📅 October 30, 2020     🕐 3 minutes read

VSCodium is a Truly Free and Open Source Version of Visual Studio Code

VSCode without Microsoft telemetry, branding and licensing.


I dare you to find a list of “open source text editoris” without Atom, Visual Studio Code and Sublime ( all of them or at least 2 ). Visual Studio Code is almost always on every list. And that’s because it’s an excellent editor, however it is NOT open source.

It’s true that the source code is available on GitHub under MIT license. HOWEVER the binaries that Microsoft provides, and most people use, are NOT open source and licensed under this license. And, I know this might comes as a shock but, it contains telemetry/tracking.  You know…. to help them improve VSCode. Wink wink.

When we build Visual Studio Code, we do exactly this. We clone the vscode repository, we lay down a customized product.json that has Microsoft specific functionality (telemetry, gallery, logo, etc.), and then produce a build that we release under our license.

When you clone and build from the vscode repo, none of these endpoints are configured in the default product.json. Therefore, you generate a “clean” build, without the Microsoft customizations, which is by default licensed under the MIT license

Right, but you can choose to disable the telemetry in VSCode. Well yes, if you trust Microsoft, you can. But if you don’t your option would be to compile VS Code from source yourself. OR…

You can use VSCodium, a truly free/libre open source version of VSCode. VSCodium is not a fork of VSCode but a repository of scripts that automatically builds VSCode’s repository into a ready to use binary without Microsoft’s telemetry code.

So, beside the telemetry stuff, what’s the difference between VSCode and VSCodium? Visually there is none. See the screenshot below. VSCode on the left and VSCodium on the right. You can tell VSCode is on the left because it asks to spy on you you to help make VSCode better.

The only thing that you should be aware of is that, due to the VSCode Marketplace Terms of Use, some Visual Studio Code extensions have licenses that restrict their use to the official Visual Studio Code builds and therefore do not work with VSCodium. But there are workarounds.

Other than that, there is no reason why you shouldn’t give VSCodium a chance if you’re using VSCode.

To learn how to install VSCodium ( Linux, macOS and Windows ) and other helpful information and walkthroughs such as how to migrate from VSCode to VSCodium, the extension workaround or how to run VSCodium in portable mode, check out the project’s GitHub page.


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