From ArchWiki

Distrobox is a container wrapping layer that allows the user to install containerised versions of Linux that are different to the host while providing tight integration with the host allowing the use of binaries designed for one distribution to run on another.

Distrobox itself is not a container manager and relies on Podman or Docker to create containers.

From the Distrobox documentation:

Use any Linux distribution inside your terminal. Enable both backward and forward compatibility with software and freedom to use whatever distribution you’re more comfortable with. Distrobox uses Podman or Docker to create containers using the Linux distribution of your choice. 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.

Security implications

The main goal of Distrobox is not focused on sandboxing the containers from the host (this would be impossible due to the tight integration nature of the project) and as such containers running inside Distrobox will have full access to your home folder as well as a few other locations.

It is recommended to use Podman over Docker since by default Docker will run containers as root and rootful containers will have unrestricted access to your hosts filesystem. Rootless Docker is currently not working though is being worked on.

Sandboxing is possible, see #Unsharing mode for details.


With root access

First follow the page for either Podman or Docker and make sure you are able to install and run a Hello World container.

Install either distrobox or distrobox-gitAUR

Without root access/Immutable filesystem

It is possible to install Distrobox into your home folder if you don't have root access to the system or if you are using an immutable distro. Doing so requires the use of a curl-to-sh pipe which is an unsupported installation method due to it posing a security risk.

You can find instructions on the Distrobox documentation page


Distrobox provides an uninstallation script for rootless installs, this script is only required if you installed rootless, if you installed via Pacman then you should uninstall in the usual way.


  • Throughout the following section name is a variable and can be whatever you want. In all cases replace name with the actual name you choose
  • For the full list of supported options in any sub category use --help, for example to see all creation options use distrobox create --help
  • A full list of supported distros along with their image names can be found at https://distrobox.it/compatibility/#containers-distros
  • For more advanced usage techniques please see the Distrobox Documentation page at https://distrobox.it/usage/usage/

To create a new container run the following:

$ distrobox create -n name

To list installed containers run the following:

$ distrobox list

To interact with an installed container run the following:

$ distrobox enter name

or you can send a command directly to a container with:

$ distrobox enter name -- command-to-execute

To stop a running container run the following:

$ distrobox stop name

To delete a container run the following:

$ distrobox rm name

To install a specific distro into a container run the following (in this example its Ubuntu):

$ distrobox create --image ubuntu:22.04

Installations can be fully customised as follows (in this example its a container called test running Gentoo with root access):

$ distrobox create -i docker.io/gentoo/stage3:latest -n test --root

If you need your container to have root access to the host then it is recommended that you use the --root flag over sudo distrobox.

Unsharing mode

Distrobox now allows users to unshare certain locations on your filesystem. In its default mode the following shares are created, devsysfs, ipc, netns, process, $HOME and Application access.

You can now choose to unshare some of those by using the commands listed below when creating a new container:

Share Command Usage
devsysfs --unshare-devsysfs Do not share host devices and sysfs dirs from host.
ipc --unshare-ipc Do not share the ipc namespace with host.
netns --unshare-netns Do not share the network namespace with host.
process --unshare-process Do not share the process namespace with host.
All --unshare-all Activate all unshare flags.

Unsharing $HOME and Application access is not possible, these are mandatory and without them Distrobox would not be able to operate.

Warning: While this feature offers improved security over a default container it is still considered to be not a full sandbox by the application developers.


It is possible to configure Distrobox in two ways, either with a configuration file or by using environment variables.

Configuration file

Distrobox checks the following locations for config files, from least important to most important:

  • /usr/share/distrobox/distrobox.conf
  • /usr/etc/distrobox/distrobox.conf
  • /etc/distrobox/distrobox.conf
  • ~/.config/distrobox/distrobox.conf
  • ~/.distroboxrc

An example config file is as follows:


Environment variables

The following variables are available and should be set using per user variables:


Tips and tricks

Run graphical apps

When running graphical apps, you should first install the mesa-dri-drivers GPU drivers in Fedora, mesa in Arch, or the equivalent Mesa package for the distro.

If you encounter an authorization error, see Toolbox#X11 applications not starting for the fix.

You can run apps installed inside the Distrobox from the outside using distrobox enter -- appname or integrate them with your desktop by running distrobox-export inside the container.

Use systemd inside the container

Run the following commands inside the container to make the host systemd accessible inside the container:

# ln -s /run/host/run/systemd/system /run/systemd
# mkdir -p /run/dbus
# ln -s /run/host/run/dbus/system_bus_socket /run/dbus

See also