Persist bash history

You can also use a mount to persist your bash command history across sessions / container rebuilds.

First, update your Dockerfile so that each time a command is used in bash, the history is updated and stored in a location we will persist.

If you have a root user, update your Dockerfile with the following:

RUN SNIPPET="export PROMPT_COMMAND='history -a' && export HISTFILE=/commandhistory/.bash_history" \
    && echo $SNIPPET >> "/root/.bashrc"

If you have a non-root user, update your Dockerfile with the following. Replace user-name-goes-here with the name of a non-root user in the container.

ARG USERNAME=user-name-goes-here

RUN SNIPPET="export PROMPT_COMMAND='history -a' && export HISTFILE=/commandhistory/.bash_history" \
    && mkdir /commandhistory \
    && touch /commandhistory/.bash_history \
    && chown -R $USERNAME /commandhistory \
    && echo $SNIPPET >> "/home/$USERNAME/.bashrc"

Next, add a local volume to store the command history. This step varies depending on whether or not you are using Docker Compose.

  • Dockerfile or image: Use the mounts property (VS Code 1.41+) in your devcontainer.json file.

      "mounts": [
          "source=projectname-bashhistory,target=/commandhistory,type=volume"
      ]
  • Docker Compose: Update (or extend) your docker-compose.yml with the following for the appropriate service.

    version: '3'
    services:
      your-service-name-here:
        volumes:
          - projectname-bashhistory:/commandhistory
         # ...
    volumes:
      projectname-bashhistory:

Finally, if you've already built the container and connected to it, run Remote-Containers: Rebuild Container from the Command Palette (F1) to pick up the change. Otherwise run Remote-Containers: Open Folder in Container... to connect to the container.

Video: How to make your bash history persist in a dev container