How to contribute to Incus

The Incus team appreciates contributions to the project, through pull requests, issues on the GitHub repository, or discussions or questions on the forum.

Check the following guidelines before contributing to the project.

Code of Conduct

When contributing, you must adhere to the Code of Conduct, which is available at:

Pull requests

Changes to this project should be proposed as pull requests on GitHub at:

Proposed changes will then go through review there and once approved, be merged in the main branch.

Commit structure

Separate commits should be used for:

  • API extension (api: Add XYZ extension, contains doc/ and internal/version/api.go)

  • Documentation (doc: Update XYZ for files in doc/)

  • API structure (shared/api: Add XYZ for changes to shared/api/)

  • Go client package (client: Add XYZ for changes to client/)

  • CLI (cmd/<command>: Change XYZ for changes to cmd/)

  • Incus daemon (incus/<package>: Add support for XYZ for changes to incus/)

  • Tests (tests: Add test for XYZ for changes to tests/)

The same kind of pattern extends to the other tools in the Incus code tree and depending on complexity, things may be split into even smaller chunks.

When updating strings in the CLI tool (cmd/), you may need a commit to update the templates:

make i18n
git commit -a -s -m "i18n: Update translation templates" po/

When updating API (shared/api), you may need a commit to update the swagger YAML:

make update-api
git commit -s -m "doc/rest-api: Refresh swagger YAML" doc/rest-api.yaml

This structure makes it easier for contributions to be reviewed and also greatly simplifies the process of back-porting fixes to stable branches.

Developer Certificate of Origin

To improve tracking of contributions to this project we use the DCO 1.1 and use a “sign-off” procedure for all changes going into the branch.

The sign-off is a simple line at the end of the explanation for the commit which certifies that you wrote it or otherwise have the right to pass it on as an open-source contribution.

Developer Certificate of Origin
Version 1.1

Copyright (C) 2004, 2006 The Linux Foundation and its contributors.
660 York Street, Suite 102,
San Francisco, CA 94110 USA

Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies of this
license document, but changing it is not allowed.

Developer's Certificate of Origin 1.1

By making a contribution to this project, I certify that:

(a) The contribution was created in whole or in part by me and I
    have the right to submit it under the open source license
    indicated in the file; or

(b) The contribution is based upon previous work that, to the best
    of my knowledge, is covered under an appropriate open source
    license and I have the right under that license to submit that
    work with modifications, whether created in whole or in part
    by me, under the same open source license (unless I am
    permitted to submit under a different license), as indicated
    in the file; or

(c) The contribution was provided directly to me by some other
    person who certified (a), (b) or (c) and I have not modified

(d) I understand and agree that this project and the contribution
    are public and that a record of the contribution (including all
    personal information I submit with it, including my sign-off) is
    maintained indefinitely and may be redistributed consistent with
    this project or the open source license(s) involved.

An example of a valid sign-off line is:

Signed-off-by: Random J Developer <>

Use a known identity and a valid e-mail address. Sorry, no anonymous contributions are allowed.

We also require each commit be individually signed-off by their author, even when part of a larger set. You may find git commit -s useful.

Contribute to the code

Follow the steps below to set up your development environment to get started working on new features for Incus.

Install Incus from source

To build the dependencies, follow the instructions in Install Incus from source.

Add your fork as a remote

After setting up your build environment, add your GitHub fork as a remote:

git remote add myfork<your_username>/incus.git
git remote update

Then switch to it:

git checkout myfork/main

Build Incus

Finally, you should be able to run make inside the repository and build your fork of the project.

At this point, you most likely want to create a new branch for your changes on your fork:

git checkout -b [name_of_your_new_branch]
git push myfork [name_of_your_new_branch]

Important notes for new Incus contributors

  • Persistent data is stored in the INCUS_DIR directory, which is generated by incus admin init. The INCUS_DIR defaults to /var/lib/incus.

  • As you develop, you may want to change the INCUS_DIR for your fork of Incus so as to avoid version conflicts.

  • Binaries compiled from your source will be generated in the $(go env GOPATH)/bin directory by default.

    • You will need to explicitly invoke these binaries (not the global incusd you may have installed) when testing your changes.

    • You may choose to create an alias in your ~/.bashrc to call these binaries with the appropriate flags more conveniently.

  • If you have a systemd service configured to run the Incus daemon from a previous installation of Incus, you may want to disable it to avoid version conflicts.

Contribute to the documentation

We want Incus to be as easy and straight-forward to use as possible. Therefore, we aim to provide documentation that contains the information that users need to work with Incus, that covers all common use cases, and that answers typical questions.

You can contribute to the documentation in various different ways. We appreciate your contributions!

Typical ways to contribute are:

  • Add or update documentation for new features or feature improvements that you contribute to the code. We’ll review the documentation update and merge it together with your code.

  • Add or update documentation that clarifies any doubts you had when working with the product. Such contributions can be done through a pull request or through a post in the Tutorials section on the forum. New tutorials will be considered for inclusion in the docs (through a link or by including the actual content).

  • To request a fix to the documentation, open a documentation issue on GitHub. We’ll evaluate the issue and update the documentation accordingly.

  • Post a question or a suggestion on the forum. We’ll monitor the posts and, if needed, update the documentation accordingly.

  • Ask questions or provide suggestions in the #lxc channel on IRC. Given the dynamic nature of IRC, we cannot guarantee answers or reactions to IRC posts, but we monitor the channel and try to improve our documentation based on the received feedback.

Documentation framework

Incus’ documentation is built with Sphinx.

It is written in Markdown with MyST extensions. For syntax help and guidelines, see the documentation cheat sheet (source).

For structuring, the documentation uses the Diátaxis approach.

Build the documentation

To build the documentation, run make doc from the root directory of the repository. This command installs the required tools and renders the output to the doc/html/ directory. To update the documentation for changed files only (without re-installing the tools), run make doc-incremental.

Before opening a pull request, make sure that the documentation builds without any warnings (warnings are treated as errors). To preview the documentation locally, run make doc-serve and go to http://localhost:8001 to view the rendered documentation.

When you open a pull request, a preview of the documentation output is built automatically.

Automatic documentation checks

GitHub runs automatic checks on the documentation to verify the spelling, the validity of links, correct formatting of the Markdown files, and the use of inclusive language.

You can (and should!) run these tests locally as well with the following commands:

  • Check the spelling: make doc-spellcheck

  • Check the validity of links: make doc-linkcheck

  • Check the Markdown formatting: make doc-lint

  • Check for inclusive language: make doc-woke

Document configuration options


We are currently in the process of moving the documentation of configuration options to code comments. At the moment, not all configuration options follow this approach.

The documentation of configuration options is extracted from comments in the Go code. Look for comments that start with gendoc:generate in the code.

When you add or change a configuration option, make sure to include the required documentation comment for it.

Then run make generate-config to re-generate the doc/config_options.txt file. The updated file should be checked in.

The documentation includes sections from the doc/config_options.txt to display a group of configuration options. For example, to include the core server options:

% Include content from [config_options.txt](config_options.txt)
```{include} config_options.txt
    :start-after: <!-- config group server-core start -->
    :end-before: <!-- config group server-core end -->

If you add a configuration option to an existing group, you don’t need to do any updates to the documentation files. The new option will automatically be picked up. You only need to add an include to a documentation file if you are defining a new group.