I’m Switching from VS Code to VS Codium

VS Code has been my primary text editor/ IDE for several years. “Brackets” was my initial IDE for web development, then I moved to “Atom” and ended up with VS Code.

Don’t get me wrong, VS Code is a good editor. It has improved since its initial release. But starting this month, I’m switching from VS Code to VS Codium. Allow me to explain,

VS Codium official website – https://vscodium.com

Is VS Code open source?

VS Code, released by Microsoft, is not open-source software. Microsoft is following the open-core model for the VS Code editor, just like how Google is following an open-core model for its Chrome browser. 

In the open core model, the core of the editor gets developed as an open-source project, with the source code for VS Code under the MIT license. However, Microsoft uses this core and modifies it, incorporates its propriety changes, includes telemetry tracking, and releases it as a proprietary version with its own licensing that is not a FOSS license, therefore different from the MIT license.

It is similar to the Chrome browser, where the core of the browser is “Chromium”, an open-source browser developed and released under a FOSS license. Google then modifies it, incorporates proprietary Google services, and releases Chrome as a separate browser.

What is proprietary about VS Code?

Microsoft modifies VS Code in a way that a non-Microsoft VS Code fork can’t use extensions from the official Microsoft VS Code store. Not only that, some of the VS Code extensions developed and released by Microsoft will only work in the VS Code released by Microsoft and won’t work on non-Microsoft VS Code forks.

There is nothing wrong with an organization following an open-core principal. Microsoft still has to pay for the developers who contribute to VS Code and other bills associated with VS Code and running the extension store.

Why I switched to VS Codium?

If you want to get the full open-source MIT-licensed VS Code with no telemetry tracking, you will have to download the source code from the repository and build the VS Code on your own.

It is difficult for most users to build VS Code from the source.

This is where VS Codium comes in,

VS Codium is a fully open-source version of the VS Code, without the constraints and tracking that come with Microsoft’s VS Code. The VS Codium team builds VS Code from the source and releases the builds for different platforms under the VS Codium name.

I wanted to skip all the tracking that comes with VS Code. I was increasingly getting upset about their extension marketplace, where there is an increased number of extensions starting to sell pro versions of the extensions we used for free.

My experience with VS Codium

Even though I’ve seen VS Codium before, the only thing that kept me from switching was the lack of availability of all the extensions. Extensions that I’ve used to customize my VS Code experience. 

But the extension ecosystem for VS COdium has matured, and almost all the open-source extensions for VS Code are now available for VS Codium under the open-vsx extension marketplace. 

These extensions are uploaded by the official developers or by the community. Now that the extensions I use are available in VS Codium, I made a smooth transition to VS Codium, and there is nothing to complain about.

The only thing I miss is the “Monokai pro” theme, which I used on VS Code, but I have found a new favourite called “Blackboard Pro” (it’s free) on Open VSX registry.

Open VS Code extension registry. https://open-vsx.org. You can now download all the popular VS Code extensions from the Open VSX registry

How to install VS Codium?

The easiest way to install VS Codium is through the package manages, available for your respective operating systems.

If you’re a Windows user

winget install vscodium

macOs user

brew install --cask vscodium

Linux Ubuntu user

sudo apt update && sudo apt install codium
VS Codium after installation. I’ve installed the Blackboard pro theme.

Performance

Performance wise I don’t see a noticeable change, maybe it’s because my MBP and my Windows machine both has enough specs to run VS Codium and VS Code Smoothly, but I’m sure there is a small performance gain because you don’t have telemetry running in the background sending data to Microsoft.

If you’re a VS Code user, I suggest you to try out VS Codium and see if it works for you as well.


Follow the discussion on HackerNews – https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=31713625

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Comments

    1. Oops, I totally messed that one, fixed it. Thank you for pointing that out

      1. David

        Haha was that intentional? “Messed” and not missed?

        1. Lol that’s a typo, let me correct that, or shall I keep it that way?

  1. Typo in title. Also other places.

    “f you want to get the full open-source MIT-licensed VS Code with no cemetery tracking,”

    Just fyi.

    1. Thank you so much for pointing that out, I fixed it.

      1. Levent

        It’s still there.

  2. An0n21

    Where to get plugins for VS Codium?

      1. Karl

        It still lacks a lot of them. I switched to VS Codium first, but when I got fed up with outdated versions and missing extensions, I dumped it for Visual Studio Code. I know Microsoft’s telemetry lurks somewhere into it. It does bother me a bit. But it works at last. I keep using VIM for individual files and in a bunch of other cases.

        1. Karl

          The mobile version of your website capitalizes each word by the way. 🙂

        2. But it has improved a lot since last time I checked it, which made me made the switch. Last time I checked the open-vsx registry, only a handful of extensions were there, which made me reluctant to switch.

  3. So the only reason for changing your IDE is codium is opensource software.. you didn’t discuss about its performance.

    1. Thank you for the comment, I decided to add some more details about the performance to the post, I didn’t see any noticeable performance difference in both, but I’m sure VS Codium should perform better because there is no telemetry running in the background.

      Personally I don’t like tracking and value privacy, and open source software. I’ve also complained about where the VS Code extension marketplace is becoming a place for paid, pro extensions than the free ones.

      1. Why

        Why Are You Capitalising Every Word?

        1. I think that’s an error in CSS of the theme, I need to have a look
          It seems the issue is only in mobile version of the website
          Thank you for pointing that out

    2. Paul

      Ok so there is tracking mostly to help improve the product. So what? That’s the only valid reason to create a discussion around the product. Like what kind of telemetry is taken? Etc.

      Why do we have to take a good thing and try and make it seem worse? Free and good stuff comes in small pieces and VS Code Core is a good example. But big things that are good don’t come for 100% free/no price, and VS Code is that.

      1. Hi Paul, yes that’s true, I’m not fully against essential tracking, and I’d continue to use VS Code if it that’s the only available tool.

        But it’s down to personal preference, and if there is something that is available out there same product minus the tracking why not go for it?

        Also since it’s an open source project, anyone can create required features, and the community can guide the future of a tool, and therefore tracking is not mandatory as a proprietary software.

  4. Sir Andronicus

    like others have mentioned, the only reason for your switching seems to be the claim of codium being open source (“claim” because you would have to check all of the sources and compile yourself tp be sure that what you use is what some unknown anonymous people tell you it is).
    my experience with open source over more than 40 years of active software development been bad for too much of it, so I definitely stick to the “professionals” (not saying that MS devs are particularly good at writing software, just a general statement).
    now, if codium would offer some really noticeable benefits, I would be tempted, but “open source” (with the caveats mentioned above, you have to trust whoever compiled what you installed) “no, no, never”.

    1. It’s totally up to the end user, if there is a fully open sourced version with no tracking involved, I’d go with that version and not the tracked proprietary version of the same software. Other than that there is no difference between the two.

      But as I mentioned, the extension marketplace is also a walled garden and you are at the mercy of Microsoft, if Microsoft decided to take their marketplace private and charge users then all your VS Code editors would break as it’s fully dependent on the marketplace and can’t use third-party marketplaces.

      But if you use the opensource version, you can easily switch between marketplaces and you are not depended on any entity

      1. Redhacker2

        But you can’t switch between versions marketplaces… That’s why you haven’t switched until now. You just said if you use third-party branches of the editor then you can’t use first-party versions of the marketplace… So frankly you’re taking a switch to an inferior ecosystem because of a personal ideology.

        I’m not saying what you’re doing is wrong. It’s perfectly within your right to do it, but stop playing it as though it’s a no-brainer. Or that it’s the smart thing, or that telemetry is highly invasive, it’s minimal data as to the plugins you install, hardware info and crash/error reports useful for debugging and improving visual studio code as a whole both in the open source branch and the private one.

  5. Guy

    All this mega anti .. is a bit funny. What is good to be off the grid ?

    You also milk your own cow in the morning fkr coffee ?

    1. I’m totally fine with developers releasing Closed source software or making money even from open source software. But if there is a proprietary version and a fully open source version available, I’d definitely prefer the fully open source one.

      1. Al4ric

        That would only make sense if you would go over every file in source and actually understand the code in each and every file. Otherwise it is just doing for the sake of doing. It’s like you would only buy cars that were hand made from top to bottom and not any serial manufactured one, because “it’s the only way to know what is inside”.

  6. You should be able to download the .vsix of any extension end “Install from VSIX” for any extension that’s not on the open-vsx marketplace yet, or not up to date there yet.

  7. Ortzinator

    I’ll switch when there’s an open source alternative to the remote development extensions.

    1. What extensions are you exactly missing? You can check out if your are there at open-vsx.org, and if not you can make an issue or ask the developer to publish the extension on the open-vsx.org registry as well.

      Once published you will be able to use them on VS Codium

      1. Ortzinator

        I’m referring to the Microsoft “Remote” extensions, which are closed source and can only be run on MS VSCode.

        1. Yes they are proprietary and will only work on the Microsoft version of VS code.

    2. As in the comment mentioned by @Chase

      You should be able to download the .vsix of any extension end “Install from VSIX” for any extension that’s not on the open-vsx marketplace yet, or not up to date there yet.

  8. Marc

    Thanks for pointing this out. I’m Not using VS Code because I was Always suspicious. Usually advertised as being Open source, and by Microsoft? That doesn’t Go well together. Now I know what’s behind it. It makes me shiver that Microsoft owns Github, but most people don’t seem to see a Problem there. Wait and watch…

    1. I understand the reticence behind MS and GH but that acquisition has enabled co-pilot. MS having done static analysis of public repos to use machine learning to guess what you are trying to do.

  9. Scott Mintz

    Does it integrate with WSL like Code does?

    1. Yes it does work with WSL and I didn’t notice anything different to Code, I tested it on my Alpine Linux WSL.

  10. Balduino

    I just wonder if GitHub Copilot works fine on codium.

    1. Personally not a big fan of GitHub co-pilot so never tested it, but I don’t think it will work as it’s not in the open-vsx registry. Extensions from the Microsoft VS Code extension marketplace only works on the Microsoft VS Code

  11. luda

    no cemetery tracking, great!

    1. Sorry for the typo, fixed it. Thanks for pointing it out

  12. Anthony

    Lol, I’m sure it’s faster cuz telemetry.

  13. Carl J

    Thanks for this. Had no idea that there was a VS Code alternative that’s based on VS Code.

    Will have to check it out. Assuming that is pretty similar, only thing that would prevent me from switching would be the extensions. But I’ll have to check their marketplace to see.

    Noticed a few comments against it being “open source” (one guy says over 40 years of playing with open source, he’s had bad experiences). Thing is, this is VS Code under the hood. As mentioned in the post, they’ve taken VS Code and compiled and released it. It’s not like it’s some new editor that’s trying to be VS Code.

    Btw, you mentioned “cemetery tracking” under “Why I switched to VS Codium?”. Have me a little chuckle

    1. Except for the Microsoft’s own extensions, almost all the extensions which are open source are there. Thank you for pointing out the typo. I fixed it. Nothing intentional there.

  14. Aindriú

    Very motivating, I am thinking about doing the same now

    1. Give it a try and see, I’m sure you won’t feel any difference.

  15. John Nelson

    Thank you! I have long since believed that Microsoft has setup an ecosystem of info stealing info and code and whatnot. We need alternatives that don’t give the store away to Redmond

  16. Jaxxon

    Thank you for this information. I’m still.a fresher and always looking at various options to try out. I appreciate your experience and willingness to share. 

  17. Pathum

    Thanks for the info bro.❤️

  18. Betterthanyou

    Grow up. Think you’re special? You hold back the development of vs code. Sometimes data capture is useful and good. It’s free. Why not give back?

    1. People are giving back by fixing bugs, creating extensions, providing community support, so allowing tracking is not the only way people can give back.

      There is nothing wrong with tracking, if VS code was a proprietary tool I’d still use it even with tracking because I have no option. but when there is one with no tracking and fully open source I’d go with that.

      Again it’s just my own humble opinion, you can disagree to it, and that’s totally fine

  19. Lokesh

    Ik it’s good but not fast enough like code

    1. It should be tested,but there is no reason for it to be slow

  20. Wrong word in heading “What is propriety about VS Code?”

    1. Thank you for pointing that out, let me fix that

  21. Syd Salmon

    My journey:

    {the usual suspects} > Atom > Brackets > Coda > Sublime Text > VS Code > Vim

    Emacs is another option for fans of FOSS.

    Let’s call out the proverbial ‘elephant in the room.’ Vim and Emacs are easy to start but have steep learning curves to master.

    If you care about FOSS and controlling your editor/IDE while maximizing your productivity, consider committing to learning Vim or Emacs.

  22. Virag Dilip Desai

    Can we not identify and block the requests sent to MS telemetry?

    1. Yes, as a matter of fact, you can disable telemetry in VSCode

      To disable Telemetry – From File > Preferences > Settings (macOS: Code > Preferences > Settings), search for telemetry , and set the Telemetry: Telemetry Level setting to off

  23. Hasan

    You highlighted telemetry tracking as one of the concerns. Why should we be worried for that ?

    1. Well there is nothing wrong with it, but some users respect privacy and does not like companies tracking your activity in the apps they use.

      It can be a simple reason for not liking it, to not allowing companies to track you across apps and websites like you disallow tracking on iOS.

      And when there is a version with no tracking involved why not use that instead of the app that does the same and tracks how you use it?

  24. Eric

    If your big complaint is tracking, why not just put a pi-hole on your network?

    1. That is also possible, but why all the hassle when there is a completely open source build?

  25. Héctor Ramírez

    Thank you for a very informative article. Personally, it is hard for me to select something not-open-source over its counterpart being open source, but, as it has been pointed out by some comments, it is just as hard for me to jump on some wagon moved only by some patriotic feeling of “open-sourceness”; in my case I was very happy using Atom, until the tragic news unveiled by GitHub as dictated by its new owner… From now on, this guy here will avoid Microsoft-whatevers as they were the plague unless I find it impossible to replace some of those with a suitable counterpart; and, by the way, I also hate being tracked…

    1. Yes it’s sad to see what happened to Atom, I felt it was long time coming, and was thinking about writing that MS is going to kill Atom any time, and they just did before I could write.

      1. Thank you so much for sharing, that’s the beauty of open source software

  26. I came with the sole purpose of seeing if Monokai Pro was available yet. Maybe someday…

    1. Being a paid extension I highly doubt it will work, but check out Blackboard pro, being a long time Monokai pro user, I’m starting to like it

  27. I’m going to check this out, I never heard of VS Codium before this article, thanks!

    1. I’m so happy the post helped, I was actually following VS Sodium for a while now, but I didn’t switch because there were not enough extensions, but I think now that is not an issue since the open-vsx has almost all the open source extensions

  28. So cool. I just loaded VS Code this week and was regretting my MS involvement again (must Word take so long? Can I stop saving to OneDrive or my drive, and save to my external SSD? Why was WordPad so hard to find? Where is Notepad?). Yes, regretting paying each month to have this slow dinosaur for 1Tb storage (my SSD is 2Tb, which will soon be filled with classes and videos). I only have 4 Gb RAM, other laptop died, this one, hopefully, a temp. Thanks, Rukshan, so very much!!

  29. Why increase MS’s hold on US? Let them get info like the rest of us have to do. Just IMHO. Of course, getting the pink slip on a Friday, when there was 2 feet of snow on the ground, the babysitter quit that morning making me 2 hours late to my temp MS job may have a little bit to do with it. I still had to make it up the Redmond Kirkland hill to get to Kingsgate. Anyone know what I mean? But, hey, that was yesterday, years ago. I finally got to the babysitter around midnight. Anyone remember that weekend? We laugh it off now. That’s why we prepare a way to build websites, apps, and software on our own. See my starter page one-time cost, lifetime hosting. None of these high monthly fees. Suzlowry dot com . Not because I want business (well?) But because I want you to pay less to create on the internet.
    Please no mean barbs…MS defeated me enough for my lifetime. I am over it.

    1. M

      Spam?!

      1. Sorry I get too much comments as spam I’ve to approve it manually. sorry for the delay

  30. Nicolas

    This is the kind of things I really don’t worry about. I use what works for me, regardless of licensing. 

    1. Yes that’s true, it basically comes down to you preference. I’d not switch if it was a completely different editor but this is vs code minus tracking and Proprietary features and I’ve nothing to complaint about when switching

  31. What about Visual C++? Are there telemetry issues with that? I’ve read an uninstall could make other things not work, or not work right. Thanks!

    suzlowry dot com (one time fee for lifetime hosting).

    1. Unfortunately I don’t know about Visual C++, but since there is no alternative to it as such I suggest keep on using it.

      In this case it was possible to shift because there was an identical alternative.

  32. Lee Oades

    Thank you for your article. I found the existence of Codium fascinating.
    Just wondering – do you have any evidence of exactly what is being tracked? I’d still be running Codium on Windows so if Microsoft really wanted to be nefarious then switching from Code wouldn’t make much difference.
    The “risk” of companies suddenly deciding to commit commercial suicide and cut you off from your tools is highly unlikely.
    I’d expect it to just be collecting usage statistics. It’s always useful to know how people are actually using your software.
    I’m glad that the source code is available as I think that always helps if the community can fix bugs.
    But this kind of paranoia leads to people convinced that their phone or Alexa etc is always listening in on their every conversation and you burn too many cycles worrying about things that you really shouldn’t.
    As mentioned above, I’ll stick to the known build of Code and known plugins in the safety of the walled garden.
    Commercial plugins are a reasonable thing – it costs money to develop and maintain and other companies are happy to pay.

  33. Roland

    And do you write better code now? Did your work improve? Are your customers more happy?

  34. Gulliver

    Funny thing is that you can disable telemetry in VSC

    From MS:
    For example, if you don’t want to send any telemetry data to Microsoft, you can set the telemetry.telemetryLevel user setting to off.

  35. Robert

    Is the remote development extension working with vs codium?
    The containerized remote dev is rather a key feature for me

  36. CVO

    “VS Codium is a fully open-source version of the VS Code, without the constraints and tracking that come with Microsoft’s VS Code.”

    Nothing to say about the initiative.
    But I guess there is also a reason why the “vscodium.com” domain has the *com*mercial extension.

    1. VS Codium is not the only VS Code fork that is available, as Rock mentioned in the comments you can also try out this – https://theia-ide.org/ by Eclipse foundation.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this, I actually didn’t know about this until you pointed it to me, I’m definitely going to check this out.

  37. Marco

    Tracking aside, I cannot really understand the advantage about extensions: you are upset because of the growing number of premium-version extensions in the official marketplace, but I don’t think the same extensiin’s developer will publish the extension with the same premium features on the VS Codium free marketplace… Then the open marketplace will have a subset of the MS marketplace. Where is the point then? The free extensions are present on both the marketplace, the premium ones are missing in the open marketplace, that’s it. You can stay with VS Code and decide to avoid buying the premium extensions, plus you have more security controls on the official marketplace because there are more people using it and MS is also interested to avoid dangerous extensions in its marketplace, where in the open marketplace I guess there’s no strong security verifications (or at least not stronger than the other place).
    Please let me understand… Thx

  38. Peter Marreck

    I stuck with Code because Github Copilot, which is pretty amazing, is not available on Codium.

    1. Yes that’s true, CO Pilot and other MS extensions which are proprietary are not working on Codium. Why do you like CO Pilot? Personally I don’t like it to use it, but love to listen to you

    2. I personally don’t like co pilot, but glad you like it, how’s the experience and why do you like it?

  39. Demba Diack

    What’s wrong with telemetry ? I mean as a dev you surely must appreciate data to improve your software. 

    1. There is nothing wrong with Telemetry, I’m not fully against reasonable tracking. But since this is an open source project the community can decide and guide on improving the software, the people who are using the software are also knowable on how to improve it and guide it. So unlike a proprietary tool it’s not essential to have tracking.

      At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference, and if there is something identical without tracking and walled garden I’m going to prefer it.

    2. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. But it comes down to preference and I’d prefer no tracking. Plus since this is an open source community driven project the community can help and guide the project, and the community can and is helping to improve the software.

      Unlike any other product, since devs are using it, they are quite knowledgeable on how to develop it.

  40. John Salerno

    Can’t you just turn off telemetry tracking in the settings?

    1. Yes John you can, but why not use something that doesn’t have it at all? And would you like to get into a walled garden of extensions? As I mentioned the MS marketplace is also proprietary

  41. MiithRanDir

    vscodium github copilot not working

    1. Yes, and all Microsoft proprietary extensions, that’s the disadvantage of proprietary software. And how you can get trapped into one tool/ecosystem.

  42. Zhivko

    The only downside of VS code I read so far is the telemetry tracking. If you are so bugged by it for some reason, why don’t you just block the telemetry hostnamr in your host files? Or use your firewall? Rather than switching the whole editor.

    1. not only tracking, I also don’t like the walled garden nature of the store.

      Since it’s an open source project I like the choice it has offered me, part of open source software is that it gives you so many things to choose from, like the Linux flavours.

      Like different people use different linux distros, I’d also like to use a different flavour that doesn’t track and at the same time not in a walled garden of extensions

  43. Şiraslan Gürsəsli

    Let me try it before judging you 😅
    Have a nice day.