“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.”

As I run Fedora Silverblue on my primary laptop, Distrobox is instrumental for letting me run all the software I need/want, and also enables me to isolate various workloads from each other, reducing clutter and the chance of language version conflicts.


Tips and Tricks

Using Host System’s Git

To use the host system’s git (so that git doesn’t need to be configured and authenticated on every single container), simply create a symlink to distrobox-host-exec by running the following inside the distrobox container: ln -s /usr/bin/distrobox-host-exec /usr/local/bin/git (may need to be run as root).

For whatever reason, on [[ Alpine Linux ]] /usr/bin/sh also needs to be symlinked to /bin/sh for this to work correctly. This can be done by running ln -s /bin/sh /usr/bin/sh (may need to be run as root).

Creating a Distrobox container

When I personally create a container, I’ll typically name it something-pet (e.g. jekyll-pet). I also separate the home folder to reduce clutter, placing it in an appropriately named folder under ~/Pets. As such, this is what my creation command tends to look like (primarily for my own reference):

distrobox create --name "something-pet" --image whateverimage:version --home $HOME/Pets/something-pet

I like to use Alpine images for my containers when possible, as there’s just way less performance overhead and startups are snappy, but for containers where I’ll be installing graphical applications, I tend to go with Arch.

[[ Fish ]] Integrations

For convenience, I usually create a [[ Fish ]] alias to easily open my containers, using alias container-name=“distrobox enter container-name” (don’t forget the funcsave afterwards).

I also use the banner art instructions found in Fish Shell to add banners for each container. This way, big block letters clearly tell me which container has been opened. This is especially useful in places like integrated terminals in IDEs.

Fix GNOME Dash Icon for Exported Application

When running exported apps in Distrobox on [[ GNOME|gnome-desktop ]] Wayland, the running application icon sometimes don’t “merge” with the launcher icon. This is because the wmclass of the window is different from what is associated with the exported .desktop file. To fix this, we need to find the wmclass of the window, then edit the .desktop file to have the same StartupWMClass

First, use GNOME’s looking glass to find the wmclass. Press alt+f2 to get the run prompt, type lg for the looking glass, then navigate to Windows and find an open window of the application. The wmclass should be listed under the name of the application.

Then, navigate to the exported .desktop file for the application (usually located in ~/.local/share/applications). Edit the containername-application.desktop file so that the StartupWMClass is the wmclass we found earlier.