With developer tools moving to the cloud, adoption of cloud IDE (Integrated Development Environment) platforms is growing. Cloud IDEs are accessible from every type of modern device through web browsers, and they offer numerous advantages for real-time collaboration scenarios. Working in a cloud IDE provides a unified development and testing environment for you and your team, while minimizing platform incompatibilities. Accessible through web browsers, cloud IDEs are available from every type of modern device.
Eclipse Theia is an extensible cloud IDE running on a remote server and accessible from a web browser. Visually, it’s designed to look and behave similarly to Microsoft Visual Studio Code, which means that it supports many programming languages, has a flexible layout, and has an integrated terminal. What separates Eclipse Theia from other cloud IDE software is its extensibility; it can be modified using custom extensions, which allow you to craft a cloud IDE suited to your needs.
In this tutorial, you’ll deploy Eclipse Theia to your Debian 10 server using Docker Compose, a container orchestration tool. You’ll expose it at your domain using nginx-proxy, an automated system for Docker that simplifies the process of configuring Nginx to serve as a reverse proxy for a container. You’ll also secure it using a free Let’s Encrypt TLS certificate, which you’ll provision using its specialized add-on. In the end, you’ll have Eclipse Theia running on your Debian 10 server available via HTTPS and requiring the user to log in.
theia.your_domainthroughout. You can purchase a domain name on Namecheap, get one for free on Freenom, or use the domain registrar of your choice.
theia.your_domainpointing to your server’s public IP address. You can follow this introduction to DigitalOcean DNS for details on how to add them.
In this section, you’ll deploy
nginx-proxy and its Let’s Encrypt add-on using Docker Compose. This will enable automatic TLS certificate provisioning and renewal, so that when you deploy Eclipse Theia it will be accessible at your domain via HTTPS.
For the purposes of this tutorial, you’ll store all files under
~/eclipse-theia. Create the directory by running the following command:
- mkdir ~/eclipse-theia
Navigate to it:
- cd ~/eclipse-theia
You’ll store the Docker Compose configuration for
nginx-proxy in a file named
nginx-proxy-compose.yaml. Create it using your text editor:
- nano nginx-proxy-compose.yaml
Add the following lines:
version: '2' services: nginx-proxy: restart: always image: jwilder/nginx-proxy ports: - "80:80" - "443:443" volumes: - "/etc/nginx/htpasswd:/etc/nginx/htpasswd" - "/etc/nginx/vhost.d" - "/usr/share/nginx/html" - "/var/run/docker.sock:/tmp/docker.sock:ro" - "/etc/nginx/certs" letsencrypt-nginx-proxy-companion: restart: always image: jrcs/letsencrypt-nginx-proxy-companion volumes: - "/var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock:ro" volumes_from: - "nginx-proxy"
Here you’re defining two services that Docker Compose will run,
nginx-proxy and its Let’s Encrypt companion. For the proxy, you specify
jwilder/nginx-proxy as the image, map HTTP and HTTPS ports, and define volumes that will be accessible to it during runtime.
Volumes are directories on your server that the defined service will have full access to, which you’ll later use to set up user authentication. To achieve that, you’ll make use of the first volume from the list, which maps the local
/etc/nginx/htpasswd directory to the same one in the container. In that folder,
nginx-proxy expects to find a file named exactly as the target domain, containing log-in credentials for user authentication in the
htpasswd format (
For the add-on, you name the Docker image and allow access to Docker’s socket by defining a volume. Then, you specify that the add-on should inherit access to the volumes defined for
nginx-proxy. Both services have
restart set to
always, which orders Docker to restart the containers in case of crash or system reboot.
Save and close the file.
Deploy the configuration by running:
- docker-compose -f nginx-proxy-compose.yaml up -d
Here you pass in the
nginx-proxy-compose.yaml filename to the
-f parameter of the
docker-compose command, which specifies the file to run. Then, you pass the
up verb that instructs it to run the containers. The
-d flag enables detached mode, which means that Docker Compose will run the containers in the background.
The final output will look like this:
OutputCreating network "eclipse-theia_default" with the default driver Pulling nginx-proxy (jwilder/nginx-proxy:)... latest: Pulling from jwilder/nginx-proxy 8d691f585fa8: Pull complete 5b07f4e08ad0: Pull complete ... Digest: sha256:dfc0666b9747a6fc851f5fb9b03e65e957b34c95d9635b4b5d1d6b01104bde28 Status: Downloaded newer image for jwilder/nginx-proxy:latest Pulling letsencrypt-nginx-proxy-companion (jrcs/letsencrypt-nginx-proxy-companion:)... latest: Pulling from jrcs/letsencrypt-nginx-proxy-companion 89d9c30c1d48: Pull complete 668840c175f8: Pull complete ... Digest: sha256:a8d369d84079a923fdec8ce2f85827917a15022b0dae9be73e6a0db03be95b5a Status: Downloaded newer image for jrcs/letsencrypt-nginx-proxy-companion:latest Creating eclipse-theia_nginx-proxy_1 ... done Creating eclipse-theia_letsencrypt-nginx-proxy-companion_1 ... done
nginx-proxy and its Let’s Encrypt companion using Docker Compose. Now you’ll move on to set up Eclipse Theia at your domain and secure it.
In this section, you’ll create a file containing any allowed log-in combinations that a user will need to input. Then, you’ll deploy Eclipse Theia to your server using Docker Compose and expose it at your secured domain using
As explained in the previous step,
nginx-proxy expects log-in combinations to be in a file named after the exposed domain, in the
htpasswd format and stored under the
/etc/nginx/htpasswd directory in the container. The local directory which maps to the virtual one does not need to be the same, as was specified in the
To create log-in combinations, you’ll first need to install
htpasswd by running the following command:
- sudo apt install apache2-utils
apache2-utils package contains the
- sudo mkdir -p /etc/nginx/htpasswd
Create a file that will store the logins for your domain:
- sudo touch /etc/nginx/htpasswd/theia.your_domain
Remember to replace
theia.your_domain with your Eclipse Theia domain.
To add a username and password combination, run the following command:
- sudo htpasswd /etc/nginx/htpasswd/theia.your_domain username
username with the username you want to add. You’ll be asked for a password twice. After providing it,
htpasswd will add the username and hashed password pair to the end of the file. You can repeat this command for as many logins as you wish to add.
Now, you’ll create configuration for deploying Eclipse Theia. You’ll store it in a file named
eclipse-theia-compose.yaml. Create it using your text editor:
- nano eclipse-theia-compose.yaml
Add the following lines:
version: '2.2' services: eclipse-theia: restart: always image: theiaide/theia:next init: true environment: - VIRTUAL_HOST=theia.your_domain - LETSENCRYPT_HOST=theia.your_domain
In this config, you define a single service called
restart set to
theiaide/theia:next as the container image. You also set
true to instruct Docker to use
init as the main process manager when running Eclipse Theia inside the container.
Then, you specify two environment variables in the
LETSENCRYPT_HOST. The former is passed on to
nginx-proxy and tells it at what domain the container should be exposed, while the latter is used by its Let’s Encrypt add-on and specifies for which domain to request TLS certificates. Unless you specify a wildcard as the value for
VIRTUAL_HOST, they must be the same.
Remember to replace
theia.your_domain with your desired domain, then save and close the file.
Now deploy Eclipse Theia by running:
- docker-compose -f eclipse-theia-compose.yaml up -d
The final output will look like:
Output... Pulling eclipse-theia (theiaide/theia:next)... next: Pulling from theiaide/theia 63bc94deeb28: Pull complete 100db3e2539d: Pull complete ... Digest: sha256:c36dff04e250f1ac52d13f6d6e15ab3e9b8cad9ad68aba0208312e0788ecb109 Status: Downloaded newer image for theiaide/theia:next Creating eclipse-theia_eclipse-theia_1 ... done
Then, in your browser, navigate to the domain you’re using for Eclipse Theia. Your browser will show you a prompt asking you to log in. After providing the correct credentials, you’ll enter Eclipse Theia and immediately see its editor GUI. In your address bar you’ll see a padlock indicating that the connection is secure. If you don’t see this immediately, wait a few minutes for the TLS certificates to provision, then reload the page.
Now that you can securely access your cloud IDE, you’ll start using the editor in the next step.
In this section, you’ll explore some of the features of the Eclipse Theia interface.
On the left-hand side of the IDE, there is a vertical row of four buttons opening the most commonly used features in a side panel.
This bar is customizable so you can move these views to a different order or remove them from the bar. By default, the first view opens the Explorer panel that provides tree-like navigation of the project’s structure. You can manage your folders and files here—creating, deleting, moving, and renaming them as necessary.
After creating a new file through the File menu, you’ll see an empty file open in a new tab. Once saved, you can view the file’s name in the Explorer side panel. To create folders right click on the Explorer sidebar and click on New Folder. You can expand a folder by clicking on its name as well as dragging and dropping files and folders to upper parts of the hierarchy to move them to a new location.
The next two options provide access to search and replace functionality. Following it, the next one provides a view of source control systems that you may be using, such as Git.
The final view is the debugger option, which provides all the common actions for debugging in the panel. You can save debugging configurations in the
The central part of the GUI is your editor, which you can separate by tabs for your code editing. You can change your editing view to a grid system or to side-by-side files. Like all modern IDEs, Eclipse Theia supports syntax highlighting for your code.
You can gain access to a terminal by typing
CTRL+SHIFT+` , or by clicking on Terminal in the upper menu, and selecting New Terminal. The terminal will open in a lower panel and its working directory will be set to the project’s workspace, which contains the files and folders shown in the Explorer side panel.
You’ve explored a high-level overview of the Eclipse Theia interface and reviewed some of the most commonly used features.
You now have Eclipse Theia, a versatile cloud IDE, installed on your Debian 10 server using Docker Compose and
nginx-proxy. You’ve secured it with a free Let’s Encrypt TLS certificate and set up the instance to require log-in credentials from the user. You can work on your source code and documents with it individually or collaborate with your team. You can also try building your own version of Eclipse Theia if you need additional functionality. For further information on how to do that, visit the Theia docs.
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