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Starting a Dev Environment with Devbox


Devbox is a command-line tool that lets you easily create reproducible, reliable dev environments. You start by defining the list of packages required by your development environment, and devbox uses that definition to create an isolated environment just for your application. Developers can start a dev environment for their project by running devbox shell.

To learn more about how Devbox works, you can read our introduction

This quickstart shows you how to install Devbox, and use it to start a development environment for a project that is configured to use Devbox via devbox.json

Install Devbox

Use the following install script to get the latest version of Devbox:

curl -fsSL | bash

Devbox requires the Nix Package Manager. If Nix is not detected on your machine when running a command, Devbox will automatically install it for you with the default settings for your OS. Don't worry: You can use Devbox without needing to learn the Nix Language.

Start your development shell

  1. Open a terminal in the project. The project should contain a devbox.json that specifies how to create your development environment

  2. Start a devbox shell for your project:

    To get started, all we have to do is run:

    devbox shell


    Installing nix packages. This may take a while... done.
    Starting a devbox shell...
    (devbox) $

    The first time you run devbox shell may take a while to complete due to Devbox downloading prerequisites and package catalogs required by Nix. This delay is a one-time cost, and future invocations and package additions should resolve much faster.

  3. Use the packages provided in your development environment

    The packages listed in your project's devbox.json should now be available for you to use. For example, if the project's devbox.json contains python@3.10, you should now have python in your path:

    $ python --version
    Python 3.10.9
  4. Your host environment's packages and tools are also available, including environment variables and config settings.

    git config --get
  5. You can search for additional packages using devbox search <pkg>. You can then add them to your Devbox shell by running devbox add [pkgs]

  6. To exit the Devbox shell and return to your regular shell:


Next Steps

Learn more about Devbox

  • Devbox Global: Learn how to use the devbox as a global package manager
  • Devbox Scripts: Automate setup steps and configuration for your shell using Devbox Scripts.
  • Configuration Guide: Learn how to configure your shell and dev environment with devbox.json.
  • Browse Examples: You can see how to create a development environment for your favorite tools or languages by browsing the Devbox Examples repo.

Use Devbox with your IDE

  • Direnv Integration: Devbox can integrate with direnv to automatically activate your shell and packages when you navigate to your project.
  • Devbox for Visual Studio Code: Install our VS Code extension to speed up common Devbox workflows or to use Devbox in a devcontainer.

Boost your dev environment with Jetify Cloud

  • Jetify Secrets: Securely store and access your secrets and environment variables in your Devbox projects.
  • Jetify Deploys: Deploy your Devbox projects as autoscaling services with a single command.
  • Jetify Cache: Share and cache packages across all your Devbox projects and environments.
  • Jetify Prebuilt Cache: Use the Jetify Public Cache to speed up your Devbox builds and share packages with the community.

Get Involved