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Spawns a process on the remote machine. There are two different ways to use this command:

  1. Providing a -- to signify the start of the command and its arguments. This is useful when you want to pass everything from a shell naturally.

    distant spawn -- echo hello
  2. Providing a -c <STR> argument where a string argument is used to signify the command and its arguments. This can be useful when passing around a command from scripts.

    distant spawn -c "echo hello"


  • --cmd <CMD>: will spawn the specified command. This is an alternative syntax to using -- as described above, and can aid in providing commands without evaluating environment variables locally.

  • --current-dir <DIR>: provide an alternative directory to use as the current working directory for the spawned process. By default, the process will inherit the working directory of the server.

  • --environment <ENV>: provide environment variables to be available in the process when spawned. These are comma-separated in a KEY=VALUE format.

  • --lsp <SCHEME>: captures stdin and stdout of the process, evaluates it as language server protocol messages, and translates any file references that use file:// into distant:// (or the custom scheme) and vice versa. This is needed when working with language servers to ensure that they can properly detect and work with files while allowing the local machine to operate on them using the distant scheme.

  • --pty: starts the process using a pseudo terminal. This is normally what distant shell will do, and the dimensions of the pseudo terminal are calculated from the current terminal used to execute distant spawn ....

  • --shell [<SHELL>]: if specified, will spawn the process in the specified shell, defaulting to the user-configured shell.

Supporting environment variables

If you try to use environment variables when spawning a process, you may notice that they do not work as expected:

# This echoes "$PATH" instead of evaluating it
distant spawn --cmd 'echo $PATH'

This is due to how spawning a process works on the server. By default, spawning a process results in directly invoking fork and exec on Unix platforms or CreateProcess on Windows. These calls do not leverage a shell and thereby do not expand parameters into values such as $PATH.

In order to use a shell to execute the process, you can use --shell to leverage the default shell available to the running distant server tied to the user who started the server, or --shell <SHELL> to specify the path to an explicit shell to use.

# This evaluates and echoes the path
distant spawn --cmd 'echo $PATH' --shell


Supplying custom environment variables

Similar to other multi-option flags, the environment option takes a collection of environment variables in the form of KEY=VALUE. Note that to evaluate these environment variables in a shell expression, you need to also include the shell flag:

distant spawn --cmd 'echo $VAR' --shell --environment 'VAR="hello world",KEY=value'
distant spawn --help
Spawn a process on the remote machine

Usage: distant spawn [OPTIONS] [-- <CMD>...]

          Command to run

      --cache <CACHE>
          Location to store cached data

          [default: /home/runner/.cache/distant/cache.toml]

      --log-level <LOG_LEVEL>
          Log level to use throughout the application

          [possible values: off, error, warn, info, debug, trace]

      --connection <CONNECTION>
          Specify a connection being managed

      --log-file <LOG_FILE>
          Path to file to use for logging

      --config <CONFIG_PATH>
          Configuration file to load instead of the default paths

      --unix-socket <UNIX_SOCKET>
          Override the path to the Unix socket used by the manager (unix-only)

      --windows-pipe <WINDOWS_PIPE>
          Override the name of the local named Windows pipe used by the manager (windows-only)

      --lsp [<SCHEME>]
          If specified, will assume the remote process is a LSP server and will translate paths that are local into `distant` and vice versa.

          If a scheme is provided, will translate local paths into that scheme!

          If specified, will spawn process using a pseudo tty

      --shell [<SHELL>]
          If specified, will spawn the process in the specified shell, defaulting to the user-configured shell

      --current-dir <CURRENT_DIR>
          Alternative current directory for the remote process

      --environment <ENVIRONMENT>
          Environment variables to provide to the shell

          [default: ]

  -c, --cmd <CMD_STR>
          If present, commands are read from the provided string

  -h, --help
          Print help (see a summary with '-h')