distrobox-create - Man Page

distrobox create distrobox-create

Examples (TL;DR)


distrobox-create takes care of creating the container with input name and image. 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.


distrobox create

--image/-i:     image to use for the container
--name/-n:      name for the distrobox
--pull/-p:      pull the image even if it exists locally (implies --yes)
--yes/-Y:       non-interactive, pull images without asking
--root/-r:      launch podman/docker with root privileges. Note that if you need root this is the preferred
            way over "sudo distrobox" (note: if using a program other than 'sudo' for root privileges is necessary,
            specify it through the DBX_SUDO_PROGRAM env variable, or 'distrobox_sudo_program' config variable)
--clone/-c:     name of the distrobox container to use as base for a new container
            this will be useful to either rename an existing distrobox or have multiple copies
            of the same environment.
--home/-H:      select a custom HOME directory for the container. Useful to avoid host's home littering with temp files.
--volume:       additional volumes to add to the container
--additional-flags/-a:  additional flags to pass to the container manager command
--additional-packages/-ap:  additional packages to install during initial container setup
--init-hooks:       additional commands to execute during container initialization
--pre-init-hooks:   additional commands to execute prior to container initialization
--init/-I:      use init system (like systemd) inside the container.
            this will make host's processes not visible from within the container.
--nvidia:       try to integrate host's nVidia drivers in the guest
--unshare-netns:        do not share the net namespace with host
--unshare-ipc:          do not share ipc namemspace with host
--compatibility/-C: show list of compatible images
--help/-h:      show this message
--no-entry:     do not generate a container entry in the application list
--dry-run/-d:       only print the container manager command generated
--verbose/-v:       show more verbosity
--version/-V:       show version


for a list of compatible images and container managers, please consult the man page:
    man distrobox
    man distrobox-compatibility
or consult the documentation page on: https://github.com/89luca89/distrobox/blob/main/docs/compatibility.md#containers-distros


Create a distrobox with image alpine, called my-alpine container

distrobox create --image alpine my-alpine-container

Create a distrobox from fedora-toolbox:35 image

distrobox create --image registry.fedoraproject.org/fedora-toolbox:35 --name fedora-toolbox-35

Clone an existing distrobox container

distrobox create --clone fedora-35 --name fedora-35-copy

Always pull for the new image when creating a distrobox

distrobox create --pull --image centos:stream9 --home ~/distrobox/centos9

Add additional environment variables to the container

distrobox create --image fedora:35 --name test --additional-flags "--env MY_VAR=value"

Add additional volumes to the container

distrobox create --image fedora:35 --name test --volume /opt/my-dir:/usr/local/my-dir:rw --additional-flags "--pids-limit -1"

Add additional packages to the container

distrobox create --image alpine:latest --name test2 --additional-packages "git tmux vim"

Use init-hooks to perform an action during container startup

distrobox create --image alpine:latest --name test --init-hooks "touch /var/tmp/test1 && touch /var/tmp/test2"

Use pre-init-hooks to perform an action at the beginning of the container startup (before any package manager starts)

distrobox create -i docker.io/almalinux/8-init --init --name test --pre-init-hooks "dnf config-manager --enable powertools && dnf -y install epel-release"

Use host’s NVidia drivers integration

distrobox create --image ubuntu:22.04 --name ubuntu-nvidia --nvidia

Use environment variables to specify container name, image and container manager:


Do not use host’s IP inside the container:

distrobox create --image ubuntu:latest --name test --unshare-netns

Environment Variables


DBX_CONTAINER_HOME_PREFIX defines where containers’ home directories will be located. If you define it as ~/dbx then all future containers’ home directories will be ~/dbx/$container_name


The --additional-flags or -a is useful to modify defaults in the container creations. For example:

distrobox create -i docker.io/library/archlinux -n dev-arch

podman container inspect dev-arch | jq '.[0].HostConfig.PidsLimit'

distrobox rm -f dev-arch
distrobox create -i docker.io/library/archlinux -n dev-arch --volume $CBL_TC:/tc --additional-flags "--pids-limit -1"

podman container inspect dev-arch | jq '.[0].HostConfig,.PidsLimit'

Additional volumes can be specified using the --volume flag. This flag follows the same standard as docker and podman to specify the mount point so --volume SOURCE_PATH:DEST_PATH:MODE.

distrobox create --image docker.io/library/archlinux --name dev-arch --volume /usr/share/:/var/test:ro

During container creation, it is possible to specify (using the additional-flags) some environment variables that will persist in the container and be independent from your environment:

distrobox create --image fedora:35 --name test --additional-flags "--env MY_VAR=value"

The --init-hooks is useful to add commands to the entrypoint (init) of the container. This could be useful to create containers with a set of programs already installed, add users, groups.

distrobox create  --image fedora:35 --name test --init-hooks "dnf groupinstall -y \"C Development Tools and Libraries\""

The --init is useful to create a container that will use its own separate init system within. For example using:

distrobox create -i docker.io/almalinux/8-init --init --name test
distrobox create -i docker.io/library/debian --additional-packages "systemd" --init --name test-debian

Inside the container we will be able to use normal systemd units:

~$ distrobox enter test
user@test:~$ sudo systemctl enable --now sshd
user@test:~$ sudo systemctl status sshd
    ● sshd.service - OpenSSH server daemon
       Loaded: loaded (/usr/lib/systemd/system/sshd.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
       Active: active (running) since Fri 2022-01-28 22:54:50 CET; 17s ago
         Docs: man:sshd(8)
     Main PID: 291 (sshd)

Note that enabling --init will disable host’s process integration. From within the container you will not be able to see and manage host’s processes. This is needed because /sbin/init must be pid 1.

The --home flag let’s you specify a custom HOME for the container. Note that this will NOT prevent the mount of the host’s home directory, but will ensure that configs and dotfiles will not litter it.

From version 1.4.0 of distrobox, when you create a new container, it will also generate an entry in the applications list.

NVidia integration

If your host has an NVidia gpu, with installed proprietary drivers, you can integrate them with the guests by using the --nvidia flag:

distrobox create --nvidia --image ubuntu:latest --name ubuntu-nvidia

Be aware that this is not compatible with non-glibc systems and needs somewhat newer distributions to work.

This feature was tested working on:

  • Almalinux
  • Archlinux
  • Centos 7 and newer
  • Clearlinux
  • Debian 10 and newer
  • OpenSUSE Leap
  • OpenSUSE Tumbleweed
  • Rockylinux
  • Ubuntu 18.04 and newer
  • Void Linux (glibc)

Referenced By

distrobox(1), distrobox-ephemeral(1).

Jun 2023 Distrobox User Manual