Vim Dev Containers

Setup Vim for Containerized Development

posted to Development on 26 January 2020

I’ve been using vim and docker previously, but this post that explain how to use vscode devcontainers amaze me.


Before try this tutorial you should have docker and docker-compose installed.

Setup Global .gitignore

Create .gitignore_global file to ignore .containers folder

$ echo '.containers' > ~/.gitignore_global

Then enable it by configure git

$ git config --global core.excludesfile ~/.gitignore_global

Create .containers directory for your project

In this post, I will use ruby repository for example. You can clone the repository from github

$ cd workspace
$ git clone

Create your .containers directory inside ruby repository

$ cd ruby
$ mkdir .containers
$ touch .containers/docker-compose.yml
$ touch .containers/Dockerfile

You will have file structure similar to this

    | | docker-compose.yml
    | | Dockerfile

Edit your .containers/Dockerfile with this

FROM ubuntu:18.04

WORKDIR /workspace

ENV DEBIAN_FRONTEND=noninteractive

RUN apt-get update && apt-get install -y git ruby autoconf bison gcc make zlib1g-dev libffi-dev libreadline-dev libgdbm-dev libssl-dev build-essential tzdata

You’ll need tzdata to running timezone-related tests in ruby repository

Before create compose file, some tests in ruby refer to [::1] as localhost, which makes us to enable ipv6 in our container. Configure your docker to enable ipv6 by editing /etc/docker/daemon.json

    "ipv6": true,
    "fixed-cidr-v6": "2001:db8:1::/64"

Then reload docker with $ sudo systemctl reload docker

Edit your .containers/docker-compose.yml with

version: '3'

      dockerfile: Dockerfile
      context: ./
      - net.ipv6.conf.all.disable_ipv6=0
    command: sleep infinity
      - .bash_history:/root/.bash_history
      - ./..:/workspace:cached

To make persistent command history in our container, we can mount .bash_history.

Build Containers

Next we need to build our containers then running it as a daemon

$ docker-compose -f .containers/docker-compose.yml build
$ docker-compose -f .containers/docker-compose.yml up -d

To compile ruby and running tests, we need to use container shell

$ docker-compose -f .containers/docker-compose.yml exec dev bash

Build Ruby and Running Tests

To build ruby we need to run several commands based on files

These commands run in your docker container

root@docker-hash-container:/workspace# autoconf
root@docker-hash-container:/workspace# ./configure
root@docker-hash-container:/workspace# make

To running tests

root@docker-hash-container:/workspace# make test-all #running all tests
root@docker-hash-container:/workspace# make test-all TESTS='test/ruby/test_time_tz.rb' #running single file test

Create shortcut

If you want to connect container’s shell via vim, you can add following lines to your .vimrc

nnoremap <silent> <leader>dev :terminal docker-compose -f .containers/docker-compose.yml exec dev bash<CR>

Now you can connect to container’s shell with <leader>dev, but you should spawn your container first. I also create alias in my .zshrc for easier command

alias container='docker-compose -f .containers/docker-compose.yml'

Now you can spawn or kill container with

$ container build #for build container
$ container up -d #for running container in background
$ container exec dev bash #for connecting to container shell
$ container down #for shutting down container

What Next

Now you can still use vim as editor, and have containerized development env.

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