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Use any Linux distribution inside your terminal. Enable both backward and forward
compatibility with software and freedom to use whatever distribution you’re more
comfortable with.
Distrobox uses podman or docker to create containers using the Linux distribution
of your choice.
The created container will be tightly integrated with the host, allowing sharing
of the HOME directory of the user, external storage, external USB devices and
graphical apps (X11/Wayland), and audio.


Documentation
Matrix Room
Telegram Group


overview



What it does

Simply put it’s a fancy wrapper around podman or docker to create and start
containers highly integrated with the hosts.

The distrobox environment is based on an OCI image.
This image is used to create a container that seamlessly integrates with the
rest of the operating system by providing access to the user’s home directory,
the Wayland and X11 sockets, networking, removable devices (like USB sticks),
systemd journal, SSH agent, D-Bus,
ulimits, /dev and the udev database, etc…

It implements the same concepts introduced by https://github.com/containers/toolbox
but in a simplified way using POSIX sh and aiming at broader compatibility.

All the props go to them as they had the great idea to implement this stuff.

It is divided into 12 commands:

  • distrobox-assemble – creates and destroy containers based on a config file
  • distrobox-create – creates the container
  • distrobox-enter – to enter the container
  • distrobox-ephemeral – create a temporal container, destroy it when exiting the shell
  • distrobox-list – to list containers created with distrobox
  • distrobox-rm – to delete a container created with distrobox
  • distrobox-stop – to stop a running container created with distrobox
  • distrobox-upgrade – to upgrade one or more running containers created with distrobox at once
  • distrobox-generate-entry – to create an entry of a created container in the applications list
  • distrobox-init – the entrypoint of the container (not meant to be used manually)
  • distrobox-export – it is meant to be used inside the container,
    useful to export apps and services from the container to the host
  • distrobox-host-exec – to run commands/programs from the host, while inside
    of the container

It also includes a little wrapper to launch commands with distrobox COMMAND
instead of calling the single files.

Please check the usage docs here and see some handy tips on how to use it

See it in action

Thanks to castrojo, you can see Distrobox in
action in this explanatory video on his setup with Distrobox, Toolbx,
Fedora Silverblue for the uBlue project
(check it out!)

Video

Why

  • Provide a mutable environment on an immutable OS, like Endless OS,
    Fedora Silverblue, OpenSUSE MicroOS
    or SteamOS3
  • Provide a locally privileged environment for sudoless setups
    (eg. company-provided laptops, security reasons, etc…)
  • To mix and match a stable base system (eg. Debian Stable, Ubuntu LTS, RedHat)
    with a bleeding-edge environment for development or gaming
    (eg. Arch, OpenSUSE Tumbleweed or Fedora with latest Mesa)
  • Leverage high abundance of curated distro images for docker/podman to
    manage multiple environments

Refer to the compatibility list for an overview of supported host’s distro
HERE and container’s distro HERE.

Aims

This project aims to bring any distro userland to any other distro
supporting podman or docker.
It has been written in POSIX sh to be as portable as possible and not have
problems with dependencies and glibc version’s compatibility.

Refer HERE for a list of
supported container managers and minimum supported versions.

It also aims to enter the container as fast as possible, every millisecond
adds up if you use the container as your default environment for your terminal:

These are some sample results of distrobox-enter on the same container on my
weak laptop:

~$ hyperfine --warmup 3 --runs 100 "distrobox enter bench -- whoami"
Benchmark 1: distrobox enter bench -- whoami
  Time (mean ± σ):     395.6 ms ±  10.5 ms    [User: 167.4 ms, System: 62.4 ms]
  Range (min … max):   297.3 ms … 408.9 ms    100 runs

Security implications

Isolation and sandboxing is not the main aim of the project, on the contrary
it aims to tightly integrate the container with the host.
The container will have complete access to your home, pen drives and so on,
so do not expect it to be highly sandboxed like a plain
docker/podman container or a flatpak.

⚠️ BE CAREFUL:⚠️ if you use docker, or you use podman with the --root/-r flag,
the containers will run as root, so root inside the rootful container can modify
system stuff outside the container
,
if you have security concern for this, use podman that runs in rootless mode.
Rootless docker is still not working as intended and will be included in the future
when it will be complete.

That said, it is in the works to implement some sort of decoupling with the host,
as discussed here: #28 Sandboxed mode


Create a new distrobox:

distrobox create -n test

Enter created distrobox:

distrobox enter test

Add various
distroboxes, eg Ubuntu 20.04:

distrobox create -i ubuntu:20.04

Execute a command in a distrobox:

distrobox enter test -- command-to-execute

Upgrade all distroboxes at once:

distrobox upgrade --all

List running distroboxes:

distrobox list

Stop a running distrobox:

distrobox stop test

Remove a distrobox

distrobox rm test

You can check HERE for more advanced usage
and check a comprehensive list of useful tips HERE

Manifest files can be used to declare a set of distroboxes and use
distrobox-assemble to create/destroy them in batch.

Take this example distrobox-example.ini file:

[alpine3]
additional_packages=git vim tmux nodejs
home=/tmp/home
image=alpine:latest

[debian5]
additional_packages=git vim tmux nodejs
home=/tmp/home
image=debian:latest
init=false
init_hooks="touch /init-normal"

[opensuse]
additional_packages=git vim tmux nodejs
home=/tmp/home
image==opensuse/tumbleweed:latest
init=true
init_hooks="touch /init-normal"
pre_init_hooks="touch /pre-init"
pull=true

Using the following command:

distrobox-assemble create -f ./distrobox-example.ini

We can create all the distroboxes at once, configured as declared in the manifest file.
We can also recreate them from scratch using:

distrobox-assemble create --replace -f ./distrobox-example.ini

And finally destroy all of them at once with

distrobox-assemble rm -f ./distrobox-example.ini

Head over the usage docs of distrobox-assemble
for a more detailed guide.

Configuration files can be placed in the following paths, from the least important
to the most important:

  • /usr/share/distrobox/distrobox.conf
  • /usr/etc/distrobox/distrobox.conf
  • /etc/distrobox/distrobox.conf
  • ${HOME}/.config/distrobox/distrobox.conf
  • ${HOME}/.distroboxrc

Example configuration file:

container_always_pull="1"
container_generate_entry=0
container_manager="docker"
container_image_default="registry.opensuse.org/opensuse/toolbox:latest"
container_name_default="test-name-1"
container_user_custom_home="$HOME/.local/share/container-home-test"
container_init_hook="~/.local/distrobox/a_custom_default_init_hook.sh"
container_pre_init_hook="~/a_custom_default_pre_init_hook.sh"
non_interactive="1"
skip_workdir="0"

Alternatively it is possible to specify preferences using ENV variables:

  • DBX_CONTAINER_ALWAYS_PULL
  • DBX_CONTAINER_CUSTOM_HOME
  • DBX_CONTAINER_IMAGE
  • DBX_CONTAINER_MANAGER
  • DBX_CONTAINER_NAME
  • DBX_CONTAINER_ENTRY
  • DBX_NON_INTERACTIVE
  • DBX_SKIP_WORKDIR

Distrobox is packaged in the following distributions, if your distribution is
on this list, you can refer to your repos for installation:

Packaging status

Thanks to the maintainers for their work: M0Rf30,
alcir, dfaggioli,
AtilaSaraiva, michel-slm

You can also follow the guide to install in a rootless manner

Alternative methods

Here is a list of alternative ways to install distrobox

Curl or Wget

If you like to live your life dangerously, or you want the latest release,
you can trust me and simply run this in your terminal:

curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/89luca89/distrobox/main/install | sudo sh
# or using wget
wget -qO- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/89luca89/distrobox/main/install | sudo sh

or if you want to select a custom directory to install without sudo:

curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/89luca89/distrobox/main/install | sh -s -- --prefix ~/.local
# or using wget
wget -qO- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/89luca89/distrobox/main/install | sh -s -- --prefix ~/.local

If you want to install the last development version, directly from last commit on git, you can use:

curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/89luca89/distrobox/main/install | sudo sh -s -- --next
# or using wget
wget -qO- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/89luca89/distrobox/main/install | sudo sh -s -- --next

or:

curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/89luca89/distrobox/main/install | sh -s -- --next --prefix ~/.local
# or using wget
wget -qO- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/89luca89/distrobox/main/install | sh -s -- --next --prefix ~/.local

Warning
Remember to add prefix-path-you-choose/bin to your PATH, to make it work.

Git

Alternatively you can clone the project using git clone or using the latest
release HERE.

Enter the directory and run ./install, by default it will attempt to install
in ~/.local but if you run the script as root, it will default to /usr/local.
You can specify a custom directory with the --prefix flag
such as ./install --prefix ~/.distrobox.

Prefix explained: main distrobox files get installed to ${prefix}/bin whereas
the manpages get installed to ${prefix}/share/man.


Check the Host Distros compatibility list for
distro-specific instructions.

Dependencies

Distrobox depends on a container manager to work, you can choose to install
either podman or docker.

Please look in the Compatibility Table for your
distribution notes.

There are ways to install Podman without root privileges and in home.
This should play well with completely sudoless setups and with devices like the Steam Deck.


Uninstallation

If you installed distrobox using the install script in the default install
directory use this:

curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/89luca89/distrobox/main/uninstall | sudo sh

or if you specified a custom path:

curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/89luca89/distrobox/main/uninstall | sh -s -- --prefix ~/.local

Else if cloned the project using git clone or using the latest archive release
from HERE,

enter the directory and run ./uninstall, by default it will assume the install
directory was /usr/local if ran as root or ~/.local,
you can specify another directory if needed with ./uninstall --prefix ~/.local


distro-box

This artwork uses Cardboard Box model by J0Y
licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0


This artwork uses GTK Loop Animation
by GNOME Project
licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0
as a pre-configured scene

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