SSH access to running containers using standalone SSH client

I would like to use VS Code remote development via SSH but cannot find a way to SSH using the standalone client. balena ssh works but I cannot see how to incorporate the container service name if I use a regualr ssh client

Hi bowenm187,

The SSH server on a balena device listens on TCP port 22222, so you can use “plain” SSH with a command like ssh -p 22222 root@<device_ip_address>. While development images have passwordless root access enabled, production images require an SSH key to be added to the config.json file. Complete details are here:

A couple caveats: Generally speaking, it’s not good to edit files in a temporary container. We recommend adding a persistent volume via your docker-compose.yml or Dockerfile and modify files there so your edits survive service and device restarts.

We’re very interested in the developer experience, and we’d love to hear how you make out. Feel free to report back and let us know.


Thanks for the quick response John,
Accessing the balenaos host is no problem. However I want to access a container running on this. So effectively I need the “plain” ssh version of “balena ssh mydevice.local main”

Hi @bowenm187,

For this, you need to add a second command to your SSH command that takes you inside the container, something like ssh -t -p 22222 root@device-ip "balena-engine exec -it <container_name> /bin/sh". Note that the container name is unlikely to match what you see in the balenaCloud dashboard. Log into the device HostOS and run balena ps to get the valid container name.

With all this said, this will work using plain SSH, but may not work without some tweaking of your VS Code extension settings.