There are many text editors. For plain text, Gedit, Kate, or Windows Notepad is more than enough, but when we want to write at least HTML, what we need is something else, hopefully compatible with sends. Brackets was a good option, before Adobe dropped it and the new managers forgot about Linux. Atom is another possibility, but the majority choice is Visual Studio Code… or one of its unlicensed versions like OSS code or VSCodium.
But what are the differences? Why are there three? The existence of the first is clear: it is the editor offered by Microsoft, and it does so with its MIT license. It's not one of the worst and most restricted licenses, but Microsoft adds its own customization and saves telemetry data (more information). Visual Studio Code is a bit like Chrome: It is built on open source software, but they modify it and add what benefits them. Then there is software like Chromium or Brave, which use the original software, eliminating what is not of interest.
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Visual Studio Code: what Microsoft offers, including telemetry
For those who don't care about any of this, Visual Studio Code may be the best option. Also, since their website we can download DEB and RPM packages, so Debian/Ubuntu or Fedora users don't have to go to the web, download the package, install, and have the editor in its most official form.
We have the problem in other distributions, such as those based on Arcn Linux. In the Arch repositories they do not add anything that is proprietary, and to install Visual Studio Code we have to pull AUR. In this repository we find several options, and the one ending in -bin is recommended because it takes less time to compile (it is precompiled).
Installing Visual Studio Code we will have the most complete experience, since after the installation we will have access to all the extensions of its Market, the most important point after the layer that Microsoft adds to it, in which we have already agreed, which includes telemetry collection (as Audacity for a long time).
Code OSS and VSCodium: the software foundation without the Microsoft layer
Code OSS and VSCodium are the same Visual Studio Code, but without the Microsoft layer, and therefore no telemetry. They also do not have the official icon, but this is an unimportant detail. And if I don't want Microsoft's custom code, what is the best option for Linux?
The first thing to know is that both Code OSS and VSCodium they take the open source that is published on GitHub and, from it, they create the editor. But there are differences:
Code OSS is what you get when you build vscode from its source code. VSCodium is more of a build script that compiles vscode when Microsoft has a new version and pushes the binaries to GitHub, so it saves time and is available sooner. Besides, VSCodium disables telemetry in the process and rewrites some of the telemetry code so that it doesn't go anywhere in case something Microsoft sends tries to collect this kind of information. Whether or not this happens in Code OSS depends on who compiled it, such as the Arch Linux community or who creates the flatpak and snap packages.
The extension problem
When we install Visual Studio Code, the Market where the extensions are obtained is Microsoft's own, but this is not the case in VSCodium and Code OSS. Instead goes to another store which is supposed to have everything open source, but it's not there, for example, Comment Divider, an extension that creates one-line ornate comments or a kind of banner with a keyboard shortcut.
To fix this problem in VSCodium and Code OSS we can do two things:
- Locate the product.json file (in paths /usr/share/codium/resources/app on Ubuntu) and add this:
- Another option is to download the extension and install it manually.
- Let marketplace.visualstudio.com .
- We look for the extension.
- On the right we click on download extension, it will download a vsix file.
- Let's go to VSCodium or Code OSS.
- We click on the extensions tab, then on the three dots and then on Install from VSIX.
- We look for the extension downloaded in step 3 and click Install.
The only bad thing about doing it manually is that we cannot see all the options from the same editor; It would force us to search from the Microsoft Market if we are looking for something specific and we do not know the name of the extension.
Good. But in the end Visual Studio Code, Code OSS or VSCodium?
this is already everyone's decision, and the reasons for the choice can be many and varied. For the user of Windows or a Linux system compatible with DEB or RPM packages, who is also not concerned about telemetry and Microsoft's own code, the official Visual Studio Code is the best option.
You also have to take into account what is there or what is easier to install in our distribution. If you can't install DEB or RPM packages, VSCodium is both available as a snap package and on Flathub as a flatpak package. Instead, Code OSS is only on Flathub. But Code OSS is in the official Arch Linux community repository, so you can install it if you don't want to use the next-gen packages. On Windows and macOS the options are just Visual Studio Code (plus the paid Visual Studio option) and VSCodium.
In Linux you can choose, and you have to do it knowing the pros and cons of each option. I would choose VSCodium that was not the flatpak or snap version, or Code OSS on Arch Linux based systems, although it takes a bit longer to update. The question is to choose what suits us best, and in Linux there is a choice.