Standard Coder workspaces run as regular Docker containers. This carries limitations as to what applications you can run inside your workspace. Most notably, it's not possible to run Docker securely within regular Docker containers.

Coder offers an alternative workspace deployment option that allows you to run Docker, Docker Compose, systemd, and other system-level applications securely within your development containers. We call this workspace variant a Container-based Virtual Machine (CVM).

Are you a platform admin? Learn how to enable Docker in workspaces for your deployment.

Container-based Virtual Machine (CVM)

By choosing this option, your workspace behaves like a VM or raw host, yet retains the image, security, and performance properties of typical containers.

To create a workspace capable of securely running system-level applications like Docker, make sure that the Run as Container-based Virtual Machine box is checked when you create a new workspace. If your admin has enabled CVMs, this feature will be selected by default whenever you create a new workspace.

Create CVM


Standard workspaces only persist the /home directory in your workspace disk. CVM workspaces have additional levels of persistence:

  1. /var/lib/docker is stored in your workspace disk and is persisted between rebuilds. This prevents shutdowns and rebuilds from purging the Docker cache.

  2. The workspace image is itself stored in your workspace disk. Note that this data is never directly accessible to you but will still consume data on your disk and count towards the size limit.

When setting default disk sizes for images, plan for these additional storage requirements. We recommend treating the workspace as a full machine, so disk sizes in the range of 50-100 GB are reasonable. This is especially true if users of the image are storing large Docker caches.

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