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To manage image constraints for an organization's codespaces, you must be an owner of the organization.

Organizations on GitHub Team and GitHub Enterprise plans can pay for members' and collaborators' use of GitHub Codespaces. These organizations can then access settings and policies to manage codespaces paid for by the organization. For more information, see "Choosing who owns and pays for codespaces in your organization" and "GitHub’s plans."


When you create a codespace, a Docker container is automatically created on a remote virtual machine. The Docker container is created from a Docker image. The image is effectively a template for Docker containers and it determines many aspects of the resulting environment provided by the codespace.

You can choose which image you want to use for your codespaces by specifying it in the dev container configuration for a repository. You can do this, for example, by using the image property in the devcontainer.json file.

"image": "",

For more information, see the dev containers specification on the Development Containers website.

If you don't specify an image in the dev container configuration for a repository, the default image is used. The default image contains a number of runtime versions for popular languages and commonly used tools. For more information, see "Introduction to dev containers."

As an organization owner, you can add a policy to restrict which images can be used for codespaces created within your organization.

If the image specified in the dev container configuration does not match one of the allowed images, the following message is displayed when someone tries to create a codespace for the repository:

Codespace could not be created: Base image 'DETAILS FROM DEV CONTAINER CONFIGURATION' is not allowed based on an organization policy set by your organization owner.


  • The base image policy is only applied when a codespace is created. It is currently not applied when you rebuild a container. This will change in a future release. For more information, see "Understanding the codespace lifecycle."
  • The base image policy does not apply to the default image, or the image that's used to recover a codespace if an error is introduced into a dev container configuration which prevents the container from being rebuilt.

Setting organization-wide and repository-specific policies

When you create a policy you choose whether it applies to all repositories in your organization, or only to specified repositories. If you set an organization-wide policy then any policies you set for individual repositories must fall within the restriction set at the organization level. Adding policies makes the choice of image more, not less, restrictive.

For example, you could create an organization-wide policy that restricts the base image to any of ten specified images. You can then set a policy for Repository A that restricts the image to a subset of just two of the images specified at the organization level. Specifying additional images for Repository A will have no effect because these images are not specified in the organization-level policy. If you add an organization-wide policy, you should set it to the largest choice of images that will be available for any repository in your organization. You can then add repository-specific policies to further restrict the choice.

Note: Codespace policies only apply to codespaces that your organizations pays for. If someone creates a codespace for a repository in your organization at their own expense, then the codespace will not be bound by these policies. For more information, see "Choosing who owns and pays for codespaces in your organization."

Adding a policy to define the allowed images

  1. In the top right corner of, click your profile photo, then click Your organizations.

    Screenshot of the dropdown menu under @octocat's profile picture. "Your organizations" is outlined in dark orange.

  2. Next to the organization, click Settings.

  3. In the "Code, planning, and automation" section of the sidebar, select Codespaces then click Policies.

  4. On the "Codespace policies" page, click Create Policy.

  5. Enter a name for your new policy.

  6. Click Add constraint and choose Base images.

  7. Click to edit the constraint.

  8. In the "Allowed values" field, enter the complete URL of an image you want to allow.

    Screenshot of the URL "" entered in the "Allowed values" field.

    Note: You must specify an image URL that exactly matches the value specified in a dev container configuration.

  9. Click to add the value.

  10. If required, repeat the previous two steps to add more image URLs.

  11. Click outside of the dialog box to close it.

  12. By default the policy is set to apply to all repositories, if you want it to apply only to some of the repositories in your organization, click All repositories and then click Selected repositories in the dropdown menu.

    Screenshot of the repository selection dropdown, showing the options "All repositories" and "Selected repositories."

    Note: If you're adding a constraint to a policy that already contains the "Maximum codespaces per user" constraint, you won't be able to apply the policy to selected repositories. This is because the "Maximum codespaces per user" constraint always applies to all repositories in the organization.

    With Selected repositories selected:

    1. Click .

      Screenshot of the settings icon (a gear symbol) to the left of a button labeled "Selected repositories."

    2. Select the repositories you want this policy to apply to.

    3. At the bottom of the repository list, click Select repositories.

      Screenshot of a list of repositories, each with a checkbox. Three repositories are selected.

  13. If you want to add another constraint to the policy, click Add constraint and choose another constraint. For information about other constraints, see:

  14. After you've finished adding constraints to your policy, click Save.

The policy is applied when anyone attempts to create a new codespace that is billable to your organization. The base image constraint does not affect existing codespaces, either active or stopped.

Editing a policy

You can edit an existing policy. For example, you may want to add or remove constraints to or from a policy.

  1. Display the "Codespace policies" page. For more information, see "Adding a policy to define the allowed images."
  2. Click the name of the policy you want to edit.
  3. Beside the "Base images" constraint, click .
  4. Add or remove image URLs.
  5. Click Save.

Deleting a policy

  1. Display the "Codespace policies" page. For more information, see "Adding a policy to define the allowed images."

  2. Click to the right of the policy you want to delete.

    Screenshot of a policy with the delete button (a trash can icon) highlighted with a dark orange outline.