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Flavio Wuensche
Flavio Wuensche

Posted on • Updated on

Au revoir vim: work in the cloud using VS Code

TL;DR. Install sshcode with go get -u and connect to your remote virtual machine using sshcode ^^ voilà.


There are several reasons to setup a development environment in the cloud:

  • access your development environment from any device
  • insanely fast internet connection
  • try new technologies while keeping your local machine safe
  • easily onboard new teammates by sharing snapshot to your VM
  • make your laptop battery last insanely longer
  • buy a $200 Chromebook and start coding with nearly zero setup


So far, in order to work 100% in the cloud, you had to create a virtual machine and ssh into it from a terminal. Then you had to use vim as your main text editor, maybe tmux for managing your terminal sessions and windows. It worked, but you got no choice but to use vim.

Nowadays, with the advent of modern text editors built on top of NodeJS, you can have a full native-like application running inside your browser. And that's exactly what I want to introduce to you today.

With the help of code-server and sshcode, two solutions brought to you by the amazing team, you can now EASILY code in the cloud using VS Code.

Getting started

What you'll need

  • Google Chrome (locally installed)
  • Visual Studio Code (locally installed)
  • a remote virtual machine: I highly recommend Digital Ocean

Step-by-step installation (Mac)

The instructions at the main project repo are quite minimalist, so I'm detailing them here.

# install sshcode using go
brew install go
go get -u

# add the binary to your path
# in case you're using zsh, for instance:
echo "export PATH=\$PATH:~/go/bin" >> ~/.zshrc

# open a new terminal and launch vscode
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If you have Chrome installed, it opens the browser in app mode. That means there's no keybind conflicts, address bar, or indication that you're coding within a browser. It feels just like native VS Code.

sshcode demo gif

Extra tricks

Open an specific project

You can specify a remote directory as the second argument:
sshcode /root/www/doctolib

Skip extensions sync

By default, sshcode will rsync your local VS Code settings and extensions to the remote server every time you connect. This operation may take a while on a slow connections, but will be fast on follow-up connections to the same server. To disable this feature entirely, pass the --skipsync flag.

Sync back

By default, VS Code changes on the remote server won't be synced back when the connection closes. To synchronize back to local when the connection ends, pass the -b flag.


  • you'll notice some delay at times, depending on internet connection
  • since you're in the cloud, you should be more conscious about security

Any questions or ideas to share? Leave a comment below.

Are you into productivity hot tips for web development? I'm a Brazilian full-stack developer, living and working in Paris, and I regularly share articles like the one you've just read. Follow me on twitter to stay tuned.

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