Should I stay with code-server or upgrade to Coder v2?

author avatar
Joe Previte
author avatar
Whitney Hurston
 on January 4th, 2023

In this article, we’ll compare code-server to Coder v2 Enterprise, why we built it and what problems it solves compared to code-server. By the end of this, you’ll know if you should stick with code-server or migrate to Coder v2 Enterprise.

code-server was built for individual users

When we built code-server years ago, we had one goal in mind: write code from anywhere via the browser. This changed the playing field for remote development. All you needed was a machine and you could run code-server. It was beautiful and it works really well.

People wanted more

However, we soon realized that many people were using code-server in conjunction with other tools, such as Kubernetes and NGINX, to build their own VM or Docker-based solutions.

This led us to create Coder, a centralized platform for developers and data scientists to quickly get a development environment up and running.

Coder v2: our solution for Enterprise Teams

Since having that realization, we’ve built two versions of Coder. In Coder v1, workspaces were Kubernetes pods with containers. However, we learned that not all developers needed containers but VMs instead, and some enterprises wanted more control over how development environments were defined.

With the launch of v2 in 2022, we used Terraform to enable a "workspaces-as-code" paradigm that allows for easy and powerful configuration of development environments.

When should you switch?

When deciding whether to switch from code-server to Coder, consider the following factors:

Not everyone uses VS Code

code-server only works with VS Code, so if your developers use other IDEs such as Jupyter, PyCharm, or IntelliJ, you’ll need a solution with multi-IDE support, like Coder. See the full list of IDEs we’ve tested and officially support here.

You want to manage dependencies from one place

Sure, you could point your team to code-server and have them each setup their own instance on a container or virtual machine. But what happens when one person is using Python 2.7 and another is using Python 3?

With Coder, team leads and administrators define container or VM images with the required IDEs, languages, frameworks, build tools and dependencies to build a developer’s development environment. Development environments are standardized and managed from one place and it saves a whole lot of headaches.

You like saving $$$ on compute

Both code-server and Coder are entirely self-hosted and self-managed, so you’ll run it on your on-prem or cloud infrastructure. If you’re cost-conscious, you probably don’t want to have containers and VMs running 24/7 or give developers carte blanche access to costly cloud resources.

In addition, you probably don’t want to have to spend $$$ on beefier machines so developers can get their jobs done. Coder allows for granular control over compute cost using Resource Quotas, auto-start/shutdown functionality and Kubernetes node autoscaling to ensure your devs can stay in flow and be productive, without wasting compute resources.

You care about security

code-server has basic password authentication out-of-the-box and you would need a reverse proxy to securely let users connect to code-server as opposed to opening a firewall port directly and exposing an IP address or DNS entry. Your users would also have to configure browser encryption which isn’t fun.

Coder on the other hand has built-in and SSO authentication options to securely authenticate users before opening a workspace and an IDE. As part of the installation process, encryption and secrets can be centrally configured once. Workspaces and the underlying compute have a one-to-one relationship with users. i.e., a user is only able to access a workspace, and no one else besides an administrator. This reassures enterprises that source code and sensitive data are secure in the workspace.

Coder also provides enterprise controls over which VS Code extensions can be used, via Coder’s open-source extension marketplace server.

If any of these factors apply to your team, you may want to consider switching to Coder OSS or v2 Enterprise. However, if you are an individual user and code-server meets your needs, you may want to stick with it.

Interested in migrating to Coder v2?

If you realize Coder v2 might be the solution for you and your team and you’re interested in migrating to it, let’s chat! We have a team ready to help make the move as seamless as possible.

To chat with our sales team, reach out to Sales and we’ll get the ball rolling.

Lastly, Coder v2 is open-source on GitHub. Give us a star so we can help more teams move to remote development environments. Thanks for reading!

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