You Can, And Probably Should, Use VSCodium Instead Of VSCode (4 min read)

This article’s goal is to raise awareness of VSCodium, an open-source alternative to VSCode that has a couple of important benefits and changes. This isn’t the kind of article that I usually write, but it seems important to make people aware of the choices they have here.

This isn’t really a software review, nor is it really news. After all, if you’re in the business you’re already aware of VSCode (Visual Studio Code) and the benefits. If you’re not in the business, VSCode is a source code editor that comes with a bunch of features that make a programmer’s life easier.

VSCode is quite popular, made by Microsoft, and is available to Linux users. Microsoft has made VSCode’s source code mostly open (but not necessarily ‘free’) and VSCode is free-as-in-beer for anyone who wants a source code editor. It’s popular because it’s actually pretty good. 

It was released back in 2015, with most of the source code covered by the MIT license. In the 2019 SE Dev Survey results, it was #1 among respondents, which was the most recent I could actually find. By most accounts, it’s a great piece of software and a valuable tool.

Why VSCodium:

Not all of VSCode is open source and it’s only free as in beer. The source isn’t free as in libre, because it doesn’t preserve all freedoms. It also comes with telemetry, meaning that it reports on things like how you use the software, what software you’re using with it, what kind of hardware you’re using, and things like that. 

Many Linux users care about those two things. They want their software to have a permissive license. They don’t want their software reporting anything about them to anyone. Those are reasonable wants and the community is usually pretty good about providing alternatives.

In this case, they’ve changed the way it is compiled, and what is compiled with it. They’ve also packaged it for most operating systems out there. They’ve made a package available that’s entirely licensed under the MIT License (permissive, free) and made it easy to get.

I’m not going to duplicate a bunch of information by cutting and pasting. That’s also a good practice when the content may change, so I’ll just link to a couple of pages.

Visit the VSCodium home page, click here.
Visit the VSCodium code repo page, click here.

To get a feel for the project, and to see the vast amounts of effort the maintainers put into it, visit the first link. If you just want to find the right package to get for your system, click the second link. Those links will help you get VSCodium properly installed, usually in a pretty painless fashion. Worst case scenario, they show you how to compile it and how to make your own packages.

It’s so easy to install that I did so just to have access to it on this system, one I mostly only use for writing and browsing. It took a total of three commands. If you’ve done it properly, it’ll look something like this:

VSCodium's about page
That’s the current version, using the PPA method. It was an easy-enough process.

Just follow the installation instructions for your particular version of Linux and you shouldn’t have any issues. If you do, you can always raise issues at their GitHub link, leave a comment here, or drop us a line at Linux.org. Someone will help get you sorted.

By using VSCodium, you can have all the greatness that is VSCode while preserving the important liberties. It’s a great piece of software!

Closure:

This isn’t my “normal” type of article, but I’ve really wanted to make sure people are aware of the options when it comes to VSCode and VSCodium. This is one of those times when you can have your cake and eat it to. 

By the way, there are all sorts of great pieces of software out there. I’ve written a review, an introduction, and some comparative pieces. I think I may do more of them. They take about the same amount of time to write and edit, but there are some great pieces of software out there and people just aren’t aware of them. Feel free to drop an idea or the name of your favorite software as a comment. If you like these types of article, be sure to vote and comment!

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Author: KGIII

Retired mathematician, residing in the mountains of Maine. I may be old and wise, but I am not infallible. Please point out any errors. And, as always, thanks again for reading.

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