Using the VSCode flatpak distribution

Radu Zaharia
7 min readJun 23, 2022
Photo by Gary Meulemans on Unsplash

I am in the middle of an experiment trying to run all Fedora apps as flatpaks (don’t ask). Everything works great so far but I did have a bit of trouble with VSCode and I wanted to share how I made everything work. It’s not a problem with VSCode, nor with flatpak, it’s just how flatpak works and expects things to work.

I will present a few ways in which you can make VSCode work as if it were a non-flatpak application. This requires a bit of configuration but once you do it everything works seamless. The configuration is also not really the fault of flatpak, nor of VSCode. It’s just something you need to do when you are using an isolated app trying to make its way to the required development libraries. So let’s start from the beginning.

Installing the VSCode flatpak

The VSCode flatpak page in Gnome Software

Installing the VSCode flatpak is easy: it’s available from the Fedora Flathub Selection repository and can be found by searching “code” in Gnome Software without hassle. Next we click on the blue Install button and we are done.

Working with Rust a lot, I usually install some extensions helping me with that: rust-analyzer, prettier just in case, Better Toml to handle the Cargo.toml configuration file and GitLens. I usually set my VSCode theme to Github Light as that’s how I got used to.

Running the VSCode flatpak with some extensions installed

If you look at the terminal screen, you will see that it does not have the usual terminal appearance. By default it will use sh instead of bash but that can be easily fixed: just go to the open terminal drop-down (the plus icon at the top right of the terminal tab) and click on “Select Default Profile”:

Making bash the default terminal shell

Just select bash to make it the default. Close the sh terminal and click on the plus icon to open a brand new bash terminal.

Developing using…

Radu Zaharia

Still planning that trip to the Moon.