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Dev Containers

A container refers to an isolated area of memory where application software and some drivers execute. A Development Container (or Dev Container for short) allows a container to be used as a full‑featured development environment.

Stack provides the following Dev Containers:

  • a default Dev Container, intended for use with Stack's default project‑level configuration file (stack.yaml); and
  • alternative Dev Containers, intended for use with Stack's experimental project‑level configurations (in anticipation of building Stack with more recent versions of GHC).

Stack's Dev Containers provide the following tools:

  1. The Haskell Toolchain (GHC, Stack, Cabal (the tool) and HLS)
  2. Git
  3. HLint
  4. yamllint
  5. ShellCheck
  6. hadolint

The tools in the Haskell Toolchain are installed at /usr/local/bin. HLS is provided in the default Dev Container only.


The PATH is $HOME/.cabal/bin:$HOME/.local/bin:/usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin:/sbin:/bin. Consequently, executables installed with Cabal (the tool) (at $HOME/.cabal/bin or $HOME/.local/bin) or Stack or Pip (at $HOME/.local/bin) take precedence over the same executable installed at /usr/local/sbin, /usr/local/bin, etc.

VS Code is used as IDE, with the following extensions pre‑installed:

Parent images

Stack's Dev Containers are derived from Docker images that are used to build the statically linked Linux/x86_64 and Linux/AArch64 binary distributions of Stack.

These Docker images are multi‑architecture (linux/amd64, linux/arm64/v8) GHC musl images. They are based on Alpine Linux (that is musl libc and BusyBox).

The images contain unofficial binary distributions of GHC (that is, ones not released by the GHC developers). That is because:

  1. the official GHC binary distributions for Alpine Linux/x86_64 have known bugs; and
  2. there are no official binary distributions for Alpine Linux/AArch64.

Stack's global configuration (/etc/stack/config.yaml) sets system-ghc: true and install-ghc: false. That ensures that only the GHC available in the Dev Containers is used.


You can run Dev Containers locally/remotely with VS Code, or create a GitHub Codespace for a branch in a repository to develop online.

Follow the instructions at Developing inside a Container.

For use with GitHub Codespaces, follow the instructions at Creating a codespace for a repository.

Build Stack

Stack can be built with Stack (which is recommended) or with Cabal (the tool).

Command stack build to build the stack executable.

Append --flag=stack:static to build a statically linked stack executable that can run on any Linux machine of the same architecture.

Append --stack-yaml stack-ghc-$GHC_VERSION.yaml if you want to use an experimental project‑level configuration with the appropriate Dev Container.


Default Dev Container only.

Command cabal build to build the stack executable.

Append --flag=static to build a statically linked stack executable that can run on any Linux machine of the same architecture.

Haskell Language Server (HLS)

The Haskell Language Server and the Haskell extension are only available in the default Dev Container. In order to use the Haskell extension, you must first configure the project for the build tool of your choice.

See the documentation at Contributing: Haskell Language Server for cradles (hie.yaml files) that should suffice to configure the HLS explicitly for ./Setup.hs and each of the buildable components in Stack's Cabal file.

Haskell extension

Choose Manually via PATH when asked the following question:

Manage HLS


If there is a problem with a Dev Container, please open an issue at its parent images' repository at