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AVD Dev Containers Overview


AVD Dev Containers are currently in the early preview phase and not officially supported for any production cases. They can still be very useful for development and testing. Please report any issues and optimization suggestions.

Why Dev Containers

Building a functional Ansible environment can be a challenging task. A manually created Ansible environment can be broken due to number of reasons:

  • Problems with Python and Ansible versions.
  • Broken dependencies.
  • Interpreter path issues.
  • Inconsistent Ansible configuration files.
  • etc.

Containers can provide a simple way to build a functional, portable and isolated Ansible environment. Dev Containers bring that to the next level by simplifying the container build process and extending the functionality. The Dev Container Specification was started by Microsoft and has strong community support. Essentially Dev Containers are powered by following:

Dev containers can be run locally or remotely, in a private or public cloud, in a variety of supporting tools and editors.

AVD Dev Container Variants

The AVD repository provides a number of pre-build dev container images for various use cases:

  • base - image that is used to build other variants. It is not intended for direct use.
  • dev - an image created for AVD contributors and to support quick testing of AVD branches. The AVD collection must be mounted in this container or installed from a git branch.
  • universal - an image with pre-installed AVD collection and its dependencies that can be used to build and deploy AVD configuration using a specific AVD version.

All images are based on Python Slim with some additional features and extensions pre-installed.

How to Use Dev Containers

Currently the only supported option is using VSCode to start a dev container.

To start using the containers for running AVD:

  • Install VScode Dev Containers extension
  • Add .devcontainer/devcontainer.json to your repository containing the AVD inventory (check examples below for possible dev container definitions).
  • Open VSCode command palette and pick Dev Containers: Rebuild and Reopen in Container.
  • Wait until the build finish and enjoy running AVD in a container.

If you want to use a specific AVD release, use the following devcontainer.json:

    "name": "AVD Universal",
    "image": ""

For AVD contributors the dev container is part of the AVD repository.

If you want to test specific AVD branch or fork without making any changes, use the following devcontainer.json:

    "name": "AVD Development",
    "image": "",
    "containerEnv": {
        "AVD_GITHUB_REPO": "aristanetworks/avd",
        "AVD_BRANCH_NAME": "devel"
    // Run entrypoint script manually as it's ignored by dev container CLI otherwise.
    // The dev entrypoint is used to install ansible collections and requirements, as they are not included with the dev version.
    // "true" is required to exit "onCreateCommand" without entering ZSH.
    "onCreateCommand": "/bin/ true"


Do not forget to adjust the parameters like AVD version according to your use case.