that passwords you enter are persisted on both sides. (Note that this does not apply to using SSH keys.)

Just follow these steps:

  1. Configure the credential manager on Windows by running the following in a Windows command prompt or PowerShell:

     git config --global credential.helper wincred
  2. Configure WSL to use the same credential helper, but running the following in a WSL terminal:

     git config --global credential.helper "/mnt/c/Program\ Files/Git/mingw64/libexec/git-core/git-credential-wincred.exe"

Any password you enter when working with Git on the Windows side will now be available to WSL and vice versa.

Resolving hangs when doing a Git push or sync from WSL

If you clone a Git repository using SSH and your SSH key has a passphrase, VS Code's pull and sync features may hang when running remotely.

Either use an SSH key without a passphrase, clone using HTTPS, or run git push from the command line to work around the issue.

VS Online tips

See the Visual Studio Online troubleshooting article for tips and tricks related to the service or extension.

Extension tips

While many extensions will work unmodified, there are a few issues that can prevent certain features from working as expected. In some cases, you can use another command to work around the issue, while in others, the extension may need to be modified. This section provides a quick reference for common issues and tips on resolving them. You can also refer to the main extension article on Supporting Remote Development for an in-depth guide on modifying extensions to support remote extension hosts.

Resolving errors about missing dependencies

Some extensions rely on libraries not found in the basic install of certain WSL Linux distributions. You can add additional libraries into your Linux distribution by using its package manager. For Ubuntu and Debian based distributions, run sudo apt-get install <package> to install the needed libraries. Check the documentation for your extension or the runtime that is mentioned in the error message for additional installation details.

Local absolute path settings fail when applied remotely

VS Code's local user settings are reused when you connect to a remote endpoint. While this keeps your user experience consistent, you may need to vary absolute path settings between your local machine and each host / container / WSL since the target locations are different.

Resolution: You can set endpoint-specific settings after you connect to a remote endpoint by running the Preferences: Open Remote Settings command from the Command Palette (F1) or by selecting the Remote tab in the settings editor. These settings will override any local settings you have in place whenever you connect.

Need to install local VSIX on remote endpoint

Sometimes you want to install a local VSIX on a remote machine, either during development or when an extension author asks you to try out a fix.

Resolution: Once you have connected to an SSH host, container, or WSL, you can install the VSIX the same way you would locally. Run the Extensions: Install from VSIX... command from the Command Palette (F1). You may also want to add "extensions.autoUpdate": false to settings.json to prevent auto-updating to the latest Marketplace version. See Supporting Remote Development for more information on developing and testing extensions in a remote environment.

Browser does not open locally

Some extensions use external node modules or custom code to launch a browser window. Unfortunately, this may cause the extension to launch the browser remotely instead of locally.

Resolution: The extension can use the vscode.env.openExternal API to resolve this problem. See the extension author's guide for details.

Clipboard does not work

Some extensions use node modules like clipboardy to integrate with the clipboard. Unfortunately, this may cause the extension to incorrectly integrate with the clipboard on the remote side.

Resolution: The extension can switch to the VS Code clipboard API to resolve the problem. See the extension author's guide for details.

Cannot access local web server from browser or application

When working inside a container, SSH host, or VS Online environment the port the browser is connecting to may be blocked.

Resolution: Extensions can use the vscode.env.openExternal or vscode.env.asExternalUri APIs (which automatically forwards localhost ports) to resolve this problem. See the extension author's guide for details. As a workaround, use the Remote-Containers: Forward Port from Container... or Remote-SSH: Forward Port from Active Host..., or VS Online: Forward Port commands to do so manually.

Webview contents do not appear

If the extension's webview content uses an iframe to connect to a local web server, the port the webview is connecting to may be blocked. In addition, if the extension hard codes vscode-resource:// URIs instead of using asWebviewUri, content may not appear in VS Online's browser editor.

Resolution: The extension can use the webview.asWebviewUri to resolve issues with vscode-resource:// URIs.

In the case of ports being blocked, the best approach is to instead use the webview message passing API. As a workaround, vscode.env.asExternalUri can be used allow the webview to connect to spawned localhost web servers from VS Code. However, this is currently blocked for VS Online's browser-based editor (only) by MicrosoftDocs/vsonline#11. See the extension author's guide for details on the workaround.

Blocked localhost ports

If you are trying to connect to a localhost port from an external application, the port may be blocked.

Resolution: VS Code 1.40 introduced a new vscode.env.asExternalUri API for extensions to programmatically forward arbitrary ports. See the extension author's guide for details. As a workaround, you can use the Remote-Containers: Forward Port from Container... or Remote-SSH: Forward Port from Active Host..., or VS Online: Forward Port commands to do so manually.

Websockets do not work in port forwarded content in VS Online's browser-based editor

Currently the forwarding mechanism in VS Online's browser-based editor only supports http and https requests. Web sockets will not work even if served up in forwarded web content or used in JavaScript code. This can affect both user applications and extensions that use websockets from webviews.

However, the Remote Development and VS Online extensions for VS Code itself do not have this limitation.

Resolution: Use the VS Online extension for VS Code when working with something that requires web sockets instead of the browser-based editor. The VS Online team is investigating solutions to this problem. See MicrosoftDocs/vsonline#19 for details.

Errors storing extension data

Extensions may try to persist global data by looking for the ~/.config/Code folder on Linux. This folder may not exist, which can cause the extension to throw errors like ENOENT: no such file or directory, open '/root/.config/Code/User/filename-goes-here.

Resolution: Extensions can use the context.globalStoragePath or context.storagePath property to resolve this problem. See the extension author's guide for details.

Cannot sign in / have to sign in each time I connect to a new endpoint

Extensions that require sign in may persist secrets using their own code. This code can fail due to missing dependencies. Even if it succeeds, the secrets will be stored remotely, which means you have to sign in for every new endpoint.

Resolution: Extensions can use the keytar node module to solve this problem. See the extension author's guide for details.

An incompatible extension prevents VS Code from connecting

If an incompatible extension has been installed on a remote host, container, or in WSL, we have seen instances where the VS Code Server hangs or crashes due to the incompatibility. If the extension activates right away, this can prevent you from connecting and being able to uninstall the extension.

Resolution: Manually delete the remote extensions folder by following these steps:

  1. For containers, ensure your devcontainer.json no longer includes a reference to the faulty extension.

  2. Next, use a separate terminal / command prompt to connect to the remote host, container, or WSL.

    • If SSH or WSL, connect to the environment accordingly (run ssh to connect to the server or open WSL terminal).
    • If using a container, identify the container ID by calling docker ps -a and looking through the list for an image with the correct name. If the container is stopped, run docker run -it <id> /bin/sh. If it is running, run docker exec -it <id> /bin/sh.
  3. Once you are connected, run rm -rf ~/.vscode-server/extensions for VS Code stable and/or rm -rf ~/.vscode-server-insiders/extensions for VS Code Insiders to remove all extensions.

Extensions that ship or acquire pre-built native modules fail

Native modules bundled with (or dynamically acquired for) a VS Code extension must be recompiled using Electron's electron-rebuild. However, VS Code Server runs a standard (non-Electron) version of Node.js, which can cause binaries to fail when used remotely.

Resolution: Extensions need to be modified to solve this problem. They will need to include (or dynamically acquire) both sets of binaries (Electron and standard Node.js) for the "modules" version in Node.js that VS Code ships and then check to see if context.executionContext === vscode.ExtensionExecutionContext.Remote in their activation function to set up the correct binaries. See the extension author's guide for details.

Extension only fails on non-x86_64 hosts or Alpine Linux

If an extension works on Debian 9+, Ubuntu 16.04+, or RHEL / CentOS 7+ remote SSH hosts, containers, or WSL, but fails on supported non-x86_64 hosts (for example, ARMv7l) or Alpine Linux containers, the extension may only include native code or runtimes that do not support these platforms. For example, the extensions may only include x86_64 compiled versions of native modules or runtimes. For Alpine Linux, the included native code or runtimes may not work due to fundamental differences between how libc is implemented in Alpine Linux (musl) and other distributions (glibc).

Resolution: Extensions will need to opt-in to supporting these platforms by compiling / including binaries for these additional targets. It is important to note that some third-party npm modules may also include native code that can cause this problem. So, in some cases you may need to work with the npm module author to add additional compilation targets. See the extension author's guide for details.

Extensions fail due to missing modules

Extensions that rely on Electron or VS Code base modules (not exposed by the extension API) without providing a fallback can fail when running remotely. You may see errors in the Developer Tools console like original-fs not being found.

Resolution: Remove the dependency on an Electron module or provide a fallback. See the extension author's guide for details.

Cannot access / transfer remote workspace files to local machines

Extensions that open workspace files in external applications may encounter errors because the external application cannot directly access the remote files.

Resolution: None currently. We are investigating options for how extensions might be able to transfer files from the remote workspace to solve this problem.

Cannot access attached device from extension

Extensions that access locally attached devices will be unable to connect to them when running remotely.

Resolution: None currently. We are investigating the best approach to solve this problem.

Questions and feedback