Configure Cloud Shell

This page describes the ways you can configure Cloud Shell to customize your experience.

Configuration files in your Cloud Shell home directory

Cloud Shell provisions 5 GB of free persistent disk storage mounted as your $HOME directory. All files you store in your home directory, including installed software, scripts and user configuration files like .bashrc and .vimrc, persist between sessions. Since your .bashrc persists across sessions, it's a great way to customize your Cloud Shell behavior. Similarly, to have your installations persist, you can install packages into your home directory.

Pre-configured environment variables

When Cloud Shell is started, the active project in Cloud Shell is propagated to your gcloud configuration inside Cloud Shell for immediate use. GOOGLE_CLOUD_PROJECT, the environmental variable used by Application Default Credentials library support to define project ID, is also set to point to the active project in Cloud Shell.

The CLOUD_SHELL environment variable is set to true. This variable can be checked from applications to determine if an application is running in Cloud Shell.

gcloud CLI preferences

When using Cloud Shell, your gcloud CLI preferences are stored in a temporary tmp folder, set for your current tab only, and do not persist across sessions.

To have your gcloud CLI configurations persist, you can set them using one of the following methods:

  • To keep your gcloud CLI configuration customizable per tab but customize the default configuration itself, you can add gcloud configuration commands (such as gcloud config set compute/region us-central1 to set a default region) to the end of your $HOME/.bashrc file.

    This ensures that every new tab inherits your Google Cloud console project and your customized default configuration but also allows you to further customize each tab's configuration.

  • To always use the same gcloud CLI configuration, add export CLOUDSDK_CONFIG=$HOME/.config/gcloud to the end of your .bashrc file, and then run gcloud config configurations create CONFIG_NAME to create the configuration you'd like to use.

Common properties

To set the project you'd like to work on, run:

gcloud config set project [PROJECT_NAME]

Your command prompt updates to reflect your currently active project, respecting this format: [USERNAME]@cloudshell:~ ([PROJECT_NAME])$

To select your preferred region, run:

gcloud config set compute/region us-east1

The commands above are examples of gcloud CLI configurations you can set; for a full list and greater detail about setting properties, refer to the gcloud CLI properties guide.

Environment customization

Environment customization allows you to install additional packages into your Cloud Shell environment when it starts.

Environment customization script

Cloud Shell automatically runs the script, $HOME/.customize_environment, when your instance boots up. Unlike .profile or .bashrc, this script runs once when Cloud Shell boots (rather than once for each shell login).

This script runs as root and you can install any packages that you want to exist in each Cloud Shell session using Debian package management commands.

For example, if you'd like to have erlang installed on Cloud Shell, your .customize_environment file will look like this:

apt-get update
apt-get -y install erlang

Execution logs of your .customize_environment script can be found at /var/log/customize_environment. The .customize_environment script runs as a background process and on successful execution, will touch /google/devshell/customize_environment_done. Because package installation runs in parallel with your logging in, the installed packages may become available a few moments after you reach the login prompt.

Open Cloud Shell with a specified user account

The authuser parameter lets you specify a user account to use with Cloud Shell. You must be logged in with the specified user account. If you're not logged in to the specified account, Cloud Shell opens with the default logged in account. For example, you can open Cloud Shell logged in as using the URL

Container image customization

Container image customization allows you to create a Docker image that functions as a custom Cloud Shell environment with your specified additional packages and custom configurations. Your Docker image must be based on the base Cloud Shell image and hosted in Container Registry.

For details on how to create a custom container image, see the Customizing container image guide.

Unlike environment customization, container image customization doesn't affect your default Cloud Shell experience. You can use and share your custom image with Open in Cloud Shell links.

tmux support

Cloud Shell uses tmux by default, which allows it to improve persistence across browser tab sessions. For example, if you refresh the Google Cloud console in a tab or connect to your Cloud Shell from a different machine, the session state will not be lost.

Cloud Shell supports the default tmux key bindings. For example, if you press Ctrl+b and then %, tmux splits the current session window into left and right panes, which can be useful for debugging.

To disable tmux in Cloud Shell, click the Terminal Settings button (wrench icon), select Tmux Settings and de-select the Enable Tmux Integration option.

Usage statistics

Cloud Shell collects anonymized usage statistics on commands that are run inside the Cloud Shell terminal. Statistics are collected only on commands that come pre-installed in the Cloud Shell. These metrics can't be tied back to your account.

Metrics aren't collected on any personally identifiable information, such as arguments passed to these commands.

To change metrics collection preferences at any time, select Terminal Usage Statistics in the Settings menu Settings Button. Any change in your preferences on the Settings menu takes effect on the next session. To enable or disable metrics collection, close your tab and open another tab after you've made your change.

Note: This is separate from gcloud usage statistics, which is enabled by default in Cloud Shell.

To disable gcloud CLI metrics collection, run the following command in your Cloud Shell session:

gcloud config set disable_usage_reporting true