Dev Desktops

The dev desktops provide maintainers and contributors to the Rust Project with free access to high-powered cloud compute. They are part of the Cloud Compute Program by the Rust Foundation.

MachineArchitecturePerf enabledLocation
dev-desktop-us-1aarch64YesN. Virgina, US
dev-desktop-us-2amd64NoWashington, US

How to apply to the program

At this time, access to the program and the compute instances is limited to maintainers and core contributors of the Rust Project. While the program is under development, it is limited to certain teams. If you are in one of these teams, you should automatically have access.

If you feel like your work on the Rust project would be significantly improved by access to a powerful build machine, reach out to with the following information:

  • Your GitHub handle
  • A short description of how you would use and benefit from the dev desktops

How to connect to a dev desktop

Each user has their own account on the dev desktops. The account is named after the user’s GitHub handle, with gh- as a prefix. For example, a user with the GitHub handle user will have a user account with the name gh-user on the dev desktop.

Users can connect to the dev desktop with SSH. The dev desktops use public key authentication, and automatically fetch the user’s public keys from GitHub.

You can connect to the instance with the following command:

ssh <your-username>@<name>

Replace <name> with the machine name from the table at the top of the page. For example, connect to dev-desktop-eu-1 using the hostname

If you don’t have a public key on GitHub, read the following guides that explain how to create an SSH key and add it to your GitHub account. It might take a few minutes after the key has been added before the dev desktops get updated.

To make the command easier, you can configure an alias in your ~/.ssh/config like so:

Host rustvm
  User <your-username>
  HostName <name>

Then you can connect with ssh rustvm.

How to set up your account

When connecting to the machine for the first time, there are a few things you might want to do.

First, check that your Git username and email are configured correctly.

git config -l --global

You can configure your username and email address with:

git config --global "Your name"
git config --global "your-email"

How to customize your shell

You can set your default shell on the dev desktops by adding yourself to a configuration file in the rust-lang/simpleinfra repository. Open ansible/roles/dev-desktop/defaults/main.yml, look for the variable vars_user_config, and add yourself to the list.

  - username: gh-jdno
    shell: /usr/bin/zsh
  - username: gh-WaffleLapkin
    shell: /usr/bin/fish

Open a pull request and request a review from @rust-lang/infra (or ping us in #t-infra on Zulip).

After the pull request is merged, an infrastructure admin has to deploy the new configuration to the dev desktops. Only after that will your default shell be changed.

How to install a Rust toolchain

The dev desktops don’t have Rust pre-installed, but instead make it easy to install a specific toolchain from a local repository or worktree.

First, you want to run the following command to install rustup:


If you don’t want or need to work with your own version of Rust, you can skip the next section and start working.

If you haven’t done so yet, open the rust-lang/rust repository on GitHub and create a fork in your personal account. Then connect to the dev desktop and run the following script:


The script will clone your personal fork to the dev desktop, check out the latest version from rust-lang/rust, and compile it. Once that’s done, it will link the stages so that you can work with them locally.

The directory contains more scripts to manage worktrees and Rust versions. Run to get a list and a short description of them.

How to interact with GitHub

The dev desktops are designed to work with repositories on GitHub that belong to your user account. A GitHub App is used to protect your credentials and give you granular control over the repositories that the dev desktops can access.

First, go to to give the app access to your repositories. It’s recommended to only grant access to the repositories that you want to use on the dev desktop, e.g. your fork of rust-lang/rust.

Then connect to the dev desktop and clone the repository that you want to work on with HTTPS. From there, you can work with the repository like you would normally do.

Under the hood, the GitHub App acts as a credentials helper for Git and generates temporary access tokens that are scoped to the permissions that you have granted the application. If you get an error, review the permissions and ensure that the app is allowed to access your repository.

How to set up remote development in Visual Studio Code

Most modern code editors provide support for remote development via SSH. This can be used to write code locally, but execute it inside the dev desktop. While the configuration will differ slightly, the following example for Visual Studio Code should be applicable to other editors as well.

Setting up remote development with VS Code is pretty straightforward, and is described in detail in VS Code’s documentation: Remote Development using SSH. In summary:

  1. SSH into the dev desktop and clone the repository that you want to work on to a local folder
  2. Then open VS Code on your machine and install the Remote Development Extension Pack
  3. Open the command palette and search for “Remote-SSH: Connect to host”
  4. Enter your username and the instance name (<your-username>@<instance>)
  5. Select the path for the cloned repository from step 1
  6. Install any extensions that you want to run on the server (e.g. rust-analyzer)
  7. Use VS Code to run or debug the code remotely

How to request new packages and tools

If you need a specific tool or package that is not installed on the dev desktops, you can request its installation by opening a pull request against the rust-lang/simpleinfra repository. The Ansible role dev-desktop contains a tasks called dependencies.yml that lists the system packages that are installed on the machines. Add the required package to this list, open a pull request, and ping @rust-lang/infra for a review.

It helps to check first and make sure that the package is available for both arm64 and amd64 architectures. The dev desktops are currently running Ubuntu 22.04 LTS.

How to give feedback and report issues

If you experience any problems with the dev desktops, or have feedback and suggestions, get in touch with the infrastructure team:

#t-infra on Zulip

We might ask you to create an issue in the rust-lang/simpleinfra repository.