Introduction

Nix is a purely functional package manager. This means that it treats packages like values in purely functional programming languages such as Haskell — they are built by functions that don’t have side-effects, and they never change after they have been built. Nix stores packages in the Nix store, usually the directory /nix/store, where each package has its own unique subdirectory such as

/nix/store/b6gvzjyb2pg0kjfwrjmg1vfhh54ad73z-firefox-33.1/

where b6gvzjyb2pg0… is a unique identifier for the package that captures all its dependencies (it’s a cryptographic hash of the package’s build dependency graph). This enables many powerful features.

Multiple versions

You can have multiple versions or variants of a package installed at the same time. This is especially important when different applications have dependencies on different versions of the same package — it prevents the “DLL hell”. Because of the hashing scheme, different versions of a package end up in different paths in the Nix store, so they don’t interfere with each other.

An important consequence is that operations like upgrading or uninstalling an application cannot break other applications, since these operations never “destructively” update or delete files that are used by other packages.

Complete dependencies

Nix helps you make sure that package dependency specifications are complete. In general, when you’re making a package for a package management system like RPM, you have to specify for each package what its dependencies are, but there are no guarantees that this specification is complete. If you forget a dependency, then the package will build and work correctly on your machine if you have the dependency installed, but not on the end user's machine if it's not there.

Since Nix on the other hand doesn’t install packages in “global” locations like /usr/bin but in package-specific directories, the risk of incomplete dependencies is greatly reduced. This is because tools such as compilers don’t search in per-packages directories such as /nix/store/5lbfaxb722zp…-openssl-0.9.8d/include, so if a package builds correctly on your system, this is because you specified the dependency explicitly. This takes care of the build-time dependencies.

Once a package is built, runtime dependencies are found by scanning binaries for the hash parts of Nix store paths (such as r8vvq9kq…). This sounds risky, but it works extremely well.

Multi-user support

Nix has multi-user support. This means that non-privileged users can securely install software. Each user can have a different profile, a set of packages in the Nix store that appear in the user’s PATH. If a user installs a package that another user has already installed previously, the package won’t be built or downloaded a second time. At the same time, it is not possible for one user to inject a Trojan horse into a package that might be used by another user.

Atomic upgrades and rollbacks

Since package management operations never overwrite packages in the Nix store but just add new versions in different paths, they are atomic. So during a package upgrade, there is no time window in which the package has some files from the old version and some files from the new version — which would be bad because a program might well crash if it’s started during that period.

And since packages aren’t overwritten, the old versions are still there after an upgrade. This means that you can roll back to the old version:

$ nix-env --upgrade --attr nixpkgs.some-package
$ nix-env --rollback

Garbage collection

When you uninstall a package like this…

$ nix-env --uninstall firefox

the package isn’t deleted from the system right away (after all, you might want to do a rollback, or it might be in the profiles of other users). Instead, unused packages can be deleted safely by running the garbage collector:

$ nix-collect-garbage

This deletes all packages that aren’t in use by any user profile or by a currently running program.

Functional package language

Packages are built from Nix expressions, which is a simple functional language. A Nix expression describes everything that goes into a package build task (a “derivation”): other packages, sources, the build script, environment variables for the build script, etc. Nix tries very hard to ensure that Nix expressions are deterministic: building a Nix expression twice should yield the same result.

Because it’s a functional language, it’s easy to support building variants of a package: turn the Nix expression into a function and call it any number of times with the appropriate arguments. Due to the hashing scheme, variants don’t conflict with each other in the Nix store.

Transparent source/binary deployment

Nix expressions generally describe how to build a package from source, so an installation action like

$ nix-env --install --attr nixpkgs.firefox

could cause quite a bit of build activity, as not only Firefox but also all its dependencies (all the way up to the C library and the compiler) would have to be built, at least if they are not already in the Nix store. This is a source deployment model. For most users, building from source is not very pleasant as it takes far too long. However, Nix can automatically skip building from source and instead use a binary cache, a web server that provides pre-built binaries. For instance, when asked to build /nix/store/b6gvzjyb2pg0…-firefox-33.1 from source, Nix would first check if the file https://cache.nixos.org/b6gvzjyb2pg0….narinfo exists, and if so, fetch the pre-built binary referenced from there; otherwise, it would fall back to building from source.

Nix Packages collection

We provide a large set of Nix expressions containing hundreds of existing Unix packages, the Nix Packages collection (Nixpkgs).

Managing build environments

Nix is extremely useful for developers as it makes it easy to automatically set up the build environment for a package. Given a Nix expression that describes the dependencies of your package, the command nix-shell will build or download those dependencies if they’re not already in your Nix store, and then start a Bash shell in which all necessary environment variables (such as compiler search paths) are set.

For example, the following command gets all dependencies of the Pan newsreader, as described by its Nix expression:

$ nix-shell '<nixpkgs>' --attr pan

You’re then dropped into a shell where you can edit, build and test the package:

[nix-shell]$ unpackPhase
[nix-shell]$ cd pan-*
[nix-shell]$ configurePhase
[nix-shell]$ buildPhase
[nix-shell]$ ./pan/gui/pan

Portability

Nix runs on Linux and macOS.

NixOS

NixOS is a Linux distribution based on Nix. It uses Nix not just for package management but also to manage the system configuration (e.g., to build configuration files in /etc). This means, among other things, that it is easy to roll back the entire configuration of the system to an earlier state. Also, users can install software without root privileges. For more information and downloads, see the NixOS homepage.

License

Nix is released under the terms of the GNU LGPLv2.1 or (at your option) any later version.

Quick Start

This chapter is for impatient people who don't like reading documentation. For more in-depth information you are kindly referred to subsequent chapters.

  1. Install Nix:

    $ curl -L https://nixos.org/nix/install | sh
    

    The install script will use sudo, so make sure you have sufficient rights.

    For other installation methods, see the detailed installation instructions.

  2. Run software without installing it permanently:

    $ nix-shell --packages cowsay lolcat
    

    This downloads the specified packages with all their dependencies, and drops you into a Bash shell where the commands provided by those packages are present. This will not affect your normal environment:

    [nix-shell:~]$ cowsay Hello, Nix! | lolcat
    

    Exiting the shell will make the programs disappear again:

    [nix-shell:~]$ exit
    $ lolcat
    lolcat: command not found
    
  3. Search for more packages on <search.nixos.org> to try them out.

  4. Free up storage space:

    $ nix-collect-garbage
    

Installation

This section describes how to install and configure Nix for first-time use.

The current recommended option on Linux and MacOS is multi-user.

Multi-user

This installation offers better sharing, improved isolation, and more security over a single user installation.

This option requires either:

  • Linux running systemd, with SELinux disabled
  • MacOS
$ bash <(curl -L https://nixos.org/nix/install) --daemon

Single-user

Single-user is not supported on Mac.

This installation has less requirements than the multi-user install, however it cannot offer equivalent sharing, isolation, or security.

This option is suitable for systems without systemd.

$ bash <(curl -L https://nixos.org/nix/install) --no-daemon

Distributions

The Nix community maintains installers for several distributions.

They can be found in the nix-community/nix-installers repository.

Supported Platforms

Nix is currently supported on the following platforms:

  • Linux (i686, x86_64, aarch64).

  • macOS (x86_64, aarch64).

Installing a Binary Distribution

To install the latest version Nix, run the following command:

$ curl -L https://nixos.org/nix/install | sh

This performs the default type of installation for your platform:

  • Multi-user:
    • Linux with systemd and without SELinux
    • macOS
  • Single-user:
    • Linux without systemd
    • Linux with SELinux

We recommend the multi-user installation if it supports your platform and you can authenticate with sudo.

The installer can configured with various command line arguments and environment variables. To show available command line flags:

$ curl -L https://nixos.org/nix/install | sh -s -- --help

To check what it does and how it can be customised further, download and edit the second-stage installation script.

Installing a pinned Nix version from a URL

Version-specific installation URLs for all Nix versions since 1.11.16 can be found at releases.nixos.org. The directory for each version contains the corresponding SHA-256 hash.

All installation scripts are invoked the same way:

$ export VERSION=2.19.2 
$ curl -L https://releases.nixos.org/nix/nix-$VERSION/install | sh

Multi User Installation

The multi-user Nix installation creates system users and a system service for the Nix daemon.

Supported systems:

  • Linux running systemd, with SELinux disabled
  • macOS

To explicitly instruct the installer to perform a multi-user installation on your system:

$ curl -L https://nixos.org/nix/install | sh -s -- --daemon

You can run this under your usual user account or root. The script will invoke sudo as needed.

Single User Installation

To explicitly select a single-user installation on your system:

$ curl -L https://nixos.org/nix/install | sh -s -- --no-daemon

In a single-user installation, /nix is owned by the invoking user. The script will invoke sudo to create /nix if it doesn’t already exist. If you don’t have sudo, manually create /nix as root:

$ su root
# mkdir /nix
# chown alice /nix

Installing from a binary tarball

You can also download a binary tarball that contains Nix and all its dependencies:

Example

$ pushd $(mktemp -d)
$ export VERSION=2.19.2
$ export SYSTEM=x86_64-linux
$ curl -LO https://releases.nixos.org/nix/nix-$VERSION/nix-$VERSION-$SYSTEM.tar.xz
$ tar xfj nix-$VERSION-$SYSTEM.tar.xz
$ cd nix-$VERSION-$SYSTEM
$ ./install
$ popd

The installer can be customised with the environment variables declared in the file named install-multi-user.

Native packages for Linux distributions

The Nix community maintains installers for some Linux distributions in their native packaging format(https://nix-community.github.io/nix-installers/).

macOS Installation

We believe we have ironed out how to cleanly support the read-only root file system on modern macOS. New installs will do this automatically.

This section previously detailed the situation, options, and trade-offs, but it now only outlines what the installer does. You don't need to know this to run the installer, but it may help if you run into trouble:

  • create a new APFS volume for your Nix store
  • update /etc/synthetic.conf to direct macOS to create a "synthetic" empty root directory to mount your volume
  • specify mount options for the volume in /etc/fstab
    • rw: read-write
    • noauto: prevent the system from auto-mounting the volume (so the LaunchDaemon mentioned below can control mounting it, and to avoid masking problems with that mounting service).
    • nobrowse: prevent the Nix Store volume from showing up on your desktop; also keeps Spotlight from spending resources to index this volume
  • if you have FileVault enabled
    • generate an encryption password
    • put it in your system Keychain
    • use it to encrypt the volume
  • create a system LaunchDaemon to mount this volume early enough in the boot process to avoid problems loading or restoring any programs that need access to your Nix store

Installing Nix from Source

If no binary package is available or if you want to hack on Nix, you can build Nix from its Git repository.

Prerequisites

  • GNU Autoconf (https://www.gnu.org/software/autoconf/) and the autoconf-archive macro collection (https://www.gnu.org/software/autoconf-archive/). These are needed to run the bootstrap script.

  • GNU Make.

  • Bash Shell. The ./configure script relies on bashisms, so Bash is required.

  • A version of GCC or Clang that supports C++20.

  • pkg-config to locate dependencies. If your distribution does not provide it, you can get it from http://www.freedesktop.org/wiki/Software/pkg-config.

  • The OpenSSL library to calculate cryptographic hashes. If your distribution does not provide it, you can get it from https://www.openssl.org.

  • The libbrotlienc and libbrotlidec libraries to provide implementation of the Brotli compression algorithm. They are available for download from the official repository https://github.com/google/brotli.

  • cURL and its library. If your distribution does not provide it, you can get it from https://curl.haxx.se/.

  • The SQLite embedded database library, version 3.6.19 or higher. If your distribution does not provide it, please install it from http://www.sqlite.org/.

  • The Boehm garbage collector (bdw-gc) to reduce the evaluator’s memory consumption (optional).

    To enable it, install pkgconfig and the Boehm garbage collector, and pass the flag --enable-gc to configure.

    For bdw-gc <= 8.2.4 Nix needs a small patch to be applied.

  • The boost library of version 1.66.0 or higher. It can be obtained from the official web site https://www.boost.org/.

  • The editline library of version 1.14.0 or higher. It can be obtained from the its repository https://github.com/troglobit/editline.

  • The libsodium library for verifying cryptographic signatures of contents fetched from binary caches. It can be obtained from the official web site https://libsodium.org.

  • Recent versions of Bison and Flex to build the parser. (This is because Nix needs GLR support in Bison and reentrancy support in Flex.) For Bison, you need version 2.6, which can be obtained from the GNU FTP server. For Flex, you need version 2.5.35, which is available on SourceForge. Slightly older versions may also work, but ancient versions like the ubiquitous 2.5.4a won't.

  • The libseccomp is used to provide syscall filtering on Linux. This is an optional dependency and can be disabled passing a --disable-seccomp-sandboxing option to the configure script (Not recommended unless your system doesn't support libseccomp). To get the library, visit https://github.com/seccomp/libseccomp.

  • On 64-bit x86 machines only, libcpuid library is used to determine which microarchitecture levels are supported (e.g., as whether to have x86_64-v2-linux among additional system types). The library is available from its homepage http://libcpuid.sourceforge.net. This is an optional dependency and can be disabled by providing a --disable-cpuid to the configure script.

  • Unless ./configure --disable-unit-tests is specified, GoogleTest (GTest) and RapidCheck are required, which are available at https://google.github.io/googletest/ and https://github.com/emil-e/rapidcheck respectively.

Obtaining the Source

The most recent sources of Nix can be obtained from its Git repository. For example, the following command will check out the latest revision into a directory called nix:

$ git clone https://github.com/NixOS/nix

Likewise, specific releases can be obtained from the tags of the repository.

Building Nix from Source

After cloning Nix's Git repository, issue the following commands:

$ autoreconf -vfi
$ ./configure options...
$ make
$ make install

Nix requires GNU Make so you may need to invoke gmake instead.

The installation path can be specified by passing the --prefix=prefix to configure. The default installation directory is /usr/local. You can change this to any location you like. You must have write permission to the prefix path.

Nix keeps its store (the place where packages are stored) in /nix/store by default. This can be changed using --with-store-dir=path.

Warning

It is best not to change the Nix store from its default, since doing so makes it impossible to use pre-built binaries from the standard Nixpkgs channels — that is, all packages will need to be built from source.

Nix keeps state (such as its database and log files) in /nix/var by default. This can be changed using --localstatedir=path.

Using Nix within Docker

To run the latest stable release of Nix with Docker run the following command:

$ docker run -ti ghcr.io/nixos/nix
Unable to find image 'ghcr.io/nixos/nix:latest' locally
latest: Pulling from ghcr.io/nixos/nix
5843afab3874: Pull complete
b52bf13f109c: Pull complete
1e2415612aa3: Pull complete
Digest: sha256:27f6e7f60227e959ee7ece361f75d4844a40e1cc6878b6868fe30140420031ff
Status: Downloaded newer image for ghcr.io/nixos/nix:latest
35ca4ada6e96:/# nix --version
nix (Nix) 2.3.12
35ca4ada6e96:/# exit

What is included in Nix's Docker image?

The official Docker image is created using pkgs.dockerTools.buildLayeredImage (and not with Dockerfile as it is usual with Docker images). You can still base your custom Docker image on it as you would do with any other Docker image.

The Docker image is also not based on any other image and includes minimal set of runtime dependencies that are required to use Nix:

  • pkgs.nix
  • pkgs.bashInteractive
  • pkgs.coreutils-full
  • pkgs.gnutar
  • pkgs.gzip
  • pkgs.gnugrep
  • pkgs.which
  • pkgs.curl
  • pkgs.less
  • pkgs.wget
  • pkgs.man
  • pkgs.cacert.out
  • pkgs.findutils

Docker image with the latest development version of Nix

To get the latest image that was built by Hydra run the following command:

$ curl -L https://hydra.nixos.org/job/nix/master/dockerImage.x86_64-linux/latest/download/1 | docker load
$ docker run -ti nix:2.5pre20211105

You can also build a Docker image from source yourself:

$ nix build ./\#hydraJobs.dockerImage.x86_64-linux
$ docker load -i ./result/image.tar.gz
$ docker run -ti nix:2.5pre20211105

Security

Nix has two basic security models. First, it can be used in “single-user mode”, which is similar to what most other package management tools do: there is a single user (typically root) who performs all package management operations. All other users can then use the installed packages, but they cannot perform package management operations themselves.

Alternatively, you can configure Nix in “multi-user mode”. In this model, all users can perform package management operations — for instance, every user can install software without requiring root privileges. Nix ensures that this is secure. For instance, it’s not possible for one user to overwrite a package used by another user with a Trojan horse.

Single-User Mode

In single-user mode, all Nix operations that access the database in prefix/var/nix/db or modify the Nix store in prefix/store must be performed under the user ID that owns those directories. This is typically root. (If you install from RPM packages, that’s in fact the default ownership.) However, on single-user machines, it is often convenient to chown those directories to your normal user account so that you don’t have to su to root all the time.

Multi-User Mode

To allow a Nix store to be shared safely among multiple users, it is important that users are not able to run builders that modify the Nix store or database in arbitrary ways, or that interfere with builds started by other users. If they could do so, they could install a Trojan horse in some package and compromise the accounts of other users.

To prevent this, the Nix store and database are owned by some privileged user (usually root) and builders are executed under special user accounts (usually named nixbld1, nixbld2, etc.). When a unprivileged user runs a Nix command, actions that operate on the Nix store (such as builds) are forwarded to a Nix daemon running under the owner of the Nix store/database that performs the operation.

Note

Multi-user mode has one important limitation: only root and a set of trusted users specified in nix.conf can specify arbitrary binary caches. So while unprivileged users may install packages from arbitrary Nix expressions, they may not get pre-built binaries.

Setting up the build users

The build users are the special UIDs under which builds are performed. They should all be members of the build users group nixbld. This group should have no other members. The build users should not be members of any other group. On Linux, you can create the group and users as follows:

$ groupadd -r nixbld
$ for n in $(seq 1 10); do useradd -c "Nix build user $n" \
    -d /var/empty -g nixbld -G nixbld -M -N -r -s "$(which nologin)" \
    nixbld$n; done

This creates 10 build users. There can never be more concurrent builds than the number of build users, so you may want to increase this if you expect to do many builds at the same time.

Running the daemon

The Nix daemon should be started as follows (as root):

$ nix-daemon

You’ll want to put that line somewhere in your system’s boot scripts.

To let unprivileged users use the daemon, they should set the NIX_REMOTE environment variable to daemon. So you should put a line like

export NIX_REMOTE=daemon

into the users’ login scripts.

Restricting access

To limit which users can perform Nix operations, you can use the permissions on the directory /nix/var/nix/daemon-socket. For instance, if you want to restrict the use of Nix to the members of a group called nix-users, do

$ chgrp nix-users /nix/var/nix/daemon-socket
$ chmod ug=rwx,o= /nix/var/nix/daemon-socket

This way, users who are not in the nix-users group cannot connect to the Unix domain socket /nix/var/nix/daemon-socket/socket, so they cannot perform Nix operations.

Environment Variables

To use Nix, some environment variables should be set. In particular, PATH should contain the directories prefix/bin and ~/.nix-profile/bin. The first directory contains the Nix tools themselves, while ~/.nix-profile is a symbolic link to the current user environment (an automatically generated package consisting of symlinks to installed packages). The simplest way to set the required environment variables is to include the file prefix/etc/profile.d/nix.sh in your ~/.profile (or similar), like this:

source prefix/etc/profile.d/nix.sh

NIX_SSL_CERT_FILE

If you need to specify a custom certificate bundle to account for an HTTPS-intercepting man in the middle proxy, you must specify the path to the certificate bundle in the environment variable NIX_SSL_CERT_FILE.

If you don't specify a NIX_SSL_CERT_FILE manually, Nix will install and use its own certificate bundle.

Set the environment variable and install Nix

$ export NIX_SSL_CERT_FILE=/etc/ssl/my-certificate-bundle.crt
$ curl -L https://nixos.org/nix/install | sh

In the shell profile and rc files (for example, /etc/bashrc, /etc/zshrc), add the following line:

export NIX_SSL_CERT_FILE=/etc/ssl/my-certificate-bundle.crt

Note

You must not add the export and then do the install, as the Nix installer will detect the presence of Nix configuration, and abort.

If you use the Nix daemon, you should also add the following to /etc/nix/nix.conf:

ssl-cert-file = /etc/ssl/my-certificate-bundle.crt

Proxy Environment Variables

The Nix installer has special handling for these proxy-related environment variables: http_proxy, https_proxy, ftp_proxy, no_proxy, HTTP_PROXY, HTTPS_PROXY, FTP_PROXY, NO_PROXY.

If any of these variables are set when running the Nix installer, then the installer will create an override file at /etc/systemd/system/nix-daemon.service.d/override.conf so nix-daemon will use them.

Upgrading Nix

Note

These upgrade instructions apply where Nix was installed following the installation instructions in this manual.

Check which Nix version will be installed, for example from one of the release channels such as nixpkgs-unstable:

$ nix-shell -p nix -I nixpkgs=channel:nixpkgs-unstable --run "nix --version"
nix (Nix) 2.18.1

Warning

Writing to the local store with a newer version of Nix, for example by building derivations with nix-build or nix-store --realise, may change the database schema! Reverting to an older version of Nix may therefore require purging the store database before it can be used.

Linux multi-user

$ sudo su
# nix-env --install --file '<nixpkgs>' --attr nix cacert -I nixpkgs=channel:nixpkgs-unstable
# systemctl daemon-reload
# systemctl restart nix-daemon

macOS multi-user

$ sudo nix-env --install --file '<nixpkgs>' --attr nix -I nixpkgs=channel:nixpkgs-unstable
$ sudo launchctl remove org.nixos.nix-daemon
$ sudo launchctl load /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.nixos.nix-daemon.plist

Single-user all platforms

$ nix-env --install --file '<nixpkgs>' --attr nix cacert -I nixpkgs=channel:nixpkgs-unstable

Uninstalling Nix

Single User

If you have a single-user installation of Nix, uninstall it by running:

$ rm -rf /nix

Multi User

Removing a multi-user installation of Nix is more involved, and depends on the operating system.

Linux

If you are on Linux with systemd:

  1. Remove the Nix daemon service:

    sudo systemctl stop nix-daemon.service
    sudo systemctl disable nix-daemon.socket nix-daemon.service
    sudo systemctl daemon-reload
    

Remove files created by Nix:

sudo rm -rf /etc/nix /etc/profile.d/nix.sh /etc/tmpfiles.d/nix-daemon.conf /nix ~root/.nix-channels ~root/.nix-defexpr ~root/.nix-profile

Remove build users and their group:

for i in $(seq 1 32); do
  sudo userdel nixbld$i
done
sudo groupdel nixbld

There may also be references to Nix in

  • /etc/bash.bashrc
  • /etc/bashrc
  • /etc/profile
  • /etc/zsh/zshrc
  • /etc/zshrc

which you may remove.

macOS

  1. Edit /etc/zshrc, /etc/bashrc, and /etc/bash.bashrc to remove the lines sourcing nix-daemon.sh, which should look like this:

    # Nix
    if [ -e '/nix/var/nix/profiles/default/etc/profile.d/nix-daemon.sh' ]; then
      . '/nix/var/nix/profiles/default/etc/profile.d/nix-daemon.sh'
    fi
    # End Nix
    

    If these files haven't been altered since installing Nix you can simply put the backups back in place:

    sudo mv /etc/zshrc.backup-before-nix /etc/zshrc
    sudo mv /etc/bashrc.backup-before-nix /etc/bashrc
    sudo mv /etc/bash.bashrc.backup-before-nix /etc/bash.bashrc
    

    This will stop shells from sourcing the file and bringing everything you installed using Nix in scope.

  2. Stop and remove the Nix daemon services:

    sudo launchctl unload /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.nixos.nix-daemon.plist
    sudo rm /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.nixos.nix-daemon.plist
    sudo launchctl unload /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.nixos.darwin-store.plist
    sudo rm /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.nixos.darwin-store.plist
    

    This stops the Nix daemon and prevents it from being started next time you boot the system.

  3. Remove the nixbld group and the _nixbuildN users:

    sudo dscl . -delete /Groups/nixbld
    for u in $(sudo dscl . -list /Users | grep _nixbld); do sudo dscl . -delete /Users/$u; done
    

    This will remove all the build users that no longer serve a purpose.

  4. Edit fstab using sudo vifs to remove the line mounting the Nix Store volume on /nix, which looks like UUID=<uuid> /nix apfs rw,noauto,nobrowse,suid,owners or LABEL=Nix\040Store /nix apfs rw,nobrowse. This will prevent automatic mounting of the Nix Store volume.

  5. Edit /etc/synthetic.conf to remove the nix line. If this is the only line in the file you can remove it entirely, sudo rm /etc/synthetic.conf. This will prevent the creation of the empty /nix directory to provide a mountpoint for the Nix Store volume.

  6. Remove the files Nix added to your system:

    sudo rm -rf /etc/nix /var/root/.nix-profile /var/root/.nix-defexpr /var/root/.nix-channels ~/.nix-profile ~/.nix-defexpr ~/.nix-channels
    

    This gets rid of any data Nix may have created except for the store which is removed next.

  7. Remove the Nix Store volume:

    sudo diskutil apfs deleteVolume /nix
    

    This will remove the Nix Store volume and everything that was added to the store.

    If the output indicates that the command couldn't remove the volume, you should make sure you don't have an unmounted Nix Store volume. Look for a "Nix Store" volume in the output of the following command:

    diskutil list
    

    If you do see a "Nix Store" volume, delete it by re-running the diskutil deleteVolume command, but replace /nix with the store volume's diskXsY identifier.

Note

After you complete the steps here, you will still have an empty /nix directory. This is an expected sign of a successful uninstall. The empty /nix directory will disappear the next time you reboot.

You do not have to reboot to finish uninstalling Nix. The uninstall is complete. macOS (Catalina+) directly controls root directories and its read-only root will prevent you from manually deleting the empty /nix mountpoint.

Nix Store

The Nix store is an abstraction to store immutable file system data (such as software packages) that can have dependencies on other such data.

There are multiple types of Nix stores with different capabilities, such as the default one on the local filesystem (/nix/store) or binary caches.

File System Object

Nix uses a simplified model of the file system, which consists of file system objects. Every file system object is one of the following:

  • File

    • A possibly empty sequence of bytes for contents
    • A single boolean representing the executable permission
  • Directory

    Mapping of names to child file system objects

  • Symbolic link

    An arbitrary string. Nix does not assign any semantics to symbolic links.

File system objects and their children form a tree. A bare file or symlink can be a root file system object.

Nix does not encode any other file system notions such as hard links, permissions, timestamps, or other metadata.

Examples of file system objects

A plain file:

50 B, executable: false

An executable file:

122 KB, executable: true

A symlink:

-> /usr/bin/sh

A directory with contents:

├── bin
│   └── hello: 35 KB, executable: true
└── share
    ├── info
    │   └── hello.info: 36 KB, executable: false
    └── man
        └── man1
            └── hello.1.gz: 790 B, executable: false

A directory that contains a symlink and other directories:

├── bin -> share/go/bin
├── nix-support/
└── share/

Store Object

A Nix store is a collection of store objects with references between them. A store object consists of

Store objects are immutable: Once created, they do not change until they are deleted.

Store Path

Nix implements references to store objects as store paths.

Think of a store path as an opaque, unique identifier: The only way to obtain store path is by adding or building store objects. A store path will always reference exactly one store object.

Store paths are pairs of

  • A 20-byte digest for identification
  • A symbolic name for people to read

Example

  • Digest: b6gvzjyb2pg0kjfwrjmg1vfhh54ad73z
  • Name: firefox-33.1

To make store objects accessible to operating system processes, stores have to expose store objects through the file system.

A store path is rendered to a file system path as the concatenation of

  • Store directory (typically /nix/store)
  • Path separator (/)
  • Digest rendered in a custom variant of Base32 (20 arbitrary bytes become 32 ASCII characters)
  • Hyphen (-)
  • Name

Example

  /nix/store/b6gvzjyb2pg0kjfwrjmg1vfhh54ad73z-firefox-33.1
  |--------| |------------------------------| |----------|
store directory            digest                 name

Store Directory

Every Nix store has a store directory.

Not every store can be accessed through the file system. But if the store has a file system representation, the store directory contains the store’s file system objects, which can be addressed by store paths.

This means a store path is not just derived from the referenced store object itself, but depends on the store the store object is in.

Note

The store directory defaults to /nix/store, but is in principle arbitrary.

It is important which store a given store object belongs to: Files in the store object can contain store paths, and processes may read these paths. Nix can only guarantee referential integrity if store paths do not cross store boundaries.

Therefore one can only copy store objects to a different store if

  • The source and target stores' directories match

    or

  • The store object in question has no references, that is, contains no store paths

One cannot copy a store object to a store with a different store directory. Instead, it has to be rebuilt, together with all its dependencies. It is in general not enough to replace the store directory string in file contents, as this may render executables unusable by invalidating their internal offsets or checksums.

Nix supports different types of stores:

Store URL format

Stores are specified using a URL-like syntax. For example, the command

# nix path-info --store https://cache.nixos.org/ --json \
  /nix/store/a7gvj343m05j2s32xcnwr35v31ynlypr-coreutils-9.1

fetches information about a store path in the HTTP binary cache located at https://cache.nixos.org/, which is a type of store.

Store URLs can specify store settings using URL query strings, i.e. by appending ?name1=value1&name2=value2&... to the URL. For instance,

--store ssh://machine.example.org?ssh-key=/path/to/my/key

tells Nix to access the store on a remote machine via the SSH protocol, using /path/to/my/key as the SSH private key. The supported settings for each store type are documented below.

The special store URL auto causes Nix to automatically select a store as follows:

Dummy Store

Store URL format: dummy://

This store type represents a store that contains no store paths and cannot be written to. It's useful when you want to use the Nix evaluator when no actual Nix store exists, e.g.

# nix eval --store dummy:// --expr '1 + 2'

Settings

  • path-info-cache-size

    Size of the in-memory store path metadata cache.

    Default: 65536

  • priority

    Priority of this store when used as a substituter. A lower value means a higher priority.

    Default: 0

  • store

    Logical location of the Nix store, usually /nix/store. Note that you can only copy store paths between stores if they have the same store setting.

    Default: /nix/store

  • system-features

    Optional system features available on the system this store uses to build derivations.

    Example: "kvm"

    Default: machine-specific

  • trusted

    Whether paths from this store can be used as substitutes even if they are not signed by a key listed in the trusted-public-keys setting.

    Default: false

  • want-mass-query

    Whether this store can be queried efficiently for path validity when used as a substituter.

    Default: false

Experimental SSH Store

Store URL format: ssh-ng://[username@]hostname

Experimental store type that allows full access to a Nix store on a remote machine.

Settings

  • base64-ssh-public-host-key

    The public host key of the remote machine.

    Default: empty

  • compress

    Whether to enable SSH compression.

    Default: false

  • max-connection-age

    Maximum age of a connection before it is closed.

    Default: 4294967295

  • max-connections

    Maximum number of concurrent connections to the Nix daemon.

    Default: 1

  • path-info-cache-size

    Size of the in-memory store path metadata cache.

    Default: 65536

  • priority

    Priority of this store when used as a substituter. A lower value means a higher priority.

    Default: 0

  • remote-program

    Path to the nix-daemon executable on the remote machine.

    Default: nix-daemon

  • remote-store

    Store URL to be used on the remote machine. The default is auto (i.e. use the Nix daemon or /nix/store directly).

    Default: empty

  • ssh-key

    Path to the SSH private key used to authenticate to the remote machine.

    Default: empty

  • store

    Logical location of the Nix store, usually /nix/store. Note that you can only copy store paths between stores if they have the same store setting.

    Default: /nix/store

  • system-features

    Optional system features available on the system this store uses to build derivations.

    Example: "kvm"

    Default: machine-specific

  • trusted

    Whether paths from this store can be used as substitutes even if they are not signed by a key listed in the trusted-public-keys setting.

    Default: false

  • want-mass-query

    Whether this store can be queried efficiently for path validity when used as a substituter.

    Default: false

Experimental SSH Store with filesytem mounted

Warning

This store is part of an experimental feature.

To use this store, make sure the mounted-ssh-store experimental feature is enabled. For example, include the following in nix.conf:

extra-experimental-features = mounted-ssh-store

Store URL format: mounted-ssh-ng://[username@]hostname

Experimental store type that allows full access to a Nix store on a remote machine, and additionally requires that store be mounted in the local file system.

The mounting of that store is not managed by Nix, and must by managed manually. It could be accomplished with SSHFS or NFS, for example.

The local file system is used to optimize certain operations. For example, rather than serializing Nix archives and sending over the Nix channel, we can directly access the file system data via the mount-point.

The local file system is also used to make certain operations possible that wouldn't otherwise be. For example, persistent GC roots can be created if they reside on the same file system as the remote store: the remote side will create the symlinks necessary to avoid race conditions.

Settings

  • base64-ssh-public-host-key

    The public host key of the remote machine.

    Default: empty

  • compress

    Whether to enable SSH compression.

    Default: false

  • log

    directory where Nix will store log files.

    Default: /nix/var/log/nix

  • max-connection-age

    Maximum age of a connection before it is closed.

    Default: 4294967295

  • max-connections

    Maximum number of concurrent connections to the Nix daemon.

    Default: 1

  • path-info-cache-size

    Size of the in-memory store path metadata cache.

    Default: 65536

  • priority

    Priority of this store when used as a substituter. A lower value means a higher priority.

    Default: 0

  • real

    Physical path of the Nix store.

    Default: /nix/store

  • remote-program

    Path to the nix-daemon executable on the remote machine.

    Default: nix-daemon

  • remote-store

    Store URL to be used on the remote machine. The default is auto (i.e. use the Nix daemon or /nix/store directly).

    Default: empty

  • root

    Directory prefixed to all other paths.

    Default: ``

  • ssh-key

    Path to the SSH private key used to authenticate to the remote machine.

    Default: empty

  • state

    Directory where Nix will store state.

    Default: /dummy

  • store

    Logical location of the Nix store, usually /nix/store. Note that you can only copy store paths between stores if they have the same store setting.

    Default: /nix/store

  • system-features

    Optional system features available on the system this store uses to build derivations.

    Example: "kvm"

    Default: machine-specific

  • trusted

    Whether paths from this store can be used as substitutes even if they are not signed by a key listed in the trusted-public-keys setting.

    Default: false

  • want-mass-query

    Whether this store can be queried efficiently for path validity when used as a substituter.

    Default: false

HTTP Binary Cache Store

Store URL format: http://..., https://...

This store allows a binary cache to be accessed via the HTTP protocol.

Settings

  • compression

    NAR compression method (xz, bzip2, gzip, zstd, or none).

    Default: xz

  • compression-level

    The preset level to be used when compressing NARs. The meaning and accepted values depend on the compression method selected. -1 specifies that the default compression level should be used.

    Default: -1

  • index-debug-info

    Whether to index DWARF debug info files by build ID. This allows dwarffs to fetch debug info on demand

    Default: false

  • local-nar-cache

    Path to a local cache of NARs fetched from this binary cache, used by commands such as nix store cat.

    Default: empty

  • parallel-compression

    Enable multi-threaded compression of NARs. This is currently only available for xz and zstd.

    Default: false

  • path-info-cache-size

    Size of the in-memory store path metadata cache.

    Default: 65536

  • priority

    Priority of this store when used as a substituter. A lower value means a higher priority.

    Default: 0

  • secret-key

    Path to the secret key used to sign the binary cache.

    Default: empty

  • store

    Logical location of the Nix store, usually /nix/store. Note that you can only copy store paths between stores if they have the same store setting.

    Default: /nix/store

  • system-features

    Optional system features available on the system this store uses to build derivations.

    Example: "kvm"

    Default: machine-specific

  • trusted

    Whether paths from this store can be used as substitutes even if they are not signed by a key listed in the trusted-public-keys setting.

    Default: false

  • want-mass-query

    Whether this store can be queried efficiently for path validity when used as a substituter.

    Default: false

  • write-nar-listing

    Whether to write a JSON file that lists the files in each NAR.

    Default: false

Local Binary Cache Store

Store URL format: file://path

This store allows reading and writing a binary cache stored in path in the local filesystem. If path does not exist, it will be created.

For example, the following builds or downloads nixpkgs#hello into the local store and then copies it to the binary cache in /tmp/binary-cache:

# nix copy --to file:///tmp/binary-cache nixpkgs#hello

Settings

  • compression

    NAR compression method (xz, bzip2, gzip, zstd, or none).

    Default: xz

  • compression-level

    The preset level to be used when compressing NARs. The meaning and accepted values depend on the compression method selected. -1 specifies that the default compression level should be used.

    Default: -1

  • index-debug-info

    Whether to index DWARF debug info files by build ID. This allows dwarffs to fetch debug info on demand

    Default: false

  • local-nar-cache

    Path to a local cache of NARs fetched from this binary cache, used by commands such as nix store cat.

    Default: empty

  • parallel-compression

    Enable multi-threaded compression of NARs. This is currently only available for xz and zstd.

    Default: false

  • path-info-cache-size

    Size of the in-memory store path metadata cache.

    Default: 65536

  • priority

    Priority of this store when used as a substituter. A lower value means a higher priority.

    Default: 0

  • secret-key

    Path to the secret key used to sign the binary cache.

    Default: empty

  • store

    Logical location of the Nix store, usually /nix/store. Note that you can only copy store paths between stores if they have the same store setting.

    Default: /nix/store

  • system-features

    Optional system features available on the system this store uses to build derivations.

    Example: "kvm"

    Default: machine-specific

  • trusted

    Whether paths from this store can be used as substitutes even if they are not signed by a key listed in the trusted-public-keys setting.

    Default: false

  • want-mass-query

    Whether this store can be queried efficiently for path validity when used as a substituter.

    Default: false

  • write-nar-listing

    Whether to write a JSON file that lists the files in each NAR.

    Default: false

Local Daemon Store

Store URL format: daemon, unix://path

This store type accesses a Nix store by talking to a Nix daemon listening on the Unix domain socket path. The store pseudo-URL daemon is equivalent to unix:///nix/var/nix/daemon-socket/socket.

Settings

  • log

    directory where Nix will store log files.

    Default: /nix/var/log/nix

  • max-connection-age

    Maximum age of a connection before it is closed.

    Default: 4294967295

  • max-connections

    Maximum number of concurrent connections to the Nix daemon.

    Default: 1

  • path-info-cache-size

    Size of the in-memory store path metadata cache.

    Default: 65536

  • priority

    Priority of this store when used as a substituter. A lower value means a higher priority.

    Default: 0

  • real

    Physical path of the Nix store.

    Default: /nix/store

  • root

    Directory prefixed to all other paths.

    Default: ``

  • state

    Directory where Nix will store state.

    Default: /dummy

  • store

    Logical location of the Nix store, usually /nix/store. Note that you can only copy store paths between stores if they have the same store setting.

    Default: /nix/store

  • system-features

    Optional system features available on the system this store uses to build derivations.

    Example: "kvm"

    Default: machine-specific

  • trusted

    Whether paths from this store can be used as substitutes even if they are not signed by a key listed in the trusted-public-keys setting.

    Default: false

  • want-mass-query

    Whether this store can be queried efficiently for path validity when used as a substituter.

    Default: false

Local Store

Store URL format: local, root

This store type accesses a Nix store in the local filesystem directly (i.e. not via the Nix daemon). root is an absolute path that is prefixed to other directories such as the Nix store directory. The store pseudo-URL local denotes a store that uses / as its root directory.

A store that uses a root other than / is called a chroot store. With such stores, the store directory is "logically" still /nix/store, so programs stored in them can only be built and executed by chroot-ing into root. Chroot stores only support building and running on Linux when mount namespaces and user namespaces are enabled.

For example, the following uses /tmp/root as the chroot environment to build or download nixpkgs#hello and then execute it:

# nix run --store /tmp/root nixpkgs#hello
Hello, world!

Here, the "physical" store location is /tmp/root/nix/store, and Nix's store metadata is in /tmp/root/nix/var/nix/db.

It is also possible, but not recommended, to change the "logical" location of the Nix store from its default of /nix/store. This makes it impossible to use default substituters such as https://cache.nixos.org/, and thus you may have to build everything locally. Here is an example:

# nix build --store 'local?store=/tmp/my-nix/store&state=/tmp/my-nix/state&log=/tmp/my-nix/log' nixpkgs#hello

Settings

  • log

    directory where Nix will store log files.

    Default: /nix/var/log/nix

  • path-info-cache-size

    Size of the in-memory store path metadata cache.

    Default: 65536

  • priority

    Priority of this store when used as a substituter. A lower value means a higher priority.

    Default: 0

  • read-only

    Allow this store to be opened when its database is on a read-only filesystem.

    Normally Nix will attempt to open the store database in read-write mode, even for querying (when write access is not needed), causing it to fail if the database is on a read-only filesystem.

    Enable read-only mode to disable locking and open the SQLite database with the immutable parameter set.

    Warning Do not use this unless the filesystem is read-only.

    Using it when the filesystem is writable can cause incorrect query results or corruption errors if the database is changed by another process. While the filesystem the database resides on might appear to be read-only, consider whether another user or system might have write access to it.

    Default: false

  • real

    Physical path of the Nix store.

    Default: /nix/store

  • require-sigs

    Whether store paths copied into this store should have a trusted signature.

    Default: true

  • root

    Directory prefixed to all other paths.

    Default: ``

  • state

    Directory where Nix will store state.

    Default: /dummy

  • store

    Logical location of the Nix store, usually /nix/store. Note that you can only copy store paths between stores if they have the same store setting.

    Default: /nix/store

  • system-features

    Optional system features available on the system this store uses to build derivations.

    Example: "kvm"

    Default: machine-specific

  • trusted

    Whether paths from this store can be used as substitutes even if they are not signed by a key listed in the trusted-public-keys setting.

    Default: false

  • want-mass-query

    Whether this store can be queried efficiently for path validity when used as a substituter.

    Default: false

S3 Binary Cache Store

Store URL format: s3://bucket-name

This store allows reading and writing a binary cache stored in an AWS S3 (or S3-compatible service) bucket. This store shares many idioms with the HTTP Binary Cache Store.

For AWS S3, the binary cache URL for a bucket named example-nix-cache will be exactly s3://example-nix-cache. For S3 compatible binary caches, consult that cache's documentation.

Anonymous reads to your S3-compatible binary cache

If your binary cache is publicly accessible and does not require authentication, it is simplest to use the [HTTP Binary Cache Store] rather than S3 Binary Cache Store with https://example-nix-cache.s3.amazonaws.com instead of s3://example-nix-cache.

Your bucket will need a bucket policy like the following to be accessible:

{
    "Id": "DirectReads",
    "Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
        {
            "Sid": "AllowDirectReads",
            "Action": [
                "s3:GetObject",
                "s3:GetBucketLocation"
            ],
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Resource": [
                "arn:aws:s3:::example-nix-cache",
                "arn:aws:s3:::example-nix-cache/*"
            ],
            "Principal": "*"
        }
    ]
}

Authentication

Nix will use the default credential provider chain for authenticating requests to Amazon S3.

Note that this means Nix will read environment variables and files with different idioms than with Nix's own settings, as implemented by the AWS SDK. Consult the documentation linked above for further details.

Authenticated reads to your S3 binary cache

Your bucket will need a bucket policy allowing the desired users to perform the s3:GetObject and s3:GetBucketLocation action on all objects in the bucket. The anonymous policy given above can be updated to have a restricted Principal to support this.

Authenticated writes to your S3-compatible binary cache

Your account will need an IAM policy to support uploading to the bucket:

{
  "Version": "2012-10-17",
  "Statement": [
    {
      "Sid": "UploadToCache",
      "Effect": "Allow",
      "Action": [
        "s3:AbortMultipartUpload",
        "s3:GetBucketLocation",
        "s3:GetObject",
        "s3:ListBucket",
        "s3:ListBucketMultipartUploads",
        "s3:ListMultipartUploadParts",
        "s3:PutObject"
      ],
      "Resource": [
        "arn:aws:s3:::example-nix-cache",
        "arn:aws:s3:::example-nix-cache/*"
      ]
    }
  ]
}

Examples

With bucket policies and authentication set up as described above, uploading works via nix copy (experimental).

  • To upload with a specific credential profile for Amazon S3:

    $ nix copy nixpkgs.hello \
      --to 's3://example-nix-cache?profile=cache-upload&region=eu-west-2'
    
  • To upload to an S3-compatible binary cache:

    $ nix copy nixpkgs.hello --to \
      's3://example-nix-cache?profile=cache-upload&scheme=https&endpoint=minio.example.com'
    

Settings

  • buffer-size

    Size (in bytes) of each part in multi-part uploads.

    Default: 5242880

  • compression

    NAR compression method (xz, bzip2, gzip, zstd, or none).

    Default: xz

  • compression-level

    The preset level to be used when compressing NARs. The meaning and accepted values depend on the compression method selected. -1 specifies that the default compression level should be used.

    Default: -1

  • endpoint

    The URL of the endpoint of an S3-compatible service such as MinIO. Do not specify this setting if you're using Amazon S3.

    Note

    This endpoint must support HTTPS and will use path-based addressing instead of virtual host based addressing.

    Default: empty

  • index-debug-info

    Whether to index DWARF debug info files by build ID. This allows dwarffs to fetch debug info on demand

    Default: false

  • local-nar-cache

    Path to a local cache of NARs fetched from this binary cache, used by commands such as nix store cat.

    Default: empty

  • log-compression

    Compression method for log/* files. It is recommended to use a compression method supported by most web browsers (e.g. brotli).

    Default: empty

  • ls-compression

    Compression method for .ls files.

    Default: empty

  • multipart-upload

    Whether to use multi-part uploads.

    Default: false

  • narinfo-compression

    Compression method for .narinfo files.

    Default: empty

  • parallel-compression

    Enable multi-threaded compression of NARs. This is currently only available for xz and zstd.

    Default: false

  • path-info-cache-size

    Size of the in-memory store path metadata cache.

    Default: 65536

  • priority

    Priority of this store when used as a substituter. A lower value means a higher priority.

    Default: 0

  • profile

    The name of the AWS configuration profile to use. By default Nix will use the default profile.

    Default: empty

  • region

    The region of the S3 bucket. If your bucket is not in us–east-1, you should always explicitly specify the region parameter.

    Default: us-east-1

  • scheme

    The scheme used for S3 requests, https (default) or http. This option allows you to disable HTTPS for binary caches which don't support it.

    Note

    HTTPS should be used if the cache might contain sensitive information.

    Default: empty

  • secret-key

    Path to the secret key used to sign the binary cache.

    Default: empty

  • store

    Logical location of the Nix store, usually /nix/store. Note that you can only copy store paths between stores if they have the same store setting.

    Default: /nix/store

  • system-features

    Optional system features available on the system this store uses to build derivations.

    Example: "kvm"

    Default: machine-specific

  • trusted

    Whether paths from this store can be used as substitutes even if they are not signed by a key listed in the trusted-public-keys setting.

    Default: false

  • want-mass-query

    Whether this store can be queried efficiently for path validity when used as a substituter.

    Default: false

  • write-nar-listing

    Whether to write a JSON file that lists the files in each NAR.

    Default: false

SSH Store

Store URL format: ssh://[username@]hostname

This store type allows limited access to a remote store on another machine via SSH.

Settings

  • base64-ssh-public-host-key

    The public host key of the remote machine.

    Default: empty

  • compress

    Whether to enable SSH compression.

    Default: false

  • max-connections

    Maximum number of concurrent SSH connections.

    Default: 1

  • path-info-cache-size

    Size of the in-memory store path metadata cache.

    Default: 65536

  • priority

    Priority of this store when used as a substituter. A lower value means a higher priority.

    Default: 0

  • remote-program

    Path to the nix-store executable on the remote machine.

    Default: nix-store

  • remote-store

    Store URL to be used on the remote machine. The default is auto (i.e. use the Nix daemon or /nix/store directly).

    Default: empty

  • ssh-key

    Path to the SSH private key used to authenticate to the remote machine.

    Default: empty

  • store

    Logical location of the Nix store, usually /nix/store. Note that you can only copy store paths between stores if they have the same store setting.

    Default: /nix/store

  • system-features

    Optional system features available on the system this store uses to build derivations.

    Example: "kvm"

    Default: machine-specific

  • trusted

    Whether paths from this store can be used as substitutes even if they are not signed by a key listed in the trusted-public-keys setting.

    Default: false

  • want-mass-query

    Whether this store can be queried efficiently for path validity when used as a substituter.

    Default: false

Nix Language

The Nix language is designed for conveniently creating and composing derivations – precise descriptions of how contents of existing files are used to derive new files. It is:

  • domain-specific

    It comes with built-in functions to integrate with the Nix store, which manages files and performs the derivations declared in the Nix language.

  • declarative

    There is no notion of executing sequential steps. Dependencies between operations are established only through data.

  • pure

    Values cannot change during computation. Functions always produce the same output if their input does not change.

  • functional

    Functions are like any other value. Functions can be assigned to names, taken as arguments, or returned by functions.

  • lazy

    Values are only computed when they are needed.

  • dynamically typed

    Type errors are only detected when expressions are evaluated.

Overview

This is an incomplete overview of language features, by example.

Example Description

Basic values

"hello world"

A string

''
  multi
   line
    string
''

A multi-line string. Strips common prefixed whitespace. Evaluates to "multi\n line\n  string".

"hello ${ { a = "world"; }.a }"

"1 2 ${toString 3}"

"${pkgs.bash}/bin/sh"

String interpolation (expands to "hello world", "1 2 3", "/nix/store/<hash>-bash-<version>/bin/sh")

true, false

Booleans

null

Null value

123

An integer

3.141

A floating point number

/etc

An absolute path

./foo.png

A path relative to the file containing this Nix expression

~/.config

A home path. Evaluates to the "<user's home directory>/.config".

<nixpkgs>

Search path for Nix files. Value determined by $NIX_PATH environment variable.

Compound values

{ x = 1; y = 2; }

A set with attributes named x and y

{ foo.bar = 1; }

A nested set, equivalent to { foo = { bar = 1; }; }

rec { x = "foo"; y = x + "bar"; }

A recursive set, equivalent to { x = "foo"; y = "foobar"; }

[ "foo" "bar" "baz" ]

[ 1 2 3 ]

[ (f 1) { a = 1; b = 2; } [ "c" ] ]

Lists with three elements.

Operators

"foo" + "bar"

String concatenation

1 + 2

Integer addition

"foo" == "f" + "oo"

Equality test (evaluates to true)

"foo" != "bar"

Inequality test (evaluates to true)

!true

Boolean negation

{ x = 1; y = 2; }.x

Attribute selection (evaluates to 1)

{ x = 1; y = 2; }.z or 3

Attribute selection with default (evaluates to 3)

{ x = 1; y = 2; } // { z = 3; }

Merge two sets (attributes in the right-hand set taking precedence)

Control structures

if 1 + 1 == 2 then "yes!" else "no!"

Conditional expression

assert 1 + 1 == 2; "yes!"

Assertion check (evaluates to "yes!").

let x = "foo"; y = "bar"; in x + y

Variable definition

with builtins; head [ 1 2 3 ]

Add all attributes from the given set to the scope (evaluates to 1)

Functions (lambdas)

x: x + 1

A function that expects an integer and returns it increased by 1

x: y: x + y

Curried function, equivalent to x: (y: x + y). Can be used like a function that takes two arguments and returns their sum.

(x: x + 1) 100

A function call (evaluates to 101)

let inc = x: x + 1; in inc (inc (inc 100))

A function bound to a variable and subsequently called by name (evaluates to 103)

{ x, y }: x + y

A function that expects a set with required attributes x and y and concatenates them

{ x, y ? "bar" }: x + y

A function that expects a set with required attribute x and optional y, using "bar" as default value for y

{ x, y, ... }: x + y

A function that expects a set with required attributes x and y and ignores any other attributes

{ x, y } @ args: x + y

args @ { x, y }: x + y

A function that expects a set with required attributes x and y, and binds the whole set to args

Built-in functions

import ./foo.nix

Load and return Nix expression in given file

map (x: x + x) [ 1 2 3 ]

Apply a function to every element of a list (evaluates to [ 2 4 6 ])

Data Types

Primitives

  • String

    Strings can be written in three ways.

    The most common way is to enclose the string between double quotes, e.g., "foo bar". Strings can span multiple lines. The special characters " and \ and the character sequence ${ must be escaped by prefixing them with a backslash (\). Newlines, carriage returns and tabs can be written as \n, \r and \t, respectively.

    You can include the results of other expressions into a string by enclosing them in ${ }, a feature known as string interpolation.

    The second way to write string literals is as an indented string, which is enclosed between pairs of double single-quotes, like so:

    ''
      This is the first line.
      This is the second line.
        This is the third line.
    ''
    

    This kind of string literal intelligently strips indentation from the start of each line. To be precise, it strips from each line a number of spaces equal to the minimal indentation of the string as a whole (disregarding the indentation of empty lines). For instance, the first and second line are indented two spaces, while the third line is indented four spaces. Thus, two spaces are stripped from each line, so the resulting string is

    "This is the first line.\nThis is the second line.\n  This is the third line.\n"
    

    Note that the whitespace and newline following the opening '' is ignored if there is no non-whitespace text on the initial line.

    Indented strings support string interpolation.

    Since ${ and '' have special meaning in indented strings, you need a way to quote them. $ can be escaped by prefixing it with '' (that is, two single quotes), i.e., ''$. '' can be escaped by prefixing it with ', i.e., '''. $ removes any special meaning from the following $. Linefeed, carriage-return and tab characters can be written as ''\n, ''\r, ''\t, and ''\ escapes any other character.

    Indented strings are primarily useful in that they allow multi-line string literals to follow the indentation of the enclosing Nix expression, and that less escaping is typically necessary for strings representing languages such as shell scripts and configuration files because '' is much less common than ". Example:

    stdenv.mkDerivation {
      ...
      postInstall =
        ''
          mkdir $out/bin $out/etc
          cp foo $out/bin
          echo "Hello World" > $out/etc/foo.conf
          ${if enableBar then "cp bar $out/bin" else ""}
        '';
      ...
    }
    

    Finally, as a convenience, URIs as defined in appendix B of RFC 2396 can be written as is, without quotes. For instance, the string "http://example.org/foo.tar.bz2" can also be written as http://example.org/foo.tar.bz2.

  • Number

    Numbers, which can be integers (like 123) or floating point (like 123.43 or .27e13).

    See arithmetic and comparison operators for semantics.

  • Path

    Paths, e.g., /bin/sh or ./builder.sh. A path must contain at least one slash to be recognised as such. For instance, builder.sh is not a path: it's parsed as an expression that selects the attribute sh from the variable builder. If the file name is relative, i.e., if it does not begin with a slash, it is made absolute at parse time relative to the directory of the Nix expression that contained it. For instance, if a Nix expression in /foo/bar/bla.nix refers to ../xyzzy/fnord.nix, the absolute path is /foo/xyzzy/fnord.nix.

    If the first component of a path is a ~, it is interpreted as if the rest of the path were relative to the user's home directory. e.g. ~/foo would be equivalent to /home/edolstra/foo for a user whose home directory is /home/edolstra.

    For instance, evaluating "${./foo.txt}" will cause foo.txt in the current directory to be copied into the Nix store and result in the string "/nix/store/<hash>-foo.txt".

    Note that the Nix language assumes that all input files will remain unchanged while evaluating a Nix expression. For example, assume you used a file path in an interpolated string during a nix repl session. Later in the same session, after having changed the file contents, evaluating the interpolated string with the file path again might not return a new store path, since Nix might not re-read the file contents.

    Paths can include string interpolation and can themselves be interpolated in other expressions.

    At least one slash (/) must appear before any interpolated expression for the result to be recognized as a path.

    a.${foo}/b.${bar} is a syntactically valid division operation. ./a.${foo}/b.${bar} is a path.

    Lookup paths such as <nixpkgs> resolve to path values.

  • Boolean

    Booleans with values true and false.

  • Null

    The null value, denoted as null.

List

Lists are formed by enclosing a whitespace-separated list of values between square brackets. For example,

[ 123 ./foo.nix "abc" (f { x = y; }) ]

defines a list of four elements, the last being the result of a call to the function f. Note that function calls have to be enclosed in parentheses. If they had been omitted, e.g.,

[ 123 ./foo.nix "abc" f { x = y; } ]

the result would be a list of five elements, the fourth one being a function and the fifth being a set.

Note that lists are only lazy in values, and they are strict in length.

Attribute Set

An attribute set is a collection of name-value-pairs (called attributes) enclosed in curly brackets ({ }).

An attribute name can be an identifier or a string. An identifier must start with a letter (a-z, A-Z) or underscore (_), and can otherwise contain letters (a-z, A-Z), numbers (0-9), underscores (_), apostrophes ('), or dashes (-).

Syntax

name = identifier | string
identifier ~ [a-zA-Z_][a-zA-Z0-9_'-]*

Names and values are separated by an equal sign (=). Each value is an arbitrary expression terminated by a semicolon (;).

Syntax

attrset = { [ name = expr ; ]... }

Attributes can appear in any order. An attribute name may only occur once.

Example:

{
  x = 123;
  text = "Hello";
  y = f { bla = 456; };
}

This defines a set with attributes named x, text, y.

Attributes can be accessed with the . operator.

Example:

{ a = "Foo"; b = "Bar"; }.a

This evaluates to "Foo".

It is possible to provide a default value in an attribute selection using the or keyword.

Example:

{ a = "Foo"; b = "Bar"; }.c or "Xyzzy"
{ a = "Foo"; b = "Bar"; }.c.d.e.f.g or "Xyzzy"

will both evaluate to "Xyzzy" because there is no c attribute in the set.

You can use arbitrary double-quoted strings as attribute names:

{ "$!@#?" = 123; }."$!@#?"
let bar = "bar"; in
{ "foo ${bar}" = 123; }."foo ${bar}"

Both will evaluate to 123.

Attribute names support string interpolation:

let bar = "foo"; in
{ foo = 123; }.${bar}
let bar = "foo"; in
{ ${bar} = 123; }.foo

Both will evaluate to 123.

In the special case where an attribute name inside of a set declaration evaluates to null (which is normally an error, as null cannot be coerced to a string), that attribute is simply not added to the set:

{ ${if foo then "bar" else null} = true; }

This will evaluate to {} if foo evaluates to false.

A set that has a __functor attribute whose value is callable (i.e. is itself a function or a set with a __functor attribute whose value is callable) can be applied as if it were a function, with the set itself passed in first , e.g.,

let add = { __functor = self: x: x + self.x; };
    inc = add // { x = 1; };
in inc 1

evaluates to 2. This can be used to attach metadata to a function without the caller needing to treat it specially, or to implement a form of object-oriented programming, for example.

Language Constructs

Recursive sets

Recursive sets are like normal attribute sets, but the attributes can refer to each other.

rec-attrset = rec { [ name = expr ; ]... }

Example:

rec {
  x = y;
  y = 123;
}.x

This evaluates to 123.

Note that without rec the binding x = y; would refer to the variable y in the surrounding scope, if one exists, and would be invalid if no such variable exists. That is, in a normal (non-recursive) set, attributes are not added to the lexical scope; in a recursive set, they are.

Recursive sets of course introduce the danger of infinite recursion. For example, the expression

rec {
  x = y;
  y = x;
}.x

will crash with an infinite recursion encountered error message.

Let-expressions

A let-expression allows you to define local variables for an expression.

let-in = let [ identifier = expr ]... in expr

Example:

let
  x = "foo";
  y = "bar";
in x + y

This evaluates to "foobar".

Inheriting attributes

When defining an attribute set or in a let-expression it is often convenient to copy variables from the surrounding lexical scope (e.g., when you want to propagate attributes). This can be shortened using the inherit keyword.

Example:

let x = 123; in
{
  inherit x;
  y = 456;
}

is equivalent to

let x = 123; in
{
  x = x;
  y = 456;
}

and both evaluate to { x = 123; y = 456; }.

Note

This works because x is added to the lexical scope by the let construct.

It is also possible to inherit attributes from another attribute set.

Example:

In this fragment from all-packages.nix,

graphviz = (import ../tools/graphics/graphviz) {
  inherit fetchurl stdenv libpng libjpeg expat x11 yacc;
  inherit (xorg) libXaw;
};

xorg = {
  libX11 = ...;
  libXaw = ...;
  ...
}

libpng = ...;
libjpg = ...;
...

the set used in the function call to the function defined in ../tools/graphics/graphviz inherits a number of variables from the surrounding scope (fetchurl ... yacc), but also inherits libXaw (the X Athena Widgets) from the xorg set.

Summarizing the fragment

...
inherit x y z;
inherit (src-set) a b c;
...

is equivalent to

...
x = x; y = y; z = z;
a = src-set.a; b = src-set.b; c = src-set.c;
...

when used while defining local variables in a let-expression or while defining a set.

In a let expression, inherit can be used to selectively bring specific attributes of a set into scope. For example

let
  x = { a = 1; b = 2; };
  inherit (builtins) attrNames;
in
{
  names = attrNames x;
}

is equivalent to

let
  x = { a = 1; b = 2; };
in
{
  names = builtins.attrNames x;
}

both evaluate to { names = [ "a" "b" ]; }.

Functions

Functions have the following form:

pattern: body

The pattern specifies what the argument of the function must look like, and binds variables in the body to (parts of) the argument. There are three kinds of patterns:

  • If a pattern is a single identifier, then the function matches any argument. Example:

    let negate = x: !x;
        concat = x: y: x + y;
    in if negate true then concat "foo" "bar" else ""
    

    Note that concat is a function that takes one argument and returns a function that takes another argument. This allows partial parameterisation (i.e., only filling some of the arguments of a function); e.g.,

    map (concat "foo") [ "bar" "bla" "abc" ]
    

    evaluates to [ "foobar" "foobla" "fooabc" ].

  • A set pattern of the form { name1, name2, …, nameN } matches a set containing the listed attributes, and binds the values of those attributes to variables in the function body. For example, the function

    { x, y, z }: z + y + x
    

    can only be called with a set containing exactly the attributes x, y and z. No other attributes are allowed. If you want to allow additional arguments, you can use an ellipsis (...):

    { x, y, z, ... }: z + y + x
    

    This works on any set that contains at least the three named attributes.

    It is possible to provide default values for attributes, in which case they are allowed to be missing. A default value is specified by writing name ? e, where e is an arbitrary expression. For example,

    { x, y ? "foo", z ? "bar" }: z + y + x
    

    specifies a function that only requires an attribute named x, but optionally accepts y and z.

  • An @-pattern provides a means of referring to the whole value being matched:

    args@{ x, y, z, ... }: z + y + x + args.a
    

    but can also be written as:

    { x, y, z, ... } @ args: z + y + x + args.a
    

    Here args is bound to the argument as passed, which is further matched against the pattern { x, y, z, ... }. The @-pattern makes mainly sense with an ellipsis(...) as you can access attribute names as a, using args.a, which was given as an additional attribute to the function.

    Warning

    args@ binds the name args to the attribute set that is passed to the function. In particular, args does not include any default values specified with ? in the function's set pattern.

    For instance

    let
      f = args@{ a ? 23, ... }: [ a args ];
    in
      f {}
    

    is equivalent to

    let
      f = args @ { ... }: [ (args.a or 23) args ];
    in
      f {}
    

    and both expressions will evaluate to:

    [ 23 {} ]
    

Note that functions do not have names. If you want to give them a name, you can bind them to an attribute, e.g.,

let concat = { x, y }: x + y;
in concat { x = "foo"; y = "bar"; }

Conditionals

Conditionals look like this:

if e1 then e2 else e3

where e1 is an expression that should evaluate to a Boolean value (true or false).

Assertions

Assertions are generally used to check that certain requirements on or between features and dependencies hold. They look like this:

assert e1; e2

where e1 is an expression that should evaluate to a Boolean value. If it evaluates to true, e2 is returned; otherwise expression evaluation is aborted and a backtrace is printed.

Here is a Nix expression for the Subversion package that shows how assertions can be used:.

{ localServer ? false
, httpServer ? false
, sslSupport ? false
, pythonBindings ? false
, javaSwigBindings ? false
, javahlBindings ? false
, stdenv, fetchurl
, openssl ? null, httpd ? null, db4 ? null, expat, swig ? null, j2sdk ? null
}:

assert localServer -> db4 != null; ①
assert httpServer -> httpd != null && httpd.expat == expat; ②
assert sslSupport -> openssl != null && (httpServer -> httpd.openssl == openssl); ③
assert pythonBindings -> swig != null && swig.pythonSupport;
assert javaSwigBindings -> swig != null && swig.javaSupport;
assert javahlBindings -> j2sdk != null;

stdenv.mkDerivation {
  name = "subversion-1.1.1";
  ...
  openssl = if sslSupport then openssl else null; ④
  ...
}

The points of interest are:

  1. This assertion states that if Subversion is to have support for local repositories, then Berkeley DB is needed. So if the Subversion function is called with the localServer argument set to true but the db4 argument set to null, then the evaluation fails.

    Note that -> is the logical implication Boolean operation.

  2. This is a more subtle condition: if Subversion is built with Apache (httpServer) support, then the Expat library (an XML library) used by Subversion should be same as the one used by Apache. This is because in this configuration Subversion code ends up being linked with Apache code, and if the Expat libraries do not match, a build- or runtime link error or incompatibility might occur.

  3. This assertion says that in order for Subversion to have SSL support (so that it can access https URLs), an OpenSSL library must be passed. Additionally, it says that if Apache support is enabled, then Apache's OpenSSL should match Subversion's. (Note that if Apache support is not enabled, we don't care about Apache's OpenSSL.)

  4. The conditional here is not really related to assertions, but is worth pointing out: it ensures that if SSL support is disabled, then the Subversion derivation is not dependent on OpenSSL, even if a non-null value was passed. This prevents an unnecessary rebuild of Subversion if OpenSSL changes.

With-expressions

A with-expression,

with e1; e2

introduces the set e1 into the lexical scope of the expression e2. For instance,

let as = { x = "foo"; y = "bar"; };
in with as; x + y

evaluates to "foobar" since the with adds the x and y attributes of as to the lexical scope in the expression x + y. The most common use of with is in conjunction with the import function. E.g.,

with (import ./definitions.nix); ...

makes all attributes defined in the file definitions.nix available as if they were defined locally in a let-expression.

The bindings introduced by with do not shadow bindings introduced by other means, e.g.

let a = 3; in with { a = 1; }; let a = 4; in with { a = 2; }; ...

establishes the same scope as

let a = 1; in let a = 2; in let a = 3; in let a = 4; in ...

Comments

Comments can be single-line, started with a # character, or inline/multi-line, enclosed within /* ... */.

String interpolation

String interpolation is a language feature where a string, path, or attribute name can contain expressions enclosed in ${ } (dollar-sign with curly brackets).

Such a construct is called interpolated string, and the expression inside is an interpolated expression.

Examples

String

Rather than writing

"--with-freetype2-library=" + freetype + "/lib"

(where freetype is a [derivation]), you can instead write

"--with-freetype2-library=${freetype}/lib"

The latter is automatically translated to the former.

A more complicated example (from the Nix expression for Qt):

configureFlags = "
  -system-zlib -system-libpng -system-libjpeg
  ${if openglSupport then "-dlopen-opengl
    -L${mesa}/lib -I${mesa}/include
    -L${libXmu}/lib -I${libXmu}/include" else ""}
  ${if threadSupport then "-thread" else "-no-thread"}
";

Note that Nix expressions and strings can be arbitrarily nested; in this case the outer string contains various interpolated expressions that themselves contain strings (e.g., "-thread"), some of which in turn contain interpolated expressions (e.g., ${mesa}).

Path

Rather than writing

./. + "/" + foo + "-" + bar + ".nix"

or

./. + "/${foo}-${bar}.nix"

you can instead write

./${foo}-${bar}.nix

Attribute name

Attribute names can be interpolated strings.

Example

let name = "foo"; in
{ ${name} = 123; }
{ foo = 123; }

Attributes can be selected with interpolated strings.

Example

let name = "foo"; in
{ foo = 123; }.${name}
123

Interpolated expression

An expression that is interpolated must evaluate to one of the following:

  • a string

  • a path

  • an attribute set that has a __toString attribute or an outPath attribute

    • __toString must be a function that takes the attribute set itself and returns a string
    • outPath must be a string

    This includes derivations or flake inputs (experimental).

A string interpolates to itself.

A path in an interpolated expression is first copied into the Nix store, and the resulting string is the store path of the newly created store object.

Example

$ mkdir foo

Reference the empty directory in an interpolated expression:

"${./foo}"
"/nix/store/2hhl2nz5v0khbn06ys82nrk99aa1xxdw-foo"

A derivation interpolates to the store path of its first output.

Example

let
  pkgs = import <nixpkgs> {};
in
"${pkgs.hello}"
"/nix/store/4xpfqf29z4m8vbhrqcz064wfmb46w5r7-hello-2.12.1"

An attribute set interpolates to the return value of the function in the __toString applied to the attribute set itself.

Example

let
  a = {
    value = 1;
    __toString = self: toString (self.value + 1);
  };
in
"${a}"
"2"

An attribute set also interpolates to the value of its outPath attribute.

Example

let
  a = { outPath = "foo"; };
in
"${a}"
"foo"

If both __toString and outPath are present in an attribute set, __toString takes precedence.

Example

let
  a = { __toString = _: "yes"; outPath = throw "no"; };
in
"${a}"
"yes"

If neither is present, an error is thrown.

Example

let
  a = {};
in
"${a}"
error: cannot coerce a set to a string: { }

       at «string»:4:2:

            3| in
            4| "${a}"
             |  ^

Lookup path

Syntax

lookup-path = < identifier [ / identifier ]... >

A lookup path is an identifier with an optional path suffix that resolves to a path value if the identifier matches a search path entry.

The value of a lookup path is determined by builtins.nixPath.

See builtins.findFile for details on lookup path resolution.

Example

<nixpkgs>
/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels/nixpkgs

Example

<nixpkgs/nixos>
/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels/nixpkgs/nixos

Operators

NameSyntaxAssociativityPrecedence
Attribute selectionattrset . attrpath [ or expr ]none1
Function applicationfunc exprleft2
Arithmetic negation- numbernone3
Has attributeattrset ? attrpathnone4
List concatenationlist ++ listright5
Multiplicationnumber * numberleft6
Divisionnumber / numberleft6
Subtractionnumber - numberleft7
Additionnumber + numberleft7
String concatenationstring + stringleft7
Path concatenationpath + pathleft7
Path and string concatenationpath + stringleft7
String and path concatenationstring + pathleft7
Logical negation (NOT)! boolnone8
Updateattrset // attrsetright9
Less thanexpr < exprnone10
Less than or equal toexpr <= exprnone10
Greater thanexpr > exprnone10
Greater than or equal toexpr >= exprnone10
Equalityexpr == exprnone11
Inequalityexpr != exprnone11
Logical conjunction (AND)bool && boolleft12
Logical disjunction (OR)bool || boolleft13
Logical implicationbool -> boolright14

Attribute selection

Syntax

attrset . attrpath [ or expr ]

Select the attribute denoted by attribute path attrpath from attribute set attrset. If the attribute doesn’t exist, return the expr after or if provided, otherwise abort evaluation.

An attribute path is a dot-separated list of attribute names.

Syntax

attrpath = name [ . name ]...

Has attribute

Syntax

attrset ? attrpath

Test whether attribute set attrset contains the attribute denoted by attrpath. The result is a Boolean value.

See also: builtins.hasAttr

After evaluating attrset and attrpath, the computational complexity is O(log(n)) for n attributes in the attrset

Arithmetic

Numbers are type-compatible: Pure integer operations will always return integers, whereas any operation involving at least one floating point number return a floating point number.

See also Comparison and Equality.

The + operator is overloaded to also work on strings and paths.

String concatenation

Syntax

string + string

Concatenate two strings and merge their string contexts.

Path concatenation

Syntax

path + path

Concatenate two paths. The result is a path.

Path and string concatenation

Syntax

path + string

Concatenate path with string. The result is a path.

Note

The string must not have a string context that refers to a store path.

String and path concatenation

Syntax

string + path

Concatenate string with path. The result is a string.

Important

The file or directory at path must exist and is copied to the store. The path appears in the result as the corresponding store path.

Update

Syntax

attrset1 // attrset2

Update attribute set attrset1 with names and values from attrset2.

The returned attribute set will have of all the attributes in attrset1 and attrset2. If an attribute name is present in both, the attribute value from the latter is taken.

Comparison

Comparison is

  • arithmetic for numbers
  • lexicographic for strings and paths
  • item-wise lexicographic for lists: elements at the same index in both lists are compared according to their type and skipped if they are equal.

All comparison operators are implemented in terms of <, and the following equivalencies hold:

comparisonimplementation
a <= b! ( b < a )
a > bb < a
a >= b! ( a < b )

Equality

  • Attribute sets and lists are compared recursively, and therefore are fully evaluated.
  • Comparison of functions always returns false.
  • Numbers are type-compatible, see arithmetic operators.
  • Floating point numbers only differ up to a limited precision.

Logical implication

Equivalent to !b1 || b2.

Derivations

The most important built-in function is derivation, which is used to describe a single derivation: a specification for running an executable on precisely defined input files to repeatably produce output files at uniquely determined file system paths.

It takes as input an attribute set, the attributes of which specify the inputs to the process. It outputs an attribute set, and produces a store derivation as a side effect of evaluation.

Input attributes

Required

  • name (String)

    A symbolic name for the derivation. It is added to the store path of the corresponding store derivation as well as to its output paths.

    Example

    derivation {
      name = "hello";
      # ...
    }
    

    The store derivation's path will be /nix/store/<hash>-hello.drv. The output paths will be of the form /nix/store/<hash>-hello[-<output>]

  • system (String)

    The system type on which the builder executable is meant to be run.

    A necessary condition for Nix to build derivations locally is that the system attribute matches the current system configuration option. It can automatically build on other platforms by forwarding build requests to other machines.

    Example

    Declare a derivation to be built on a specific system type:

    derivation {
      # ...
      system = "x86_64-linux";
      # ...
    }
    

    Example

    Declare a derivation to be built on the system type that evaluates the expression:

    derivation {
      # ...
      system = builtins.currentSystem;
      # ...
    }
    

    builtins.currentSystem has the value of the system configuration option, and defaults to the system type of the current Nix installation.

  • builder (Path | String)

    Path to an executable that will perform the build.

    Example

    Use the file located at /bin/bash as the builder executable:

    derivation {
      # ...
      builder = "/bin/bash";
      # ...
    };
    

    Example

    Copy a local file to the Nix store for use as the builder executable:

    derivation {
      # ...
      builder = ./builder.sh;
      # ...
    };
    

    Example

    Use a file from another derivation as the builder executable:

    let pkgs = import <nixpkgs> {}; in
    derivation {
      # ...
      builder = "${pkgs.python}/bin/python";
      # ...
    };
    

Optional

  • args (List of String)

    Default: [ ]

    Command-line arguments to be passed to the builder executable.

    Example

    Pass arguments to Bash to interpret a shell command:

    derivation {
      # ...
      builder = "/bin/bash";
      args = [ "-c" "echo hello world > $out" ];
      # ...
    };
    
  • outputs (List of String)

    Default: [ "out" ]

    Symbolic outputs of the derivation. Each output name is passed to the builder executable as an environment variable with its value set to the corresponding store path.

    By default, a derivation produces a single output called out. However, derivations can produce multiple outputs. This allows the associated store objects and their closures to be copied or garbage-collected separately.

    Example

    Imagine a library package that provides a dynamic library, header files, and documentation. A program that links against such a library doesn’t need the header files and documentation at runtime, and it doesn’t need the documentation at build time. Thus, the library package could specify:

    derivation {
      # ...
      outputs = [ "lib" "dev" "doc" ];
      # ...
    }
    

    This will cause Nix to pass environment variables lib, dev, and doc to the builder containing the intended store paths of each output. The builder would typically do something like

    ./configure \
      --libdir=$lib/lib \
      --includedir=$dev/include \
      --docdir=$doc/share/doc
    

    for an Autoconf-style package.

    The name of an output is combined with the name of the derivation to create the name part of the output's store path, unless it is out, in which case just the name of the derivation is used.

    Example

    derivation {
      name = "example";
      outputs = [ "lib" "dev" "doc" "out" ];
      # ...
    }
    

    The store derivation path will be /nix/store/<hash>-example.drv. The output paths will be

    • /nix/store/<hash>-example-lib
    • /nix/store/<hash>-example-dev
    • /nix/store/<hash>-example-doc
    • /nix/store/<hash>-example

    You can refer to each output of a derivation by selecting it as an attribute. The first element of outputs determines the default output and ends up at the top-level.

    Example

    Select an output by attribute name:

    let
      myPackage = derivation {
        name = "example";
        outputs = [ "lib" "dev" "doc" "out" ];
        # ...
      };
    in myPackage.dev
    

    Since lib is the first output, myPackage is equivalent to myPackage.lib.

  • See Advanced Attributes for more, infrequently used, optional attributes.

  • Every other attribute is passed as an environment variable to the builder. Attribute values are translated to environment variables as follows:

    • Strings are passed unchanged.

    • Integral numbers are converted to decimal notation.

    • Floating point numbers are converted to simple decimal or scientific notation with a preset precision.

    • A path (e.g., ../foo/sources.tar) causes the referenced file to be copied to the store; its location in the store is put in the environment variable. The idea is that all sources should reside in the Nix store, since all inputs to a derivation should reside in the Nix store.

    • A derivation causes that derivation to be built prior to the present derivation. The environment variable is set to the store path of the derivation's default output.

    • Lists of the previous types are also allowed. They are simply concatenated, separated by spaces.

    • true is passed as the string 1, false and null are passed as an empty string.

Builder execution

The builder is executed as follows:

  • A temporary directory is created under the directory specified by TMPDIR (default /tmp) where the build will take place. The current directory is changed to this directory.

  • The environment is cleared and set to the derivation attributes, as specified above.

  • In addition, the following variables are set:

    • NIX_BUILD_TOP contains the path of the temporary directory for this build.

    • Also, TMPDIR, TEMPDIR, TMP, TEMP are set to point to the temporary directory. This is to prevent the builder from accidentally writing temporary files anywhere else. Doing so might cause interference by other processes.

    • PATH is set to /path-not-set to prevent shells from initialising it to their built-in default value.

    • HOME is set to /homeless-shelter to prevent programs from using /etc/passwd or the like to find the user's home directory, which could cause impurity. Usually, when HOME is set, it is used as the location of the home directory, even if it points to a non-existent path.

    • NIX_STORE is set to the path of the top-level Nix store directory (typically, /nix/store).

    • NIX_ATTRS_JSON_FILE & NIX_ATTRS_SH_FILE if __structuredAttrs is set to true for the derivation. A detailed explanation of this behavior can be found in the section about structured attrs.

    • For each output declared in outputs, the corresponding environment variable is set to point to the intended path in the Nix store for that output. Each output path is a concatenation of the cryptographic hash of all build inputs, the name attribute and the output name. (The output name is omitted if it’s out.)

  • If an output path already exists, it is removed. Also, locks are acquired to prevent multiple Nix instances from performing the same build at the same time.

  • A log of the combined standard output and error is written to /nix/var/log/nix.

  • The builder is executed with the arguments specified by the attribute args. If it exits with exit code 0, it is considered to have succeeded.

  • The temporary directory is removed (unless the -K option was specified).

  • If the build was successful, Nix scans each output path for references to input paths by looking for the hash parts of the input paths. Since these are potential runtime dependencies, Nix registers them as dependencies of the output paths.

  • After the build, Nix sets the last-modified timestamp on all files in the build result to 1 (00:00:01 1/1/1970 UTC), sets the group to the default group, and sets the mode of the file to 0444 or 0555 (i.e., read-only, with execute permission enabled if the file was originally executable). Note that possible setuid and setgid bits are cleared. Setuid and setgid programs are not currently supported by Nix. This is because the Nix archives used in deployment have no concept of ownership information, and because it makes the build result dependent on the user performing the build.

Advanced Attributes

Derivations can declare some infrequently used optional attributes.

  • allowedReferences
    The optional attribute allowedReferences specifies a list of legal references (dependencies) of the output of the builder. For example,

    allowedReferences = [];
    

    enforces that the output of a derivation cannot have any runtime dependencies on its inputs. To allow an output to have a runtime dependency on itself, use "out" as a list item. This is used in NixOS to check that generated files such as initial ramdisks for booting Linux don’t have accidental dependencies on other paths in the Nix store.

  • allowedRequisites
    This attribute is similar to allowedReferences, but it specifies the legal requisites of the whole closure, so all the dependencies recursively. For example,

    allowedRequisites = [ foobar ];
    

    enforces that the output of a derivation cannot have any other runtime dependency than foobar, and in addition it enforces that foobar itself doesn't introduce any other dependency itself.

  • disallowedReferences
    The optional attribute disallowedReferences specifies a list of illegal references (dependencies) of the output of the builder. For example,

    disallowedReferences = [ foo ];
    

    enforces that the output of a derivation cannot have a direct runtime dependencies on the derivation foo.

  • disallowedRequisites
    This attribute is similar to disallowedReferences, but it specifies illegal requisites for the whole closure, so all the dependencies recursively. For example,

    disallowedRequisites = [ foobar ];
    

    enforces that the output of a derivation cannot have any runtime dependency on foobar or any other derivation depending recursively on foobar.

  • exportReferencesGraph
    This attribute allows builders access to the references graph of their inputs. The attribute is a list of inputs in the Nix store whose references graph the builder needs to know. The value of this attribute should be a list of pairs [ name1 path1 name2 path2 ... ]. The references graph of each pathN will be stored in a text file nameN in the temporary build directory. The text files have the format used by nix-store --register-validity (with the deriver fields left empty). For example, when the following derivation is built:

    derivation {
      ...
      exportReferencesGraph = [ "libfoo-graph" libfoo ];
    };
    

    the references graph of libfoo is placed in the file libfoo-graph in the temporary build directory.

    exportReferencesGraph is useful for builders that want to do something with the closure of a store path. Examples include the builders in NixOS that generate the initial ramdisk for booting Linux (a cpio archive containing the closure of the boot script) and the ISO-9660 image for the installation CD (which is populated with a Nix store containing the closure of a bootable NixOS configuration).

  • impureEnvVars
    This attribute allows you to specify a list of environment variables that should be passed from the environment of the calling user to the builder. Usually, the environment is cleared completely when the builder is executed, but with this attribute you can allow specific environment variables to be passed unmodified. For example, fetchurl in Nixpkgs has the line

    impureEnvVars = [ "http_proxy" "https_proxy" ... ];
    

    to make it use the proxy server configuration specified by the user in the environment variables http_proxy and friends.

    This attribute is only allowed in fixed-output derivations (see below), where impurities such as these are okay since (the hash of) the output is known in advance. It is ignored for all other derivations.

    Warning

    impureEnvVars implementation takes environment variables from the current builder process. When a daemon is building its environmental variables are used. Without the daemon, the environmental variables come from the environment of the nix-build.

    If the configurable-impure-env experimental feature is enabled, these environment variables can also be controlled through the impure-env configuration setting.

  • outputHash; outputHashAlgo; outputHashMode
    These attributes declare that the derivation is a so-called fixed-output derivation, which means that a cryptographic hash of the output is already known in advance. When the build of a fixed-output derivation finishes, Nix computes the cryptographic hash of the output and compares it to the hash declared with these attributes. If there is a mismatch, the build fails.

    The rationale for fixed-output derivations is derivations such as those produced by the fetchurl function. This function downloads a file from a given URL. To ensure that the downloaded file has not been modified, the caller must also specify a cryptographic hash of the file. For example,

    fetchurl {
      url = "http://ftp.gnu.org/pub/gnu/hello/hello-2.1.1.tar.gz";
      sha256 = "1md7jsfd8pa45z73bz1kszpp01yw6x5ljkjk2hx7wl800any6465";
    }
    

    It sometimes happens that the URL of the file changes, e.g., because servers are reorganised or no longer available. We then must update the call to fetchurl, e.g.,

    fetchurl {
      url = "ftp://ftp.nluug.nl/pub/gnu/hello/hello-2.1.1.tar.gz";
      sha256 = "1md7jsfd8pa45z73bz1kszpp01yw6x5ljkjk2hx7wl800any6465";
    }
    

    If a fetchurl derivation was treated like a normal derivation, the output paths of the derivation and all derivations depending on it would change. For instance, if we were to change the URL of the Glibc source distribution in Nixpkgs (a package on which almost all other packages depend) massive rebuilds would be needed. This is unfortunate for a change which we know cannot have a real effect as it propagates upwards through the dependency graph.

    For fixed-output derivations, on the other hand, the name of the output path only depends on the outputHash* and name attributes, while all other attributes are ignored for the purpose of computing the output path. (The name attribute is included because it is part of the path.)

    As an example, here is the (simplified) Nix expression for fetchurl:

    { stdenv, curl }: # The curl program is used for downloading.
    
    { url, sha256 }:
    
    stdenv.mkDerivation {
      name = baseNameOf (toString url);
      builder = ./builder.sh;
      buildInputs = [ curl ];
    
      # This is a fixed-output derivation; the output must be a regular
      # file with SHA256 hash sha256.
      outputHashMode = "flat";
      outputHashAlgo = "sha256";
      outputHash = sha256;
    
      inherit url;
    }
    

    The outputHashAlgo attribute specifies the hash algorithm used to compute the hash. It can currently be "sha1", "sha256" or "sha512".

    The outputHashMode attribute determines how the hash is computed. It must be one of the following two values:

    • "flat"
      The output must be a non-executable regular file. If it isn’t, the build fails. The hash is simply computed over the contents of that file (so it’s equal to what Unix commands like sha256sum or sha1sum produce).

      This is the default.

    • "recursive"
      The hash is computed over the NAR archive dump of the output (i.e., the result of nix-store --dump). In this case, the output can be anything, including a directory tree.

    The outputHash attribute, finally, must be a string containing the hash in either hexadecimal or base-32 notation. (See the nix-hash command for information about converting to and from base-32 notation.)

  • __contentAddressed

    Warning This attribute is part of an experimental feature.

    To use this attribute, you must enable the ca-derivations experimental feature. For example, in nix.conf you could add:

    extra-experimental-features = ca-derivations
    

    If this attribute is set to true, then the derivation outputs will be stored in a content-addressed location rather than the traditional input-addressed one.

    Setting this attribute also requires setting outputHashMode and outputHashAlgo like for fixed-output derivations (see above).

    It also implicitly requires that the machine to build the derivation must have the ca-derivations system feature.

  • passAsFile
    A list of names of attributes that should be passed via files rather than environment variables. For example, if you have

    passAsFile = ["big"];
    big = "a very long string";
    

    then when the builder runs, the environment variable bigPath will contain the absolute path to a temporary file containing a very long string. That is, for any attribute x listed in passAsFile, Nix will pass an environment variable xPath holding the path of the file containing the value of attribute x. This is useful when you need to pass large strings to a builder, since most operating systems impose a limit on the size of the environment (typically, a few hundred kilobyte).

  • preferLocalBuild
    If this attribute is set to true and distributed building is enabled, then, if possible, the derivation will be built locally instead of being forwarded to a remote machine. This is useful for derivations that are cheapest to build locally.

  • allowSubstitutes
    If this attribute is set to false, then Nix will always build this derivation (locally or remotely); it will not try to substitute its outputs. This is useful for derivations that are cheaper to build than to substitute.

    This attribute can be ignored by setting always-allow-substitutes to true.

    Note

    If set to false, the builder should be able to run on the system type specified in the system attribute, since the derivation cannot be substituted.

  • __structuredAttrs
    If the special attribute __structuredAttrs is set to true, the other derivation attributes are serialised into a file in JSON format. The environment variable NIX_ATTRS_JSON_FILE points to the exact location of that file both in a build and a nix-shell. This obviates the need for passAsFile since JSON files have no size restrictions, unlike process environments.

    It also makes it possible to tweak derivation settings in a structured way; see outputChecks for example.

    As a convenience to Bash builders, Nix writes a script that initialises shell variables corresponding to all attributes that are representable in Bash. The environment variable NIX_ATTRS_SH_FILE points to the exact location of the script, both in a build and a nix-shell. This includes non-nested (associative) arrays. For example, the attribute hardening.format = true ends up as the Bash associative array element ${hardening[format]}.

  • outputChecks
    When using structured attributes, the outputChecks attribute allows defining checks per-output.

    In addition to allowedReferences, allowedRequisites, disallowedReferences and disallowedRequisites, the following attributes are available:

    • maxSize defines the maximum size of the resulting store object.
    • maxClosureSize defines the maximum size of the output's closure.
    • ignoreSelfRefs controls whether self-references should be considered when checking for allowed references/requisites.

    Example:

    __structuredAttrs = true;
    
    outputChecks.out = {
      # The closure of 'out' must not be larger than 256 MiB.
      maxClosureSize = 256 * 1024 * 1024;
    
      # It must not refer to the C compiler or to the 'dev' output.
      disallowedRequisites = [ stdenv.cc "dev" ];
    };
    
    outputChecks.dev = {
      # The 'dev' output must not be larger than 128 KiB.
      maxSize = 128 * 1024;
    };
    
  • unsafeDiscardReferences

    When using structured attributes, the attribute unsafeDiscardReferences is an attribute set with a boolean value for each output name. If set to true, it disables scanning the output for runtime dependencies.

    Example:

    __structuredAttrs = true;
    unsafeDiscardReferences.out = true;
    

    This is useful, for example, when generating self-contained filesystem images with their own embedded Nix store: hashes found inside such an image refer to the embedded store and not to the host's Nix store.

  • requiredSystemFeatures

    If a derivation has the requiredSystemFeatures attribute, then Nix will only build it on a machine that has the corresponding features set in its system-features configuration.

    For example, setting

    requiredSystemFeatures = [ "kvm" ];
    

    ensures that the derivation can only be built on a machine with the kvm feature.

Import From Derivation

The value of a Nix expression can depend on the contents of a store object.

Passing an expression expr that evaluates to a store path to any built-in function which reads from the filesystem constitutes Import From Derivation (IFD):

When the store path needs to be accessed, evaluation will be paused, the corresponding store object realised, and then evaluation resumed.

This has performance implications: Evaluation can only finish when all required store objects are realised. Since the Nix language evaluator is sequential, it only finds store paths to read from one at a time. While realisation is always parallel, in this case it cannot be done for all required store paths at once, and is therefore much slower than otherwise.

Realising store objects during evaluation can be disabled by setting allow-import-from-derivation to false. Without IFD it is ensured that evaluation is complete and Nix can produce a build plan before starting any realisation.

Example

In the following Nix expression, the inner derivation drv produces a file with contents hello.

# IFD.nix
let
  drv = derivation {
    name = "hello";
    builder = "/bin/sh";
    args = [ "-c" "echo -n hello > $out" ];
    system = builtins.currentSystem;
  };
in "${builtins.readFile drv} world"
nix-instantiate IFD.nix --eval --read-write-mode
building '/nix/store/348q1cal6sdgfxs8zqi9v8llrsn4kqkq-hello.drv'...
"hello world"

The contents of the derivation's output have to be realised before they can be read with readFile. Only then evaluation can continue to produce the final result.

Illustration

As a first approximation, the following data flow graph shows how evaluation and building are interleaved, if the value of a Nix expression depends on realising a [store object]. Boxes are data structures, arrow labels are transformations.

+----------------------+             +------------------------+
| Nix evaluator        |             | Nix store              |
|  .----------------.  |             |                        |
|  | Nix expression |  |             |                        |
|  '----------------'  |             |                        |
|          |           |             |                        |
|       evaluate       |             |                        |
|          |           |             |                        |
|          V           |             |                        |
|    .------------.    |             |  .------------------.  |
|    | derivation |----|-instantiate-|->| store derivation |  |
|    '------------'    |             |  '------------------'  |
|                      |             |           |            |
|                      |             |        realise         |
|                      |             |           |            |
|                      |             |           V            |
|  .----------------.  |             |    .--------------.    |
|  | Nix expression |<-|----read-----|----| store object |    |
|  '----------------'  |             |    '--------------'    |
|          |           |             |                        |
|       evaluate       |             |                        |
|          |           |             |                        |
|          V           |             |                        |
|    .------------.    |             |                        |
|    |   value    |    |             |                        |
|    '------------'    |             |                        |
+----------------------+             +------------------------+

In more detail, the following sequence diagram shows how the expression is evaluated step by step, and where evaluation is blocked to wait for the build output to appear.

.-------.     .-------------.                        .---------.
|Nix CLI|     |Nix evaluator|                        |Nix store|
'-------'     '-------------'                        '---------'
    |                |                                    |
    |evaluate IFD.nix|                                    |
    |--------------->|                                    |
    |                |                                    |
    |  evaluate `"${readFile drv} world"`                 |
    |                |                                    |
    |    evaluate `readFile drv`                          |
    |                |                                    |
    |   evaluate `drv` as string                          |
    |                |                                    |
    |                |instantiate /nix/store/...-hello.drv|
    |                |----------------------------------->|
    |                :                                    |
    |                :  realise /nix/store/...-hello.drv  |
    |                :----------------------------------->|
    |                :                                    |
    |                                                     |--------.
    |                :                                    |        |
    |      (evaluation blocked)                           |  echo hello > $out
    |                :                                    |        |
    |                                                     |<-------'
    |                :        /nix/store/...-hello        |
    |                |<-----------------------------------|
    |                |                                    |
    |  resume `readFile /nix/store/...-hello`             |
    |                |                                    |
    |                |   readFile /nix/store/...-hello    |
    |                |----------------------------------->|
    |                |                                    |
    |                |               hello                |
    |                |<-----------------------------------|
    |                |                                    |
    |      resume `"${"hello"} world"`                    |
    |                |                                    |
    |        resume `"hello world"`                       |
    |                |                                    |
    | "hello world"  |                                    |
    |<---------------|                                    |
.-------.     .-------------.                        .---------.
|Nix CLI|     |Nix evaluator|                        |Nix store|
'-------'     '-------------'                        '---------'

Built-in Constants

These constants are built into the Nix language evaluator:

builtins (set)

Contains all the built-in functions and values.

Since built-in functions were added over time, testing for attributes in builtins can be used for graceful fallback on older Nix installations:

# if hasContext is not available, we assume `s` has a context
if builtins ? hasContext then builtins.hasContext s else true
currentSystem (string)

The value of the eval-system or else system configuration option.

It can be used to set the system attribute for builtins.derivation such that the resulting derivation can be built on the same system that evaluates the Nix expression:

 builtins.derivation {
   # ...
   system = builtins.currentSystem;
}

It can be overridden in order to create derivations for different system than the current one:

$ nix-instantiate --system "mips64-linux" --eval --expr 'builtins.currentSystem'
"mips64-linux"

Note

Not available in pure evaluation mode.

currentTime (integer)

Return the Unix time at first evaluation. Repeated references to that name will re-use the initially obtained value.

Example:

$ nix repl
Welcome to Nix 2.15.1 Type :? for help.

nix-repl> builtins.currentTime
1683705525

nix-repl> builtins.currentTime
1683705525

The store path of a derivation depending on currentTime will differ for each evaluation, unless both evaluate builtins.currentTime in the same second.

Note

Not available in pure evaluation mode.

false (Boolean)

Primitive value.

It can be returned by comparison operators and used in conditional expressions.

The name false is not special, and can be shadowed:

nix-repl> let false = 1; in false
1
langVersion (integer)

The current version of the Nix language.

nixPath (list)

List of search path entries used to resolve lookup paths.

Lookup path expressions can be desugared using this and builtins.findFile:

<nixpkgs>

is equivalent to:

builtins.findFile builtins.nixPath "nixpkgs"
nixVersion (string)

The version of Nix.

For example, where the command line returns the current Nix version,

$ nix --version
nix (Nix) 2.16.0

the Nix language evaluator returns the same value:

nix-repl> builtins.nixVersion
"2.16.0"
null (null)

Primitive value.

The name null is not special, and can be shadowed:

nix-repl> let null = 1; in null
1
storeDir (string)

Logical file system location of the Nix store currently in use.

This value is determined by the store parameter in Store URLs:

$ nix-instantiate --store 'dummy://?store=/blah' --eval --expr builtins.storeDir
"/blah"
true (Boolean)

Primitive value.

It can be returned by comparison operators and used in conditional expressions.

The name true is not special, and can be shadowed:

nix-repl> let true = 1; in true
1

Built-in Functions

This section lists the functions built into the Nix language evaluator. All built-in functions are available through the global builtins constant.

For convenience, some built-ins can be accessed directly:

derivation attrs

derivation is described in its own section.

abort s

Abort Nix expression evaluation and print the error message s.

add e1 e2

Return the sum of the numbers e1 and e2.

addDrvOutputDependencies s

Create a copy of the given string where a single consant string context element is turned into a "derivation deep" string context element.

The store path that is the constant string context element should point to a valid derivation, and end in .drv.

The original string context element must not be empty or have multiple elements, and it must not have any other type of element other than a constant or derivation deep element. The latter is supported so this function is idempotent.

This is the opposite of builtins.unsafeDiscardOutputDependency.

all pred list

Return true if the function pred returns true for all elements of list, and false otherwise.

any pred list

Return true if the function pred returns true for at least one element of list, and false otherwise.

attrNames set

Return the names of the attributes in the set set in an alphabetically sorted list. For instance, builtins.attrNames { y = 1; x = "foo"; } evaluates to [ "x" "y" ].

attrValues set

Return the values of the attributes in the set set in the order corresponding to the sorted attribute names.

baseNameOf s

Return the base name of the string s, that is, everything following the final slash in the string. This is similar to the GNU basename command.

bitAnd e1 e2

Return the bitwise AND of the integers e1 and e2.

bitOr e1 e2

Return the bitwise OR of the integers e1 and e2.

bitXor e1 e2

Return the bitwise XOR of the integers e1 and e2.

break v

In debug mode (enabled using --debugger), pause Nix expression evaluation and enter the REPL. Otherwise, return the argument v.

catAttrs attr list

Collect each attribute named attr from a list of attribute sets. Attrsets that don't contain the named attribute are ignored. For example,

builtins.catAttrs "a" [{a = 1;} {b = 0;} {a = 2;}]

evaluates to [1 2].

ceil double

Converts an IEEE-754 double-precision floating-point number (double) to the next higher integer.

If the datatype is neither an integer nor a "float", an evaluation error will be thrown.

compareVersions s1 s2

Compare two strings representing versions and return -1 if version s1 is older than version s2, 0 if they are the same, and 1 if s1 is newer than s2. The version comparison algorithm is the same as the one used by nix-env -u.

concatLists lists

Concatenate a list of lists into a single list.

concatMap f list

This function is equivalent to builtins.concatLists (map f list) but is more efficient.

concatStringsSep separator list

Concatenate a list of strings with a separator between each element, e.g. concatStringsSep "/" ["usr" "local" "bin"] == "usr/local/bin".

convertHash args

Return the specified representation of a hash string, based on the attributes presented in args:

  • hash

    The hash to be converted. The hash format is detected automatically.

  • hashAlgo

    The algorithm used to create the hash. Must be one of

    • "md5"
    • "sha1"
    • "sha256"
    • "sha512"

    The attribute may be omitted when hash is an SRI hash or when the hash is prefixed with the hash algorithm name followed by a colon. That <hashAlgo>:<hashBody> syntax is supported for backwards compatibility with existing tooling.

  • toHashFormat

    The format of the resulting hash. Must be one of

    • "base16"
    • "nix32"
    • "base32" (deprecated alias for "nix32")
    • "base64"
    • "sri"

The result hash is the toHashFormat representation of the hash hash.

Example

Convert a SHA256 hash in Base16 to SRI:

builtins.convertHash {
  hash = "e3b0c44298fc1c149afbf4c8996fb92427ae41e4649b934ca495991b7852b855";
  toHashFormat = "sri";
  hashAlgo = "sha256";
}
"sha256-47DEQpj8HBSa+/TImW+5JCeuQeRkm5NMpJWZG3hSuFU="

Example

Convert a SHA256 hash in SRI to Base16:

builtins.convertHash {
  hash = "sha256-47DEQpj8HBSa+/TImW+5JCeuQeRkm5NMpJWZG3hSuFU=";
  toHashFormat = "base16";
}
"e3b0c44298fc1c149afbf4c8996fb92427ae41e4649b934ca495991b7852b855"

Example

Convert a hash in the form <hashAlgo>:<hashBody> in Base16 to SRI:

builtins.convertHash {
  hash = "sha256:e3b0c44298fc1c149afbf4c8996fb92427ae41e4649b934ca495991b7852b855";
  toHashFormat = "sri";
}
"sha256-47DEQpj8HBSa+/TImW+5JCeuQeRkm5NMpJWZG3hSuFU="
deepSeq e1 e2

This is like seq e1 e2, except that e1 is evaluated deeply: if it’s a list or set, its elements or attributes are also evaluated recursively.

dirOf s

Return the directory part of the string s, that is, everything before the final slash in the string. This is similar to the GNU dirname command.

div e1 e2

Return the quotient of the numbers e1 and e2.

elem x xs

Return true if a value equal to x occurs in the list xs, and false otherwise.

elemAt xs n

Return element n from the list xs. Elements are counted starting from 0. A fatal error occurs if the index is out of bounds.

fetchClosure args

Note

This function is only available if the fetch-closure experimental feature is enabled.

For example, include the following in nix.conf:

extra-experimental-features = fetch-closure

Fetch a store path closure from a binary cache, and return the store path as a string with context.

This function can be invoked in three ways, that we will discuss in order of preference.

Fetch a content-addressed store path

Example:

builtins.fetchClosure {
  fromStore = "https://cache.nixos.org";
  fromPath = /nix/store/ldbhlwhh39wha58rm61bkiiwm6j7211j-git-2.33.1;
}

This is the simplest invocation, and it does not require the user of the expression to configure trusted-public-keys to ensure their authenticity.

If your store path is input addressed instead of content addressed, consider the other two invocations.

Fetch any store path and rewrite it to a fully content-addressed store path

Example:

builtins.fetchClosure {
  fromStore = "https://cache.nixos.org";
  fromPath = /nix/store/r2jd6ygnmirm2g803mksqqjm4y39yi6i-git-2.33.1;
  toPath = /nix/store/ldbhlwhh39wha58rm61bkiiwm6j7211j-git-2.33.1;
}

This example fetches /nix/store/r2jd... from the specified binary cache, and rewrites it into the content-addressed store path /nix/store/ldbh....

Like the previous example, no extra configuration or privileges are required.

To find out the correct value for toPath given a fromPath, use nix store make-content-addressed:

# nix store make-content-addressed --from https://cache.nixos.org /nix/store/r2jd6ygnmirm2g803mksqqjm4y39yi6i-git-2.33.1
rewrote '/nix/store/r2jd6ygnmirm2g803mksqqjm4y39yi6i-git-2.33.1' to '/nix/store/ldbhlwhh39wha58rm61bkiiwm6j7211j-git-2.33.1'

Alternatively, set toPath = "" and find the correct toPath in the error message.

Fetch an input-addressed store path as is

Example:

builtins.fetchClosure {
  fromStore = "https://cache.nixos.org";
  fromPath = /nix/store/r2jd6ygnmirm2g803mksqqjm4y39yi6i-git-2.33.1;
  inputAddressed = true;
}

It is possible to fetch an input-addressed store path and return it as is. However, this is the least preferred way of invoking fetchClosure, because it requires that the input-addressed paths are trusted by the Nix configuration.

builtins.storePath

fetchClosure is similar to builtins.storePath in that it allows you to use a previously built store path in a Nix expression. However, fetchClosure is more reproducible because it specifies a binary cache from which the path can be fetched. Also, using content-addressed store paths does not require users to configure trusted-public-keys to ensure their authenticity.

fetchGit args

Fetch a path from git. args can be a URL, in which case the HEAD of the repo at that URL is fetched. Otherwise, it can be an attribute with the following attributes (all except url optional):

  • url

    The URL of the repo.

  • name (default: source)

    The name of the directory the repo should be exported to in the store.

  • rev (default: the tip of ref)

    The Git revision to fetch. This is typically a commit hash.

  • ref (default: HEAD)

    The Git reference under which to look for the requested revision. This is often a branch or tag name.

    By default, the ref value is prefixed with refs/heads/. As of 2.3.0, Nix will not prefix refs/heads/ if ref starts with refs/.

  • submodules (default: false)

    A Boolean parameter that specifies whether submodules should be checked out.

  • exportIgnore (default: true)

    A Boolean parameter that specifies whether export-ignore from .gitattributes should be applied. This approximates part of the git archive behavior.

    Enabling this option is not recommended because it is unknown whether the Git developers commit to the reproducibility of export-ignore in newer Git versions.

  • shallow (default: false)

    Make a shallow clone when fetching the Git tree.

  • allRefs

    Whether to fetch all references of the repository. With this argument being true, it's possible to load a rev from any ref (by default only revs from the specified ref are supported).

  • verifyCommit (default: true if publicKey or publicKeys are provided, otherwise false)

    Whether to check rev for a signature matching publicKey or publicKeys. If verifyCommit is enabled, then fetchGit cannot use a local repository with uncommitted changes. Requires the verified-fetches experimental feature.

  • publicKey

    The public key against which rev is verified if verifyCommit is enabled. Requires the verified-fetches experimental feature.

  • keytype (default: "ssh-ed25519")

    The key type of publicKey. Possible values:

  • publicKeys

    The public keys against which rev is verified if verifyCommit is enabled. Must be given as a list of attribute sets with the following form:

    {
      key = "<public key>";
      type = "<key type>"; # optional, default: "ssh-ed25519"
    }
    

    Requires the verified-fetches experimental feature.

Here are some examples of how to use fetchGit.

  • To fetch a private repository over SSH:

    builtins.fetchGit {
      url = "git@github.com:my-secret/repository.git";
      ref = "master";
      rev = "adab8b916a45068c044658c4158d81878f9ed1c3";
    }
    
  • To fetch an arbitrary reference:

    builtins.fetchGit {
      url = "https://github.com/NixOS/nix.git";
      ref = "refs/heads/0.5-release";
    }
    
  • If the revision you're looking for is in the default branch of the git repository you don't strictly need to specify the branch name in the ref attribute.

    However, if the revision you're looking for is in a future branch for the non-default branch you will need to specify the the ref attribute as well.

    builtins.fetchGit {
      url = "https://github.com/nixos/nix.git";
      rev = "841fcbd04755c7a2865c51c1e2d3b045976b7452";
      ref = "1.11-maintenance";
    }
    

    Note

    It is nice to always specify the branch which a revision belongs to. Without the branch being specified, the fetcher might fail if the default branch changes. Additionally, it can be confusing to try a commit from a non-default branch and see the fetch fail. If the branch is specified the fault is much more obvious.

  • If the revision you're looking for is in the default branch of the git repository you may omit the ref attribute.

    builtins.fetchGit {
      url = "https://github.com/nixos/nix.git";
      rev = "841fcbd04755c7a2865c51c1e2d3b045976b7452";
    }
    
  • To fetch a specific tag:

    builtins.fetchGit {
      url = "https://github.com/nixos/nix.git";
      ref = "refs/tags/1.9";
    }
    
  • To fetch the latest version of a remote branch:

    builtins.fetchGit {
      url = "ssh://git@github.com/nixos/nix.git";
      ref = "master";
    }
    
  • To verify the commit signature:

    builtins.fetchGit {
      url = "ssh://git@github.com/nixos/nix.git";
      verifyCommit = true;
      publicKeys = [
          {
            type = "ssh-ed25519";
            key = "AAAAC3NzaC1lZDI1NTE5AAAAIArPKULJOid8eS6XETwUjO48/HKBWl7FTCK0Z//fplDi";
          }
      ];
    }
    

    Nix will refetch the branch according to the tarball-ttl setting.

    This behavior is disabled in pure evaluation mode.

  • To fetch the content of a checked-out work directory:

    builtins.fetchGit ./work-dir
    

If the URL points to a local directory, and no ref or rev is given, fetchGit will use the current content of the checked-out files, even if they are not committed or added to Git's index. It will only consider files added to the Git repository, as listed by git ls-files.

fetchTarball args

Download the specified URL, unpack it and return the path of the unpacked tree. The file must be a tape archive (.tar) compressed with gzip, bzip2 or xz. The top-level path component of the files in the tarball is removed, so it is best if the tarball contains a single directory at top level. The typical use of the function is to obtain external Nix expression dependencies, such as a particular version of Nixpkgs, e.g.

with import (fetchTarball https://github.com/NixOS/nixpkgs/archive/nixos-14.12.tar.gz) {};

stdenv.mkDerivation { … }

The fetched tarball is cached for a certain amount of time (1 hour by default) in ~/.cache/nix/tarballs/. You can change the cache timeout either on the command line with --tarball-ttl number-of-seconds or in the Nix configuration file by adding the line tarball-ttl = number-of-seconds.

Note that when obtaining the hash with nix-prefetch-url the option --unpack is required.

This function can also verify the contents against a hash. In that case, the function takes a set instead of a URL. The set requires the attribute url and the attribute sha256, e.g.

with import (fetchTarball {
  url = "https://github.com/NixOS/nixpkgs/archive/nixos-14.12.tar.gz";
  sha256 = "1jppksrfvbk5ypiqdz4cddxdl8z6zyzdb2srq8fcffr327ld5jj2";
}) {};

stdenv.mkDerivation { … }

Not available in restricted evaluation mode.

fetchTree input

Note

This function is only available if the fetch-tree experimental feature is enabled.

For example, include the following in nix.conf:

extra-experimental-features = fetch-tree

Fetch a file system tree or a plain file using one of the supported backends and return an attribute set with:

  • the resulting fixed-output store path
  • the corresponding NAR hash
  • backend-specific metadata (currently not documented).

input must be an attribute set with the following attributes:

  • type (String, required)

    One of the supported source types. This determines other required and allowed input attributes.

  • narHash (String, optional)

    The narHash parameter can be used to substitute the source of the tree. It also allows for verification of tree contents that may not be provided by the underlying transfer mechanism. If narHash is set, the source is first looked up is the Nix store and substituters, and only fetched if not available.

A subset of the output attributes of fetchTree can be re-used for subsequent calls to fetchTree to produce the same result again. That is, fetchTree is idempotent.

Downloads are cached in $XDG_CACHE_HOME/nix. The remote source will be fetched from the network if both are true:

  • A NAR hash is supplied and the corresponding store path is not valid, that is, not available in the store

    Note

    Substituters are not used in fetching.

  • There is no cache entry or the cache entry is older than tarball-ttl

Source types

The following source types and associated input attributes are supported.

  • "file"

    Place a plain file into the Nix store. This is similar to builtins.fetchurl

    • url (String, required)

      Supported protocols:

      • https

        Example

        fetchTree {
          type = "file";
          url = "https://example.com/index.html";
        }
        
      • http

        Insecure HTTP transfer for legacy sources.

        Warning

        HTTP performs no encryption or authentication. Use a narHash known in advance to ensure the output has expected contents.

      • file

        A file on the local file system.

        Example

        fetchTree {
          type = "file";
          url = "file:///home/eelco/nix/README.md";
        }
        
  • "tarball"

    Download a tar archive and extract it into the Nix store. This has the same underyling implementation as builtins.fetchTarball

    • url (String, required)

      Example

      fetchTree {
        type = "tarball";
        url = "https://github.com/NixOS/nixpkgs/tarball/nixpkgs-23.11";
      }
      
  • "git"

    Fetch a Git tree and copy it to the Nix store. This is similar to builtins.fetchGit.

    • url (String, required)

      The URL formats supported are the same as for Git itself.

      Example

      fetchTree {
        type = "git";
        url = "git@github.com:NixOS/nixpkgs.git";
      }
      

      Note

      If the URL points to a local directory, and no ref or rev is given, Nix will only consider files added to the Git index, as listed by git ls-files but use the current file contents of the Git working directory.

    • ref (String, optional)

      A Git reference, such as a branch or tag name.

      Default: "HEAD"

    • rev (String, optional)

      A Git revision; a commit hash.

      Default: the tip of ref

    • shallow (Bool, optional)

      Make a shallow clone when fetching the Git tree.

      Default: false

    • submodules (Bool, optional)

      Also fetch submodules if available.

      Default: false

    • allRefs (Bool, optional)

      If set to true, always fetch the entire repository, even if the latest commit is still in the cache. Otherwise, only the latest commit is fetched if it is not already cached.

      Default: false

    • lastModified (Integer, optional)

      Unix timestamp of the fetched commit.

      If set, pass through the value to the output attribute set. Otherwise, generated from the fetched Git tree.

    • revCount (Integer, optional)

      Number of revisions in the history of the Git repository before the fetched commit.

      If set, pass through the value to the output attribute set. Otherwise, generated from the fetched Git tree.

The following input types are still subject to change:

  • "path"
  • "github"
  • "gitlab"
  • "sourcehut"
  • "mercurial"

input can also be a URL-like reference. The additional input types and the URL-like syntax requires the flakes experimental feature to be enabled.

Example

Fetch a GitHub repository using the attribute set representation:

builtins.fetchTree {
  type = "github";
  owner = "NixOS";
  repo = "nixpkgs";
  rev = "ae2e6b3958682513d28f7d633734571fb18285dd";
}

This evaluates to the following attribute set:

{
  lastModified = 1686503798;
  lastModifiedDate = "20230611171638";
  narHash = "sha256-rA9RqKP9OlBrgGCPvfd5HVAXDOy8k2SmPtB/ijShNXc=";
  outPath = "/nix/store/l5m6qlvfs9sdw14ja3qbzpglcjlb6j1x-source";
  rev = "ae2e6b3958682513d28f7d633734571fb18285dd";
  shortRev = "ae2e6b3";
}

Example

Fetch the same GitHub repository using the URL-like syntax:

builtins.fetchTree "github:NixOS/nixpkgs/ae2e6b3958682513d28f7d633734571fb18285dd"
fetchurl url

Download the specified URL and return the path of the downloaded file.

Not available in restricted evaluation mode.

filter f list

Return a list consisting of the elements of list for which the function f returns true.

filterSource e1 e2

Warning

filterSource should not be used to filter store paths. Since filterSource uses the name of the input directory while naming the output directory, doing so will produce a directory name in the form of <hash2>-<hash>-<name>, where <hash>-<name> is the name of the input directory. Since <hash> depends on the unfiltered directory, the name of the output directory will indirectly depend on files that are filtered out by the function. This will trigger a rebuild even when a filtered out file is changed. Use builtins.path instead, which allows specifying the name of the output directory.

This function allows you to copy sources into the Nix store while filtering certain files. For instance, suppose that you want to use the directory source-dir as an input to a Nix expression, e.g.

stdenv.mkDerivation {
  ...
  src = ./source-dir;
}

However, if source-dir is a Subversion working copy, then all those annoying .svn subdirectories will also be copied to the store. Worse, the contents of those directories may change a lot, causing lots of spurious rebuilds. With filterSource you can filter out the .svn directories:

src = builtins.filterSource
  (path: type: type != "directory" || baseNameOf path != ".svn")
  ./source-dir;

Thus, the first argument e1 must be a predicate function that is called for each regular file, directory or symlink in the source tree e2. If the function returns true, the file is copied to the Nix store, otherwise it is omitted. The function is called with two arguments. The first is the full path of the file. The second is a string that identifies the type of the file, which is either "regular", "directory", "symlink" or "unknown" (for other kinds of files such as device nodes or fifos — but note that those cannot be copied to the Nix store, so if the predicate returns true for them, the copy will fail). If you exclude a directory, the entire corresponding subtree of e2 will be excluded.

findFile search-path lookup-path

Find lookup-path in search-path.

A search path is represented list of attribute sets with two attributes:

  • prefix is a relative path.
  • path denotes a file system location The exact syntax depends on the command line interface.

Examples of search path attribute sets:

  • {
      prefix = "nixos-config";
      path = "/etc/nixos/configuration.nix";
    }
    
  • {
      prefix = "";
      path = "/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels";
    }
    

The lookup algorithm checks each entry until a match is found, returning a path value of the match:

  • If lookup-path matches prefix, then the remainder of lookup-path (the "suffix") is searched for within the directory denoted by path. Note that the path may need to be downloaded at this point to look inside.
  • If the suffix is found inside that directory, then the entry is a match. The combined absolute path of the directory (now downloaded if need be) and the suffix is returned.

Lookup path expressions can be desugared using this and builtins.nixPath:

<nixpkgs>

is equivalent to:

builtins.findFile builtins.nixPath "nixpkgs"
flakeRefToString attrs

Note

This function is only available if the flakes experimental feature is enabled.

For example, include the following in nix.conf:

extra-experimental-features = flakes

Convert a flake reference from attribute set format to URL format.

For example:

builtins.flakeRefToString {
  dir = "lib"; owner = "NixOS"; ref = "23.05"; repo = "nixpkgs"; type = "github";
}

evaluates to

"github:NixOS/nixpkgs/23.05?dir=lib"
floor double

Converts an IEEE-754 double-precision floating-point number (double) to the next lower integer.

If the datatype is neither an integer nor a "float", an evaluation error will be thrown.

foldl' op nul list

Reduce a list by applying a binary operator, from left to right, e.g. foldl' op nul [x0 x1 x2 ...] = op (op (op nul x0) x1) x2) ....

For example, foldl' (acc: elem: acc + elem) 0 [1 2 3] evaluates to 6 and foldl' (acc: elem: { "${elem}" = elem; } // acc) {} ["a" "b"] evaluates to { a = "a"; b = "b"; }.

The first argument of op is the accumulator whereas the second argument is the current element being processed. The return value of each application of op is evaluated immediately, even for intermediate values.

fromJSON e

Convert a JSON string to a Nix value. For example,

builtins.fromJSON ''{"x": [1, 2, 3], "y": null}''

returns the value { x = [ 1 2 3 ]; y = null; }.

fromTOML e

Convert a TOML string to a Nix value. For example,

builtins.fromTOML ''
  x=1
  s="a"
  [table]
  y=2
''

returns the value { s = "a"; table = { y = 2; }; x = 1; }.

functionArgs f

Return a set containing the names of the formal arguments expected by the function f. The value of each attribute is a Boolean denoting whether the corresponding argument has a default value. For instance, functionArgs ({ x, y ? 123}: ...) = { x = false; y = true; }.

"Formal argument" here refers to the attributes pattern-matched by the function. Plain lambdas are not included, e.g. functionArgs (x: ...) = { }.

genList generator length

Generate list of size length, with each element i equal to the value returned by generator i. For example,

builtins.genList (x: x * x) 5

returns the list [ 0 1 4 9 16 ].

genericClosure attrset

Take an attrset with values named startSet and operator in order to return a list of attrsets by starting with the startSet and recursively applying the operator function to each item. The attrsets in the startSet and the attrsets produced by operator must contain a value named key which is comparable. The result is produced by calling operator for each item with a value for key that has not been called yet including newly produced items. The function terminates when no new items are produced. The resulting list of attrsets contains only attrsets with a unique key. For example,

builtins.genericClosure {
  startSet = [ {key = 5;} ];
  operator = item: [{
    key = if (item.key / 2 ) * 2 == item.key
         then item.key / 2
         else 3 * item.key + 1;
  }];
}

evaluates to

[ { key = 5; } { key = 16; } { key = 8; } { key = 4; } { key = 2; } { key = 1; } ]

key can be one of the following types:

getAttr s set

getAttr returns the attribute named s from set. Evaluation aborts if the attribute doesn’t exist. This is a dynamic version of the . operator, since s is an expression rather than an identifier.

getContext s

Return the string context of s.

The string context tracks references to derivations within a string. It is represented as an attribute set of store derivation paths mapping to output names.

Using string interpolation on a derivation will add that derivation to the string context. For example,

builtins.getContext "${derivation { name = "a"; builder = "b"; system = "c"; }}"

evaluates to

{ "/nix/store/arhvjaf6zmlyn8vh8fgn55rpwnxq0n7l-a.drv" = { outputs = [ "out" ]; }; }
getEnv s

getEnv returns the value of the environment variable s, or an empty string if the variable doesn’t exist. This function should be used with care, as it can introduce all sorts of nasty environment dependencies in your Nix expression.

getEnv is used in Nix Packages to locate the file ~/.nixpkgs/config.nix, which contains user-local settings for Nix Packages. (That is, it does a getEnv "HOME" to locate the user’s home directory.)

getFlake args

Note

This function is only available if the flakes experimental feature is enabled.

For example, include the following in nix.conf:

extra-experimental-features = flakes

Fetch a flake from a flake reference, and return its output attributes and some metadata. For example:

(builtins.getFlake "nix/55bc52401966fbffa525c574c14f67b00bc4fb3a").packages.x86_64-linux.nix

Unless impure evaluation is allowed (--impure), the flake reference must be "locked", e.g. contain a Git revision or content hash. An example of an unlocked usage is:

(builtins.getFlake "github:edolstra/dwarffs").rev
groupBy f list

Groups elements of list together by the string returned from the function f called on each element. It returns an attribute set where each attribute value contains the elements of list that are mapped to the same corresponding attribute name returned by f.

For example,

builtins.groupBy (builtins.substring 0 1) ["foo" "bar" "baz"]

evaluates to

{ b = [ "bar" "baz" ]; f = [ "foo" ]; }
hasAttr s set

hasAttr returns true if set has an attribute named s, and false otherwise. This is a dynamic version of the ? operator, since s is an expression rather than an identifier.

hasContext s

Return true if string s has a non-empty context. The context can be obtained with getContext.

Example

Many operations require a string context to be empty because they are intended only to work with "regular" strings, and also to help users avoid unintentionally loosing track of string context elements. builtins.hasContext can help create better domain-specific errors in those case.

name: meta:

if builtins.hasContext name
then throw "package name cannot contain string context"
else { ${name} = meta; }
hashFile type p

Return a base-16 representation of the cryptographic hash of the file at path p. The hash algorithm specified by type must be one of "md5", "sha1", "sha256" or "sha512".

hashString type s

Return a base-16 representation of the cryptographic hash of string s. The hash algorithm specified by type must be one of "md5", "sha1", "sha256" or "sha512".

head list

Return the first element of a list; abort evaluation if the argument isn’t a list or is an empty list. You can test whether a list is empty by comparing it with [].

import path

Load, parse, and return the Nix expression in the file path.

Note

Unlike some languages, import is a regular function in Nix.

The path argument must meet the same criteria as an interpolated expression.

If path is a directory, the file default.nix in that directory is used if it exists.

Example

$ echo 123 > default.nix

Import default.nix from the current directory.

import ./.
123

Evaluation aborts if the file doesn’t exist or contains an invalid Nix expression.

A Nix expression loaded by import must not contain any free variables, that is, identifiers that are not defined in the Nix expression itself and are not built-in. Therefore, it cannot refer to variables that are in scope at the call site.

Example

If you have a calling expression

rec {
  x = 123;
  y = import ./foo.nix;
}

then the following foo.nix will give an error:

# foo.nix
x + 456

since x is not in scope in foo.nix. If you want x to be available in foo.nix, pass it as a function argument:

rec {
  x = 123;
  y = import ./foo.nix x;
}

and

# foo.nix
x: x + 456

The function argument doesn’t have to be called x in foo.nix; any name would work.

intersectAttrs e1 e2

Return a set consisting of the attributes in the set e2 which have the same name as some attribute in e1.

Performs in O(n log m) where n is the size of the smaller set and m the larger set's size.

isAttrs e

Return true if e evaluates to a set, and false otherwise.

isBool e

Return true if e evaluates to a bool, and false otherwise.

isFloat e

Return true if e evaluates to a float, and false otherwise.

isFunction e

Return true if e evaluates to a function, and false otherwise.

isInt e

Return true if e evaluates to an integer, and false otherwise.

isList e

Return true if e evaluates to a list, and false otherwise.

isNull e

Return true if e evaluates to null, and false otherwise.

This is equivalent to e == null.

isPath e

Return true if e evaluates to a path, and false otherwise.

isString e

Return true if e evaluates to a string, and false otherwise.

length e

Return the length of the list e.

lessThan e1 e2

Return true if the number e1 is less than the number e2, and false otherwise. Evaluation aborts if either e1 or e2 does not evaluate to a number.

listToAttrs e

Construct a set from a list specifying the names and values of each attribute. Each element of the list should be a set consisting of a string-valued attribute name specifying the name of the attribute, and an attribute value specifying its value.

In case of duplicate occurrences of the same name, the first takes precedence.

Example:

builtins.listToAttrs
  [ { name = "foo"; value = 123; }
    { name = "bar"; value = 456; }
    { name = "bar"; value = 420; }
  ]

evaluates to

{ foo = 123; bar = 456; }
map f list

Apply the function f to each element in the list list. For example,

map (x: "foo" + x) [ "bar" "bla" "abc" ]

evaluates to [ "foobar" "foobla" "fooabc" ].

mapAttrs f attrset

Apply function f to every element of attrset. For example,

builtins.mapAttrs (name: value: value * 10) { a = 1; b = 2; }

evaluates to { a = 10; b = 20; }.

match regex str

Returns a list if the extended POSIX regular expression regex matches str precisely, otherwise returns null. Each item in the list is a regex group.

builtins.match "ab" "abc"

Evaluates to null.

builtins.match "abc" "abc"

Evaluates to [ ].

builtins.match "a(b)(c)" "abc"

Evaluates to [ "b" "c" ].

builtins.match "[[:space:]]+([[:upper:]]+)[[:space:]]+" "  FOO   "

Evaluates to [ "FOO" ].

mul e1 e2

Return the product of the numbers e1 and e2.

outputOf derivation-reference output-name

Note

This function is only available if the dynamic-derivations experimental feature is enabled.

For example, include the following in nix.conf:

extra-experimental-features = dynamic-derivations

Return the output path of a derivation, literally or using a placeholder if needed.

If the derivation has a statically-known output path (i.e. the derivation output is input-addressed, or fixed content-addresed), the output path will just be returned. But if the derivation is content-addressed or if the derivation is itself not-statically produced (i.e. is the output of another derivation), a placeholder will be returned instead.

derivation reference must be a string that may contain a regular store path to a derivation, or may be a placeholder reference. If the derivation is produced by a derivation, you must explicitly select drv.outPath. This primop can be chained arbitrarily deeply. For instance,

builtins.outputOf
  (builtins.outputOf myDrv "out")
  "out"

will return a placeholder for the output of the output of myDrv.

This primop corresponds to the ^ sigil for derivable paths, e.g. as part of installable syntax on the command line.

parseDrvName s

Split the string s into a package name and version. The package name is everything up to but not including the first dash not followed by a letter, and the version is everything following that dash. The result is returned in a set { name, version }. Thus, builtins.parseDrvName "nix-0.12pre12876" returns { name = "nix"; version = "0.12pre12876"; }.

parseFlakeRef flake-ref

Note

This function is only available if the flakes experimental feature is enabled.

For example, include the following in nix.conf:

extra-experimental-features = flakes

Parse a flake reference, and return its exploded form.

For example:

builtins.parseFlakeRef "github:NixOS/nixpkgs/23.05?dir=lib"

evaluates to:

{ dir = "lib"; owner = "NixOS"; ref = "23.05"; repo = "nixpkgs"; type = "github"; }
partition pred list

Given a predicate function pred, this function returns an attrset containing a list named right, containing the elements in list for which pred returned true, and a list named wrong, containing the elements for which it returned false. For example,

builtins.partition (x: x > 10) [1 23 9 3 42]

evaluates to

{ right = [ 23 42 ]; wrong = [ 1 9 3 ]; }
path args

An enrichment of the built-in path type, based on the attributes present in args. All are optional except path:

  • path
    The underlying path.

  • name
    The name of the path when added to the store. This can used to reference paths that have nix-illegal characters in their names, like @.

  • filter
    A function of the type expected by builtins.filterSource, with the same semantics.

  • recursive
    When false, when path is added to the store it is with a flat hash, rather than a hash of the NAR serialization of the file. Thus, path must refer to a regular file, not a directory. This allows similar behavior to fetchurl. Defaults to true.

  • sha256
    When provided, this is the expected hash of the file at the path. Evaluation will fail if the hash is incorrect, and providing a hash allows builtins.path to be used even when the pure-eval nix config option is on.

pathExists path

Return true if the path path exists at evaluation time, and false otherwise.

placeholder output

Return a placeholder string for the specified output that will be substituted by the corresponding output path at build time. Typical outputs would be "out", "bin" or "dev".

readDir path

Return the contents of the directory path as a set mapping directory entries to the corresponding file type. For instance, if directory A contains a regular file B and another directory C, then builtins.readDir ./A will return the set

{ B = "regular"; C = "directory"; }

The possible values for the file type are "regular", "directory", "symlink" and "unknown".

readFile path

Return the contents of the file path as a string.

readFileType p

Determine the directory entry type of a filesystem node, being one of "directory", "regular", "symlink", or "unknown".

removeAttrs set list

Remove the attributes listed in list from set. The attributes don’t have to exist in set. For instance,

removeAttrs { x = 1; y = 2; z = 3; } [ "a" "x" "z" ]

evaluates to { y = 2; }.

replaceStrings from to s

Given string s, replace every occurrence of the strings in from with the corresponding string in to.

The argument to is lazy, that is, it is only evaluated when its corresponding pattern in from is matched in the string s

Example:

builtins.replaceStrings ["oo" "a"] ["a" "i"] "foobar"

evaluates to "fabir".

seq e1 e2

Evaluate e1, then evaluate and return e2. This ensures that a computation is strict in the value of e1.

sort comparator list

Return list in sorted order. It repeatedly calls the function comparator with two elements. The comparator should return true if the first element is less than the second, and false otherwise. For example,

builtins.sort builtins.lessThan [ 483 249 526 147 42 77 ]

produces the list [ 42 77 147 249 483 526 ].

This is a stable sort: it preserves the relative order of elements deemed equal by the comparator.

split regex str

Returns a list composed of non matched strings interleaved with the lists of the extended POSIX regular expression regex matches of str. Each item in the lists of matched sequences is a regex group.

builtins.split "(a)b" "abc"

Evaluates to [ "" [ "a" ] "c" ].

builtins.split "([ac])" "abc"

Evaluates to [ "" [ "a" ] "b" [ "c" ] "" ].

builtins.split "(a)|(c)" "abc"

Evaluates to [ "" [ "a" null ] "b" [ null "c" ] "" ].

builtins.split "([[:upper:]]+)" " FOO "

Evaluates to [ " " [ "FOO" ] " " ].

splitVersion s

Split a string representing a version into its components, by the same version splitting logic underlying the version comparison in nix-env -u.

storePath path

This function allows you to define a dependency on an already existing store path. For example, the derivation attribute src = builtins.storePath /nix/store/f1d18v1y…-source causes the derivation to depend on the specified path, which must exist or be substitutable. Note that this differs from a plain path (e.g. src = /nix/store/f1d18v1y…-source) in that the latter causes the path to be copied again to the Nix store, resulting in a new path (e.g. /nix/store/ld01dnzc…-source-source).

Not available in pure evaluation mode.

See also builtins.fetchClosure.

stringLength e

Return the length of the string e. If e is not a string, evaluation is aborted.

sub e1 e2

Return the difference between the numbers e1 and e2.

substring start len s

Return the substring of s from character position start (zero-based) up to but not including start + len. If start is greater than the length of the string, an empty string is returned. If start + len lies beyond the end of the string or len is -1, only the substring up to the end of the string is returned. start must be non-negative. For example,

builtins.substring 0 3 "nixos"

evaluates to "nix".

tail list

Return the list without its first item; abort evaluation if the argument isn’t a list or is an empty list.

Warning

This function should generally be avoided since it's inefficient: unlike Haskell's tail, it takes O(n) time, so recursing over a list by repeatedly calling tail takes O(n^2) time.

throw s

Throw an error message s. This usually aborts Nix expression evaluation, but in nix-env -qa and other commands that try to evaluate a set of derivations to get information about those derivations, a derivation that throws an error is silently skipped (which is not the case for abort).

toFile name s

Store the string s in a file in the Nix store and return its path. The file has suffix name. This file can be used as an input to derivations. One application is to write builders “inline”. For instance, the following Nix expression combines the Nix expression for GNU Hello and its build script into one file:

{ stdenv, fetchurl, perl }:

stdenv.mkDerivation {
  name = "hello-2.1.1";

  builder = builtins.toFile "builder.sh" "
    source $stdenv/setup

    PATH=$perl/bin:$PATH

    tar xvfz $src
    cd hello-*
    ./configure --prefix=$out
    make
    make install
  ";

  src = fetchurl {
    url = "http://ftp.nluug.nl/pub/gnu/hello/hello-2.1.1.tar.gz";
    sha256 = "1md7jsfd8pa45z73bz1kszpp01yw6x5ljkjk2hx7wl800any6465";
  };
  inherit perl;
}

It is even possible for one file to refer to another, e.g.,

builder = let
  configFile = builtins.toFile "foo.conf" "
    # This is some dummy configuration file.
    ...
  ";
in builtins.toFile "builder.sh" "
  source $stdenv/setup
  ...
  cp ${configFile} $out/etc/foo.conf
";

Note that ${configFile} is a string interpolation, so the result of the expression configFile (i.e., a path like /nix/store/m7p7jfny445k...-foo.conf) will be spliced into the resulting string.

It is however not allowed to have files mutually referring to each other, like so:

let
  foo = builtins.toFile "foo" "...${bar}...";
  bar = builtins.toFile "bar" "...${foo}...";
in foo

This is not allowed because it would cause a cyclic dependency in the computation of the cryptographic hashes for foo and bar.

It is also not possible to reference the result of a derivation. If you are using Nixpkgs, the writeTextFile function is able to do that.

toJSON e

Return a string containing a JSON representation of e. Strings, integers, floats, booleans, nulls and lists are mapped to their JSON equivalents. Sets (except derivations) are represented as objects. Derivations are translated to a JSON string containing the derivation’s output path. Paths are copied to the store and represented as a JSON string of the resulting store path.

toPath s

DEPRECATED. Use /. + "/path" to convert a string into an absolute path. For relative paths, use ./. + "/path".

toString e

Convert the expression e to a string. e can be:

  • A string (in which case the string is returned unmodified).

  • A path (e.g., toString /foo/bar yields "/foo/bar".

  • A set containing { __toString = self: ...; } or { outPath = ...; }.

  • An integer.

  • A list, in which case the string representations of its elements are joined with spaces.

  • A Boolean (false yields "", true yields "1").

  • null, which yields the empty string.

toXML e

Return a string containing an XML representation of e. The main application for toXML is to communicate information with the builder in a more structured format than plain environment variables.

Here is an example where this is the case:

{ stdenv, fetchurl, libxslt, jira, uberwiki }:

stdenv.mkDerivation (rec {
  name = "web-server";

  buildInputs = [ libxslt ];

  builder = builtins.toFile "builder.sh" "
    source $stdenv/setup
    mkdir $out
    echo "$servlets" | xsltproc ${stylesheet} - > $out/server-conf.xml ①
  ";

  stylesheet = builtins.toFile "stylesheet.xsl" ②
   "<?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8'?>
    <xsl:stylesheet xmlns:xsl='http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform' version='1.0'>
      <xsl:template match='/'>
        <Configure>
          <xsl:for-each select='/expr/list/attrs'>
            <Call name='addWebApplication'>
              <Arg><xsl:value-of select=\"attr[@name = 'path']/string/@value\" /></Arg>
              <Arg><xsl:value-of select=\"attr[@name = 'war']/path/@value\" /></Arg>
            </Call>
          </xsl:for-each>
        </Configure>
      </xsl:template>
    </xsl:stylesheet>
  ";

  servlets = builtins.toXML [ ③
    { path = "/bugtracker"; war = jira + "/lib/atlassian-jira.war"; }
    { path = "/wiki"; war = uberwiki + "/uberwiki.war"; }
  ];
})

The builder is supposed to generate the configuration file for a Jetty servlet container. A servlet container contains a number of servlets (*.war files) each exported under a specific URI prefix. So the servlet configuration is a list of sets containing the path and war of the servlet (①). This kind of information is difficult to communicate with the normal method of passing information through an environment variable, which just concatenates everything together into a string (which might just work in this case, but wouldn’t work if fields are optional or contain lists themselves). Instead the Nix expression is converted to an XML representation with toXML, which is unambiguous and can easily be processed with the appropriate tools. For instance, in the example an XSLT stylesheet (at point ②) is applied to it (at point ①) to generate the XML configuration file for the Jetty server. The XML representation produced at point ③ by toXML is as follows:

<?xml version='1.0' encoding='utf-8'?>
<expr>
  <list>
    <attrs>
      <attr name="path">
        <string value="/bugtracker" />
      </attr>
      <attr name="war">
        <path value="/nix/store/d1jh9pasa7k2...-jira/lib/atlassian-jira.war" />
      </attr>
    </attrs>
    <attrs>
      <attr name="path">
        <string value="/wiki" />
      </attr>
      <attr name="war">
        <path value="/nix/store/y6423b1yi4sx...-uberwiki/uberwiki.war" />
      </attr>
    </attrs>
  </list>
</expr>

Note that we used the toFile built-in to write the builder and the stylesheet “inline” in the Nix expression. The path of the stylesheet is spliced into the builder using the syntax xsltproc ${stylesheet}.

trace e1 e2

Evaluate e1 and print its abstract syntax representation on standard error. Then return e2. This function is useful for debugging.

traceVerbose e1 e2

Evaluate e1 and print its abstract syntax representation on standard error if --trace-verbose is enabled. Then return e2. This function is useful for debugging.

tryEval e

Try to shallowly evaluate e. Return a set containing the attributes success (true if e evaluated successfully, false if an error was thrown) and value, equalling e if successful and false otherwise. tryEval will only prevent errors created by throw or assert from being thrown. Errors tryEval will not catch are for example those created by abort and type errors generated by builtins. Also note that this doesn't evaluate e deeply, so let e = { x = throw ""; }; in (builtins.tryEval e).success will be true. Using builtins.deepSeq one can get the expected result: let e = { x = throw ""; }; in (builtins.tryEval (builtins.deepSeq e e)).success will be false.

typeOf e

Return a string representing the type of the value e, namely "int", "bool", "string", "path", "null", "set", "list", "lambda" or "float".

unsafeDiscardOutputDependency s

Create a copy of the given string where every "derivation deep" string context element is turned into a constant string context element.

This is the opposite of builtins.addDrvOutputDependencies.

This is unsafe because it allows us to "forget" store objects we would have otherwise refered to with the string context, whereas Nix normally tracks all dependencies consistently. Safe operations "grow" but never "shrink" string contexts. builtins.addDrvOutputDependencies in contrast is safe because "derivation deep" string context element always refers to the underlying derivation (among many more things). Replacing a constant string context element with a "derivation deep" element is a safe operation that just enlargens the string context without forgetting anything.

zipAttrsWith f list

Transpose a list of attribute sets into an attribute set of lists, then apply mapAttrs.

f receives two arguments: the attribute name and a non-empty list of all values encountered for that attribute name.

The result is an attribute set where the attribute names are the union of the attribute names in each element of list. The attribute values are the return values of f.

builtins.zipAttrsWith
  (name: values: { inherit name values; })
  [ { a = "x"; } { a = "y"; b = "z"; } ]

evaluates to

{
  a = { name = "a"; values = [ "x" "y" ]; };
  b = { name = "b"; values = [ "z" ]; };
}

This chapter discusses how to do package management with Nix, i.e., how to obtain, install, upgrade, and erase packages. This is the “user’s” perspective of the Nix system — people who want to create packages should consult the chapter on the Nix language.

Profiles

Profiles and user environments are Nix’s mechanism for implementing the ability to allow different users to have different configurations, and to do atomic upgrades and rollbacks. To understand how they work, it’s useful to know a bit about how Nix works. In Nix, packages are stored in unique locations in the Nix store (typically, /nix/store). For instance, a particular version of the Subversion package might be stored in a directory /nix/store/dpmvp969yhdqs7lm2r1a3gng7pyq6vy4-subversion-1.1.3/, while another version might be stored in /nix/store/5mq2jcn36ldlmh93yj1n8s9c95pj7c5s-subversion-1.1.2. The long strings prefixed to the directory names are cryptographic hashes (to be precise, 160-bit truncations of SHA-256 hashes encoded in a base-32 notation) of all inputs involved in building the package — sources, dependencies, compiler flags, and so on. So if two packages differ in any way, they end up in different locations in the file system, so they don’t interfere with each other. Here is what a part of a typical Nix store looks like:

Of course, you wouldn’t want to type

$ /nix/store/dpmvp969yhdq...-subversion-1.1.3/bin/svn

every time you want to run Subversion. Of course we could set up the PATH environment variable to include the bin directory of every package we want to use, but this is not very convenient since changing PATH doesn’t take effect for already existing processes. The solution Nix uses is to create directory trees of symlinks to activated packages. These are called user environments and they are packages themselves (though automatically generated by nix-env), so they too reside in the Nix store. For instance, in the figure above, the user environment /nix/store/0c1p5z4kda11...-user-env contains a symlink to just Subversion 1.1.2 (arrows in the figure indicate symlinks). This would be what we would obtain if we had done

$ nix-env --install --attr nixpkgs.subversion

on a set of Nix expressions that contained Subversion 1.1.2.

This doesn’t in itself solve the problem, of course; you wouldn’t want to type /nix/store/0c1p5z4kda11...-user-env/bin/svn either. That’s why there are symlinks outside of the store that point to the user environments in the store; for instance, the symlinks default-42-link and default-43-link in the example. These are called generations since every time you perform a nix-env operation, a new user environment is generated based on the current one. For instance, generation 43 was created from generation 42 when we did

$ nix-env --install --attr nixpkgs.subversion nixpkgs.firefox

on a set of Nix expressions that contained Firefox and a new version of Subversion.

Generations are grouped together into profiles so that different users don’t interfere with each other if they don’t want to. For example:

$ ls -l /nix/var/nix/profiles/
...
lrwxrwxrwx  1 eelco ... default-42-link -> /nix/store/0c1p5z4kda11...-user-env
lrwxrwxrwx  1 eelco ... default-43-link -> /nix/store/3aw2pdyx2jfc...-user-env
lrwxrwxrwx  1 eelco ... default -> default-43-link

This shows a profile called default. The file default itself is actually a symlink that points to the current generation. When we do a nix-env operation, a new user environment and generation link are created based on the current one, and finally the default symlink is made to point at the new generation. This last step is atomic on Unix, which explains how we can do atomic upgrades. (Note that the building/installing of new packages doesn’t interfere in any way with old packages, since they are stored in different locations in the Nix store.)

If you find that you want to undo a nix-env operation, you can just do

$ nix-env --rollback

which will just make the current generation link point at the previous link. E.g., default would be made to point at default-42-link. You can also switch to a specific generation:

$ nix-env --switch-generation 43

which in this example would roll forward to generation 43 again. You can also see all available generations:

$ nix-env --list-generations

You generally wouldn’t have /nix/var/nix/profiles/some-profile/bin in your PATH. Rather, there is a symlink ~/.nix-profile that points to your current profile. This means that you should put ~/.nix-profile/bin in your PATH (and indeed, that’s what the initialisation script /nix/etc/profile.d/nix.sh does). This makes it easier to switch to a different profile. You can do that using the command nix-env --switch-profile:

$ nix-env --switch-profile /nix/var/nix/profiles/my-profile

$ nix-env --switch-profile /nix/var/nix/profiles/default

These commands switch to the my-profile and default profile, respectively. If the profile doesn’t exist, it will be created automatically. You should be careful about storing a profile in another location than the profiles directory, since otherwise it might not be used as a root of the garbage collector.

All nix-env operations work on the profile pointed to by ~/.nix-profile, but you can override this using the --profile option (abbreviation -p):

$ nix-env --profile /nix/var/nix/profiles/other-profile --install --attr nixpkgs.subversion

This will not change the ~/.nix-profile symlink.

Garbage Collection

nix-env operations such as upgrades (-u) and uninstall (-e) never actually delete packages from the system. All they do (as shown above) is to create a new user environment that no longer contains symlinks to the “deleted” packages.

Of course, since disk space is not infinite, unused packages should be removed at some point. You can do this by running the Nix garbage collector. It will remove from the Nix store any package not used (directly or indirectly) by any generation of any profile.

Note however that as long as old generations reference a package, it will not be deleted. After all, we wouldn’t be able to do a rollback otherwise. So in order for garbage collection to be effective, you should also delete (some) old generations. Of course, this should only be done if you are certain that you will not need to roll back.

To delete all old (non-current) generations of your current profile:

$ nix-env --delete-generations old

Instead of old you can also specify a list of generations, e.g.,

$ nix-env --delete-generations 10 11 14

To delete all generations older than a specified number of days (except the current generation), use the d suffix. For example,

$ nix-env --delete-generations 14d

deletes all generations older than two weeks.

After removing appropriate old generations you can run the garbage collector as follows:

$ nix-store --gc

The behaviour of the garbage collector is affected by the keep-derivations (default: true) and keep-outputs (default: false) options in the Nix configuration file. The defaults will ensure that all derivations that are build-time dependencies of garbage collector roots will be kept and that all output paths that are runtime dependencies will be kept as well. All other derivations or paths will be collected. (This is usually what you want, but while you are developing it may make sense to keep outputs to ensure that rebuild times are quick.) If you are feeling uncertain, you can also first view what files would be deleted:

$ nix-store --gc --print-dead

Likewise, the option --print-live will show the paths that won’t be deleted.

There is also a convenient little utility nix-collect-garbage, which when invoked with the -d (--delete-old) switch deletes all old generations of all profiles in /nix/var/nix/profiles. So

$ nix-collect-garbage -d

is a quick and easy way to clean up your system.

Garbage Collector Roots

The roots of the garbage collector are all store paths to which there are symlinks in the directory prefix/nix/var/nix/gcroots. For instance, the following command makes the path /nix/store/d718ef...-foo a root of the collector:

$ ln -s /nix/store/d718ef...-foo /nix/var/nix/gcroots/bar

That is, after this command, the garbage collector will not remove /nix/store/d718ef...-foo or any of its dependencies.

Subdirectories of prefix/nix/var/nix/gcroots are also searched for symlinks. Symlinks to non-store paths are followed and searched for roots, but symlinks to non-store paths inside the paths reached in that way are not followed to prevent infinite recursion.

This section lists advanced topics related to builds and builds performance

Sharing Packages Between Machines

Sometimes you want to copy a package from one machine to another. Or, you want to install some packages and you know that another machine already has some or all of those packages or their dependencies. In that case there are mechanisms to quickly copy packages between machines.

Serving a Nix store via HTTP

You can easily share the Nix store of a machine via HTTP. This allows other machines to fetch store paths from that machine to speed up installations. It uses the same binary cache mechanism that Nix usually uses to fetch pre-built binaries from https://cache.nixos.org.

The daemon that handles binary cache requests via HTTP, nix-serve, is not part of the Nix distribution, but you can install it from Nixpkgs:

$ nix-env --install --attr nixpkgs.nix-serve

You can then start the server, listening for HTTP connections on whatever port you like:

$ nix-serve -p 8080

To check whether it works, try the following on the client:

$ curl http://avalon:8080/nix-cache-info

which should print something like:

StoreDir: /nix/store
WantMassQuery: 1
Priority: 30

On the client side, you can tell Nix to use your binary cache using --substituters, e.g.:

$ nix-env --install --attr nixpkgs.firefox --substituters http://avalon:8080/

The option substituters tells Nix to use this binary cache in addition to your default caches, such as https://cache.nixos.org. Thus, for any path in the closure of Firefox, Nix will first check if the path is available on the server avalon or another binary caches. If not, it will fall back to building from source.

You can also tell Nix to always use your binary cache by adding a line to the nix.conf configuration file like this:

substituters = http://avalon:8080/ https://cache.nixos.org/

Copying Closures via SSH

The command nix-copy-closure copies a Nix store path along with all its dependencies to or from another machine via the SSH protocol. It doesn’t copy store paths that are already present on the target machine. For example, the following command copies Firefox with all its dependencies:

$ nix-copy-closure --to alice@itchy.example.org $(type -p firefox)

See the manpage for nix-copy-closure for details.

With nix-store --export and nix-store --import you can write the closure of a store path (that is, the path and all its dependencies) to a file, and then unpack that file into another Nix store. For example,

$ nix-store --export $(nix-store --query --requisites $(type -p firefox)) > firefox.closure

writes the closure of Firefox to a file. You can then copy this file to another machine and install the closure:

$ nix-store --import < firefox.closure

Any store paths in the closure that are already present in the target store are ignored. It is also possible to pipe the export into another command, e.g. to copy and install a closure directly to/on another machine:

$ nix-store --export $(nix-store --query --requisites $(type -p firefox)) | bzip2 | \
    ssh alice@itchy.example.org "bunzip2 | nix-store --import"

However, nix-copy-closure is generally more efficient because it only copies paths that are not already present in the target Nix store.

Serving a Nix store via SSH

You can tell Nix to automatically fetch needed binaries from a remote Nix store via SSH. For example, the following installs Firefox, automatically fetching any store paths in Firefox’s closure if they are available on the server avalon:

$ nix-env --install --attr nixpkgs.firefox --substituters ssh://alice@avalon

This works similar to the binary cache substituter that Nix usually uses, only using SSH instead of HTTP: if a store path P is needed, Nix will first check if it’s available in the Nix store on avalon. If not, it will fall back to using the binary cache substituter, and then to building from source.

Note

The SSH substituter currently does not allow you to enter an SSH passphrase interactively. Therefore, you should use ssh-add to load the decrypted private key into ssh-agent.

You can also copy the closure of some store path, without installing it into your profile, e.g.

$ nix-store --realise /nix/store/m85bxg…-firefox-34.0.5 --substituters
ssh://alice@avalon

This is essentially equivalent to doing

$ nix-copy-closure --from alice@avalon
/nix/store/m85bxg…-firefox-34.0.5

You can use SSH’s forced command feature to set up a restricted user account for SSH substituter access, allowing read-only access to the local Nix store, but nothing more. For example, add the following lines to sshd_config to restrict the user nix-ssh:

Match User nix-ssh
  AllowAgentForwarding no
  AllowTcpForwarding no
  PermitTTY no
  PermitTunnel no
  X11Forwarding no
  ForceCommand nix-store --serve
Match All

On NixOS, you can accomplish the same by adding the following to your configuration.nix:

nix.sshServe.enable = true;
nix.sshServe.keys = [ "ssh-dss AAAAB3NzaC1k... bob@example.org" ];

where the latter line lists the public keys of users that are allowed to connect.

Serving a Nix store via S3

Remote Builds

Nix supports remote builds, where a local Nix installation can forward Nix builds to other machines. This allows multiple builds to be performed in parallel and allows Nix to perform multi-platform builds in a semi-transparent way. For instance, if you perform a build for a x86_64-darwin on an i686-linux machine, Nix can automatically forward the build to a x86_64-darwin machine, if available.

To forward a build to a remote machine, it’s required that the remote machine is accessible via SSH and that it has Nix installed. You can test whether connecting to the remote Nix instance works, e.g.

$ nix store info --store ssh://mac

will try to connect to the machine named mac. It is possible to specify an SSH identity file as part of the remote store URI, e.g.

$ nix store info --store ssh://mac?ssh-key=/home/alice/my-key

Since builds should be non-interactive, the key should not have a passphrase. Alternatively, you can load identities ahead of time into ssh-agent or gpg-agent.

If you get the error

bash: nix-store: command not found
error: cannot connect to 'mac'

then you need to ensure that the PATH of non-interactive login shells contains Nix.

Warning

If you are building via the Nix daemon, it is the Nix daemon user account (that is, root) that should have SSH access to a user (not necessarily root) on the remote machine.

If you can’t or don’t want to configure root to be able to access the remote machine, you can use a private Nix store instead by passing e.g. --store ~/my-nix when running a Nix command from the local machine.

The list of remote machines can be specified on the command line or in the Nix configuration file. The former is convenient for testing. For example, the following command allows you to build a derivation for x86_64-darwin on a Linux machine:

$ uname
Linux

$ nix build --impure \
  --expr '(with import <nixpkgs> { system = "x86_64-darwin"; }; runCommand "foo" {} "uname > $out")' \
  --builders 'ssh://mac x86_64-darwin'
[1/0/1 built, 0.0 MiB DL] building foo on ssh://mac

$ cat ./result
Darwin

It is possible to specify multiple builders separated by a semicolon or a newline, e.g.

  --builders 'ssh://mac x86_64-darwin ; ssh://beastie x86_64-freebsd'

Each machine specification consists of the following elements, separated by spaces. Only the first element is required. To leave a field at its default, set it to -.

  1. The URI of the remote store in the format ssh://[username@]hostname, e.g. ssh://nix@mac or ssh://mac. For backward compatibility, ssh:// may be omitted. The hostname may be an alias defined in your ~/.ssh/config.

  2. A comma-separated list of Nix platform type identifiers, such as x86_64-darwin. It is possible for a machine to support multiple platform types, e.g., i686-linux,x86_64-linux. If omitted, this defaults to the local platform type.

  3. The SSH identity file to be used to log in to the remote machine. If omitted, SSH will use its regular identities.

  4. The maximum number of builds that Nix will execute in parallel on the machine. Typically this should be equal to the number of CPU cores. For instance, the machine itchy in the example will execute up to 8 builds in parallel.

  5. The “speed factor”, indicating the relative speed of the machine. If there are multiple machines of the right type, Nix will prefer the fastest, taking load into account.

  6. A comma-separated list of supported features. If a derivation has the requiredSystemFeatures attribute, then Nix will only perform the derivation on a machine that has the specified features. For instance, the attribute

    requiredSystemFeatures = [ "kvm" ];
    

    will cause the build to be performed on a machine that has the kvm feature.

  7. A comma-separated list of mandatory features. A machine will only be used to build a derivation if all of the machine’s mandatory features appear in the derivation’s requiredSystemFeatures attribute.

  8. The (base64-encoded) public host key of the remote machine. If omitted, SSH will use its regular known-hosts file. Specifically, the field is calculated via base64 -w0 /etc/ssh/ssh_host_ed25519_key.pub.

For example, the machine specification

nix@scratchy.labs.cs.uu.nl  i686-linux      /home/nix/.ssh/id_scratchy_auto        8 1 kvm
nix@itchy.labs.cs.uu.nl     i686-linux      /home/nix/.ssh/id_scratchy_auto        8 2
nix@poochie.labs.cs.uu.nl   i686-linux      /home/nix/.ssh/id_scratchy_auto        1 2 kvm benchmark

specifies several machines that can perform i686-linux builds. However, poochie will only do builds that have the attribute

requiredSystemFeatures = [ "benchmark" ];

or

requiredSystemFeatures = [ "benchmark" "kvm" ];

itchy cannot do builds that require kvm, but scratchy does support such builds. For regular builds, itchy will be preferred over scratchy because it has a higher speed factor.

Remote builders can also be configured in nix.conf, e.g.

builders = ssh://mac x86_64-darwin ; ssh://beastie x86_64-freebsd

Finally, remote builders can be configured in a separate configuration file included in builders via the syntax @file. For example,

builders = @/etc/nix/machines

causes the list of machines in /etc/nix/machines to be included. (This is the default.)

If you want the builders to use caches, you likely want to set the option builders-use-substitutes in your local nix.conf.

To build only on remote builders and disable building on the local machine, you can use the option --max-jobs 0.

Tuning Cores and Jobs

Nix has two relevant settings with regards to how your CPU cores will be utilized: cores and max-jobs. This chapter will talk about what they are, how they interact, and their configuration trade-offs.

  • max-jobs
    Dictates how many separate derivations will be built at the same time. If you set this to zero, the local machine will do no builds. Nix will still substitute from binary caches, and build remotely if remote builders are configured.

  • cores
    Suggests how many cores each derivation should use. Similar to make -j.

The cores setting determines the value of NIX_BUILD_CORES. NIX_BUILD_CORES is equal to cores, unless cores equals 0, in which case NIX_BUILD_CORES will be the total number of cores in the system.

The maximum number of consumed cores is a simple multiplication, max-jobs * NIX_BUILD_CORES.

The balance on how to set these two independent variables depends upon each builder's workload and hardware. Here are a few example scenarios on a machine with 24 cores:

max-jobscoresNIX_BUILD_CORESMaximum ProcessesResult
1242424One derivation will be built at a time, each one can use 24 cores. Undersold if a job can’t use 24 cores.
46624Four derivations will be built at once, each given access to six cores.
12667212 derivations will be built at once, each given access to six cores. This configuration is over-sold. If all 12 derivations being built simultaneously try to use all six cores, the machine's performance will be degraded due to extensive context switching between the 12 builds.
24112424 derivations can build at the same time, each using a single core. Never oversold, but derivations which require many cores will be very slow to compile.
2402457624 derivations can build at the same time, each using all the available cores of the machine. Very likely to be oversold, and very likely to suffer context switches.

It is up to the derivations' build script to respect host's requested cores-per-build by following the value of the NIX_BUILD_CORES environment variable.

Verifying Build Reproducibility

You can use Nix's diff-hook setting to compare build results. Note that this hook is only executed if the results differ; it is not used for determining if the results are the same.

For purposes of demonstration, we'll use the following Nix file, deterministic.nix for testing:

let
  inherit (import <nixpkgs> {}) runCommand;
in {
  stable = runCommand "stable" {} ''
    touch $out
  '';

  unstable = runCommand "unstable" {} ''
    echo $RANDOM > $out
  '';
}

Additionally, nix.conf contains:

diff-hook = /etc/nix/my-diff-hook
run-diff-hook = true

where /etc/nix/my-diff-hook is an executable file containing:

#!/bin/sh
exec >&2
echo "For derivation $3:"
/run/current-system/sw/bin/diff -r "$1" "$2"

The diff hook is executed by the same user and group who ran the build. However, the diff hook does not have write access to the store path just built.

Spot-Checking Build Determinism

Verify a path which already exists in the Nix store by passing --check to the build command.

If the build passes and is deterministic, Nix will exit with a status code of 0:

$ nix-build ./deterministic.nix --attr stable
this derivation will be built:
  /nix/store/z98fasz2jqy9gs0xbvdj939p27jwda38-stable.drv
building '/nix/store/z98fasz2jqy9gs0xbvdj939p27jwda38-stable.drv'...
/nix/store/yyxlzw3vqaas7wfp04g0b1xg51f2czgq-stable

$ nix-build ./deterministic.nix --attr stable --check
checking outputs of '/nix/store/z98fasz2jqy9gs0xbvdj939p27jwda38-stable.drv'...
/nix/store/yyxlzw3vqaas7wfp04g0b1xg51f2czgq-stable

If the build is not deterministic, Nix will exit with a status code of 1:

$ nix-build ./deterministic.nix --attr unstable
this derivation will be built:
  /nix/store/cgl13lbj1w368r5z8gywipl1ifli7dhk-unstable.drv
building '/nix/store/cgl13lbj1w368r5z8gywipl1ifli7dhk-unstable.drv'...
/nix/store/krpqk0l9ib0ibi1d2w52z293zw455cap-unstable

$ nix-build ./deterministic.nix --attr unstable --check
checking outputs of '/nix/store/cgl13lbj1w368r5z8gywipl1ifli7dhk-unstable.drv'...
error: derivation '/nix/store/cgl13lbj1w368r5z8gywipl1ifli7dhk-unstable.drv' may
not be deterministic: output '/nix/store/krpqk0l9ib0ibi1d2w52z293zw455cap-unstable' differs

In the Nix daemon's log, we will now see:

For derivation /nix/store/cgl13lbj1w368r5z8gywipl1ifli7dhk-unstable.drv:
1c1
< 8108
---
> 30204

Using --check with --keep-failed will cause Nix to keep the second build's output in a special, .check path:

$ nix-build ./deterministic.nix --attr unstable --check --keep-failed
checking outputs of '/nix/store/cgl13lbj1w368r5z8gywipl1ifli7dhk-unstable.drv'...
note: keeping build directory '/tmp/nix-build-unstable.drv-0'
error: derivation '/nix/store/cgl13lbj1w368r5z8gywipl1ifli7dhk-unstable.drv' may
not be deterministic: output '/nix/store/krpqk0l9ib0ibi1d2w52z293zw455cap-unstable' differs
from '/nix/store/krpqk0l9ib0ibi1d2w52z293zw455cap-unstable.check'

In particular, notice the /nix/store/krpqk0l9ib0ibi1d2w52z293zw455cap-unstable.check output. Nix has copied the build results to that directory where you can examine it.

Note

Check paths are not protected against garbage collection, and this path will be deleted on the next garbage collection.

The path is guaranteed to be alive for the duration of the diff-hook's execution, but may be deleted any time after.

If the comparison is performed as part of automated tooling, please use the diff-hook or author your tooling to handle the case where the build was not deterministic and also a check path does not exist.

--check is only usable if the derivation has been built on the system already. If the derivation has not been built Nix will fail with the error:

error: some outputs of '/nix/store/hzi1h60z2qf0nb85iwnpvrai3j2w7rr6-unstable.drv' 
are not valid, so checking is not possible

Run the build without --check, and then try with --check again.

Using the post-build-hook

Implementation Caveats

Here we use the post-build hook to upload to a binary cache. This is a simple and working example, but it is not suitable for all use cases.

The post build hook program runs after each executed build, and blocks the build loop. The build loop exits if the hook program fails.

Concretely, this implementation will make Nix slow or unusable when the internet is slow or unreliable.

A more advanced implementation might pass the store paths to a user-supplied daemon or queue for processing the store paths outside of the build loop.

Prerequisites

This tutorial assumes you have configured an S3-compatible binary cache as a substituter, and that the root user's default AWS profile can upload to the bucket.

Set up a Signing Key

Use nix-store --generate-binary-cache-key to create our public and private signing keys. We will sign paths with the private key, and distribute the public key for verifying the authenticity of the paths.

# nix-store --generate-binary-cache-key example-nix-cache-1 /etc/nix/key.private /etc/nix/key.public
# cat /etc/nix/key.public
example-nix-cache-1:1/cKDz3QCCOmwcztD2eV6Coggp6rqc9DGjWv7C0G+rM=

Then update nix.conf on any machine that will access the cache. Add the cache URL to substituters and the public key to trusted-public-keys:

substituters = https://cache.nixos.org/ s3://example-nix-cache
trusted-public-keys = cache.nixos.org-1:6NCHdD59X431o0gWypbMrAURkbJ16ZPMQFGspcDShjY= example-nix-cache-1:1/cKDz3QCCOmwcztD2eV6Coggp6rqc9DGjWv7C0G+rM=

Machines that build for the cache must sign derivations using the private key. On those machines, add the path to the key file to the secret-key-files field in their nix.conf:

secret-key-files = /etc/nix/key.private

We will restart the Nix daemon in a later step.

Implementing the build hook

Write the following script to /etc/nix/upload-to-cache.sh:

#!/bin/sh

set -eu
set -f # disable globbing
export IFS=' '

echo "Uploading paths" $OUT_PATHS
exec nix copy --to "s3://example-nix-cache" $OUT_PATHS

Note

The $OUT_PATHS variable is a space-separated list of Nix store paths. In this case, we expect and want the shell to perform word splitting to make each output path its own argument to nix store sign. Nix guarantees the paths will not contain any spaces, however a store path might contain glob characters. The set -f disables globbing in the shell. If you want to upload the .drv file too, the $DRV_PATH variable is also defined for the script and works just like $OUT_PATHS.

Then make sure the hook program is executable by the root user:

# chmod +x /etc/nix/upload-to-cache.sh

Updating Nix Configuration

Edit /etc/nix/nix.conf to run our hook, by adding the following configuration snippet at the end:

post-build-hook = /etc/nix/upload-to-cache.sh

Then, restart the nix-daemon.

Testing

Build any derivation, for example:

$ nix-build --expr '(import <nixpkgs> {}).writeText "example" (builtins.toString builtins.currentTime)'
this derivation will be built:
  /nix/store/s4pnfbkalzy5qz57qs6yybna8wylkig6-example.drv
building '/nix/store/s4pnfbkalzy5qz57qs6yybna8wylkig6-example.drv'...
running post-build-hook '/home/grahamc/projects/github.com/NixOS/nix/post-hook.sh'...
post-build-hook: Signing paths /nix/store/ibcyipq5gf91838ldx40mjsp0b8w9n18-example
post-build-hook: Uploading paths /nix/store/ibcyipq5gf91838ldx40mjsp0b8w9n18-example
/nix/store/ibcyipq5gf91838ldx40mjsp0b8w9n18-example

Then delete the path from the store, and try substituting it from the binary cache:

$ rm ./result
$ nix-store --delete /nix/store/ibcyipq5gf91838ldx40mjsp0b8w9n18-example

Now, copy the path back from the cache:

$ nix-store --realise /nix/store/ibcyipq5gf91838ldx40mjsp0b8w9n18-example
copying path '/nix/store/m8bmqwrch6l3h8s0k3d673xpmipcdpsa-example from 's3://example-nix-cache'...
warning: you did not specify '--add-root'; the result might be removed by the garbage collector
/nix/store/m8bmqwrch6l3h8s0k3d673xpmipcdpsa-example

Conclusion

We now have a Nix installation configured to automatically sign and upload every local build to a remote binary cache.

Before deploying this to production, be sure to consider the implementation caveats.

This section lists commands and options that you can use when you work with Nix.

Common Options

Most Nix commands accept the following command-line options:

  • --help

    Prints out a summary of the command syntax and exits.

  • --version

    Prints out the Nix version number on standard output and exits.

  • --verbose / -v

    Increases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. For each Nix operation, the information printed on standard output is well-defined; any diagnostic information is printed on standard error, never on standard output.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. Currently, the following verbosity levels exist:

    • 0 “Errors only”

      Only print messages explaining why the Nix invocation failed.

    • 1 “Informational”

      Print useful messages about what Nix is doing. This is the default.

    • 2 “Talkative”

      Print more informational messages.

    • 3 “Chatty”

      Print even more informational messages.

    • 4 “Debug”

      Print debug information.

    • 5 “Vomit”

      Print vast amounts of debug information.

  • --quiet

    Decreases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. This is the inverse option to -v / --verbose.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. See the previous verbosity levels list.

  • --log-format format

    This option can be used to change the output of the log format, with format being one of:

    • raw

      This is the raw format, as outputted by nix-build.

    • internal-json

      Outputs the logs in a structured manner.

      Warning

      While the schema itself is relatively stable, the format of the error-messages (namely of the msg-field) can change between releases.

    • bar

      Only display a progress bar during the builds.

    • bar-with-logs

      Display the raw logs, with the progress bar at the bottom.

  • --no-build-output / -Q

    By default, output written by builders to standard output and standard error is echoed to the Nix command's standard error. This option suppresses this behaviour. Note that the builder's standard output and error are always written to a log file in prefix/nix/var/log/nix.

  • --max-jobs / -j number

    Sets the maximum number of build jobs that Nix will perform in parallel to the specified number. Specify auto to use the number of CPUs in the system. The default is specified by the max-jobs configuration setting, which itself defaults to 1. A higher value is useful on SMP systems or to exploit I/O latency.

    Setting it to 0 disallows building on the local machine, which is useful when you want builds to happen only on remote builders.

  • --cores

    Sets the value of the NIX_BUILD_CORES environment variable in the invocation of builders. Builders can use this variable at their discretion to control the maximum amount of parallelism. For instance, in Nixpkgs, if the derivation attribute enableParallelBuilding is set to true, the builder passes the -jN flag to GNU Make. It defaults to the value of the cores configuration setting, if set, or 1 otherwise. The value 0 means that the builder should use all available CPU cores in the system.

  • --max-silent-time

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can go without producing any data on standard output or standard error. The default is specified by the max-silent-time configuration setting. 0 means no time-out.

  • --timeout

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can run. The default is specified by the timeout configuration setting. 0 means no timeout.

  • --keep-going / -k

    Keep going in case of failed builds, to the greatest extent possible. That is, if building an input of some derivation fails, Nix will still build the other inputs, but not the derivation itself. Without this option, Nix stops if any build fails (except for builds of substitutes), possibly killing builds in progress (in case of parallel or distributed builds).

  • --keep-failed / -K

    Specifies that in case of a build failure, the temporary directory (usually in /tmp) in which the build takes place should not be deleted. The path of the build directory is printed as an informational message.

  • --fallback

    Whenever Nix attempts to build a derivation for which substitutes are known for each output path, but realising the output paths through the substitutes fails, fall back on building the derivation.

    The most common scenario in which this is useful is when we have registered substitutes in order to perform binary distribution from, say, a network repository. If the repository is down, the realisation of the derivation will fail. When this option is specified, Nix will build the derivation instead. Thus, installation from binaries falls back on installation from source. This option is not the default since it is generally not desirable for a transient failure in obtaining the substitutes to lead to a full build from source (with the related consumption of resources).

  • --readonly-mode

    When this option is used, no attempt is made to open the Nix database. Most Nix operations do need database access, so those operations will fail.

  • --arg name value

    This option is accepted by nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-shell and nix-build. When evaluating Nix expressions, the expression evaluator will automatically try to call functions that it encounters. It can automatically call functions for which every argument has a default value (e.g., { argName ? defaultValue }: ...).

    With --arg, you can also call functions that have arguments without a default value (or override a default value). That is, if the evaluator encounters a function with an argument named name, it will call it with value value.

    For instance, the top-level default.nix in Nixpkgs is actually a function:

    { # The system (e.g., `i686-linux') for which to build the packages.
      system ? builtins.currentSystem
      ...
    }: ...
    

    So if you call this Nix expression (e.g., when you do nix-env --install --attr pkgname), the function will be called automatically using the value builtins.currentSystem for the system argument. You can override this using --arg, e.g., nix-env --install --attr pkgname --arg system \"i686-freebsd\". (Note that since the argument is a Nix string literal, you have to escape the quotes.)

  • --argstr name value

    This option is like --arg, only the value is not a Nix expression but a string. So instead of --arg system \"i686-linux\" (the outer quotes are to keep the shell happy) you can say --argstr system i686-linux.

  • --attr / -A attrPath

    Select an attribute from the top-level Nix expression being evaluated. (nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.) The attribute path attrPath is a sequence of attribute names separated by dots. For instance, given a top-level Nix expression e, the attribute path xorg.xorgserver would cause the expression e.xorg.xorgserver to be used. See nix-env --install for some concrete examples.

    In addition to attribute names, you can also specify array indices. For instance, the attribute path foo.3.bar selects the bar attribute of the fourth element of the array in the foo attribute of the top-level expression.

  • --expr / -E

    Interpret the command line arguments as a list of Nix expressions to be parsed and evaluated, rather than as a list of file names of Nix expressions. (nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.)

    For nix-shell, this option is commonly used to give you a shell in which you can build the packages returned by the expression. If you want to get a shell which contain the built packages ready for use, give your expression to the nix-shell --packages convenience flag instead.

  • -I path

    Add an entry to the Nix expression search path. This option may be given multiple times. Paths added through -I take precedence over NIX_PATH.

  • --option name value

    Set the Nix configuration option name to value. This overrides settings in the Nix configuration file (see nix.conf5).

  • --repair

    Fix corrupted or missing store paths by redownloading or rebuilding them. Note that this is slow because it requires computing a cryptographic hash of the contents of every path in the closure of the build. Also note the warning under nix-store --repair-path.

Note

See man nix.conf for overriding configuration settings with command line flags.

Common Environment Variables

Most Nix commands interpret the following environment variables:

  • IN_NIX_SHELL

    Indicator that tells if the current environment was set up by nix-shell. It can have the values pure or impure.

  • NIX_PATH

    A colon-separated list of directories used to look up the location of Nix expressions using paths enclosed in angle brackets (i.e., <path>), e.g. /home/eelco/Dev:/etc/nixos. It can be extended using the -I option.

    If NIX_PATH is not set at all, Nix will fall back to the following list in impure and unrestricted evaluation mode:

    1. $HOME/.nix-defexpr/channels
    2. nixpkgs=/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels/nixpkgs
    3. /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels

    If NIX_PATH is set to an empty string, resolving search paths will always fail. For example, attempting to use <nixpkgs> will produce:

    error: file 'nixpkgs' was not found in the Nix search path
    
  • NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE

    Normally, the Nix store directory (typically /nix/store) is not allowed to contain any symlink components. This is to prevent “impure” builds. Builders sometimes “canonicalise” paths by resolving all symlink components. Thus, builds on different machines (with /nix/store resolving to different locations) could yield different results. This is generally not a problem, except when builds are deployed to machines where /nix/store resolves differently. If you are sure that you’re not going to do that, you can set NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE to 1.

    Note that if you’re symlinking the Nix store so that you can put it on another file system than the root file system, on Linux you’re better off using bind mount points, e.g.,

    $ mkdir /nix
    $ mount -o bind /mnt/otherdisk/nix /nix
    

    Consult the mount 8 manual page for details.

  • NIX_STORE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix store (default prefix/store).

  • NIX_DATA_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix static data directory (default prefix/share).

  • NIX_LOG_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix log directory (default prefix/var/log/nix).

  • NIX_STATE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix state directory (default prefix/var/nix).

  • NIX_CONF_DIR

    Overrides the location of the system Nix configuration directory (default prefix/etc/nix).

  • NIX_CONFIG

    Applies settings from Nix configuration from the environment. The content is treated as if it was read from a Nix configuration file. Settings are separated by the newline character.

  • NIX_USER_CONF_FILES

    Overrides the location of the Nix user configuration files to load from.

    The default are the locations according to the XDG Base Directory Specification. See the XDG Base Directories sub-section for details.

    The variable is treated as a list separated by the : token.

  • TMPDIR

    Use the specified directory to store temporary files. In particular, this includes temporary build directories; these can take up substantial amounts of disk space. The default is /tmp.

  • NIX_REMOTE

    This variable should be set to daemon if you want to use the Nix daemon to execute Nix operations. This is necessary in multi-user Nix installations. If the Nix daemon's Unix socket is at some non-standard path, this variable should be set to unix://path/to/socket. Otherwise, it should be left unset.

  • NIX_SHOW_STATS

    If set to 1, Nix will print some evaluation statistics, such as the number of values allocated.

  • NIX_COUNT_CALLS

    If set to 1, Nix will print how often functions were called during Nix expression evaluation. This is useful for profiling your Nix expressions.

  • GC_INITIAL_HEAP_SIZE

    If Nix has been configured to use the Boehm garbage collector, this variable sets the initial size of the heap in bytes. It defaults to 384 MiB. Setting it to a low value reduces memory consumption, but will increase runtime due to the overhead of garbage collection.

XDG Base Directories

Nix follows the XDG Base Directory Specification.

For backwards compatibility, Nix commands will follow the standard only when use-xdg-base-directories is enabled. New Nix commands (experimental) conform to the standard by default.

The following environment variables are used to determine locations of various state and configuration files:

Main Commands

This section lists commands and options that you can use when you work with Nix.

Name

nix-build - build a Nix expression

Synopsis

nix-build [paths…] [--arg name value] [--argstr name value] [{--attr | -A} attrPath] [--no-out-link] [--dry-run] [{--out-link | -o} outlink]

Disambiguation

This man page describes the command nix-build, which is distinct from nix build. For documentation on the latter, run nix build --help or see man nix3-build.

Description

The nix-build command builds the derivations described by the Nix expressions in paths. If the build succeeds, it places a symlink to the result in the current directory. The symlink is called result. If there are multiple Nix expressions, or the Nix expressions evaluate to multiple derivations, multiple sequentially numbered symlinks are created (result, result-2, and so on).

If no paths are specified, then nix-build will use default.nix in the current directory, if it exists.

If an element of paths starts with http:// or https://, it is interpreted as the URL of a tarball that will be downloaded and unpacked to a temporary location. The tarball must include a single top-level directory containing at least a file named default.nix.

nix-build is essentially a wrapper around nix-instantiate (to translate a high-level Nix expression to a low-level store derivation) and nix-store --realise (to build the store derivation).

Warning

The result of the build is automatically registered as a root of the Nix garbage collector. This root disappears automatically when the result symlink is deleted or renamed. So don’t rename the symlink.

Options

All options not listed here are passed to nix-store --realise, except for --arg and --attr / -A which are passed to nix-instantiate.

  • --no-out-link

    Do not create a symlink to the output path. Note that as a result the output does not become a root of the garbage collector, and so might be deleted by nix-store --gc.

  • --dry-run

    Show what store paths would be built or downloaded.

  • --out-link / -o outlink

    Change the name of the symlink to the output path created from result to outlink.

Special exit codes for build failure

1xx status codes are used when requested builds failed. The following codes are in use:

  • 100 Generic build failure

    The builder process returned with a non-zero exit code.

  • 101 Build timeout

    The build was aborted because it did not complete within the specified timeout.

  • 102 Hash mismatch

    The build output was rejected because it does not match the outputHash attribute of the derivation.

  • 104 Not deterministic

    The build succeeded in check mode but the resulting output is not binary reproducible.

With the --keep-going flag it's possible for multiple failures to occur. In this case the 1xx status codes are or combined using bitwise OR.

0b1100100
     ^^^^
     |||`- timeout
     ||`-- output hash mismatch
     |`--- build failure
     `---- not deterministic

Common Options

Most Nix commands accept the following command-line options:

  • --help

    Prints out a summary of the command syntax and exits.

  • --version

    Prints out the Nix version number on standard output and exits.

  • --verbose / -v

    Increases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. For each Nix operation, the information printed on standard output is well-defined; any diagnostic information is printed on standard error, never on standard output.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. Currently, the following verbosity levels exist:

    • 0 “Errors only”

      Only print messages explaining why the Nix invocation failed.

    • 1 “Informational”

      Print useful messages about what Nix is doing. This is the default.

    • 2 “Talkative”

      Print more informational messages.

    • 3 “Chatty”

      Print even more informational messages.

    • 4 “Debug”

      Print debug information.

    • 5 “Vomit”

      Print vast amounts of debug information.

  • --quiet

    Decreases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. This is the inverse option to -v / --verbose.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. See the previous verbosity levels list.

  • --log-format format

    This option can be used to change the output of the log format, with format being one of:

    • raw

      This is the raw format, as outputted by nix-build.

    • internal-json

      Outputs the logs in a structured manner.

      Warning

      While the schema itself is relatively stable, the format of the error-messages (namely of the msg-field) can change between releases.

    • bar

      Only display a progress bar during the builds.

    • bar-with-logs

      Display the raw logs, with the progress bar at the bottom.

  • --no-build-output / -Q

    By default, output written by builders to standard output and standard error is echoed to the Nix command's standard error. This option suppresses this behaviour. Note that the builder's standard output and error are always written to a log file in prefix/nix/var/log/nix.

  • --max-jobs / -j number

    Sets the maximum number of build jobs that Nix will perform in parallel to the specified number. Specify auto to use the number of CPUs in the system. The default is specified by the max-jobs configuration setting, which itself defaults to 1. A higher value is useful on SMP systems or to exploit I/O latency.

    Setting it to 0 disallows building on the local machine, which is useful when you want builds to happen only on remote builders.

  • --cores

    Sets the value of the NIX_BUILD_CORES environment variable in the invocation of builders. Builders can use this variable at their discretion to control the maximum amount of parallelism. For instance, in Nixpkgs, if the derivation attribute enableParallelBuilding is set to true, the builder passes the -jN flag to GNU Make. It defaults to the value of the cores configuration setting, if set, or 1 otherwise. The value 0 means that the builder should use all available CPU cores in the system.

  • --max-silent-time

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can go without producing any data on standard output or standard error. The default is specified by the max-silent-time configuration setting. 0 means no time-out.

  • --timeout

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can run. The default is specified by the timeout configuration setting. 0 means no timeout.

  • --keep-going / -k

    Keep going in case of failed builds, to the greatest extent possible. That is, if building an input of some derivation fails, Nix will still build the other inputs, but not the derivation itself. Without this option, Nix stops if any build fails (except for builds of substitutes), possibly killing builds in progress (in case of parallel or distributed builds).

  • --keep-failed / -K

    Specifies that in case of a build failure, the temporary directory (usually in /tmp) in which the build takes place should not be deleted. The path of the build directory is printed as an informational message.

  • --fallback

    Whenever Nix attempts to build a derivation for which substitutes are known for each output path, but realising the output paths through the substitutes fails, fall back on building the derivation.

    The most common scenario in which this is useful is when we have registered substitutes in order to perform binary distribution from, say, a network repository. If the repository is down, the realisation of the derivation will fail. When this option is specified, Nix will build the derivation instead. Thus, installation from binaries falls back on installation from source. This option is not the default since it is generally not desirable for a transient failure in obtaining the substitutes to lead to a full build from source (with the related consumption of resources).

  • --readonly-mode

    When this option is used, no attempt is made to open the Nix database. Most Nix operations do need database access, so those operations will fail.

  • --arg name value

    This option is accepted by nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-shell and nix-build. When evaluating Nix expressions, the expression evaluator will automatically try to call functions that it encounters. It can automatically call functions for which every argument has a default value (e.g., { argName ? defaultValue }: ...).

    With --arg, you can also call functions that have arguments without a default value (or override a default value). That is, if the evaluator encounters a function with an argument named name, it will call it with value value.

    For instance, the top-level default.nix in Nixpkgs is actually a function:

    { # The system (e.g., `i686-linux') for which to build the packages.
      system ? builtins.currentSystem
      ...
    }: ...
    

    So if you call this Nix expression (e.g., when you do nix-env --install --attr pkgname), the function will be called automatically using the value builtins.currentSystem for the system argument. You can override this using --arg, e.g., nix-env --install --attr pkgname --arg system \"i686-freebsd\". (Note that since the argument is a Nix string literal, you have to escape the quotes.)

  • --argstr name value

    This option is like --arg, only the value is not a Nix expression but a string. So instead of --arg system \"i686-linux\" (the outer quotes are to keep the shell happy) you can say --argstr system i686-linux.

  • --attr / -A attrPath

    Select an attribute from the top-level Nix expression being evaluated. (nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.) The attribute path attrPath is a sequence of attribute names separated by dots. For instance, given a top-level Nix expression e, the attribute path xorg.xorgserver would cause the expression e.xorg.xorgserver to be used. See nix-env --install for some concrete examples.

    In addition to attribute names, you can also specify array indices. For instance, the attribute path foo.3.bar selects the bar attribute of the fourth element of the array in the foo attribute of the top-level expression.

  • --expr / -E

    Interpret the command line arguments as a list of Nix expressions to be parsed and evaluated, rather than as a list of file names of Nix expressions. (nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.)

    For nix-shell, this option is commonly used to give you a shell in which you can build the packages returned by the expression. If you want to get a shell which contain the built packages ready for use, give your expression to the nix-shell --packages convenience flag instead.

  • -I path

    Add an entry to the Nix expression search path. This option may be given multiple times. Paths added through -I take precedence over NIX_PATH.

  • --option name value

    Set the Nix configuration option name to value. This overrides settings in the Nix configuration file (see nix.conf5).

  • --repair

    Fix corrupted or missing store paths by redownloading or rebuilding them. Note that this is slow because it requires computing a cryptographic hash of the contents of every path in the closure of the build. Also note the warning under nix-store --repair-path.

Note

See man nix.conf for overriding configuration settings with command line flags.

Common Environment Variables

Most Nix commands interpret the following environment variables:

  • IN_NIX_SHELL

    Indicator that tells if the current environment was set up by nix-shell. It can have the values pure or impure.

  • NIX_PATH

    A colon-separated list of directories used to look up the location of Nix expressions using paths enclosed in angle brackets (i.e., <path>), e.g. /home/eelco/Dev:/etc/nixos. It can be extended using the -I option.

    If NIX_PATH is not set at all, Nix will fall back to the following list in impure and unrestricted evaluation mode:

    1. $HOME/.nix-defexpr/channels
    2. nixpkgs=/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels/nixpkgs
    3. /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels

    If NIX_PATH is set to an empty string, resolving search paths will always fail. For example, attempting to use <nixpkgs> will produce:

    error: file 'nixpkgs' was not found in the Nix search path
    
  • NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE

    Normally, the Nix store directory (typically /nix/store) is not allowed to contain any symlink components. This is to prevent “impure” builds. Builders sometimes “canonicalise” paths by resolving all symlink components. Thus, builds on different machines (with /nix/store resolving to different locations) could yield different results. This is generally not a problem, except when builds are deployed to machines where /nix/store resolves differently. If you are sure that you’re not going to do that, you can set NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE to 1.

    Note that if you’re symlinking the Nix store so that you can put it on another file system than the root file system, on Linux you’re better off using bind mount points, e.g.,

    $ mkdir /nix
    $ mount -o bind /mnt/otherdisk/nix /nix
    

    Consult the mount 8 manual page for details.

  • NIX_STORE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix store (default prefix/store).

  • NIX_DATA_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix static data directory (default prefix/share).

  • NIX_LOG_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix log directory (default prefix/var/log/nix).

  • NIX_STATE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix state directory (default prefix/var/nix).

  • NIX_CONF_DIR

    Overrides the location of the system Nix configuration directory (default prefix/etc/nix).

  • NIX_CONFIG

    Applies settings from Nix configuration from the environment. The content is treated as if it was read from a Nix configuration file. Settings are separated by the newline character.

  • NIX_USER_CONF_FILES

    Overrides the location of the Nix user configuration files to load from.

    The default are the locations according to the XDG Base Directory Specification. See the XDG Base Directories sub-section for details.

    The variable is treated as a list separated by the : token.

  • TMPDIR

    Use the specified directory to store temporary files. In particular, this includes temporary build directories; these can take up substantial amounts of disk space. The default is /tmp.

  • NIX_REMOTE

    This variable should be set to daemon if you want to use the Nix daemon to execute Nix operations. This is necessary in multi-user Nix installations. If the Nix daemon's Unix socket is at some non-standard path, this variable should be set to unix://path/to/socket. Otherwise, it should be left unset.

  • NIX_SHOW_STATS

    If set to 1, Nix will print some evaluation statistics, such as the number of values allocated.

  • NIX_COUNT_CALLS

    If set to 1, Nix will print how often functions were called during Nix expression evaluation. This is useful for profiling your Nix expressions.

  • GC_INITIAL_HEAP_SIZE

    If Nix has been configured to use the Boehm garbage collector, this variable sets the initial size of the heap in bytes. It defaults to 384 MiB. Setting it to a low value reduces memory consumption, but will increase runtime due to the overhead of garbage collection.

XDG Base Directories

Nix follows the XDG Base Directory Specification.

For backwards compatibility, Nix commands will follow the standard only when use-xdg-base-directories is enabled. New Nix commands (experimental) conform to the standard by default.

The following environment variables are used to determine locations of various state and configuration files:

Examples

$ nix-build '<nixpkgs>' --attr firefox
store derivation is /nix/store/qybprl8sz2lc...-firefox-1.5.0.7.drv
/nix/store/d18hyl92g30l...-firefox-1.5.0.7

$ ls -l result
lrwxrwxrwx  ...  result -> /nix/store/d18hyl92g30l...-firefox-1.5.0.7

$ ls ./result/bin/
firefox  firefox-config

If a derivation has multiple outputs, nix-build will build the default (first) output. You can also build all outputs:

$ nix-build '<nixpkgs>' --attr openssl.all

This will create a symlink for each output named result-outputname. The suffix is omitted if the output name is out. So if openssl has outputs out, bin and man, nix-build will create symlinks result, result-bin and result-man. It’s also possible to build a specific output:

$ nix-build '<nixpkgs>' --attr openssl.man

This will create a symlink result-man.

Build a Nix expression given on the command line:

$ nix-build --expr 'with import <nixpkgs> { }; runCommand "foo" { } "echo bar > $out"'
$ cat ./result
bar

Build the GNU Hello package from the latest revision of the master branch of Nixpkgs:

$ nix-build https://github.com/NixOS/nixpkgs/archive/master.tar.gz --attr hello

Name

nix-shell - start an interactive shell based on a Nix expression

Synopsis

nix-shell [--arg name value] [--argstr name value] [{--attr | -A} attrPath] [--command cmd] [--run cmd] [--exclude regexp] [--pure] [--keep name] {{--packages | -p} {packages | expressions} … | [path]}

Disambiguation

This man page describes the command nix-shell, which is distinct from nix shell. For documentation on the latter, run nix shell --help or see man nix3-shell.

Description

The command nix-shell will build the dependencies of the specified derivation, but not the derivation itself. It will then start an interactive shell in which all environment variables defined by the derivation path have been set to their corresponding values, and the script $stdenv/setup has been sourced. This is useful for reproducing the environment of a derivation for development.

If path is not given, nix-shell defaults to shell.nix if it exists, and default.nix otherwise.

If path starts with http:// or https://, it is interpreted as the URL of a tarball that will be downloaded and unpacked to a temporary location. The tarball must include a single top-level directory containing at least a file named default.nix.

If the derivation defines the variable shellHook, it will be run after $stdenv/setup has been sourced. Since this hook is not executed by regular Nix builds, it allows you to perform initialisation specific to nix-shell. For example, the derivation attribute

shellHook =
  ''
    echo "Hello shell"
    export SOME_API_TOKEN="$(cat ~/.config/some-app/api-token)"
  '';

will cause nix-shell to print Hello shell and set the SOME_API_TOKEN environment variable to a user-configured value.

Options

All options not listed here are passed to nix-store --realise, except for --arg and --attr / -A which are passed to nix-instantiate.

  • --command cmd
    In the environment of the derivation, run the shell command cmd. This command is executed in an interactive shell. (Use --run to use a non-interactive shell instead.) However, a call to exit is implicitly added to the command, so the shell will exit after running the command. To prevent this, add return at the end; e.g. --command "echo Hello; return" will print Hello and then drop you into the interactive shell. This can be useful for doing any additional initialisation.

  • --run cmd
    Like --command, but executes the command in a non-interactive shell. This means (among other things) that if you hit Ctrl-C while the command is running, the shell exits.

  • --exclude regexp
    Do not build any dependencies whose store path matches the regular expression regexp. This option may be specified multiple times.

  • --pure
    If this flag is specified, the environment is almost entirely cleared before the interactive shell is started, so you get an environment that more closely corresponds to the “real” Nix build. A few variables, in particular HOME, USER and DISPLAY, are retained.

  • --packages / -p packages
    Set up an environment in which the specified packages are present. The command line arguments are interpreted as attribute names inside the Nix Packages collection. Thus, nix-shell --packages libjpeg openjdk will start a shell in which the packages denoted by the attribute names libjpeg and openjdk are present.

  • -i interpreter
    The chained script interpreter to be invoked by nix-shell. Only applicable in #!-scripts (described below).

  • --keep name
    When a --pure shell is started, keep the listed environment variables.

Common Options

Most Nix commands accept the following command-line options:

  • --help

    Prints out a summary of the command syntax and exits.

  • --version

    Prints out the Nix version number on standard output and exits.

  • --verbose / -v

    Increases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. For each Nix operation, the information printed on standard output is well-defined; any diagnostic information is printed on standard error, never on standard output.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. Currently, the following verbosity levels exist:

    • 0 “Errors only”

      Only print messages explaining why the Nix invocation failed.

    • 1 “Informational”

      Print useful messages about what Nix is doing. This is the default.

    • 2 “Talkative”

      Print more informational messages.

    • 3 “Chatty”

      Print even more informational messages.

    • 4 “Debug”

      Print debug information.

    • 5 “Vomit”

      Print vast amounts of debug information.

  • --quiet

    Decreases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. This is the inverse option to -v / --verbose.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. See the previous verbosity levels list.

  • --log-format format

    This option can be used to change the output of the log format, with format being one of:

    • raw

      This is the raw format, as outputted by nix-build.

    • internal-json

      Outputs the logs in a structured manner.

      Warning

      While the schema itself is relatively stable, the format of the error-messages (namely of the msg-field) can change between releases.

    • bar

      Only display a progress bar during the builds.

    • bar-with-logs

      Display the raw logs, with the progress bar at the bottom.

  • --no-build-output / -Q

    By default, output written by builders to standard output and standard error is echoed to the Nix command's standard error. This option suppresses this behaviour. Note that the builder's standard output and error are always written to a log file in prefix/nix/var/log/nix.

  • --max-jobs / -j number

    Sets the maximum number of build jobs that Nix will perform in parallel to the specified number. Specify auto to use the number of CPUs in the system. The default is specified by the max-jobs configuration setting, which itself defaults to 1. A higher value is useful on SMP systems or to exploit I/O latency.

    Setting it to 0 disallows building on the local machine, which is useful when you want builds to happen only on remote builders.

  • --cores

    Sets the value of the NIX_BUILD_CORES environment variable in the invocation of builders. Builders can use this variable at their discretion to control the maximum amount of parallelism. For instance, in Nixpkgs, if the derivation attribute enableParallelBuilding is set to true, the builder passes the -jN flag to GNU Make. It defaults to the value of the cores configuration setting, if set, or 1 otherwise. The value 0 means that the builder should use all available CPU cores in the system.

  • --max-silent-time

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can go without producing any data on standard output or standard error. The default is specified by the max-silent-time configuration setting. 0 means no time-out.

  • --timeout

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can run. The default is specified by the timeout configuration setting. 0 means no timeout.

  • --keep-going / -k

    Keep going in case of failed builds, to the greatest extent possible. That is, if building an input of some derivation fails, Nix will still build the other inputs, but not the derivation itself. Without this option, Nix stops if any build fails (except for builds of substitutes), possibly killing builds in progress (in case of parallel or distributed builds).

  • --keep-failed / -K

    Specifies that in case of a build failure, the temporary directory (usually in /tmp) in which the build takes place should not be deleted. The path of the build directory is printed as an informational message.

  • --fallback

    Whenever Nix attempts to build a derivation for which substitutes are known for each output path, but realising the output paths through the substitutes fails, fall back on building the derivation.

    The most common scenario in which this is useful is when we have registered substitutes in order to perform binary distribution from, say, a network repository. If the repository is down, the realisation of the derivation will fail. When this option is specified, Nix will build the derivation instead. Thus, installation from binaries falls back on installation from source. This option is not the default since it is generally not desirable for a transient failure in obtaining the substitutes to lead to a full build from source (with the related consumption of resources).

  • --readonly-mode

    When this option is used, no attempt is made to open the Nix database. Most Nix operations do need database access, so those operations will fail.

  • --arg name value

    This option is accepted by nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-shell and nix-build. When evaluating Nix expressions, the expression evaluator will automatically try to call functions that it encounters. It can automatically call functions for which every argument has a default value (e.g., { argName ? defaultValue }: ...).

    With --arg, you can also call functions that have arguments without a default value (or override a default value). That is, if the evaluator encounters a function with an argument named name, it will call it with value value.

    For instance, the top-level default.nix in Nixpkgs is actually a function:

    { # The system (e.g., `i686-linux') for which to build the packages.
      system ? builtins.currentSystem
      ...
    }: ...
    

    So if you call this Nix expression (e.g., when you do nix-env --install --attr pkgname), the function will be called automatically using the value builtins.currentSystem for the system argument. You can override this using --arg, e.g., nix-env --install --attr pkgname --arg system \"i686-freebsd\". (Note that since the argument is a Nix string literal, you have to escape the quotes.)

  • --argstr name value

    This option is like --arg, only the value is not a Nix expression but a string. So instead of --arg system \"i686-linux\" (the outer quotes are to keep the shell happy) you can say --argstr system i686-linux.

  • --attr / -A attrPath

    Select an attribute from the top-level Nix expression being evaluated. (nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.) The attribute path attrPath is a sequence of attribute names separated by dots. For instance, given a top-level Nix expression e, the attribute path xorg.xorgserver would cause the expression e.xorg.xorgserver to be used. See nix-env --install for some concrete examples.

    In addition to attribute names, you can also specify array indices. For instance, the attribute path foo.3.bar selects the bar attribute of the fourth element of the array in the foo attribute of the top-level expression.

  • --expr / -E

    Interpret the command line arguments as a list of Nix expressions to be parsed and evaluated, rather than as a list of file names of Nix expressions. (nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.)

    For nix-shell, this option is commonly used to give you a shell in which you can build the packages returned by the expression. If you want to get a shell which contain the built packages ready for use, give your expression to the nix-shell --packages convenience flag instead.

  • -I path

    Add an entry to the Nix expression search path. This option may be given multiple times. Paths added through -I take precedence over NIX_PATH.

  • --option name value

    Set the Nix configuration option name to value. This overrides settings in the Nix configuration file (see nix.conf5).

  • --repair

    Fix corrupted or missing store paths by redownloading or rebuilding them. Note that this is slow because it requires computing a cryptographic hash of the contents of every path in the closure of the build. Also note the warning under nix-store --repair-path.

Note

See man nix.conf for overriding configuration settings with command line flags.

Environment variables

  • NIX_BUILD_SHELL
    Shell used to start the interactive environment. Defaults to the bash found in <nixpkgs>, falling back to the bash found in PATH if not found.

Common Environment Variables

Most Nix commands interpret the following environment variables:

  • IN_NIX_SHELL

    Indicator that tells if the current environment was set up by nix-shell. It can have the values pure or impure.

  • NIX_PATH

    A colon-separated list of directories used to look up the location of Nix expressions using paths enclosed in angle brackets (i.e., <path>), e.g. /home/eelco/Dev:/etc/nixos. It can be extended using the -I option.

    If NIX_PATH is not set at all, Nix will fall back to the following list in impure and unrestricted evaluation mode:

    1. $HOME/.nix-defexpr/channels
    2. nixpkgs=/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels/nixpkgs
    3. /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels

    If NIX_PATH is set to an empty string, resolving search paths will always fail. For example, attempting to use <nixpkgs> will produce:

    error: file 'nixpkgs' was not found in the Nix search path
    
  • NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE

    Normally, the Nix store directory (typically /nix/store) is not allowed to contain any symlink components. This is to prevent “impure” builds. Builders sometimes “canonicalise” paths by resolving all symlink components. Thus, builds on different machines (with /nix/store resolving to different locations) could yield different results. This is generally not a problem, except when builds are deployed to machines where /nix/store resolves differently. If you are sure that you’re not going to do that, you can set NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE to 1.

    Note that if you’re symlinking the Nix store so that you can put it on another file system than the root file system, on Linux you’re better off using bind mount points, e.g.,

    $ mkdir /nix
    $ mount -o bind /mnt/otherdisk/nix /nix
    

    Consult the mount 8 manual page for details.

  • NIX_STORE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix store (default prefix/store).

  • NIX_DATA_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix static data directory (default prefix/share).

  • NIX_LOG_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix log directory (default prefix/var/log/nix).

  • NIX_STATE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix state directory (default prefix/var/nix).

  • NIX_CONF_DIR

    Overrides the location of the system Nix configuration directory (default prefix/etc/nix).

  • NIX_CONFIG

    Applies settings from Nix configuration from the environment. The content is treated as if it was read from a Nix configuration file. Settings are separated by the newline character.

  • NIX_USER_CONF_FILES

    Overrides the location of the Nix user configuration files to load from.

    The default are the locations according to the XDG Base Directory Specification. See the XDG Base Directories sub-section for details.

    The variable is treated as a list separated by the : token.

  • TMPDIR

    Use the specified directory to store temporary files. In particular, this includes temporary build directories; these can take up substantial amounts of disk space. The default is /tmp.

  • NIX_REMOTE

    This variable should be set to daemon if you want to use the Nix daemon to execute Nix operations. This is necessary in multi-user Nix installations. If the Nix daemon's Unix socket is at some non-standard path, this variable should be set to unix://path/to/socket. Otherwise, it should be left unset.

  • NIX_SHOW_STATS

    If set to 1, Nix will print some evaluation statistics, such as the number of values allocated.

  • NIX_COUNT_CALLS

    If set to 1, Nix will print how often functions were called during Nix expression evaluation. This is useful for profiling your Nix expressions.

  • GC_INITIAL_HEAP_SIZE

    If Nix has been configured to use the Boehm garbage collector, this variable sets the initial size of the heap in bytes. It defaults to 384 MiB. Setting it to a low value reduces memory consumption, but will increase runtime due to the overhead of garbage collection.

XDG Base Directories

Nix follows the XDG Base Directory Specification.

For backwards compatibility, Nix commands will follow the standard only when use-xdg-base-directories is enabled. New Nix commands (experimental) conform to the standard by default.

The following environment variables are used to determine locations of various state and configuration files:

Examples

To build the dependencies of the package Pan, and start an interactive shell in which to build it:

$ nix-shell '<nixpkgs>' --attr pan
[nix-shell]$ eval ${unpackPhase:-unpackPhase}
[nix-shell]$ cd $sourceRoot
[nix-shell]$ eval ${patchPhase:-patchPhase}
[nix-shell]$ eval ${configurePhase:-configurePhase}
[nix-shell]$ eval ${buildPhase:-buildPhase}
[nix-shell]$ ./pan/gui/pan

The reason we use form eval ${configurePhase:-configurePhase} here is because those packages that override these phases do so by exporting the overridden values in the environment variable of the same name. Here bash is being told to either evaluate the contents of 'configurePhase', if it exists as a variable, otherwise evaluate the configurePhase function.

To clear the environment first, and do some additional automatic initialisation of the interactive shell:

$ nix-shell '<nixpkgs>' --attr pan --pure \
    --command 'export NIX_DEBUG=1; export NIX_CORES=8; return'

Nix expressions can also be given on the command line using the -E and -p flags. For instance, the following starts a shell containing the packages sqlite and libX11:

$ nix-shell --expr 'with import <nixpkgs> { }; runCommand "dummy" { buildInputs = [ sqlite xorg.libX11 ]; } ""'

A shorter way to do the same is:

$ nix-shell --packages sqlite xorg.libX11
[nix-shell]$ echo $NIX_LDFLAGS
… -L/nix/store/j1zg5v…-sqlite-3.8.0.2/lib -L/nix/store/0gmcz9…-libX11-1.6.1/lib …

Note that -p accepts multiple full nix expressions that are valid in the buildInputs = [ ... ] shown above, not only package names. So the following is also legal:

$ nix-shell --packages sqlite 'git.override { withManual = false; }'

The -p flag looks up Nixpkgs in the Nix search path. You can override it by passing -I or setting NIX_PATH. For example, the following gives you a shell containing the Pan package from a specific revision of Nixpkgs:

$ nix-shell --packages pan -I nixpkgs=https://github.com/NixOS/nixpkgs/archive/8a3eea054838b55aca962c3fbde9c83c102b8bf2.tar.gz

[nix-shell:~]$ pan --version
Pan 0.139

Use as a #!-interpreter

You can use nix-shell as a script interpreter to allow scripts written in arbitrary languages to obtain their own dependencies via Nix. This is done by starting the script with the following lines:

#! /usr/bin/env nix-shell
#! nix-shell -i real-interpreter --packages packages

where real-interpreter is the “real” script interpreter that will be invoked by nix-shell after it has obtained the dependencies and initialised the environment, and packages are the attribute names of the dependencies in Nixpkgs.

The lines starting with #! nix-shell specify nix-shell options (see above). Note that you cannot write #! /usr/bin/env nix-shell -i ... because many operating systems only allow one argument in #! lines.

For example, here is a Python script that depends on Python and the prettytable package:

#! /usr/bin/env nix-shell
#! nix-shell -i python --packages python pythonPackages.prettytable

import prettytable

# Print a simple table.
t = prettytable.PrettyTable(["N", "N^2"])
for n in range(1, 10): t.add_row([n, n * n])
print t

Similarly, the following is a Perl script that specifies that it requires Perl and the HTML::TokeParser::Simple and LWP packages:

#! /usr/bin/env nix-shell
#! nix-shell -i perl --packages perl perlPackages.HTMLTokeParserSimple perlPackages.LWP

use HTML::TokeParser::Simple;

# Fetch nixos.org and print all hrefs.
my $p = HTML::TokeParser::Simple->new(url => 'http://nixos.org/');

while (my $token = $p->get_tag("a")) {
    my $href = $token->get_attr("href");
    print "$href\n" if $href;
}

Sometimes you need to pass a simple Nix expression to customize a package like Terraform:

#! /usr/bin/env nix-shell
#! nix-shell -i bash --packages 'terraform.withPlugins (plugins: [ plugins.openstack ])'

terraform apply

Note

You must use single or double quotes (', ") when passing a simple Nix expression in a nix-shell shebang.

Finally, using the merging of multiple nix-shell shebangs the following Haskell script uses a specific branch of Nixpkgs/NixOS (the 20.03 stable branch):

#! /usr/bin/env nix-shell
#! nix-shell -i runghc --packages 'haskellPackages.ghcWithPackages (ps: [ps.download-curl ps.tagsoup])'
#! nix-shell -I nixpkgs=https://github.com/NixOS/nixpkgs/archive/nixos-20.03.tar.gz

import Network.Curl.Download
import Text.HTML.TagSoup
import Data.Either
import Data.ByteString.Char8 (unpack)

-- Fetch nixos.org and print all hrefs.
main = do
  resp <- openURI "https://nixos.org/"
  let tags = filter (isTagOpenName "a") $ parseTags $ unpack $ fromRight undefined resp
  let tags' = map (fromAttrib "href") tags
  mapM_ putStrLn $ filter (/= "") tags'

If you want to be even more precise, you can specify a specific revision of Nixpkgs:

#! nix-shell -I nixpkgs=https://github.com/NixOS/nixpkgs/archive/0672315759b3e15e2121365f067c1c8c56bb4722.tar.gz

The examples above all used -p to get dependencies from Nixpkgs. You can also use a Nix expression to build your own dependencies. For example, the Python example could have been written as:

#! /usr/bin/env nix-shell
#! nix-shell deps.nix -i python

where the file deps.nix in the same directory as the #!-script contains:

with import <nixpkgs> {};

runCommand "dummy" { buildInputs = [ python pythonPackages.prettytable ]; } ""

Name

nix-store - manipulate or query the Nix store

Synopsis

nix-store operation [options…] [arguments…] [--option name value] [--add-root path]

Description

The command nix-store performs primitive operations on the Nix store. You generally do not need to run this command manually.

nix-store takes exactly one operation flag which indicates the subcommand to be performed. The following operations are available:

These pages can be viewed offline:

  • man nix-store-<operation>.

    Example: man nix-store-realise

  • nix-store --help --<operation>

    Example: nix-store --help --realise

Name

nix-store --add-fixed - add paths to store using given hashing algorithm

Synopsis

nix-store --add-fixed [--recursive] algorithm paths…

Description

The operation --add-fixed adds the specified paths to the Nix store. Unlike --add paths are registered using the specified hashing algorithm, resulting in the same output path as a fixed-output derivation. This can be used for sources that are not available from a public url or broke since the download expression was written.

This operation has the following options:

  • --recursive
    Use recursive instead of flat hashing mode, used when adding directories to the store.

Options

The following options are allowed for all nix-store operations, but may not always have an effect.

  • --add-root path

    Causes the result of a realisation (--realise and --force-realise) to be registered as a root of the garbage collector. path will be created as a symlink to the resulting store path. In addition, a uniquely named symlink to path will be created in /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto/. For instance,

    $ nix-store --add-root /home/eelco/bla/result --realise ...
    
    $ ls -l /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 dn54lcypm8f8... -> /home/eelco/bla/result
    
    $ ls -l /home/eelco/bla/result
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 /home/eelco/bla/result -> /nix/store/1r11343n6qd4...-f-spot-0.0.10
    

    Thus, when /home/eelco/bla/result is removed, the GC root in the auto directory becomes a dangling symlink and will be ignored by the collector.

    Warning

    Note that it is not possible to move or rename GC roots, since the symlink in the auto directory will still point to the old location.

    If there are multiple results, then multiple symlinks will be created by sequentially numbering symlinks beyond the first one (e.g., foo, foo-2, foo-3, and so on).

Common Options

Most Nix commands accept the following command-line options:

  • --help

    Prints out a summary of the command syntax and exits.

  • --version

    Prints out the Nix version number on standard output and exits.

  • --verbose / -v

    Increases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. For each Nix operation, the information printed on standard output is well-defined; any diagnostic information is printed on standard error, never on standard output.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. Currently, the following verbosity levels exist:

    • 0 “Errors only”

      Only print messages explaining why the Nix invocation failed.

    • 1 “Informational”

      Print useful messages about what Nix is doing. This is the default.

    • 2 “Talkative”

      Print more informational messages.

    • 3 “Chatty”

      Print even more informational messages.

    • 4 “Debug”

      Print debug information.

    • 5 “Vomit”

      Print vast amounts of debug information.

  • --quiet

    Decreases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. This is the inverse option to -v / --verbose.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. See the previous verbosity levels list.

  • --log-format format

    This option can be used to change the output of the log format, with format being one of:

    • raw

      This is the raw format, as outputted by nix-build.

    • internal-json

      Outputs the logs in a structured manner.

      Warning

      While the schema itself is relatively stable, the format of the error-messages (namely of the msg-field) can change between releases.

    • bar

      Only display a progress bar during the builds.

    • bar-with-logs

      Display the raw logs, with the progress bar at the bottom.

  • --no-build-output / -Q

    By default, output written by builders to standard output and standard error is echoed to the Nix command's standard error. This option suppresses this behaviour. Note that the builder's standard output and error are always written to a log file in prefix/nix/var/log/nix.

  • --max-jobs / -j number

    Sets the maximum number of build jobs that Nix will perform in parallel to the specified number. Specify auto to use the number of CPUs in the system. The default is specified by the max-jobs configuration setting, which itself defaults to 1. A higher value is useful on SMP systems or to exploit I/O latency.

    Setting it to 0 disallows building on the local machine, which is useful when you want builds to happen only on remote builders.

  • --cores

    Sets the value of the NIX_BUILD_CORES environment variable in the invocation of builders. Builders can use this variable at their discretion to control the maximum amount of parallelism. For instance, in Nixpkgs, if the derivation attribute enableParallelBuilding is set to true, the builder passes the -jN flag to GNU Make. It defaults to the value of the cores configuration setting, if set, or 1 otherwise. The value 0 means that the builder should use all available CPU cores in the system.

  • --max-silent-time

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can go without producing any data on standard output or standard error. The default is specified by the max-silent-time configuration setting. 0 means no time-out.

  • --timeout

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can run. The default is specified by the timeout configuration setting. 0 means no timeout.

  • --keep-going / -k

    Keep going in case of failed builds, to the greatest extent possible. That is, if building an input of some derivation fails, Nix will still build the other inputs, but not the derivation itself. Without this option, Nix stops if any build fails (except for builds of substitutes), possibly killing builds in progress (in case of parallel or distributed builds).

  • --keep-failed / -K

    Specifies that in case of a build failure, the temporary directory (usually in /tmp) in which the build takes place should not be deleted. The path of the build directory is printed as an informational message.

  • --fallback

    Whenever Nix attempts to build a derivation for which substitutes are known for each output path, but realising the output paths through the substitutes fails, fall back on building the derivation.

    The most common scenario in which this is useful is when we have registered substitutes in order to perform binary distribution from, say, a network repository. If the repository is down, the realisation of the derivation will fail. When this option is specified, Nix will build the derivation instead. Thus, installation from binaries falls back on installation from source. This option is not the default since it is generally not desirable for a transient failure in obtaining the substitutes to lead to a full build from source (with the related consumption of resources).

  • --readonly-mode

    When this option is used, no attempt is made to open the Nix database. Most Nix operations do need database access, so those operations will fail.

  • --arg name value

    This option is accepted by nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-shell and nix-build. When evaluating Nix expressions, the expression evaluator will automatically try to call functions that it encounters. It can automatically call functions for which every argument has a default value (e.g., { argName ? defaultValue }: ...).

    With --arg, you can also call functions that have arguments without a default value (or override a default value). That is, if the evaluator encounters a function with an argument named name, it will call it with value value.

    For instance, the top-level default.nix in Nixpkgs is actually a function:

    { # The system (e.g., `i686-linux') for which to build the packages.
      system ? builtins.currentSystem
      ...
    }: ...
    

    So if you call this Nix expression (e.g., when you do nix-env --install --attr pkgname), the function will be called automatically using the value builtins.currentSystem for the system argument. You can override this using --arg, e.g., nix-env --install --attr pkgname --arg system \"i686-freebsd\". (Note that since the argument is a Nix string literal, you have to escape the quotes.)

  • --argstr name value

    This option is like --arg, only the value is not a Nix expression but a string. So instead of --arg system \"i686-linux\" (the outer quotes are to keep the shell happy) you can say --argstr system i686-linux.

  • --attr / -A attrPath

    Select an attribute from the top-level Nix expression being evaluated. (nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.) The attribute path attrPath is a sequence of attribute names separated by dots. For instance, given a top-level Nix expression e, the attribute path xorg.xorgserver would cause the expression e.xorg.xorgserver to be used. See nix-env --install for some concrete examples.

    In addition to attribute names, you can also specify array indices. For instance, the attribute path foo.3.bar selects the bar attribute of the fourth element of the array in the foo attribute of the top-level expression.

  • --expr / -E

    Interpret the command line arguments as a list of Nix expressions to be parsed and evaluated, rather than as a list of file names of Nix expressions. (nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.)

    For nix-shell, this option is commonly used to give you a shell in which you can build the packages returned by the expression. If you want to get a shell which contain the built packages ready for use, give your expression to the nix-shell --packages convenience flag instead.

  • -I path

    Add an entry to the Nix expression search path. This option may be given multiple times. Paths added through -I take precedence over NIX_PATH.

  • --option name value

    Set the Nix configuration option name to value. This overrides settings in the Nix configuration file (see nix.conf5).

  • --repair

    Fix corrupted or missing store paths by redownloading or rebuilding them. Note that this is slow because it requires computing a cryptographic hash of the contents of every path in the closure of the build. Also note the warning under nix-store --repair-path.

Note

See man nix.conf for overriding configuration settings with command line flags.

Common Environment Variables

Most Nix commands interpret the following environment variables:

  • IN_NIX_SHELL

    Indicator that tells if the current environment was set up by nix-shell. It can have the values pure or impure.

  • NIX_PATH

    A colon-separated list of directories used to look up the location of Nix expressions using paths enclosed in angle brackets (i.e., <path>), e.g. /home/eelco/Dev:/etc/nixos. It can be extended using the -I option.

    If NIX_PATH is not set at all, Nix will fall back to the following list in impure and unrestricted evaluation mode:

    1. $HOME/.nix-defexpr/channels
    2. nixpkgs=/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels/nixpkgs
    3. /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels

    If NIX_PATH is set to an empty string, resolving search paths will always fail. For example, attempting to use <nixpkgs> will produce:

    error: file 'nixpkgs' was not found in the Nix search path
    
  • NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE

    Normally, the Nix store directory (typically /nix/store) is not allowed to contain any symlink components. This is to prevent “impure” builds. Builders sometimes “canonicalise” paths by resolving all symlink components. Thus, builds on different machines (with /nix/store resolving to different locations) could yield different results. This is generally not a problem, except when builds are deployed to machines where /nix/store resolves differently. If you are sure that you’re not going to do that, you can set NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE to 1.

    Note that if you’re symlinking the Nix store so that you can put it on another file system than the root file system, on Linux you’re better off using bind mount points, e.g.,

    $ mkdir /nix
    $ mount -o bind /mnt/otherdisk/nix /nix
    

    Consult the mount 8 manual page for details.

  • NIX_STORE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix store (default prefix/store).

  • NIX_DATA_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix static data directory (default prefix/share).

  • NIX_LOG_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix log directory (default prefix/var/log/nix).

  • NIX_STATE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix state directory (default prefix/var/nix).

  • NIX_CONF_DIR

    Overrides the location of the system Nix configuration directory (default prefix/etc/nix).

  • NIX_CONFIG

    Applies settings from Nix configuration from the environment. The content is treated as if it was read from a Nix configuration file. Settings are separated by the newline character.

  • NIX_USER_CONF_FILES

    Overrides the location of the Nix user configuration files to load from.

    The default are the locations according to the XDG Base Directory Specification. See the XDG Base Directories sub-section for details.

    The variable is treated as a list separated by the : token.

  • TMPDIR

    Use the specified directory to store temporary files. In particular, this includes temporary build directories; these can take up substantial amounts of disk space. The default is /tmp.

  • NIX_REMOTE

    This variable should be set to daemon if you want to use the Nix daemon to execute Nix operations. This is necessary in multi-user Nix installations. If the Nix daemon's Unix socket is at some non-standard path, this variable should be set to unix://path/to/socket. Otherwise, it should be left unset.

  • NIX_SHOW_STATS

    If set to 1, Nix will print some evaluation statistics, such as the number of values allocated.

  • NIX_COUNT_CALLS

    If set to 1, Nix will print how often functions were called during Nix expression evaluation. This is useful for profiling your Nix expressions.

  • GC_INITIAL_HEAP_SIZE

    If Nix has been configured to use the Boehm garbage collector, this variable sets the initial size of the heap in bytes. It defaults to 384 MiB. Setting it to a low value reduces memory consumption, but will increase runtime due to the overhead of garbage collection.

XDG Base Directories

Nix follows the XDG Base Directory Specification.

For backwards compatibility, Nix commands will follow the standard only when use-xdg-base-directories is enabled. New Nix commands (experimental) conform to the standard by default.

The following environment variables are used to determine locations of various state and configuration files:

Example

$ nix-store --add-fixed sha256 ./hello-2.10.tar.gz
/nix/store/3x7dwzq014bblazs7kq20p9hyzz0qh8g-hello-2.10.tar.gz

Name

nix-store --add - add paths to Nix store

Synopsis

nix-store --add paths…

Description

The operation --add adds the specified paths to the Nix store. It prints the resulting paths in the Nix store on standard output.

Options

The following options are allowed for all nix-store operations, but may not always have an effect.

  • --add-root path

    Causes the result of a realisation (--realise and --force-realise) to be registered as a root of the garbage collector. path will be created as a symlink to the resulting store path. In addition, a uniquely named symlink to path will be created in /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto/. For instance,

    $ nix-store --add-root /home/eelco/bla/result --realise ...
    
    $ ls -l /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 dn54lcypm8f8... -> /home/eelco/bla/result
    
    $ ls -l /home/eelco/bla/result
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 /home/eelco/bla/result -> /nix/store/1r11343n6qd4...-f-spot-0.0.10
    

    Thus, when /home/eelco/bla/result is removed, the GC root in the auto directory becomes a dangling symlink and will be ignored by the collector.

    Warning

    Note that it is not possible to move or rename GC roots, since the symlink in the auto directory will still point to the old location.

    If there are multiple results, then multiple symlinks will be created by sequentially numbering symlinks beyond the first one (e.g., foo, foo-2, foo-3, and so on).

Common Options

Most Nix commands accept the following command-line options:

  • --help

    Prints out a summary of the command syntax and exits.

  • --version

    Prints out the Nix version number on standard output and exits.

  • --verbose / -v

    Increases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. For each Nix operation, the information printed on standard output is well-defined; any diagnostic information is printed on standard error, never on standard output.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. Currently, the following verbosity levels exist:

    • 0 “Errors only”

      Only print messages explaining why the Nix invocation failed.

    • 1 “Informational”

      Print useful messages about what Nix is doing. This is the default.

    • 2 “Talkative”

      Print more informational messages.

    • 3 “Chatty”

      Print even more informational messages.

    • 4 “Debug”

      Print debug information.

    • 5 “Vomit”

      Print vast amounts of debug information.

  • --quiet

    Decreases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. This is the inverse option to -v / --verbose.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. See the previous verbosity levels list.

  • --log-format format

    This option can be used to change the output of the log format, with format being one of:

    • raw

      This is the raw format, as outputted by nix-build.

    • internal-json

      Outputs the logs in a structured manner.

      Warning

      While the schema itself is relatively stable, the format of the error-messages (namely of the msg-field) can change between releases.

    • bar

      Only display a progress bar during the builds.

    • bar-with-logs

      Display the raw logs, with the progress bar at the bottom.

  • --no-build-output / -Q

    By default, output written by builders to standard output and standard error is echoed to the Nix command's standard error. This option suppresses this behaviour. Note that the builder's standard output and error are always written to a log file in prefix/nix/var/log/nix.

  • --max-jobs / -j number

    Sets the maximum number of build jobs that Nix will perform in parallel to the specified number. Specify auto to use the number of CPUs in the system. The default is specified by the max-jobs configuration setting, which itself defaults to 1. A higher value is useful on SMP systems or to exploit I/O latency.

    Setting it to 0 disallows building on the local machine, which is useful when you want builds to happen only on remote builders.

  • --cores

    Sets the value of the NIX_BUILD_CORES environment variable in the invocation of builders. Builders can use this variable at their discretion to control the maximum amount of parallelism. For instance, in Nixpkgs, if the derivation attribute enableParallelBuilding is set to true, the builder passes the -jN flag to GNU Make. It defaults to the value of the cores configuration setting, if set, or 1 otherwise. The value 0 means that the builder should use all available CPU cores in the system.

  • --max-silent-time

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can go without producing any data on standard output or standard error. The default is specified by the max-silent-time configuration setting. 0 means no time-out.

  • --timeout

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can run. The default is specified by the timeout configuration setting. 0 means no timeout.

  • --keep-going / -k

    Keep going in case of failed builds, to the greatest extent possible. That is, if building an input of some derivation fails, Nix will still build the other inputs, but not the derivation itself. Without this option, Nix stops if any build fails (except for builds of substitutes), possibly killing builds in progress (in case of parallel or distributed builds).

  • --keep-failed / -K

    Specifies that in case of a build failure, the temporary directory (usually in /tmp) in which the build takes place should not be deleted. The path of the build directory is printed as an informational message.

  • --fallback

    Whenever Nix attempts to build a derivation for which substitutes are known for each output path, but realising the output paths through the substitutes fails, fall back on building the derivation.

    The most common scenario in which this is useful is when we have registered substitutes in order to perform binary distribution from, say, a network repository. If the repository is down, the realisation of the derivation will fail. When this option is specified, Nix will build the derivation instead. Thus, installation from binaries falls back on installation from source. This option is not the default since it is generally not desirable for a transient failure in obtaining the substitutes to lead to a full build from source (with the related consumption of resources).

  • --readonly-mode

    When this option is used, no attempt is made to open the Nix database. Most Nix operations do need database access, so those operations will fail.

  • --arg name value

    This option is accepted by nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-shell and nix-build. When evaluating Nix expressions, the expression evaluator will automatically try to call functions that it encounters. It can automatically call functions for which every argument has a default value (e.g., { argName ? defaultValue }: ...).

    With --arg, you can also call functions that have arguments without a default value (or override a default value). That is, if the evaluator encounters a function with an argument named name, it will call it with value value.

    For instance, the top-level default.nix in Nixpkgs is actually a function:

    { # The system (e.g., `i686-linux') for which to build the packages.
      system ? builtins.currentSystem
      ...
    }: ...
    

    So if you call this Nix expression (e.g., when you do nix-env --install --attr pkgname), the function will be called automatically using the value builtins.currentSystem for the system argument. You can override this using --arg, e.g., nix-env --install --attr pkgname --arg system \"i686-freebsd\". (Note that since the argument is a Nix string literal, you have to escape the quotes.)

  • --argstr name value

    This option is like --arg, only the value is not a Nix expression but a string. So instead of --arg system \"i686-linux\" (the outer quotes are to keep the shell happy) you can say --argstr system i686-linux.

  • --attr / -A attrPath

    Select an attribute from the top-level Nix expression being evaluated. (nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.) The attribute path attrPath is a sequence of attribute names separated by dots. For instance, given a top-level Nix expression e, the attribute path xorg.xorgserver would cause the expression e.xorg.xorgserver to be used. See nix-env --install for some concrete examples.

    In addition to attribute names, you can also specify array indices. For instance, the attribute path foo.3.bar selects the bar attribute of the fourth element of the array in the foo attribute of the top-level expression.

  • --expr / -E

    Interpret the command line arguments as a list of Nix expressions to be parsed and evaluated, rather than as a list of file names of Nix expressions. (nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.)

    For nix-shell, this option is commonly used to give you a shell in which you can build the packages returned by the expression. If you want to get a shell which contain the built packages ready for use, give your expression to the nix-shell --packages convenience flag instead.

  • -I path

    Add an entry to the Nix expression search path. This option may be given multiple times. Paths added through -I take precedence over NIX_PATH.

  • --option name value

    Set the Nix configuration option name to value. This overrides settings in the Nix configuration file (see nix.conf5).

  • --repair

    Fix corrupted or missing store paths by redownloading or rebuilding them. Note that this is slow because it requires computing a cryptographic hash of the contents of every path in the closure of the build. Also note the warning under nix-store --repair-path.

Note

See man nix.conf for overriding configuration settings with command line flags.

Common Environment Variables

Most Nix commands interpret the following environment variables:

  • IN_NIX_SHELL

    Indicator that tells if the current environment was set up by nix-shell. It can have the values pure or impure.

  • NIX_PATH

    A colon-separated list of directories used to look up the location of Nix expressions using paths enclosed in angle brackets (i.e., <path>), e.g. /home/eelco/Dev:/etc/nixos. It can be extended using the -I option.

    If NIX_PATH is not set at all, Nix will fall back to the following list in impure and unrestricted evaluation mode:

    1. $HOME/.nix-defexpr/channels
    2. nixpkgs=/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels/nixpkgs
    3. /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels

    If NIX_PATH is set to an empty string, resolving search paths will always fail. For example, attempting to use <nixpkgs> will produce:

    error: file 'nixpkgs' was not found in the Nix search path
    
  • NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE

    Normally, the Nix store directory (typically /nix/store) is not allowed to contain any symlink components. This is to prevent “impure” builds. Builders sometimes “canonicalise” paths by resolving all symlink components. Thus, builds on different machines (with /nix/store resolving to different locations) could yield different results. This is generally not a problem, except when builds are deployed to machines where /nix/store resolves differently. If you are sure that you’re not going to do that, you can set NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE to 1.

    Note that if you’re symlinking the Nix store so that you can put it on another file system than the root file system, on Linux you’re better off using bind mount points, e.g.,

    $ mkdir /nix
    $ mount -o bind /mnt/otherdisk/nix /nix
    

    Consult the mount 8 manual page for details.

  • NIX_STORE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix store (default prefix/store).

  • NIX_DATA_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix static data directory (default prefix/share).

  • NIX_LOG_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix log directory (default prefix/var/log/nix).

  • NIX_STATE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix state directory (default prefix/var/nix).

  • NIX_CONF_DIR

    Overrides the location of the system Nix configuration directory (default prefix/etc/nix).

  • NIX_CONFIG

    Applies settings from Nix configuration from the environment. The content is treated as if it was read from a Nix configuration file. Settings are separated by the newline character.

  • NIX_USER_CONF_FILES

    Overrides the location of the Nix user configuration files to load from.

    The default are the locations according to the XDG Base Directory Specification. See the XDG Base Directories sub-section for details.

    The variable is treated as a list separated by the : token.

  • TMPDIR

    Use the specified directory to store temporary files. In particular, this includes temporary build directories; these can take up substantial amounts of disk space. The default is /tmp.

  • NIX_REMOTE

    This variable should be set to daemon if you want to use the Nix daemon to execute Nix operations. This is necessary in multi-user Nix installations. If the Nix daemon's Unix socket is at some non-standard path, this variable should be set to unix://path/to/socket. Otherwise, it should be left unset.

  • NIX_SHOW_STATS

    If set to 1, Nix will print some evaluation statistics, such as the number of values allocated.

  • NIX_COUNT_CALLS

    If set to 1, Nix will print how often functions were called during Nix expression evaluation. This is useful for profiling your Nix expressions.

  • GC_INITIAL_HEAP_SIZE

    If Nix has been configured to use the Boehm garbage collector, this variable sets the initial size of the heap in bytes. It defaults to 384 MiB. Setting it to a low value reduces memory consumption, but will increase runtime due to the overhead of garbage collection.

XDG Base Directories

Nix follows the XDG Base Directory Specification.

For backwards compatibility, Nix commands will follow the standard only when use-xdg-base-directories is enabled. New Nix commands (experimental) conform to the standard by default.

The following environment variables are used to determine locations of various state and configuration files:

Example

$ nix-store --add ./foo.c
/nix/store/m7lrha58ph6rcnv109yzx1nk1cj7k7zf-foo.c

Name

nix-store --delete - delete store paths

Synopsis

nix-store --delete [--ignore-liveness] paths…

Description

The operation --delete deletes the store paths paths from the Nix store, but only if it is safe to do so; that is, when the path is not reachable from a root of the garbage collector. This means that you can only delete paths that would also be deleted by nix-store --gc. Thus, --delete is a more targeted version of --gc.

With the option --ignore-liveness, reachability from the roots is ignored. However, the path still won’t be deleted if there are other paths in the store that refer to it (i.e., depend on it).

Options

The following options are allowed for all nix-store operations, but may not always have an effect.

  • --add-root path

    Causes the result of a realisation (--realise and --force-realise) to be registered as a root of the garbage collector. path will be created as a symlink to the resulting store path. In addition, a uniquely named symlink to path will be created in /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto/. For instance,

    $ nix-store --add-root /home/eelco/bla/result --realise ...
    
    $ ls -l /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 dn54lcypm8f8... -> /home/eelco/bla/result
    
    $ ls -l /home/eelco/bla/result
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 /home/eelco/bla/result -> /nix/store/1r11343n6qd4...-f-spot-0.0.10
    

    Thus, when /home/eelco/bla/result is removed, the GC root in the auto directory becomes a dangling symlink and will be ignored by the collector.

    Warning

    Note that it is not possible to move or rename GC roots, since the symlink in the auto directory will still point to the old location.

    If there are multiple results, then multiple symlinks will be created by sequentially numbering symlinks beyond the first one (e.g., foo, foo-2, foo-3, and so on).

Common Options

Most Nix commands accept the following command-line options:

  • --help

    Prints out a summary of the command syntax and exits.

  • --version

    Prints out the Nix version number on standard output and exits.

  • --verbose / -v

    Increases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. For each Nix operation, the information printed on standard output is well-defined; any diagnostic information is printed on standard error, never on standard output.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. Currently, the following verbosity levels exist:

    • 0 “Errors only”

      Only print messages explaining why the Nix invocation failed.

    • 1 “Informational”

      Print useful messages about what Nix is doing. This is the default.

    • 2 “Talkative”

      Print more informational messages.

    • 3 “Chatty”

      Print even more informational messages.

    • 4 “Debug”

      Print debug information.

    • 5 “Vomit”

      Print vast amounts of debug information.

  • --quiet

    Decreases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. This is the inverse option to -v / --verbose.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. See the previous verbosity levels list.

  • --log-format format

    This option can be used to change the output of the log format, with format being one of:

    • raw

      This is the raw format, as outputted by nix-build.

    • internal-json

      Outputs the logs in a structured manner.

      Warning

      While the schema itself is relatively stable, the format of the error-messages (namely of the msg-field) can change between releases.

    • bar

      Only display a progress bar during the builds.

    • bar-with-logs

      Display the raw logs, with the progress bar at the bottom.

  • --no-build-output / -Q

    By default, output written by builders to standard output and standard error is echoed to the Nix command's standard error. This option suppresses this behaviour. Note that the builder's standard output and error are always written to a log file in prefix/nix/var/log/nix.

  • --max-jobs / -j number

    Sets the maximum number of build jobs that Nix will perform in parallel to the specified number. Specify auto to use the number of CPUs in the system. The default is specified by the max-jobs configuration setting, which itself defaults to 1. A higher value is useful on SMP systems or to exploit I/O latency.

    Setting it to 0 disallows building on the local machine, which is useful when you want builds to happen only on remote builders.

  • --cores

    Sets the value of the NIX_BUILD_CORES environment variable in the invocation of builders. Builders can use this variable at their discretion to control the maximum amount of parallelism. For instance, in Nixpkgs, if the derivation attribute enableParallelBuilding is set to true, the builder passes the -jN flag to GNU Make. It defaults to the value of the cores configuration setting, if set, or 1 otherwise. The value 0 means that the builder should use all available CPU cores in the system.

  • --max-silent-time

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can go without producing any data on standard output or standard error. The default is specified by the max-silent-time configuration setting. 0 means no time-out.

  • --timeout

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can run. The default is specified by the timeout configuration setting. 0 means no timeout.

  • --keep-going / -k

    Keep going in case of failed builds, to the greatest extent possible. That is, if building an input of some derivation fails, Nix will still build the other inputs, but not the derivation itself. Without this option, Nix stops if any build fails (except for builds of substitutes), possibly killing builds in progress (in case of parallel or distributed builds).

  • --keep-failed / -K

    Specifies that in case of a build failure, the temporary directory (usually in /tmp) in which the build takes place should not be deleted. The path of the build directory is printed as an informational message.

  • --fallback

    Whenever Nix attempts to build a derivation for which substitutes are known for each output path, but realising the output paths through the substitutes fails, fall back on building the derivation.

    The most common scenario in which this is useful is when we have registered substitutes in order to perform binary distribution from, say, a network repository. If the repository is down, the realisation of the derivation will fail. When this option is specified, Nix will build the derivation instead. Thus, installation from binaries falls back on installation from source. This option is not the default since it is generally not desirable for a transient failure in obtaining the substitutes to lead to a full build from source (with the related consumption of resources).

  • --readonly-mode

    When this option is used, no attempt is made to open the Nix database. Most Nix operations do need database access, so those operations will fail.

  • --arg name value

    This option is accepted by nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-shell and nix-build. When evaluating Nix expressions, the expression evaluator will automatically try to call functions that it encounters. It can automatically call functions for which every argument has a default value (e.g., { argName ? defaultValue }: ...).

    With --arg, you can also call functions that have arguments without a default value (or override a default value). That is, if the evaluator encounters a function with an argument named name, it will call it with value value.

    For instance, the top-level default.nix in Nixpkgs is actually a function:

    { # The system (e.g., `i686-linux') for which to build the packages.
      system ? builtins.currentSystem
      ...
    }: ...
    

    So if you call this Nix expression (e.g., when you do nix-env --install --attr pkgname), the function will be called automatically using the value builtins.currentSystem for the system argument. You can override this using --arg, e.g., nix-env --install --attr pkgname --arg system \"i686-freebsd\". (Note that since the argument is a Nix string literal, you have to escape the quotes.)

  • --argstr name value

    This option is like --arg, only the value is not a Nix expression but a string. So instead of --arg system \"i686-linux\" (the outer quotes are to keep the shell happy) you can say --argstr system i686-linux.

  • --attr / -A attrPath

    Select an attribute from the top-level Nix expression being evaluated. (nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.) The attribute path attrPath is a sequence of attribute names separated by dots. For instance, given a top-level Nix expression e, the attribute path xorg.xorgserver would cause the expression e.xorg.xorgserver to be used. See nix-env --install for some concrete examples.

    In addition to attribute names, you can also specify array indices. For instance, the attribute path foo.3.bar selects the bar attribute of the fourth element of the array in the foo attribute of the top-level expression.

  • --expr / -E

    Interpret the command line arguments as a list of Nix expressions to be parsed and evaluated, rather than as a list of file names of Nix expressions. (nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.)

    For nix-shell, this option is commonly used to give you a shell in which you can build the packages returned by the expression. If you want to get a shell which contain the built packages ready for use, give your expression to the nix-shell --packages convenience flag instead.

  • -I path

    Add an entry to the Nix expression search path. This option may be given multiple times. Paths added through -I take precedence over NIX_PATH.

  • --option name value

    Set the Nix configuration option name to value. This overrides settings in the Nix configuration file (see nix.conf5).

  • --repair

    Fix corrupted or missing store paths by redownloading or rebuilding them. Note that this is slow because it requires computing a cryptographic hash of the contents of every path in the closure of the build. Also note the warning under nix-store --repair-path.

Note

See man nix.conf for overriding configuration settings with command line flags.

Common Environment Variables

Most Nix commands interpret the following environment variables:

  • IN_NIX_SHELL

    Indicator that tells if the current environment was set up by nix-shell. It can have the values pure or impure.

  • NIX_PATH

    A colon-separated list of directories used to look up the location of Nix expressions using paths enclosed in angle brackets (i.e., <path>), e.g. /home/eelco/Dev:/etc/nixos. It can be extended using the -I option.

    If NIX_PATH is not set at all, Nix will fall back to the following list in impure and unrestricted evaluation mode:

    1. $HOME/.nix-defexpr/channels
    2. nixpkgs=/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels/nixpkgs
    3. /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels

    If NIX_PATH is set to an empty string, resolving search paths will always fail. For example, attempting to use <nixpkgs> will produce:

    error: file 'nixpkgs' was not found in the Nix search path
    
  • NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE

    Normally, the Nix store directory (typically /nix/store) is not allowed to contain any symlink components. This is to prevent “impure” builds. Builders sometimes “canonicalise” paths by resolving all symlink components. Thus, builds on different machines (with /nix/store resolving to different locations) could yield different results. This is generally not a problem, except when builds are deployed to machines where /nix/store resolves differently. If you are sure that you’re not going to do that, you can set NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE to 1.

    Note that if you’re symlinking the Nix store so that you can put it on another file system than the root file system, on Linux you’re better off using bind mount points, e.g.,

    $ mkdir /nix
    $ mount -o bind /mnt/otherdisk/nix /nix
    

    Consult the mount 8 manual page for details.

  • NIX_STORE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix store (default prefix/store).

  • NIX_DATA_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix static data directory (default prefix/share).

  • NIX_LOG_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix log directory (default prefix/var/log/nix).

  • NIX_STATE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix state directory (default prefix/var/nix).

  • NIX_CONF_DIR

    Overrides the location of the system Nix configuration directory (default prefix/etc/nix).

  • NIX_CONFIG

    Applies settings from Nix configuration from the environment. The content is treated as if it was read from a Nix configuration file. Settings are separated by the newline character.

  • NIX_USER_CONF_FILES

    Overrides the location of the Nix user configuration files to load from.

    The default are the locations according to the XDG Base Directory Specification. See the XDG Base Directories sub-section for details.

    The variable is treated as a list separated by the : token.

  • TMPDIR

    Use the specified directory to store temporary files. In particular, this includes temporary build directories; these can take up substantial amounts of disk space. The default is /tmp.

  • NIX_REMOTE

    This variable should be set to daemon if you want to use the Nix daemon to execute Nix operations. This is necessary in multi-user Nix installations. If the Nix daemon's Unix socket is at some non-standard path, this variable should be set to unix://path/to/socket. Otherwise, it should be left unset.

  • NIX_SHOW_STATS

    If set to 1, Nix will print some evaluation statistics, such as the number of values allocated.

  • NIX_COUNT_CALLS

    If set to 1, Nix will print how often functions were called during Nix expression evaluation. This is useful for profiling your Nix expressions.

  • GC_INITIAL_HEAP_SIZE

    If Nix has been configured to use the Boehm garbage collector, this variable sets the initial size of the heap in bytes. It defaults to 384 MiB. Setting it to a low value reduces memory consumption, but will increase runtime due to the overhead of garbage collection.

XDG Base Directories

Nix follows the XDG Base Directory Specification.

For backwards compatibility, Nix commands will follow the standard only when use-xdg-base-directories is enabled. New Nix commands (experimental) conform to the standard by default.

The following environment variables are used to determine locations of various state and configuration files:

Example

$ nix-store --delete /nix/store/zq0h41l75vlb4z45kzgjjmsjxvcv1qk7-mesa-6.4
0 bytes freed (0.00 MiB)
error: cannot delete path `/nix/store/zq0h41l75vlb4z45kzgjjmsjxvcv1qk7-mesa-6.4' since it is still alive

Name

nix-store --dump-db - export Nix database

Synopsis

nix-store --dump-db [paths…]

Description

The operation --dump-db writes a dump of the Nix database to standard output. It can be loaded into an empty Nix store using --load-db. This is useful for making backups and when migrating to different database schemas.

By default, --dump-db will dump the entire Nix database. When one or more store paths is passed, only the subset of the Nix database for those store paths is dumped. As with --export, the user is responsible for passing all the store paths for a closure. See --export for an example.

Options

The following options are allowed for all nix-store operations, but may not always have an effect.

  • --add-root path

    Causes the result of a realisation (--realise and --force-realise) to be registered as a root of the garbage collector. path will be created as a symlink to the resulting store path. In addition, a uniquely named symlink to path will be created in /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto/. For instance,

    $ nix-store --add-root /home/eelco/bla/result --realise ...
    
    $ ls -l /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 dn54lcypm8f8... -> /home/eelco/bla/result
    
    $ ls -l /home/eelco/bla/result
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 /home/eelco/bla/result -> /nix/store/1r11343n6qd4...-f-spot-0.0.10
    

    Thus, when /home/eelco/bla/result is removed, the GC root in the auto directory becomes a dangling symlink and will be ignored by the collector.

    Warning

    Note that it is not possible to move or rename GC roots, since the symlink in the auto directory will still point to the old location.

    If there are multiple results, then multiple symlinks will be created by sequentially numbering symlinks beyond the first one (e.g., foo, foo-2, foo-3, and so on).

Common Options

Most Nix commands accept the following command-line options:

  • --help

    Prints out a summary of the command syntax and exits.

  • --version

    Prints out the Nix version number on standard output and exits.

  • --verbose / -v

    Increases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. For each Nix operation, the information printed on standard output is well-defined; any diagnostic information is printed on standard error, never on standard output.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. Currently, the following verbosity levels exist:

    • 0 “Errors only”

      Only print messages explaining why the Nix invocation failed.

    • 1 “Informational”

      Print useful messages about what Nix is doing. This is the default.

    • 2 “Talkative”

      Print more informational messages.

    • 3 “Chatty”

      Print even more informational messages.

    • 4 “Debug”

      Print debug information.

    • 5 “Vomit”

      Print vast amounts of debug information.

  • --quiet

    Decreases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. This is the inverse option to -v / --verbose.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. See the previous verbosity levels list.

  • --log-format format

    This option can be used to change the output of the log format, with format being one of:

    • raw

      This is the raw format, as outputted by nix-build.

    • internal-json

      Outputs the logs in a structured manner.

      Warning

      While the schema itself is relatively stable, the format of the error-messages (namely of the msg-field) can change between releases.

    • bar

      Only display a progress bar during the builds.

    • bar-with-logs

      Display the raw logs, with the progress bar at the bottom.

  • --no-build-output / -Q

    By default, output written by builders to standard output and standard error is echoed to the Nix command's standard error. This option suppresses this behaviour. Note that the builder's standard output and error are always written to a log file in prefix/nix/var/log/nix.

  • --max-jobs / -j number

    Sets the maximum number of build jobs that Nix will perform in parallel to the specified number. Specify auto to use the number of CPUs in the system. The default is specified by the max-jobs configuration setting, which itself defaults to 1. A higher value is useful on SMP systems or to exploit I/O latency.

    Setting it to 0 disallows building on the local machine, which is useful when you want builds to happen only on remote builders.

  • --cores

    Sets the value of the NIX_BUILD_CORES environment variable in the invocation of builders. Builders can use this variable at their discretion to control the maximum amount of parallelism. For instance, in Nixpkgs, if the derivation attribute enableParallelBuilding is set to true, the builder passes the -jN flag to GNU Make. It defaults to the value of the cores configuration setting, if set, or 1 otherwise. The value 0 means that the builder should use all available CPU cores in the system.

  • --max-silent-time

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can go without producing any data on standard output or standard error. The default is specified by the max-silent-time configuration setting. 0 means no time-out.

  • --timeout

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can run. The default is specified by the timeout configuration setting. 0 means no timeout.

  • --keep-going / -k

    Keep going in case of failed builds, to the greatest extent possible. That is, if building an input of some derivation fails, Nix will still build the other inputs, but not the derivation itself. Without this option, Nix stops if any build fails (except for builds of substitutes), possibly killing builds in progress (in case of parallel or distributed builds).

  • --keep-failed / -K

    Specifies that in case of a build failure, the temporary directory (usually in /tmp) in which the build takes place should not be deleted. The path of the build directory is printed as an informational message.

  • --fallback

    Whenever Nix attempts to build a derivation for which substitutes are known for each output path, but realising the output paths through the substitutes fails, fall back on building the derivation.

    The most common scenario in which this is useful is when we have registered substitutes in order to perform binary distribution from, say, a network repository. If the repository is down, the realisation of the derivation will fail. When this option is specified, Nix will build the derivation instead. Thus, installation from binaries falls back on installation from source. This option is not the default since it is generally not desirable for a transient failure in obtaining the substitutes to lead to a full build from source (with the related consumption of resources).

  • --readonly-mode

    When this option is used, no attempt is made to open the Nix database. Most Nix operations do need database access, so those operations will fail.

  • --arg name value

    This option is accepted by nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-shell and nix-build. When evaluating Nix expressions, the expression evaluator will automatically try to call functions that it encounters. It can automatically call functions for which every argument has a default value (e.g., { argName ? defaultValue }: ...).

    With --arg, you can also call functions that have arguments without a default value (or override a default value). That is, if the evaluator encounters a function with an argument named name, it will call it with value value.

    For instance, the top-level default.nix in Nixpkgs is actually a function:

    { # The system (e.g., `i686-linux') for which to build the packages.
      system ? builtins.currentSystem
      ...
    }: ...
    

    So if you call this Nix expression (e.g., when you do nix-env --install --attr pkgname), the function will be called automatically using the value builtins.currentSystem for the system argument. You can override this using --arg, e.g., nix-env --install --attr pkgname --arg system \"i686-freebsd\". (Note that since the argument is a Nix string literal, you have to escape the quotes.)

  • --argstr name value

    This option is like --arg, only the value is not a Nix expression but a string. So instead of --arg system \"i686-linux\" (the outer quotes are to keep the shell happy) you can say --argstr system i686-linux.

  • --attr / -A attrPath

    Select an attribute from the top-level Nix expression being evaluated. (nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.) The attribute path attrPath is a sequence of attribute names separated by dots. For instance, given a top-level Nix expression e, the attribute path xorg.xorgserver would cause the expression e.xorg.xorgserver to be used. See nix-env --install for some concrete examples.

    In addition to attribute names, you can also specify array indices. For instance, the attribute path foo.3.bar selects the bar attribute of the fourth element of the array in the foo attribute of the top-level expression.

  • --expr / -E

    Interpret the command line arguments as a list of Nix expressions to be parsed and evaluated, rather than as a list of file names of Nix expressions. (nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.)

    For nix-shell, this option is commonly used to give you a shell in which you can build the packages returned by the expression. If you want to get a shell which contain the built packages ready for use, give your expression to the nix-shell --packages convenience flag instead.

  • -I path

    Add an entry to the Nix expression search path. This option may be given multiple times. Paths added through -I take precedence over NIX_PATH.

  • --option name value

    Set the Nix configuration option name to value. This overrides settings in the Nix configuration file (see nix.conf5).

  • --repair

    Fix corrupted or missing store paths by redownloading or rebuilding them. Note that this is slow because it requires computing a cryptographic hash of the contents of every path in the closure of the build. Also note the warning under nix-store --repair-path.

Note

See man nix.conf for overriding configuration settings with command line flags.

Common Environment Variables

Most Nix commands interpret the following environment variables:

  • IN_NIX_SHELL

    Indicator that tells if the current environment was set up by nix-shell. It can have the values pure or impure.

  • NIX_PATH

    A colon-separated list of directories used to look up the location of Nix expressions using paths enclosed in angle brackets (i.e., <path>), e.g. /home/eelco/Dev:/etc/nixos. It can be extended using the -I option.

    If NIX_PATH is not set at all, Nix will fall back to the following list in impure and unrestricted evaluation mode:

    1. $HOME/.nix-defexpr/channels
    2. nixpkgs=/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels/nixpkgs
    3. /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels

    If NIX_PATH is set to an empty string, resolving search paths will always fail. For example, attempting to use <nixpkgs> will produce:

    error: file 'nixpkgs' was not found in the Nix search path
    
  • NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE

    Normally, the Nix store directory (typically /nix/store) is not allowed to contain any symlink components. This is to prevent “impure” builds. Builders sometimes “canonicalise” paths by resolving all symlink components. Thus, builds on different machines (with /nix/store resolving to different locations) could yield different results. This is generally not a problem, except when builds are deployed to machines where /nix/store resolves differently. If you are sure that you’re not going to do that, you can set NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE to 1.

    Note that if you’re symlinking the Nix store so that you can put it on another file system than the root file system, on Linux you’re better off using bind mount points, e.g.,

    $ mkdir /nix
    $ mount -o bind /mnt/otherdisk/nix /nix
    

    Consult the mount 8 manual page for details.

  • NIX_STORE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix store (default prefix/store).

  • NIX_DATA_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix static data directory (default prefix/share).

  • NIX_LOG_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix log directory (default prefix/var/log/nix).

  • NIX_STATE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix state directory (default prefix/var/nix).

  • NIX_CONF_DIR

    Overrides the location of the system Nix configuration directory (default prefix/etc/nix).

  • NIX_CONFIG

    Applies settings from Nix configuration from the environment. The content is treated as if it was read from a Nix configuration file. Settings are separated by the newline character.

  • NIX_USER_CONF_FILES

    Overrides the location of the Nix user configuration files to load from.

    The default are the locations according to the XDG Base Directory Specification. See the XDG Base Directories sub-section for details.

    The variable is treated as a list separated by the : token.

  • TMPDIR

    Use the specified directory to store temporary files. In particular, this includes temporary build directories; these can take up substantial amounts of disk space. The default is /tmp.

  • NIX_REMOTE

    This variable should be set to daemon if you want to use the Nix daemon to execute Nix operations. This is necessary in multi-user Nix installations. If the Nix daemon's Unix socket is at some non-standard path, this variable should be set to unix://path/to/socket. Otherwise, it should be left unset.

  • NIX_SHOW_STATS

    If set to 1, Nix will print some evaluation statistics, such as the number of values allocated.

  • NIX_COUNT_CALLS

    If set to 1, Nix will print how often functions were called during Nix expression evaluation. This is useful for profiling your Nix expressions.

  • GC_INITIAL_HEAP_SIZE

    If Nix has been configured to use the Boehm garbage collector, this variable sets the initial size of the heap in bytes. It defaults to 384 MiB. Setting it to a low value reduces memory consumption, but will increase runtime due to the overhead of garbage collection.

XDG Base Directories

Nix follows the XDG Base Directory Specification.

For backwards compatibility, Nix commands will follow the standard only when use-xdg-base-directories is enabled. New Nix commands (experimental) conform to the standard by default.

The following environment variables are used to determine locations of various state and configuration files:

Name

nix-store --dump - write a single path to a Nix Archive

Synopsis

nix-store --dump path

Description

The operation --dump produces a NAR (Nix ARchive) file containing the contents of the file system tree rooted at path. The archive is written to standard output.

A NAR archive is like a TAR or Zip archive, but it contains only the information that Nix considers important. For instance, timestamps are elided because all files in the Nix store have their timestamp set to 0 anyway. Likewise, all permissions are left out except for the execute bit, because all files in the Nix store have 444 or 555 permission.

Also, a NAR archive is canonical, meaning that “equal” paths always produce the same NAR archive. For instance, directory entries are always sorted so that the actual on-disk order doesn’t influence the result. This means that the cryptographic hash of a NAR dump of a path is usable as a fingerprint of the contents of the path. Indeed, the hashes of store paths stored in Nix’s database (see nix-store --query --hash) are SHA-256 hashes of the NAR dump of each store path.

NAR archives support filenames of unlimited length and 64-bit file sizes. They can contain regular files, directories, and symbolic links, but not other types of files (such as device nodes).

A Nix archive can be unpacked using nix-store --restore.

Options

The following options are allowed for all nix-store operations, but may not always have an effect.

  • --add-root path

    Causes the result of a realisation (--realise and --force-realise) to be registered as a root of the garbage collector. path will be created as a symlink to the resulting store path. In addition, a uniquely named symlink to path will be created in /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto/. For instance,

    $ nix-store --add-root /home/eelco/bla/result --realise ...
    
    $ ls -l /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 dn54lcypm8f8... -> /home/eelco/bla/result
    
    $ ls -l /home/eelco/bla/result
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 /home/eelco/bla/result -> /nix/store/1r11343n6qd4...-f-spot-0.0.10
    

    Thus, when /home/eelco/bla/result is removed, the GC root in the auto directory becomes a dangling symlink and will be ignored by the collector.

    Warning

    Note that it is not possible to move or rename GC roots, since the symlink in the auto directory will still point to the old location.

    If there are multiple results, then multiple symlinks will be created by sequentially numbering symlinks beyond the first one (e.g., foo, foo-2, foo-3, and so on).

Common Options

Most Nix commands accept the following command-line options:

  • --help

    Prints out a summary of the command syntax and exits.

  • --version

    Prints out the Nix version number on standard output and exits.

  • --verbose / -v

    Increases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. For each Nix operation, the information printed on standard output is well-defined; any diagnostic information is printed on standard error, never on standard output.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. Currently, the following verbosity levels exist:

    • 0 “Errors only”

      Only print messages explaining why the Nix invocation failed.

    • 1 “Informational”

      Print useful messages about what Nix is doing. This is the default.

    • 2 “Talkative”

      Print more informational messages.

    • 3 “Chatty”

      Print even more informational messages.

    • 4 “Debug”

      Print debug information.

    • 5 “Vomit”

      Print vast amounts of debug information.

  • --quiet

    Decreases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. This is the inverse option to -v / --verbose.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. See the previous verbosity levels list.

  • --log-format format

    This option can be used to change the output of the log format, with format being one of:

    • raw

      This is the raw format, as outputted by nix-build.

    • internal-json

      Outputs the logs in a structured manner.

      Warning

      While the schema itself is relatively stable, the format of the error-messages (namely of the msg-field) can change between releases.

    • bar

      Only display a progress bar during the builds.

    • bar-with-logs

      Display the raw logs, with the progress bar at the bottom.

  • --no-build-output / -Q

    By default, output written by builders to standard output and standard error is echoed to the Nix command's standard error. This option suppresses this behaviour. Note that the builder's standard output and error are always written to a log file in prefix/nix/var/log/nix.

  • --max-jobs / -j number

    Sets the maximum number of build jobs that Nix will perform in parallel to the specified number. Specify auto to use the number of CPUs in the system. The default is specified by the max-jobs configuration setting, which itself defaults to 1. A higher value is useful on SMP systems or to exploit I/O latency.

    Setting it to 0 disallows building on the local machine, which is useful when you want builds to happen only on remote builders.

  • --cores

    Sets the value of the NIX_BUILD_CORES environment variable in the invocation of builders. Builders can use this variable at their discretion to control the maximum amount of parallelism. For instance, in Nixpkgs, if the derivation attribute enableParallelBuilding is set to true, the builder passes the -jN flag to GNU Make. It defaults to the value of the cores configuration setting, if set, or 1 otherwise. The value 0 means that the builder should use all available CPU cores in the system.

  • --max-silent-time

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can go without producing any data on standard output or standard error. The default is specified by the max-silent-time configuration setting. 0 means no time-out.

  • --timeout

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can run. The default is specified by the timeout configuration setting. 0 means no timeout.

  • --keep-going / -k

    Keep going in case of failed builds, to the greatest extent possible. That is, if building an input of some derivation fails, Nix will still build the other inputs, but not the derivation itself. Without this option, Nix stops if any build fails (except for builds of substitutes), possibly killing builds in progress (in case of parallel or distributed builds).

  • --keep-failed / -K

    Specifies that in case of a build failure, the temporary directory (usually in /tmp) in which the build takes place should not be deleted. The path of the build directory is printed as an informational message.

  • --fallback

    Whenever Nix attempts to build a derivation for which substitutes are known for each output path, but realising the output paths through the substitutes fails, fall back on building the derivation.

    The most common scenario in which this is useful is when we have registered substitutes in order to perform binary distribution from, say, a network repository. If the repository is down, the realisation of the derivation will fail. When this option is specified, Nix will build the derivation instead. Thus, installation from binaries falls back on installation from source. This option is not the default since it is generally not desirable for a transient failure in obtaining the substitutes to lead to a full build from source (with the related consumption of resources).

  • --readonly-mode

    When this option is used, no attempt is made to open the Nix database. Most Nix operations do need database access, so those operations will fail.

  • --arg name value

    This option is accepted by nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-shell and nix-build. When evaluating Nix expressions, the expression evaluator will automatically try to call functions that it encounters. It can automatically call functions for which every argument has a default value (e.g., { argName ? defaultValue }: ...).

    With --arg, you can also call functions that have arguments without a default value (or override a default value). That is, if the evaluator encounters a function with an argument named name, it will call it with value value.

    For instance, the top-level default.nix in Nixpkgs is actually a function:

    { # The system (e.g., `i686-linux') for which to build the packages.
      system ? builtins.currentSystem
      ...
    }: ...
    

    So if you call this Nix expression (e.g., when you do nix-env --install --attr pkgname), the function will be called automatically using the value builtins.currentSystem for the system argument. You can override this using --arg, e.g., nix-env --install --attr pkgname --arg system \"i686-freebsd\". (Note that since the argument is a Nix string literal, you have to escape the quotes.)

  • --argstr name value

    This option is like --arg, only the value is not a Nix expression but a string. So instead of --arg system \"i686-linux\" (the outer quotes are to keep the shell happy) you can say --argstr system i686-linux.

  • --attr / -A attrPath

    Select an attribute from the top-level Nix expression being evaluated. (nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.) The attribute path attrPath is a sequence of attribute names separated by dots. For instance, given a top-level Nix expression e, the attribute path xorg.xorgserver would cause the expression e.xorg.xorgserver to be used. See nix-env --install for some concrete examples.

    In addition to attribute names, you can also specify array indices. For instance, the attribute path foo.3.bar selects the bar attribute of the fourth element of the array in the foo attribute of the top-level expression.

  • --expr / -E

    Interpret the command line arguments as a list of Nix expressions to be parsed and evaluated, rather than as a list of file names of Nix expressions. (nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.)

    For nix-shell, this option is commonly used to give you a shell in which you can build the packages returned by the expression. If you want to get a shell which contain the built packages ready for use, give your expression to the nix-shell --packages convenience flag instead.

  • -I path

    Add an entry to the Nix expression search path. This option may be given multiple times. Paths added through -I take precedence over NIX_PATH.

  • --option name value

    Set the Nix configuration option name to value. This overrides settings in the Nix configuration file (see nix.conf5).

  • --repair

    Fix corrupted or missing store paths by redownloading or rebuilding them. Note that this is slow because it requires computing a cryptographic hash of the contents of every path in the closure of the build. Also note the warning under nix-store --repair-path.

Note

See man nix.conf for overriding configuration settings with command line flags.

Common Environment Variables

Most Nix commands interpret the following environment variables:

  • IN_NIX_SHELL

    Indicator that tells if the current environment was set up by nix-shell. It can have the values pure or impure.

  • NIX_PATH

    A colon-separated list of directories used to look up the location of Nix expressions using paths enclosed in angle brackets (i.e., <path>), e.g. /home/eelco/Dev:/etc/nixos. It can be extended using the -I option.

    If NIX_PATH is not set at all, Nix will fall back to the following list in impure and unrestricted evaluation mode:

    1. $HOME/.nix-defexpr/channels
    2. nixpkgs=/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels/nixpkgs
    3. /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels

    If NIX_PATH is set to an empty string, resolving search paths will always fail. For example, attempting to use <nixpkgs> will produce:

    error: file 'nixpkgs' was not found in the Nix search path
    
  • NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE

    Normally, the Nix store directory (typically /nix/store) is not allowed to contain any symlink components. This is to prevent “impure” builds. Builders sometimes “canonicalise” paths by resolving all symlink components. Thus, builds on different machines (with /nix/store resolving to different locations) could yield different results. This is generally not a problem, except when builds are deployed to machines where /nix/store resolves differently. If you are sure that you’re not going to do that, you can set NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE to 1.

    Note that if you’re symlinking the Nix store so that you can put it on another file system than the root file system, on Linux you’re better off using bind mount points, e.g.,

    $ mkdir /nix
    $ mount -o bind /mnt/otherdisk/nix /nix
    

    Consult the mount 8 manual page for details.

  • NIX_STORE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix store (default prefix/store).

  • NIX_DATA_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix static data directory (default prefix/share).

  • NIX_LOG_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix log directory (default prefix/var/log/nix).

  • NIX_STATE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix state directory (default prefix/var/nix).

  • NIX_CONF_DIR

    Overrides the location of the system Nix configuration directory (default prefix/etc/nix).

  • NIX_CONFIG

    Applies settings from Nix configuration from the environment. The content is treated as if it was read from a Nix configuration file. Settings are separated by the newline character.

  • NIX_USER_CONF_FILES

    Overrides the location of the Nix user configuration files to load from.

    The default are the locations according to the XDG Base Directory Specification. See the XDG Base Directories sub-section for details.

    The variable is treated as a list separated by the : token.

  • TMPDIR

    Use the specified directory to store temporary files. In particular, this includes temporary build directories; these can take up substantial amounts of disk space. The default is /tmp.

  • NIX_REMOTE

    This variable should be set to daemon if you want to use the Nix daemon to execute Nix operations. This is necessary in multi-user Nix installations. If the Nix daemon's Unix socket is at some non-standard path, this variable should be set to unix://path/to/socket. Otherwise, it should be left unset.

  • NIX_SHOW_STATS

    If set to 1, Nix will print some evaluation statistics, such as the number of values allocated.

  • NIX_COUNT_CALLS

    If set to 1, Nix will print how often functions were called during Nix expression evaluation. This is useful for profiling your Nix expressions.

  • GC_INITIAL_HEAP_SIZE

    If Nix has been configured to use the Boehm garbage collector, this variable sets the initial size of the heap in bytes. It defaults to 384 MiB. Setting it to a low value reduces memory consumption, but will increase runtime due to the overhead of garbage collection.

XDG Base Directories

Nix follows the XDG Base Directory Specification.

For backwards compatibility, Nix commands will follow the standard only when use-xdg-base-directories is enabled. New Nix commands (experimental) conform to the standard by default.

The following environment variables are used to determine locations of various state and configuration files:

Name

nix-store --export - export store paths to a Nix Archive

Synopsis

nix-store --export paths…

Description

The operation --export writes a serialisation of the specified store paths to standard output in a format that can be imported into another Nix store with nix-store --import. This is like nix-store --dump, except that the NAR archive produced by that command doesn’t contain the necessary meta-information to allow it to be imported into another Nix store (namely, the set of references of the path).

This command does not produce a closure of the specified paths, so if a store path references other store paths that are missing in the target Nix store, the import will fail.

Options

The following options are allowed for all nix-store operations, but may not always have an effect.

  • --add-root path

    Causes the result of a realisation (--realise and --force-realise) to be registered as a root of the garbage collector. path will be created as a symlink to the resulting store path. In addition, a uniquely named symlink to path will be created in /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto/. For instance,

    $ nix-store --add-root /home/eelco/bla/result --realise ...
    
    $ ls -l /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 dn54lcypm8f8... -> /home/eelco/bla/result
    
    $ ls -l /home/eelco/bla/result
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 /home/eelco/bla/result -> /nix/store/1r11343n6qd4...-f-spot-0.0.10
    

    Thus, when /home/eelco/bla/result is removed, the GC root in the auto directory becomes a dangling symlink and will be ignored by the collector.

    Warning

    Note that it is not possible to move or rename GC roots, since the symlink in the auto directory will still point to the old location.

    If there are multiple results, then multiple symlinks will be created by sequentially numbering symlinks beyond the first one (e.g., foo, foo-2, foo-3, and so on).

Common Options

Most Nix commands accept the following command-line options:

  • --help

    Prints out a summary of the command syntax and exits.

  • --version

    Prints out the Nix version number on standard output and exits.

  • --verbose / -v

    Increases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. For each Nix operation, the information printed on standard output is well-defined; any diagnostic information is printed on standard error, never on standard output.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. Currently, the following verbosity levels exist:

    • 0 “Errors only”

      Only print messages explaining why the Nix invocation failed.

    • 1 “Informational”

      Print useful messages about what Nix is doing. This is the default.

    • 2 “Talkative”

      Print more informational messages.

    • 3 “Chatty”

      Print even more informational messages.

    • 4 “Debug”

      Print debug information.

    • 5 “Vomit”

      Print vast amounts of debug information.

  • --quiet

    Decreases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. This is the inverse option to -v / --verbose.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. See the previous verbosity levels list.

  • --log-format format

    This option can be used to change the output of the log format, with format being one of:

    • raw

      This is the raw format, as outputted by nix-build.

    • internal-json

      Outputs the logs in a structured manner.

      Warning

      While the schema itself is relatively stable, the format of the error-messages (namely of the msg-field) can change between releases.

    • bar

      Only display a progress bar during the builds.

    • bar-with-logs

      Display the raw logs, with the progress bar at the bottom.

  • --no-build-output / -Q

    By default, output written by builders to standard output and standard error is echoed to the Nix command's standard error. This option suppresses this behaviour. Note that the builder's standard output and error are always written to a log file in prefix/nix/var/log/nix.

  • --max-jobs / -j number

    Sets the maximum number of build jobs that Nix will perform in parallel to the specified number. Specify auto to use the number of CPUs in the system. The default is specified by the max-jobs configuration setting, which itself defaults to 1. A higher value is useful on SMP systems or to exploit I/O latency.

    Setting it to 0 disallows building on the local machine, which is useful when you want builds to happen only on remote builders.

  • --cores

    Sets the value of the NIX_BUILD_CORES environment variable in the invocation of builders. Builders can use this variable at their discretion to control the maximum amount of parallelism. For instance, in Nixpkgs, if the derivation attribute enableParallelBuilding is set to true, the builder passes the -jN flag to GNU Make. It defaults to the value of the cores configuration setting, if set, or 1 otherwise. The value 0 means that the builder should use all available CPU cores in the system.

  • --max-silent-time

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can go without producing any data on standard output or standard error. The default is specified by the max-silent-time configuration setting. 0 means no time-out.

  • --timeout

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can run. The default is specified by the timeout configuration setting. 0 means no timeout.

  • --keep-going / -k

    Keep going in case of failed builds, to the greatest extent possible. That is, if building an input of some derivation fails, Nix will still build the other inputs, but not the derivation itself. Without this option, Nix stops if any build fails (except for builds of substitutes), possibly killing builds in progress (in case of parallel or distributed builds).

  • --keep-failed / -K

    Specifies that in case of a build failure, the temporary directory (usually in /tmp) in which the build takes place should not be deleted. The path of the build directory is printed as an informational message.

  • --fallback

    Whenever Nix attempts to build a derivation for which substitutes are known for each output path, but realising the output paths through the substitutes fails, fall back on building the derivation.

    The most common scenario in which this is useful is when we have registered substitutes in order to perform binary distribution from, say, a network repository. If the repository is down, the realisation of the derivation will fail. When this option is specified, Nix will build the derivation instead. Thus, installation from binaries falls back on installation from source. This option is not the default since it is generally not desirable for a transient failure in obtaining the substitutes to lead to a full build from source (with the related consumption of resources).

  • --readonly-mode

    When this option is used, no attempt is made to open the Nix database. Most Nix operations do need database access, so those operations will fail.

  • --arg name value

    This option is accepted by nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-shell and nix-build. When evaluating Nix expressions, the expression evaluator will automatically try to call functions that it encounters. It can automatically call functions for which every argument has a default value (e.g., { argName ? defaultValue }: ...).

    With --arg, you can also call functions that have arguments without a default value (or override a default value). That is, if the evaluator encounters a function with an argument named name, it will call it with value value.

    For instance, the top-level default.nix in Nixpkgs is actually a function:

    { # The system (e.g., `i686-linux') for which to build the packages.
      system ? builtins.currentSystem
      ...
    }: ...
    

    So if you call this Nix expression (e.g., when you do nix-env --install --attr pkgname), the function will be called automatically using the value builtins.currentSystem for the system argument. You can override this using --arg, e.g., nix-env --install --attr pkgname --arg system \"i686-freebsd\". (Note that since the argument is a Nix string literal, you have to escape the quotes.)

  • --argstr name value

    This option is like --arg, only the value is not a Nix expression but a string. So instead of --arg system \"i686-linux\" (the outer quotes are to keep the shell happy) you can say --argstr system i686-linux.

  • --attr / -A attrPath

    Select an attribute from the top-level Nix expression being evaluated. (nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.) The attribute path attrPath is a sequence of attribute names separated by dots. For instance, given a top-level Nix expression e, the attribute path xorg.xorgserver would cause the expression e.xorg.xorgserver to be used. See nix-env --install for some concrete examples.

    In addition to attribute names, you can also specify array indices. For instance, the attribute path foo.3.bar selects the bar attribute of the fourth element of the array in the foo attribute of the top-level expression.

  • --expr / -E

    Interpret the command line arguments as a list of Nix expressions to be parsed and evaluated, rather than as a list of file names of Nix expressions. (nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.)

    For nix-shell, this option is commonly used to give you a shell in which you can build the packages returned by the expression. If you want to get a shell which contain the built packages ready for use, give your expression to the nix-shell --packages convenience flag instead.

  • -I path

    Add an entry to the Nix expression search path. This option may be given multiple times. Paths added through -I take precedence over NIX_PATH.

  • --option name value

    Set the Nix configuration option name to value. This overrides settings in the Nix configuration file (see nix.conf5).

  • --repair

    Fix corrupted or missing store paths by redownloading or rebuilding them. Note that this is slow because it requires computing a cryptographic hash of the contents of every path in the closure of the build. Also note the warning under nix-store --repair-path.

Note

See man nix.conf for overriding configuration settings with command line flags.

Common Environment Variables

Most Nix commands interpret the following environment variables:

  • IN_NIX_SHELL

    Indicator that tells if the current environment was set up by nix-shell. It can have the values pure or impure.

  • NIX_PATH

    A colon-separated list of directories used to look up the location of Nix expressions using paths enclosed in angle brackets (i.e., <path>), e.g. /home/eelco/Dev:/etc/nixos. It can be extended using the -I option.

    If NIX_PATH is not set at all, Nix will fall back to the following list in impure and unrestricted evaluation mode:

    1. $HOME/.nix-defexpr/channels
    2. nixpkgs=/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels/nixpkgs
    3. /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels

    If NIX_PATH is set to an empty string, resolving search paths will always fail. For example, attempting to use <nixpkgs> will produce:

    error: file 'nixpkgs' was not found in the Nix search path
    
  • NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE

    Normally, the Nix store directory (typically /nix/store) is not allowed to contain any symlink components. This is to prevent “impure” builds. Builders sometimes “canonicalise” paths by resolving all symlink components. Thus, builds on different machines (with /nix/store resolving to different locations) could yield different results. This is generally not a problem, except when builds are deployed to machines where /nix/store resolves differently. If you are sure that you’re not going to do that, you can set NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE to 1.

    Note that if you’re symlinking the Nix store so that you can put it on another file system than the root file system, on Linux you’re better off using bind mount points, e.g.,

    $ mkdir /nix
    $ mount -o bind /mnt/otherdisk/nix /nix
    

    Consult the mount 8 manual page for details.

  • NIX_STORE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix store (default prefix/store).

  • NIX_DATA_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix static data directory (default prefix/share).

  • NIX_LOG_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix log directory (default prefix/var/log/nix).

  • NIX_STATE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix state directory (default prefix/var/nix).

  • NIX_CONF_DIR

    Overrides the location of the system Nix configuration directory (default prefix/etc/nix).

  • NIX_CONFIG

    Applies settings from Nix configuration from the environment. The content is treated as if it was read from a Nix configuration file. Settings are separated by the newline character.

  • NIX_USER_CONF_FILES

    Overrides the location of the Nix user configuration files to load from.

    The default are the locations according to the XDG Base Directory Specification. See the XDG Base Directories sub-section for details.

    The variable is treated as a list separated by the : token.

  • TMPDIR

    Use the specified directory to store temporary files. In particular, this includes temporary build directories; these can take up substantial amounts of disk space. The default is /tmp.

  • NIX_REMOTE

    This variable should be set to daemon if you want to use the Nix daemon to execute Nix operations. This is necessary in multi-user Nix installations. If the Nix daemon's Unix socket is at some non-standard path, this variable should be set to unix://path/to/socket. Otherwise, it should be left unset.

  • NIX_SHOW_STATS

    If set to 1, Nix will print some evaluation statistics, such as the number of values allocated.

  • NIX_COUNT_CALLS

    If set to 1, Nix will print how often functions were called during Nix expression evaluation. This is useful for profiling your Nix expressions.

  • GC_INITIAL_HEAP_SIZE

    If Nix has been configured to use the Boehm garbage collector, this variable sets the initial size of the heap in bytes. It defaults to 384 MiB. Setting it to a low value reduces memory consumption, but will increase runtime due to the overhead of garbage collection.

XDG Base Directories

Nix follows the XDG Base Directory Specification.

For backwards compatibility, Nix commands will follow the standard only when use-xdg-base-directories is enabled. New Nix commands (experimental) conform to the standard by default.

The following environment variables are used to determine locations of various state and configuration files:

Examples

To copy a whole closure, do something like:

$ nix-store --export $(nix-store --query --requisites paths) > out

To import the whole closure again, run:

$ nix-store --import < out

Name

nix-store --gc - run garbage collection

Synopsis

nix-store --gc [--print-roots | --print-live | --print-dead] [--max-freed bytes]

Description

Without additional flags, the operation --gc performs a garbage collection on the Nix store. That is, all paths in the Nix store not reachable via file system references from a set of “roots”, are deleted.

The following suboperations may be specified:

  • --print-roots
    This operation prints on standard output the set of roots used by the garbage collector.

  • --print-live
    This operation prints on standard output the set of “live” store paths, which are all the store paths reachable from the roots. Live paths should never be deleted, since that would break consistency — it would become possible that applications are installed that reference things that are no longer present in the store.

  • --print-dead
    This operation prints out on standard output the set of “dead” store paths, which is just the opposite of the set of live paths: any path in the store that is not live (with respect to the roots) is dead.

By default, all unreachable paths are deleted. The following options control what gets deleted and in what order:

  • --max-freed bytes
    Keep deleting paths until at least bytes bytes have been deleted, then stop. The argument bytes can be followed by the multiplicative suffix K, M, G or T, denoting KiB, MiB, GiB or TiB units.

The behaviour of the collector is also influenced by the keep-outputs and keep-derivations settings in the Nix configuration file.

By default, the collector prints the total number of freed bytes when it finishes (or when it is interrupted). With --print-dead, it prints the number of bytes that would be freed.

Options

The following options are allowed for all nix-store operations, but may not always have an effect.

  • --add-root path

    Causes the result of a realisation (--realise and --force-realise) to be registered as a root of the garbage collector. path will be created as a symlink to the resulting store path. In addition, a uniquely named symlink to path will be created in /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto/. For instance,

    $ nix-store --add-root /home/eelco/bla/result --realise ...
    
    $ ls -l /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 dn54lcypm8f8... -> /home/eelco/bla/result
    
    $ ls -l /home/eelco/bla/result
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 /home/eelco/bla/result -> /nix/store/1r11343n6qd4...-f-spot-0.0.10
    

    Thus, when /home/eelco/bla/result is removed, the GC root in the auto directory becomes a dangling symlink and will be ignored by the collector.

    Warning

    Note that it is not possible to move or rename GC roots, since the symlink in the auto directory will still point to the old location.

    If there are multiple results, then multiple symlinks will be created by sequentially numbering symlinks beyond the first one (e.g., foo, foo-2, foo-3, and so on).

Common Options

Most Nix commands accept the following command-line options:

  • --help

    Prints out a summary of the command syntax and exits.

  • --version

    Prints out the Nix version number on standard output and exits.

  • --verbose / -v

    Increases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. For each Nix operation, the information printed on standard output is well-defined; any diagnostic information is printed on standard error, never on standard output.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. Currently, the following verbosity levels exist:

    • 0 “Errors only”

      Only print messages explaining why the Nix invocation failed.

    • 1 “Informational”

      Print useful messages about what Nix is doing. This is the default.

    • 2 “Talkative”

      Print more informational messages.

    • 3 “Chatty”

      Print even more informational messages.

    • 4 “Debug”

      Print debug information.

    • 5 “Vomit”

      Print vast amounts of debug information.

  • --quiet

    Decreases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. This is the inverse option to -v / --verbose.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. See the previous verbosity levels list.

  • --log-format format

    This option can be used to change the output of the log format, with format being one of:

    • raw

      This is the raw format, as outputted by nix-build.

    • internal-json

      Outputs the logs in a structured manner.

      Warning

      While the schema itself is relatively stable, the format of the error-messages (namely of the msg-field) can change between releases.

    • bar

      Only display a progress bar during the builds.

    • bar-with-logs

      Display the raw logs, with the progress bar at the bottom.

  • --no-build-output / -Q

    By default, output written by builders to standard output and standard error is echoed to the Nix command's standard error. This option suppresses this behaviour. Note that the builder's standard output and error are always written to a log file in prefix/nix/var/log/nix.

  • --max-jobs / -j number

    Sets the maximum number of build jobs that Nix will perform in parallel to the specified number. Specify auto to use the number of CPUs in the system. The default is specified by the max-jobs configuration setting, which itself defaults to 1. A higher value is useful on SMP systems or to exploit I/O latency.

    Setting it to 0 disallows building on the local machine, which is useful when you want builds to happen only on remote builders.

  • --cores

    Sets the value of the NIX_BUILD_CORES environment variable in the invocation of builders. Builders can use this variable at their discretion to control the maximum amount of parallelism. For instance, in Nixpkgs, if the derivation attribute enableParallelBuilding is set to true, the builder passes the -jN flag to GNU Make. It defaults to the value of the cores configuration setting, if set, or 1 otherwise. The value 0 means that the builder should use all available CPU cores in the system.

  • --max-silent-time

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can go without producing any data on standard output or standard error. The default is specified by the max-silent-time configuration setting. 0 means no time-out.

  • --timeout

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can run. The default is specified by the timeout configuration setting. 0 means no timeout.

  • --keep-going / -k

    Keep going in case of failed builds, to the greatest extent possible. That is, if building an input of some derivation fails, Nix will still build the other inputs, but not the derivation itself. Without this option, Nix stops if any build fails (except for builds of substitutes), possibly killing builds in progress (in case of parallel or distributed builds).

  • --keep-failed / -K

    Specifies that in case of a build failure, the temporary directory (usually in /tmp) in which the build takes place should not be deleted. The path of the build directory is printed as an informational message.

  • --fallback

    Whenever Nix attempts to build a derivation for which substitutes are known for each output path, but realising the output paths through the substitutes fails, fall back on building the derivation.

    The most common scenario in which this is useful is when we have registered substitutes in order to perform binary distribution from, say, a network repository. If the repository is down, the realisation of the derivation will fail. When this option is specified, Nix will build the derivation instead. Thus, installation from binaries falls back on installation from source. This option is not the default since it is generally not desirable for a transient failure in obtaining the substitutes to lead to a full build from source (with the related consumption of resources).

  • --readonly-mode

    When this option is used, no attempt is made to open the Nix database. Most Nix operations do need database access, so those operations will fail.

  • --arg name value

    This option is accepted by nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-shell and nix-build. When evaluating Nix expressions, the expression evaluator will automatically try to call functions that it encounters. It can automatically call functions for which every argument has a default value (e.g., { argName ? defaultValue }: ...).

    With --arg, you can also call functions that have arguments without a default value (or override a default value). That is, if the evaluator encounters a function with an argument named name, it will call it with value value.

    For instance, the top-level default.nix in Nixpkgs is actually a function:

    { # The system (e.g., `i686-linux') for which to build the packages.
      system ? builtins.currentSystem
      ...
    }: ...
    

    So if you call this Nix expression (e.g., when you do nix-env --install --attr pkgname), the function will be called automatically using the value builtins.currentSystem for the system argument. You can override this using --arg, e.g., nix-env --install --attr pkgname --arg system \"i686-freebsd\". (Note that since the argument is a Nix string literal, you have to escape the quotes.)

  • --argstr name value

    This option is like --arg, only the value is not a Nix expression but a string. So instead of --arg system \"i686-linux\" (the outer quotes are to keep the shell happy) you can say --argstr system i686-linux.

  • --attr / -A attrPath

    Select an attribute from the top-level Nix expression being evaluated. (nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.) The attribute path attrPath is a sequence of attribute names separated by dots. For instance, given a top-level Nix expression e, the attribute path xorg.xorgserver would cause the expression e.xorg.xorgserver to be used. See nix-env --install for some concrete examples.

    In addition to attribute names, you can also specify array indices. For instance, the attribute path foo.3.bar selects the bar attribute of the fourth element of the array in the foo attribute of the top-level expression.

  • --expr / -E

    Interpret the command line arguments as a list of Nix expressions to be parsed and evaluated, rather than as a list of file names of Nix expressions. (nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.)

    For nix-shell, this option is commonly used to give you a shell in which you can build the packages returned by the expression. If you want to get a shell which contain the built packages ready for use, give your expression to the nix-shell --packages convenience flag instead.

  • -I path

    Add an entry to the Nix expression search path. This option may be given multiple times. Paths added through -I take precedence over NIX_PATH.

  • --option name value

    Set the Nix configuration option name to value. This overrides settings in the Nix configuration file (see nix.conf5).

  • --repair

    Fix corrupted or missing store paths by redownloading or rebuilding them. Note that this is slow because it requires computing a cryptographic hash of the contents of every path in the closure of the build. Also note the warning under nix-store --repair-path.

Note

See man nix.conf for overriding configuration settings with command line flags.

Common Environment Variables

Most Nix commands interpret the following environment variables:

  • IN_NIX_SHELL

    Indicator that tells if the current environment was set up by nix-shell. It can have the values pure or impure.

  • NIX_PATH

    A colon-separated list of directories used to look up the location of Nix expressions using paths enclosed in angle brackets (i.e., <path>), e.g. /home/eelco/Dev:/etc/nixos. It can be extended using the -I option.

    If NIX_PATH is not set at all, Nix will fall back to the following list in impure and unrestricted evaluation mode:

    1. $HOME/.nix-defexpr/channels
    2. nixpkgs=/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels/nixpkgs
    3. /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels

    If NIX_PATH is set to an empty string, resolving search paths will always fail. For example, attempting to use <nixpkgs> will produce:

    error: file 'nixpkgs' was not found in the Nix search path
    
  • NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE

    Normally, the Nix store directory (typically /nix/store) is not allowed to contain any symlink components. This is to prevent “impure” builds. Builders sometimes “canonicalise” paths by resolving all symlink components. Thus, builds on different machines (with /nix/store resolving to different locations) could yield different results. This is generally not a problem, except when builds are deployed to machines where /nix/store resolves differently. If you are sure that you’re not going to do that, you can set NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE to 1.

    Note that if you’re symlinking the Nix store so that you can put it on another file system than the root file system, on Linux you’re better off using bind mount points, e.g.,

    $ mkdir /nix
    $ mount -o bind /mnt/otherdisk/nix /nix
    

    Consult the mount 8 manual page for details.

  • NIX_STORE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix store (default prefix/store).

  • NIX_DATA_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix static data directory (default prefix/share).

  • NIX_LOG_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix log directory (default prefix/var/log/nix).

  • NIX_STATE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix state directory (default prefix/var/nix).

  • NIX_CONF_DIR

    Overrides the location of the system Nix configuration directory (default prefix/etc/nix).

  • NIX_CONFIG

    Applies settings from Nix configuration from the environment. The content is treated as if it was read from a Nix configuration file. Settings are separated by the newline character.

  • NIX_USER_CONF_FILES

    Overrides the location of the Nix user configuration files to load from.

    The default are the locations according to the XDG Base Directory Specification. See the XDG Base Directories sub-section for details.

    The variable is treated as a list separated by the : token.

  • TMPDIR

    Use the specified directory to store temporary files. In particular, this includes temporary build directories; these can take up substantial amounts of disk space. The default is /tmp.

  • NIX_REMOTE

    This variable should be set to daemon if you want to use the Nix daemon to execute Nix operations. This is necessary in multi-user Nix installations. If the Nix daemon's Unix socket is at some non-standard path, this variable should be set to unix://path/to/socket. Otherwise, it should be left unset.

  • NIX_SHOW_STATS

    If set to 1, Nix will print some evaluation statistics, such as the number of values allocated.

  • NIX_COUNT_CALLS

    If set to 1, Nix will print how often functions were called during Nix expression evaluation. This is useful for profiling your Nix expressions.

  • GC_INITIAL_HEAP_SIZE

    If Nix has been configured to use the Boehm garbage collector, this variable sets the initial size of the heap in bytes. It defaults to 384 MiB. Setting it to a low value reduces memory consumption, but will increase runtime due to the overhead of garbage collection.

XDG Base Directories

Nix follows the XDG Base Directory Specification.

For backwards compatibility, Nix commands will follow the standard only when use-xdg-base-directories is enabled. New Nix commands (experimental) conform to the standard by default.

The following environment variables are used to determine locations of various state and configuration files:

Examples

To delete all unreachable paths, just do:

$ nix-store --gc
deleting `/nix/store/kq82idx6g0nyzsp2s14gfsc38npai7lf-cairo-1.0.4.tar.gz.drv'
...
8825586 bytes freed (8.42 MiB)

To delete at least 100 MiBs of unreachable paths:

$ nix-store --gc --max-freed $((100 * 1024 * 1024))

Name

nix-store --generate-binary-cache-key - generate key pair to use for a binary cache

Synopsis

nix-store --generate-binary-cache-key key-name secret-key-file public-key-file

Description

This command generates an Ed25519 key pair that can be used to create a signed binary cache. It takes three mandatory parameters:

  1. A key name, such as cache.example.org-1, that is used to look up keys on the client when it verifies signatures. It can be anything, but it’s suggested to use the host name of your cache (e.g. cache.example.org) with a suffix denoting the number of the key (to be incremented every time you need to revoke a key).

  2. The file name where the secret key is to be stored.

  3. The file name where the public key is to be stored.

Options

The following options are allowed for all nix-store operations, but may not always have an effect.

  • --add-root path

    Causes the result of a realisation (--realise and --force-realise) to be registered as a root of the garbage collector. path will be created as a symlink to the resulting store path. In addition, a uniquely named symlink to path will be created in /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto/. For instance,

    $ nix-store --add-root /home/eelco/bla/result --realise ...
    
    $ ls -l /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 dn54lcypm8f8... -> /home/eelco/bla/result
    
    $ ls -l /home/eelco/bla/result
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 /home/eelco/bla/result -> /nix/store/1r11343n6qd4...-f-spot-0.0.10
    

    Thus, when /home/eelco/bla/result is removed, the GC root in the auto directory becomes a dangling symlink and will be ignored by the collector.

    Warning

    Note that it is not possible to move or rename GC roots, since the symlink in the auto directory will still point to the old location.

    If there are multiple results, then multiple symlinks will be created by sequentially numbering symlinks beyond the first one (e.g., foo, foo-2, foo-3, and so on).

Common Options

Most Nix commands accept the following command-line options:

  • --help

    Prints out a summary of the command syntax and exits.

  • --version

    Prints out the Nix version number on standard output and exits.

  • --verbose / -v

    Increases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. For each Nix operation, the information printed on standard output is well-defined; any diagnostic information is printed on standard error, never on standard output.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. Currently, the following verbosity levels exist:

    • 0 “Errors only”

      Only print messages explaining why the Nix invocation failed.

    • 1 “Informational”

      Print useful messages about what Nix is doing. This is the default.

    • 2 “Talkative”

      Print more informational messages.

    • 3 “Chatty”

      Print even more informational messages.

    • 4 “Debug”

      Print debug information.

    • 5 “Vomit”

      Print vast amounts of debug information.

  • --quiet

    Decreases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. This is the inverse option to -v / --verbose.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. See the previous verbosity levels list.

  • --log-format format

    This option can be used to change the output of the log format, with format being one of:

    • raw

      This is the raw format, as outputted by nix-build.

    • internal-json

      Outputs the logs in a structured manner.

      Warning

      While the schema itself is relatively stable, the format of the error-messages (namely of the msg-field) can change between releases.

    • bar

      Only display a progress bar during the builds.

    • bar-with-logs

      Display the raw logs, with the progress bar at the bottom.

  • --no-build-output / -Q

    By default, output written by builders to standard output and standard error is echoed to the Nix command's standard error. This option suppresses this behaviour. Note that the builder's standard output and error are always written to a log file in prefix/nix/var/log/nix.

  • --max-jobs / -j number

    Sets the maximum number of build jobs that Nix will perform in parallel to the specified number. Specify auto to use the number of CPUs in the system. The default is specified by the max-jobs configuration setting, which itself defaults to 1. A higher value is useful on SMP systems or to exploit I/O latency.

    Setting it to 0 disallows building on the local machine, which is useful when you want builds to happen only on remote builders.

  • --cores

    Sets the value of the NIX_BUILD_CORES environment variable in the invocation of builders. Builders can use this variable at their discretion to control the maximum amount of parallelism. For instance, in Nixpkgs, if the derivation attribute enableParallelBuilding is set to true, the builder passes the -jN flag to GNU Make. It defaults to the value of the cores configuration setting, if set, or 1 otherwise. The value 0 means that the builder should use all available CPU cores in the system.

  • --max-silent-time

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can go without producing any data on standard output or standard error. The default is specified by the max-silent-time configuration setting. 0 means no time-out.

  • --timeout

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can run. The default is specified by the timeout configuration setting. 0 means no timeout.

  • --keep-going / -k

    Keep going in case of failed builds, to the greatest extent possible. That is, if building an input of some derivation fails, Nix will still build the other inputs, but not the derivation itself. Without this option, Nix stops if any build fails (except for builds of substitutes), possibly killing builds in progress (in case of parallel or distributed builds).

  • --keep-failed / -K

    Specifies that in case of a build failure, the temporary directory (usually in /tmp) in which the build takes place should not be deleted. The path of the build directory is printed as an informational message.

  • --fallback

    Whenever Nix attempts to build a derivation for which substitutes are known for each output path, but realising the output paths through the substitutes fails, fall back on building the derivation.

    The most common scenario in which this is useful is when we have registered substitutes in order to perform binary distribution from, say, a network repository. If the repository is down, the realisation of the derivation will fail. When this option is specified, Nix will build the derivation instead. Thus, installation from binaries falls back on installation from source. This option is not the default since it is generally not desirable for a transient failure in obtaining the substitutes to lead to a full build from source (with the related consumption of resources).

  • --readonly-mode

    When this option is used, no attempt is made to open the Nix database. Most Nix operations do need database access, so those operations will fail.

  • --arg name value

    This option is accepted by nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-shell and nix-build. When evaluating Nix expressions, the expression evaluator will automatically try to call functions that it encounters. It can automatically call functions for which every argument has a default value (e.g., { argName ? defaultValue }: ...).

    With --arg, you can also call functions that have arguments without a default value (or override a default value). That is, if the evaluator encounters a function with an argument named name, it will call it with value value.

    For instance, the top-level default.nix in Nixpkgs is actually a function:

    { # The system (e.g., `i686-linux') for which to build the packages.
      system ? builtins.currentSystem
      ...
    }: ...
    

    So if you call this Nix expression (e.g., when you do nix-env --install --attr pkgname), the function will be called automatically using the value builtins.currentSystem for the system argument. You can override this using --arg, e.g., nix-env --install --attr pkgname --arg system \"i686-freebsd\". (Note that since the argument is a Nix string literal, you have to escape the quotes.)

  • --argstr name value

    This option is like --arg, only the value is not a Nix expression but a string. So instead of --arg system \"i686-linux\" (the outer quotes are to keep the shell happy) you can say --argstr system i686-linux.

  • --attr / -A attrPath

    Select an attribute from the top-level Nix expression being evaluated. (nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.) The attribute path attrPath is a sequence of attribute names separated by dots. For instance, given a top-level Nix expression e, the attribute path xorg.xorgserver would cause the expression e.xorg.xorgserver to be used. See nix-env --install for some concrete examples.

    In addition to attribute names, you can also specify array indices. For instance, the attribute path foo.3.bar selects the bar attribute of the fourth element of the array in the foo attribute of the top-level expression.

  • --expr / -E

    Interpret the command line arguments as a list of Nix expressions to be parsed and evaluated, rather than as a list of file names of Nix expressions. (nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.)

    For nix-shell, this option is commonly used to give you a shell in which you can build the packages returned by the expression. If you want to get a shell which contain the built packages ready for use, give your expression to the nix-shell --packages convenience flag instead.

  • -I path

    Add an entry to the Nix expression search path. This option may be given multiple times. Paths added through -I take precedence over NIX_PATH.

  • --option name value

    Set the Nix configuration option name to value. This overrides settings in the Nix configuration file (see nix.conf5).

  • --repair

    Fix corrupted or missing store paths by redownloading or rebuilding them. Note that this is slow because it requires computing a cryptographic hash of the contents of every path in the closure of the build. Also note the warning under nix-store --repair-path.

Note

See man nix.conf for overriding configuration settings with command line flags.

Common Environment Variables

Most Nix commands interpret the following environment variables:

  • IN_NIX_SHELL

    Indicator that tells if the current environment was set up by nix-shell. It can have the values pure or impure.

  • NIX_PATH

    A colon-separated list of directories used to look up the location of Nix expressions using paths enclosed in angle brackets (i.e., <path>), e.g. /home/eelco/Dev:/etc/nixos. It can be extended using the -I option.

    If NIX_PATH is not set at all, Nix will fall back to the following list in impure and unrestricted evaluation mode:

    1. $HOME/.nix-defexpr/channels
    2. nixpkgs=/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels/nixpkgs
    3. /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels

    If NIX_PATH is set to an empty string, resolving search paths will always fail. For example, attempting to use <nixpkgs> will produce:

    error: file 'nixpkgs' was not found in the Nix search path
    
  • NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE

    Normally, the Nix store directory (typically /nix/store) is not allowed to contain any symlink components. This is to prevent “impure” builds. Builders sometimes “canonicalise” paths by resolving all symlink components. Thus, builds on different machines (with /nix/store resolving to different locations) could yield different results. This is generally not a problem, except when builds are deployed to machines where /nix/store resolves differently. If you are sure that you’re not going to do that, you can set NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE to 1.

    Note that if you’re symlinking the Nix store so that you can put it on another file system than the root file system, on Linux you’re better off using bind mount points, e.g.,

    $ mkdir /nix
    $ mount -o bind /mnt/otherdisk/nix /nix
    

    Consult the mount 8 manual page for details.

  • NIX_STORE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix store (default prefix/store).

  • NIX_DATA_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix static data directory (default prefix/share).

  • NIX_LOG_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix log directory (default prefix/var/log/nix).

  • NIX_STATE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix state directory (default prefix/var/nix).

  • NIX_CONF_DIR

    Overrides the location of the system Nix configuration directory (default prefix/etc/nix).

  • NIX_CONFIG

    Applies settings from Nix configuration from the environment. The content is treated as if it was read from a Nix configuration file. Settings are separated by the newline character.

  • NIX_USER_CONF_FILES

    Overrides the location of the Nix user configuration files to load from.

    The default are the locations according to the XDG Base Directory Specification. See the XDG Base Directories sub-section for details.

    The variable is treated as a list separated by the : token.

  • TMPDIR

    Use the specified directory to store temporary files. In particular, this includes temporary build directories; these can take up substantial amounts of disk space. The default is /tmp.

  • NIX_REMOTE

    This variable should be set to daemon if you want to use the Nix daemon to execute Nix operations. This is necessary in multi-user Nix installations. If the Nix daemon's Unix socket is at some non-standard path, this variable should be set to unix://path/to/socket. Otherwise, it should be left unset.

  • NIX_SHOW_STATS

    If set to 1, Nix will print some evaluation statistics, such as the number of values allocated.

  • NIX_COUNT_CALLS

    If set to 1, Nix will print how often functions were called during Nix expression evaluation. This is useful for profiling your Nix expressions.

  • GC_INITIAL_HEAP_SIZE

    If Nix has been configured to use the Boehm garbage collector, this variable sets the initial size of the heap in bytes. It defaults to 384 MiB. Setting it to a low value reduces memory consumption, but will increase runtime due to the overhead of garbage collection.

XDG Base Directories

Nix follows the XDG Base Directory Specification.

For backwards compatibility, Nix commands will follow the standard only when use-xdg-base-directories is enabled. New Nix commands (experimental) conform to the standard by default.

The following environment variables are used to determine locations of various state and configuration files:

Name

nix-store --import - import Nix Archive into the store

Synopsis

nix-store --import

Description

The operation --import reads a serialisation of a set of store paths produced by nix-store --export from standard input and adds those store paths to the Nix store. Paths that already exist in the Nix store are ignored. If a path refers to another path that doesn’t exist in the Nix store, the import fails.

Options

The following options are allowed for all nix-store operations, but may not always have an effect.

  • --add-root path

    Causes the result of a realisation (--realise and --force-realise) to be registered as a root of the garbage collector. path will be created as a symlink to the resulting store path. In addition, a uniquely named symlink to path will be created in /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto/. For instance,

    $ nix-store --add-root /home/eelco/bla/result --realise ...
    
    $ ls -l /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 dn54lcypm8f8... -> /home/eelco/bla/result
    
    $ ls -l /home/eelco/bla/result
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 /home/eelco/bla/result -> /nix/store/1r11343n6qd4...-f-spot-0.0.10
    

    Thus, when /home/eelco/bla/result is removed, the GC root in the auto directory becomes a dangling symlink and will be ignored by the collector.

    Warning

    Note that it is not possible to move or rename GC roots, since the symlink in the auto directory will still point to the old location.

    If there are multiple results, then multiple symlinks will be created by sequentially numbering symlinks beyond the first one (e.g., foo, foo-2, foo-3, and so on).

Common Options

Most Nix commands accept the following command-line options:

  • --help

    Prints out a summary of the command syntax and exits.

  • --version

    Prints out the Nix version number on standard output and exits.

  • --verbose / -v

    Increases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. For each Nix operation, the information printed on standard output is well-defined; any diagnostic information is printed on standard error, never on standard output.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. Currently, the following verbosity levels exist:

    • 0 “Errors only”

      Only print messages explaining why the Nix invocation failed.

    • 1 “Informational”

      Print useful messages about what Nix is doing. This is the default.

    • 2 “Talkative”

      Print more informational messages.

    • 3 “Chatty”

      Print even more informational messages.

    • 4 “Debug”

      Print debug information.

    • 5 “Vomit”

      Print vast amounts of debug information.

  • --quiet

    Decreases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. This is the inverse option to -v / --verbose.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. See the previous verbosity levels list.

  • --log-format format

    This option can be used to change the output of the log format, with format being one of:

    • raw

      This is the raw format, as outputted by nix-build.

    • internal-json

      Outputs the logs in a structured manner.

      Warning

      While the schema itself is relatively stable, the format of the error-messages (namely of the msg-field) can change between releases.

    • bar

      Only display a progress bar during the builds.

    • bar-with-logs

      Display the raw logs, with the progress bar at the bottom.

  • --no-build-output / -Q

    By default, output written by builders to standard output and standard error is echoed to the Nix command's standard error. This option suppresses this behaviour. Note that the builder's standard output and error are always written to a log file in prefix/nix/var/log/nix.

  • --max-jobs / -j number

    Sets the maximum number of build jobs that Nix will perform in parallel to the specified number. Specify auto to use the number of CPUs in the system. The default is specified by the max-jobs configuration setting, which itself defaults to 1. A higher value is useful on SMP systems or to exploit I/O latency.

    Setting it to 0 disallows building on the local machine, which is useful when you want builds to happen only on remote builders.

  • --cores

    Sets the value of the NIX_BUILD_CORES environment variable in the invocation of builders. Builders can use this variable at their discretion to control the maximum amount of parallelism. For instance, in Nixpkgs, if the derivation attribute enableParallelBuilding is set to true, the builder passes the -jN flag to GNU Make. It defaults to the value of the cores configuration setting, if set, or 1 otherwise. The value 0 means that the builder should use all available CPU cores in the system.

  • --max-silent-time

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can go without producing any data on standard output or standard error. The default is specified by the max-silent-time configuration setting. 0 means no time-out.

  • --timeout

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can run. The default is specified by the timeout configuration setting. 0 means no timeout.

  • --keep-going / -k

    Keep going in case of failed builds, to the greatest extent possible. That is, if building an input of some derivation fails, Nix will still build the other inputs, but not the derivation itself. Without this option, Nix stops if any build fails (except for builds of substitutes), possibly killing builds in progress (in case of parallel or distributed builds).

  • --keep-failed / -K

    Specifies that in case of a build failure, the temporary directory (usually in /tmp) in which the build takes place should not be deleted. The path of the build directory is printed as an informational message.

  • --fallback

    Whenever Nix attempts to build a derivation for which substitutes are known for each output path, but realising the output paths through the substitutes fails, fall back on building the derivation.

    The most common scenario in which this is useful is when we have registered substitutes in order to perform binary distribution from, say, a network repository. If the repository is down, the realisation of the derivation will fail. When this option is specified, Nix will build the derivation instead. Thus, installation from binaries falls back on installation from source. This option is not the default since it is generally not desirable for a transient failure in obtaining the substitutes to lead to a full build from source (with the related consumption of resources).

  • --readonly-mode

    When this option is used, no attempt is made to open the Nix database. Most Nix operations do need database access, so those operations will fail.

  • --arg name value

    This option is accepted by nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-shell and nix-build. When evaluating Nix expressions, the expression evaluator will automatically try to call functions that it encounters. It can automatically call functions for which every argument has a default value (e.g., { argName ? defaultValue }: ...).

    With --arg, you can also call functions that have arguments without a default value (or override a default value). That is, if the evaluator encounters a function with an argument named name, it will call it with value value.

    For instance, the top-level default.nix in Nixpkgs is actually a function:

    { # The system (e.g., `i686-linux') for which to build the packages.
      system ? builtins.currentSystem
      ...
    }: ...
    

    So if you call this Nix expression (e.g., when you do nix-env --install --attr pkgname), the function will be called automatically using the value builtins.currentSystem for the system argument. You can override this using --arg, e.g., nix-env --install --attr pkgname --arg system \"i686-freebsd\". (Note that since the argument is a Nix string literal, you have to escape the quotes.)

  • --argstr name value

    This option is like --arg, only the value is not a Nix expression but a string. So instead of --arg system \"i686-linux\" (the outer quotes are to keep the shell happy) you can say --argstr system i686-linux.

  • --attr / -A attrPath

    Select an attribute from the top-level Nix expression being evaluated. (nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.) The attribute path attrPath is a sequence of attribute names separated by dots. For instance, given a top-level Nix expression e, the attribute path xorg.xorgserver would cause the expression e.xorg.xorgserver to be used. See nix-env --install for some concrete examples.

    In addition to attribute names, you can also specify array indices. For instance, the attribute path foo.3.bar selects the bar attribute of the fourth element of the array in the foo attribute of the top-level expression.

  • --expr / -E

    Interpret the command line arguments as a list of Nix expressions to be parsed and evaluated, rather than as a list of file names of Nix expressions. (nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.)

    For nix-shell, this option is commonly used to give you a shell in which you can build the packages returned by the expression. If you want to get a shell which contain the built packages ready for use, give your expression to the nix-shell --packages convenience flag instead.

  • -I path

    Add an entry to the Nix expression search path. This option may be given multiple times. Paths added through -I take precedence over NIX_PATH.

  • --option name value

    Set the Nix configuration option name to value. This overrides settings in the Nix configuration file (see nix.conf5).

  • --repair

    Fix corrupted or missing store paths by redownloading or rebuilding them. Note that this is slow because it requires computing a cryptographic hash of the contents of every path in the closure of the build. Also note the warning under nix-store --repair-path.

Note

See man nix.conf for overriding configuration settings with command line flags.

Common Environment Variables

Most Nix commands interpret the following environment variables:

  • IN_NIX_SHELL

    Indicator that tells if the current environment was set up by nix-shell. It can have the values pure or impure.

  • NIX_PATH

    A colon-separated list of directories used to look up the location of Nix expressions using paths enclosed in angle brackets (i.e., <path>), e.g. /home/eelco/Dev:/etc/nixos. It can be extended using the -I option.

    If NIX_PATH is not set at all, Nix will fall back to the following list in impure and unrestricted evaluation mode:

    1. $HOME/.nix-defexpr/channels
    2. nixpkgs=/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels/nixpkgs
    3. /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels

    If NIX_PATH is set to an empty string, resolving search paths will always fail. For example, attempting to use <nixpkgs> will produce:

    error: file 'nixpkgs' was not found in the Nix search path
    
  • NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE

    Normally, the Nix store directory (typically /nix/store) is not allowed to contain any symlink components. This is to prevent “impure” builds. Builders sometimes “canonicalise” paths by resolving all symlink components. Thus, builds on different machines (with /nix/store resolving to different locations) could yield different results. This is generally not a problem, except when builds are deployed to machines where /nix/store resolves differently. If you are sure that you’re not going to do that, you can set NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE to 1.

    Note that if you’re symlinking the Nix store so that you can put it on another file system than the root file system, on Linux you’re better off using bind mount points, e.g.,

    $ mkdir /nix
    $ mount -o bind /mnt/otherdisk/nix /nix
    

    Consult the mount 8 manual page for details.

  • NIX_STORE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix store (default prefix/store).

  • NIX_DATA_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix static data directory (default prefix/share).

  • NIX_LOG_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix log directory (default prefix/var/log/nix).

  • NIX_STATE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix state directory (default prefix/var/nix).

  • NIX_CONF_DIR

    Overrides the location of the system Nix configuration directory (default prefix/etc/nix).

  • NIX_CONFIG

    Applies settings from Nix configuration from the environment. The content is treated as if it was read from a Nix configuration file. Settings are separated by the newline character.

  • NIX_USER_CONF_FILES

    Overrides the location of the Nix user configuration files to load from.

    The default are the locations according to the XDG Base Directory Specification. See the XDG Base Directories sub-section for details.

    The variable is treated as a list separated by the : token.

  • TMPDIR

    Use the specified directory to store temporary files. In particular, this includes temporary build directories; these can take up substantial amounts of disk space. The default is /tmp.

  • NIX_REMOTE

    This variable should be set to daemon if you want to use the Nix daemon to execute Nix operations. This is necessary in multi-user Nix installations. If the Nix daemon's Unix socket is at some non-standard path, this variable should be set to unix://path/to/socket. Otherwise, it should be left unset.

  • NIX_SHOW_STATS

    If set to 1, Nix will print some evaluation statistics, such as the number of values allocated.

  • NIX_COUNT_CALLS

    If set to 1, Nix will print how often functions were called during Nix expression evaluation. This is useful for profiling your Nix expressions.

  • GC_INITIAL_HEAP_SIZE

    If Nix has been configured to use the Boehm garbage collector, this variable sets the initial size of the heap in bytes. It defaults to 384 MiB. Setting it to a low value reduces memory consumption, but will increase runtime due to the overhead of garbage collection.

XDG Base Directories

Nix follows the XDG Base Directory Specification.

For backwards compatibility, Nix commands will follow the standard only when use-xdg-base-directories is enabled. New Nix commands (experimental) conform to the standard by default.

The following environment variables are used to determine locations of various state and configuration files:

Name

nix-store --load-db - import Nix database

Synopsis

nix-store --load-db

Description

The operation --load-db reads a dump of the Nix database created by --dump-db from standard input and loads it into the Nix database.

Options

The following options are allowed for all nix-store operations, but may not always have an effect.

  • --add-root path

    Causes the result of a realisation (--realise and --force-realise) to be registered as a root of the garbage collector. path will be created as a symlink to the resulting store path. In addition, a uniquely named symlink to path will be created in /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto/. For instance,

    $ nix-store --add-root /home/eelco/bla/result --realise ...
    
    $ ls -l /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 dn54lcypm8f8... -> /home/eelco/bla/result
    
    $ ls -l /home/eelco/bla/result
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 /home/eelco/bla/result -> /nix/store/1r11343n6qd4...-f-spot-0.0.10
    

    Thus, when /home/eelco/bla/result is removed, the GC root in the auto directory becomes a dangling symlink and will be ignored by the collector.

    Warning

    Note that it is not possible to move or rename GC roots, since the symlink in the auto directory will still point to the old location.

    If there are multiple results, then multiple symlinks will be created by sequentially numbering symlinks beyond the first one (e.g., foo, foo-2, foo-3, and so on).

Common Options

Most Nix commands accept the following command-line options:

  • --help

    Prints out a summary of the command syntax and exits.

  • --version

    Prints out the Nix version number on standard output and exits.

  • --verbose / -v

    Increases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. For each Nix operation, the information printed on standard output is well-defined; any diagnostic information is printed on standard error, never on standard output.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. Currently, the following verbosity levels exist:

    • 0 “Errors only”

      Only print messages explaining why the Nix invocation failed.

    • 1 “Informational”

      Print useful messages about what Nix is doing. This is the default.

    • 2 “Talkative”

      Print more informational messages.

    • 3 “Chatty”

      Print even more informational messages.

    • 4 “Debug”

      Print debug information.

    • 5 “Vomit”

      Print vast amounts of debug information.

  • --quiet

    Decreases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. This is the inverse option to -v / --verbose.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. See the previous verbosity levels list.

  • --log-format format

    This option can be used to change the output of the log format, with format being one of:

    • raw

      This is the raw format, as outputted by nix-build.

    • internal-json

      Outputs the logs in a structured manner.

      Warning

      While the schema itself is relatively stable, the format of the error-messages (namely of the msg-field) can change between releases.

    • bar

      Only display a progress bar during the builds.

    • bar-with-logs

      Display the raw logs, with the progress bar at the bottom.

  • --no-build-output / -Q

    By default, output written by builders to standard output and standard error is echoed to the Nix command's standard error. This option suppresses this behaviour. Note that the builder's standard output and error are always written to a log file in prefix/nix/var/log/nix.

  • --max-jobs / -j number

    Sets the maximum number of build jobs that Nix will perform in parallel to the specified number. Specify auto to use the number of CPUs in the system. The default is specified by the max-jobs configuration setting, which itself defaults to 1. A higher value is useful on SMP systems or to exploit I/O latency.

    Setting it to 0 disallows building on the local machine, which is useful when you want builds to happen only on remote builders.

  • --cores

    Sets the value of the NIX_BUILD_CORES environment variable in the invocation of builders. Builders can use this variable at their discretion to control the maximum amount of parallelism. For instance, in Nixpkgs, if the derivation attribute enableParallelBuilding is set to true, the builder passes the -jN flag to GNU Make. It defaults to the value of the cores configuration setting, if set, or 1 otherwise. The value 0 means that the builder should use all available CPU cores in the system.

  • --max-silent-time

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can go without producing any data on standard output or standard error. The default is specified by the max-silent-time configuration setting. 0 means no time-out.

  • --timeout

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can run. The default is specified by the timeout configuration setting. 0 means no timeout.

  • --keep-going / -k

    Keep going in case of failed builds, to the greatest extent possible. That is, if building an input of some derivation fails, Nix will still build the other inputs, but not the derivation itself. Without this option, Nix stops if any build fails (except for builds of substitutes), possibly killing builds in progress (in case of parallel or distributed builds).

  • --keep-failed / -K

    Specifies that in case of a build failure, the temporary directory (usually in /tmp) in which the build takes place should not be deleted. The path of the build directory is printed as an informational message.

  • --fallback

    Whenever Nix attempts to build a derivation for which substitutes are known for each output path, but realising the output paths through the substitutes fails, fall back on building the derivation.

    The most common scenario in which this is useful is when we have registered substitutes in order to perform binary distribution from, say, a network repository. If the repository is down, the realisation of the derivation will fail. When this option is specified, Nix will build the derivation instead. Thus, installation from binaries falls back on installation from source. This option is not the default since it is generally not desirable for a transient failure in obtaining the substitutes to lead to a full build from source (with the related consumption of resources).

  • --readonly-mode

    When this option is used, no attempt is made to open the Nix database. Most Nix operations do need database access, so those operations will fail.

  • --arg name value

    This option is accepted by nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-shell and nix-build. When evaluating Nix expressions, the expression evaluator will automatically try to call functions that it encounters. It can automatically call functions for which every argument has a default value (e.g., { argName ? defaultValue }: ...).

    With --arg, you can also call functions that have arguments without a default value (or override a default value). That is, if the evaluator encounters a function with an argument named name, it will call it with value value.

    For instance, the top-level default.nix in Nixpkgs is actually a function:

    { # The system (e.g., `i686-linux') for which to build the packages.
      system ? builtins.currentSystem
      ...
    }: ...
    

    So if you call this Nix expression (e.g., when you do nix-env --install --attr pkgname), the function will be called automatically using the value builtins.currentSystem for the system argument. You can override this using --arg, e.g., nix-env --install --attr pkgname --arg system \"i686-freebsd\". (Note that since the argument is a Nix string literal, you have to escape the quotes.)

  • --argstr name value

    This option is like --arg, only the value is not a Nix expression but a string. So instead of --arg system \"i686-linux\" (the outer quotes are to keep the shell happy) you can say --argstr system i686-linux.

  • --attr / -A attrPath

    Select an attribute from the top-level Nix expression being evaluated. (nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.) The attribute path attrPath is a sequence of attribute names separated by dots. For instance, given a top-level Nix expression e, the attribute path xorg.xorgserver would cause the expression e.xorg.xorgserver to be used. See nix-env --install for some concrete examples.

    In addition to attribute names, you can also specify array indices. For instance, the attribute path foo.3.bar selects the bar attribute of the fourth element of the array in the foo attribute of the top-level expression.

  • --expr / -E

    Interpret the command line arguments as a list of Nix expressions to be parsed and evaluated, rather than as a list of file names of Nix expressions. (nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.)

    For nix-shell, this option is commonly used to give you a shell in which you can build the packages returned by the expression. If you want to get a shell which contain the built packages ready for use, give your expression to the nix-shell --packages convenience flag instead.

  • -I path

    Add an entry to the Nix expression search path. This option may be given multiple times. Paths added through -I take precedence over NIX_PATH.

  • --option name value

    Set the Nix configuration option name to value. This overrides settings in the Nix configuration file (see nix.conf5).

  • --repair

    Fix corrupted or missing store paths by redownloading or rebuilding them. Note that this is slow because it requires computing a cryptographic hash of the contents of every path in the closure of the build. Also note the warning under nix-store --repair-path.

Note

See man nix.conf for overriding configuration settings with command line flags.

Common Environment Variables

Most Nix commands interpret the following environment variables:

  • IN_NIX_SHELL

    Indicator that tells if the current environment was set up by nix-shell. It can have the values pure or impure.

  • NIX_PATH

    A colon-separated list of directories used to look up the location of Nix expressions using paths enclosed in angle brackets (i.e., <path>), e.g. /home/eelco/Dev:/etc/nixos. It can be extended using the -I option.

    If NIX_PATH is not set at all, Nix will fall back to the following list in impure and unrestricted evaluation mode:

    1. $HOME/.nix-defexpr/channels
    2. nixpkgs=/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels/nixpkgs
    3. /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels

    If NIX_PATH is set to an empty string, resolving search paths will always fail. For example, attempting to use <nixpkgs> will produce:

    error: file 'nixpkgs' was not found in the Nix search path
    
  • NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE

    Normally, the Nix store directory (typically /nix/store) is not allowed to contain any symlink components. This is to prevent “impure” builds. Builders sometimes “canonicalise” paths by resolving all symlink components. Thus, builds on different machines (with /nix/store resolving to different locations) could yield different results. This is generally not a problem, except when builds are deployed to machines where /nix/store resolves differently. If you are sure that you’re not going to do that, you can set NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE to 1.

    Note that if you’re symlinking the Nix store so that you can put it on another file system than the root file system, on Linux you’re better off using bind mount points, e.g.,

    $ mkdir /nix
    $ mount -o bind /mnt/otherdisk/nix /nix
    

    Consult the mount 8 manual page for details.

  • NIX_STORE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix store (default prefix/store).

  • NIX_DATA_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix static data directory (default prefix/share).

  • NIX_LOG_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix log directory (default prefix/var/log/nix).

  • NIX_STATE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix state directory (default prefix/var/nix).

  • NIX_CONF_DIR

    Overrides the location of the system Nix configuration directory (default prefix/etc/nix).

  • NIX_CONFIG

    Applies settings from Nix configuration from the environment. The content is treated as if it was read from a Nix configuration file. Settings are separated by the newline character.

  • NIX_USER_CONF_FILES

    Overrides the location of the Nix user configuration files to load from.

    The default are the locations according to the XDG Base Directory Specification. See the XDG Base Directories sub-section for details.

    The variable is treated as a list separated by the : token.

  • TMPDIR

    Use the specified directory to store temporary files. In particular, this includes temporary build directories; these can take up substantial amounts of disk space. The default is /tmp.

  • NIX_REMOTE

    This variable should be set to daemon if you want to use the Nix daemon to execute Nix operations. This is necessary in multi-user Nix installations. If the Nix daemon's Unix socket is at some non-standard path, this variable should be set to unix://path/to/socket. Otherwise, it should be left unset.

  • NIX_SHOW_STATS

    If set to 1, Nix will print some evaluation statistics, such as the number of values allocated.

  • NIX_COUNT_CALLS

    If set to 1, Nix will print how often functions were called during Nix expression evaluation. This is useful for profiling your Nix expressions.

  • GC_INITIAL_HEAP_SIZE

    If Nix has been configured to use the Boehm garbage collector, this variable sets the initial size of the heap in bytes. It defaults to 384 MiB. Setting it to a low value reduces memory consumption, but will increase runtime due to the overhead of garbage collection.

XDG Base Directories

Nix follows the XDG Base Directory Specification.

For backwards compatibility, Nix commands will follow the standard only when use-xdg-base-directories is enabled. New Nix commands (experimental) conform to the standard by default.

The following environment variables are used to determine locations of various state and configuration files:

Name

nix-store --optimise - reduce disk space usage

Synopsis

nix-store --optimise

Description

The operation --optimise reduces Nix store disk space usage by finding identical files in the store and hard-linking them to each other. It typically reduces the size of the store by something like 25-35%. Only regular files and symlinks are hard-linked in this manner. Files are considered identical when they have the same NAR archive serialisation: that is, regular files must have the same contents and permission (executable or non-executable), and symlinks must have the same contents.

After completion, or when the command is interrupted, a report on the achieved savings is printed on standard error.

Use -vv or -vvv to get some progress indication.

Options

The following options are allowed for all nix-store operations, but may not always have an effect.

  • --add-root path

    Causes the result of a realisation (--realise and --force-realise) to be registered as a root of the garbage collector. path will be created as a symlink to the resulting store path. In addition, a uniquely named symlink to path will be created in /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto/. For instance,

    $ nix-store --add-root /home/eelco/bla/result --realise ...
    
    $ ls -l /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 dn54lcypm8f8... -> /home/eelco/bla/result
    
    $ ls -l /home/eelco/bla/result
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 /home/eelco/bla/result -> /nix/store/1r11343n6qd4...-f-spot-0.0.10
    

    Thus, when /home/eelco/bla/result is removed, the GC root in the auto directory becomes a dangling symlink and will be ignored by the collector.

    Warning

    Note that it is not possible to move or rename GC roots, since the symlink in the auto directory will still point to the old location.

    If there are multiple results, then multiple symlinks will be created by sequentially numbering symlinks beyond the first one (e.g., foo, foo-2, foo-3, and so on).

Common Options

Most Nix commands accept the following command-line options:

  • --help

    Prints out a summary of the command syntax and exits.

  • --version

    Prints out the Nix version number on standard output and exits.

  • --verbose / -v

    Increases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. For each Nix operation, the information printed on standard output is well-defined; any diagnostic information is printed on standard error, never on standard output.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. Currently, the following verbosity levels exist:

    • 0 “Errors only”

      Only print messages explaining why the Nix invocation failed.

    • 1 “Informational”

      Print useful messages about what Nix is doing. This is the default.

    • 2 “Talkative”

      Print more informational messages.

    • 3 “Chatty”

      Print even more informational messages.

    • 4 “Debug”

      Print debug information.

    • 5 “Vomit”

      Print vast amounts of debug information.

  • --quiet

    Decreases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. This is the inverse option to -v / --verbose.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. See the previous verbosity levels list.

  • --log-format format

    This option can be used to change the output of the log format, with format being one of:

    • raw

      This is the raw format, as outputted by nix-build.

    • internal-json

      Outputs the logs in a structured manner.

      Warning

      While the schema itself is relatively stable, the format of the error-messages (namely of the msg-field) can change between releases.

    • bar

      Only display a progress bar during the builds.

    • bar-with-logs

      Display the raw logs, with the progress bar at the bottom.

  • --no-build-output / -Q

    By default, output written by builders to standard output and standard error is echoed to the Nix command's standard error. This option suppresses this behaviour. Note that the builder's standard output and error are always written to a log file in prefix/nix/var/log/nix.

  • --max-jobs / -j number

    Sets the maximum number of build jobs that Nix will perform in parallel to the specified number. Specify auto to use the number of CPUs in the system. The default is specified by the max-jobs configuration setting, which itself defaults to 1. A higher value is useful on SMP systems or to exploit I/O latency.

    Setting it to 0 disallows building on the local machine, which is useful when you want builds to happen only on remote builders.

  • --cores

    Sets the value of the NIX_BUILD_CORES environment variable in the invocation of builders. Builders can use this variable at their discretion to control the maximum amount of parallelism. For instance, in Nixpkgs, if the derivation attribute enableParallelBuilding is set to true, the builder passes the -jN flag to GNU Make. It defaults to the value of the cores configuration setting, if set, or 1 otherwise. The value 0 means that the builder should use all available CPU cores in the system.

  • --max-silent-time

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can go without producing any data on standard output or standard error. The default is specified by the max-silent-time configuration setting. 0 means no time-out.

  • --timeout

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can run. The default is specified by the timeout configuration setting. 0 means no timeout.

  • --keep-going / -k

    Keep going in case of failed builds, to the greatest extent possible. That is, if building an input of some derivation fails, Nix will still build the other inputs, but not the derivation itself. Without this option, Nix stops if any build fails (except for builds of substitutes), possibly killing builds in progress (in case of parallel or distributed builds).

  • --keep-failed / -K

    Specifies that in case of a build failure, the temporary directory (usually in /tmp) in which the build takes place should not be deleted. The path of the build directory is printed as an informational message.

  • --fallback

    Whenever Nix attempts to build a derivation for which substitutes are known for each output path, but realising the output paths through the substitutes fails, fall back on building the derivation.

    The most common scenario in which this is useful is when we have registered substitutes in order to perform binary distribution from, say, a network repository. If the repository is down, the realisation of the derivation will fail. When this option is specified, Nix will build the derivation instead. Thus, installation from binaries falls back on installation from source. This option is not the default since it is generally not desirable for a transient failure in obtaining the substitutes to lead to a full build from source (with the related consumption of resources).

  • --readonly-mode

    When this option is used, no attempt is made to open the Nix database. Most Nix operations do need database access, so those operations will fail.

  • --arg name value

    This option is accepted by nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-shell and nix-build. When evaluating Nix expressions, the expression evaluator will automatically try to call functions that it encounters. It can automatically call functions for which every argument has a default value (e.g., { argName ? defaultValue }: ...).

    With --arg, you can also call functions that have arguments without a default value (or override a default value). That is, if the evaluator encounters a function with an argument named name, it will call it with value value.

    For instance, the top-level default.nix in Nixpkgs is actually a function:

    { # The system (e.g., `i686-linux') for which to build the packages.
      system ? builtins.currentSystem
      ...
    }: ...
    

    So if you call this Nix expression (e.g., when you do nix-env --install --attr pkgname), the function will be called automatically using the value builtins.currentSystem for the system argument. You can override this using --arg, e.g., nix-env --install --attr pkgname --arg system \"i686-freebsd\". (Note that since the argument is a Nix string literal, you have to escape the quotes.)

  • --argstr name value

    This option is like --arg, only the value is not a Nix expression but a string. So instead of --arg system \"i686-linux\" (the outer quotes are to keep the shell happy) you can say --argstr system i686-linux.

  • --attr / -A attrPath

    Select an attribute from the top-level Nix expression being evaluated. (nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.) The attribute path attrPath is a sequence of attribute names separated by dots. For instance, given a top-level Nix expression e, the attribute path xorg.xorgserver would cause the expression e.xorg.xorgserver to be used. See nix-env --install for some concrete examples.

    In addition to attribute names, you can also specify array indices. For instance, the attribute path foo.3.bar selects the bar attribute of the fourth element of the array in the foo attribute of the top-level expression.

  • --expr / -E

    Interpret the command line arguments as a list of Nix expressions to be parsed and evaluated, rather than as a list of file names of Nix expressions. (nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.)

    For nix-shell, this option is commonly used to give you a shell in which you can build the packages returned by the expression. If you want to get a shell which contain the built packages ready for use, give your expression to the nix-shell --packages convenience flag instead.

  • -I path

    Add an entry to the Nix expression search path. This option may be given multiple times. Paths added through -I take precedence over NIX_PATH.

  • --option name value

    Set the Nix configuration option name to value. This overrides settings in the Nix configuration file (see nix.conf5).

  • --repair

    Fix corrupted or missing store paths by redownloading or rebuilding them. Note that this is slow because it requires computing a cryptographic hash of the contents of every path in the closure of the build. Also note the warning under nix-store --repair-path.

Note

See man nix.conf for overriding configuration settings with command line flags.

Common Environment Variables

Most Nix commands interpret the following environment variables:

  • IN_NIX_SHELL

    Indicator that tells if the current environment was set up by nix-shell. It can have the values pure or impure.

  • NIX_PATH

    A colon-separated list of directories used to look up the location of Nix expressions using paths enclosed in angle brackets (i.e., <path>), e.g. /home/eelco/Dev:/etc/nixos. It can be extended using the -I option.

    If NIX_PATH is not set at all, Nix will fall back to the following list in impure and unrestricted evaluation mode:

    1. $HOME/.nix-defexpr/channels
    2. nixpkgs=/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels/nixpkgs
    3. /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels

    If NIX_PATH is set to an empty string, resolving search paths will always fail. For example, attempting to use <nixpkgs> will produce:

    error: file 'nixpkgs' was not found in the Nix search path
    
  • NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE

    Normally, the Nix store directory (typically /nix/store) is not allowed to contain any symlink components. This is to prevent “impure” builds. Builders sometimes “canonicalise” paths by resolving all symlink components. Thus, builds on different machines (with /nix/store resolving to different locations) could yield different results. This is generally not a problem, except when builds are deployed to machines where /nix/store resolves differently. If you are sure that you’re not going to do that, you can set NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE to 1.

    Note that if you’re symlinking the Nix store so that you can put it on another file system than the root file system, on Linux you’re better off using bind mount points, e.g.,

    $ mkdir /nix
    $ mount -o bind /mnt/otherdisk/nix /nix
    

    Consult the mount 8 manual page for details.

  • NIX_STORE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix store (default prefix/store).

  • NIX_DATA_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix static data directory (default prefix/share).

  • NIX_LOG_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix log directory (default prefix/var/log/nix).

  • NIX_STATE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix state directory (default prefix/var/nix).

  • NIX_CONF_DIR

    Overrides the location of the system Nix configuration directory (default prefix/etc/nix).

  • NIX_CONFIG

    Applies settings from Nix configuration from the environment. The content is treated as if it was read from a Nix configuration file. Settings are separated by the newline character.

  • NIX_USER_CONF_FILES

    Overrides the location of the Nix user configuration files to load from.

    The default are the locations according to the XDG Base Directory Specification. See the XDG Base Directories sub-section for details.

    The variable is treated as a list separated by the : token.

  • TMPDIR

    Use the specified directory to store temporary files. In particular, this includes temporary build directories; these can take up substantial amounts of disk space. The default is /tmp.

  • NIX_REMOTE

    This variable should be set to daemon if you want to use the Nix daemon to execute Nix operations. This is necessary in multi-user Nix installations. If the Nix daemon's Unix socket is at some non-standard path, this variable should be set to unix://path/to/socket. Otherwise, it should be left unset.

  • NIX_SHOW_STATS

    If set to 1, Nix will print some evaluation statistics, such as the number of values allocated.

  • NIX_COUNT_CALLS

    If set to 1, Nix will print how often functions were called during Nix expression evaluation. This is useful for profiling your Nix expressions.

  • GC_INITIAL_HEAP_SIZE

    If Nix has been configured to use the Boehm garbage collector, this variable sets the initial size of the heap in bytes. It defaults to 384 MiB. Setting it to a low value reduces memory consumption, but will increase runtime due to the overhead of garbage collection.

XDG Base Directories

Nix follows the XDG Base Directory Specification.

For backwards compatibility, Nix commands will follow the standard only when use-xdg-base-directories is enabled. New Nix commands (experimental) conform to the standard by default.

The following environment variables are used to determine locations of various state and configuration files:

Example

$ nix-store --optimise
hashing files in `/nix/store/qhqx7l2f1kmwihc9bnxs7rc159hsxnf3-gcc-4.1.1'
...
541838819 bytes (516.74 MiB) freed by hard-linking 54143 files;
there are 114486 files with equal contents out of 215894 files in total

Name

nix-store --print-env - print the build environment of a derivation

Synopsis

nix-store --print-env drvpath

Description

The operation --print-env prints out the environment of a derivation in a format that can be evaluated by a shell. The command line arguments of the builder are placed in the variable _args.

Options

The following options are allowed for all nix-store operations, but may not always have an effect.

  • --add-root path

    Causes the result of a realisation (--realise and --force-realise) to be registered as a root of the garbage collector. path will be created as a symlink to the resulting store path. In addition, a uniquely named symlink to path will be created in /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto/. For instance,

    $ nix-store --add-root /home/eelco/bla/result --realise ...
    
    $ ls -l /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 dn54lcypm8f8... -> /home/eelco/bla/result
    
    $ ls -l /home/eelco/bla/result
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 /home/eelco/bla/result -> /nix/store/1r11343n6qd4...-f-spot-0.0.10
    

    Thus, when /home/eelco/bla/result is removed, the GC root in the auto directory becomes a dangling symlink and will be ignored by the collector.

    Warning

    Note that it is not possible to move or rename GC roots, since the symlink in the auto directory will still point to the old location.

    If there are multiple results, then multiple symlinks will be created by sequentially numbering symlinks beyond the first one (e.g., foo, foo-2, foo-3, and so on).

Common Options

Most Nix commands accept the following command-line options:

  • --help

    Prints out a summary of the command syntax and exits.

  • --version

    Prints out the Nix version number on standard output and exits.

  • --verbose / -v

    Increases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. For each Nix operation, the information printed on standard output is well-defined; any diagnostic information is printed on standard error, never on standard output.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. Currently, the following verbosity levels exist:

    • 0 “Errors only”

      Only print messages explaining why the Nix invocation failed.

    • 1 “Informational”

      Print useful messages about what Nix is doing. This is the default.

    • 2 “Talkative”

      Print more informational messages.

    • 3 “Chatty”

      Print even more informational messages.

    • 4 “Debug”

      Print debug information.

    • 5 “Vomit”

      Print vast amounts of debug information.

  • --quiet

    Decreases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. This is the inverse option to -v / --verbose.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. See the previous verbosity levels list.

  • --log-format format

    This option can be used to change the output of the log format, with format being one of:

    • raw

      This is the raw format, as outputted by nix-build.

    • internal-json

      Outputs the logs in a structured manner.

      Warning

      While the schema itself is relatively stable, the format of the error-messages (namely of the msg-field) can change between releases.

    • bar

      Only display a progress bar during the builds.

    • bar-with-logs

      Display the raw logs, with the progress bar at the bottom.

  • --no-build-output / -Q

    By default, output written by builders to standard output and standard error is echoed to the Nix command's standard error. This option suppresses this behaviour. Note that the builder's standard output and error are always written to a log file in prefix/nix/var/log/nix.

  • --max-jobs / -j number

    Sets the maximum number of build jobs that Nix will perform in parallel to the specified number. Specify auto to use the number of CPUs in the system. The default is specified by the max-jobs configuration setting, which itself defaults to 1. A higher value is useful on SMP systems or to exploit I/O latency.

    Setting it to 0 disallows building on the local machine, which is useful when you want builds to happen only on remote builders.

  • --cores

    Sets the value of the NIX_BUILD_CORES environment variable in the invocation of builders. Builders can use this variable at their discretion to control the maximum amount of parallelism. For instance, in Nixpkgs, if the derivation attribute enableParallelBuilding is set to true, the builder passes the -jN flag to GNU Make. It defaults to the value of the cores configuration setting, if set, or 1 otherwise. The value 0 means that the builder should use all available CPU cores in the system.

  • --max-silent-time

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can go without producing any data on standard output or standard error. The default is specified by the max-silent-time configuration setting. 0 means no time-out.

  • --timeout

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can run. The default is specified by the timeout configuration setting. 0 means no timeout.

  • --keep-going / -k

    Keep going in case of failed builds, to the greatest extent possible. That is, if building an input of some derivation fails, Nix will still build the other inputs, but not the derivation itself. Without this option, Nix stops if any build fails (except for builds of substitutes), possibly killing builds in progress (in case of parallel or distributed builds).

  • --keep-failed / -K

    Specifies that in case of a build failure, the temporary directory (usually in /tmp) in which the build takes place should not be deleted. The path of the build directory is printed as an informational message.

  • --fallback

    Whenever Nix attempts to build a derivation for which substitutes are known for each output path, but realising the output paths through the substitutes fails, fall back on building the derivation.

    The most common scenario in which this is useful is when we have registered substitutes in order to perform binary distribution from, say, a network repository. If the repository is down, the realisation of the derivation will fail. When this option is specified, Nix will build the derivation instead. Thus, installation from binaries falls back on installation from source. This option is not the default since it is generally not desirable for a transient failure in obtaining the substitutes to lead to a full build from source (with the related consumption of resources).

  • --readonly-mode

    When this option is used, no attempt is made to open the Nix database. Most Nix operations do need database access, so those operations will fail.

  • --arg name value

    This option is accepted by nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-shell and nix-build. When evaluating Nix expressions, the expression evaluator will automatically try to call functions that it encounters. It can automatically call functions for which every argument has a default value (e.g., { argName ? defaultValue }: ...).

    With --arg, you can also call functions that have arguments without a default value (or override a default value). That is, if the evaluator encounters a function with an argument named name, it will call it with value value.

    For instance, the top-level default.nix in Nixpkgs is actually a function:

    { # The system (e.g., `i686-linux') for which to build the packages.
      system ? builtins.currentSystem
      ...
    }: ...
    

    So if you call this Nix expression (e.g., when you do nix-env --install --attr pkgname), the function will be called automatically using the value builtins.currentSystem for the system argument. You can override this using --arg, e.g., nix-env --install --attr pkgname --arg system \"i686-freebsd\". (Note that since the argument is a Nix string literal, you have to escape the quotes.)

  • --argstr name value

    This option is like --arg, only the value is not a Nix expression but a string. So instead of --arg system \"i686-linux\" (the outer quotes are to keep the shell happy) you can say --argstr system i686-linux.

  • --attr / -A attrPath

    Select an attribute from the top-level Nix expression being evaluated. (nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.) The attribute path attrPath is a sequence of attribute names separated by dots. For instance, given a top-level Nix expression e, the attribute path xorg.xorgserver would cause the expression e.xorg.xorgserver to be used. See nix-env --install for some concrete examples.

    In addition to attribute names, you can also specify array indices. For instance, the attribute path foo.3.bar selects the bar attribute of the fourth element of the array in the foo attribute of the top-level expression.

  • --expr / -E

    Interpret the command line arguments as a list of Nix expressions to be parsed and evaluated, rather than as a list of file names of Nix expressions. (nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.)

    For nix-shell, this option is commonly used to give you a shell in which you can build the packages returned by the expression. If you want to get a shell which contain the built packages ready for use, give your expression to the nix-shell --packages convenience flag instead.

  • -I path

    Add an entry to the Nix expression search path. This option may be given multiple times. Paths added through -I take precedence over NIX_PATH.

  • --option name value

    Set the Nix configuration option name to value. This overrides settings in the Nix configuration file (see nix.conf5).

  • --repair

    Fix corrupted or missing store paths by redownloading or rebuilding them. Note that this is slow because it requires computing a cryptographic hash of the contents of every path in the closure of the build. Also note the warning under nix-store --repair-path.

Note

See man nix.conf for overriding configuration settings with command line flags.

Common Environment Variables

Most Nix commands interpret the following environment variables:

  • IN_NIX_SHELL

    Indicator that tells if the current environment was set up by nix-shell. It can have the values pure or impure.

  • NIX_PATH

    A colon-separated list of directories used to look up the location of Nix expressions using paths enclosed in angle brackets (i.e., <path>), e.g. /home/eelco/Dev:/etc/nixos. It can be extended using the -I option.

    If NIX_PATH is not set at all, Nix will fall back to the following list in impure and unrestricted evaluation mode:

    1. $HOME/.nix-defexpr/channels
    2. nixpkgs=/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels/nixpkgs
    3. /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels

    If NIX_PATH is set to an empty string, resolving search paths will always fail. For example, attempting to use <nixpkgs> will produce:

    error: file 'nixpkgs' was not found in the Nix search path
    
  • NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE

    Normally, the Nix store directory (typically /nix/store) is not allowed to contain any symlink components. This is to prevent “impure” builds. Builders sometimes “canonicalise” paths by resolving all symlink components. Thus, builds on different machines (with /nix/store resolving to different locations) could yield different results. This is generally not a problem, except when builds are deployed to machines where /nix/store resolves differently. If you are sure that you’re not going to do that, you can set NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE to 1.

    Note that if you’re symlinking the Nix store so that you can put it on another file system than the root file system, on Linux you’re better off using bind mount points, e.g.,

    $ mkdir /nix
    $ mount -o bind /mnt/otherdisk/nix /nix
    

    Consult the mount 8 manual page for details.

  • NIX_STORE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix store (default prefix/store).

  • NIX_DATA_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix static data directory (default prefix/share).

  • NIX_LOG_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix log directory (default prefix/var/log/nix).

  • NIX_STATE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix state directory (default prefix/var/nix).

  • NIX_CONF_DIR

    Overrides the location of the system Nix configuration directory (default prefix/etc/nix).

  • NIX_CONFIG

    Applies settings from Nix configuration from the environment. The content is treated as if it was read from a Nix configuration file. Settings are separated by the newline character.

  • NIX_USER_CONF_FILES

    Overrides the location of the Nix user configuration files to load from.

    The default are the locations according to the XDG Base Directory Specification. See the XDG Base Directories sub-section for details.

    The variable is treated as a list separated by the : token.

  • TMPDIR

    Use the specified directory to store temporary files. In particular, this includes temporary build directories; these can take up substantial amounts of disk space. The default is /tmp.

  • NIX_REMOTE

    This variable should be set to daemon if you want to use the Nix daemon to execute Nix operations. This is necessary in multi-user Nix installations. If the Nix daemon's Unix socket is at some non-standard path, this variable should be set to unix://path/to/socket. Otherwise, it should be left unset.

  • NIX_SHOW_STATS

    If set to 1, Nix will print some evaluation statistics, such as the number of values allocated.

  • NIX_COUNT_CALLS

    If set to 1, Nix will print how often functions were called during Nix expression evaluation. This is useful for profiling your Nix expressions.

  • GC_INITIAL_HEAP_SIZE

    If Nix has been configured to use the Boehm garbage collector, this variable sets the initial size of the heap in bytes. It defaults to 384 MiB. Setting it to a low value reduces memory consumption, but will increase runtime due to the overhead of garbage collection.

XDG Base Directories

Nix follows the XDG Base Directory Specification.

For backwards compatibility, Nix commands will follow the standard only when use-xdg-base-directories is enabled. New Nix commands (experimental) conform to the standard by default.

The following environment variables are used to determine locations of various state and configuration files:

Example

$ nix-store --print-env $(nix-instantiate '<nixpkgs>' -A firefox)
…
export src; src='/nix/store/plpj7qrwcz94z2psh6fchsi7s8yihc7k-firefox-12.0.source.tar.bz2'
export stdenv; stdenv='/nix/store/7c8asx3yfrg5dg1gzhzyq2236zfgibnn-stdenv'
export system; system='x86_64-linux'
export _args; _args='-e /nix/store/9krlzvny65gdc8s7kpb6lkx8cd02c25c-default-builder.sh'

Name

nix-store --query - display information about store paths

Synopsis

nix-store {--query | -q} {--outputs | --requisites | -R | --references | --referrers | --referrers-closure | --deriver | -d | --valid-derivers | --graph | --tree | --binding name | -b name | --hash | --size | --roots} [--use-output] [-u] [--force-realise] [-f] paths…

Description

The operation --query displays various bits of information about the store paths . The queries are described below. At most one query can be specified. The default query is --outputs.

The paths paths may also be symlinks from outside of the Nix store, to the Nix store. In that case, the query is applied to the target of the symlink.

Common query options

  • --use-output; -u
    For each argument to the query that is a store derivation, apply the query to the output path of the derivation instead.

  • --force-realise; -f
    Realise each argument to the query first (see nix-store --realise).

Queries

  • --outputs
    Prints out the output paths of the store derivations paths. These are the paths that will be produced when the derivation is built.

  • --requisites; -R
    Prints out the closure of the store path paths.

    This query has one option:

    • --include-outputs Also include the existing output paths of store derivations, and their closures.

    This query can be used to implement various kinds of deployment. A source deployment is obtained by distributing the closure of a store derivation. A binary deployment is obtained by distributing the closure of an output path. A cache deployment (combined source/binary deployment, including binaries of build-time-only dependencies) is obtained by distributing the closure of a store derivation and specifying the option --include-outputs.

  • --references
    Prints the set of references of the store paths paths, that is, their immediate dependencies. (For all dependencies, use --requisites.)

  • --referrers
    Prints the set of referrers of the store paths paths, that is, the store paths currently existing in the Nix store that refer to one of paths. Note that contrary to the references, the set of referrers is not constant; it can change as store paths are added or removed.

  • --referrers-closure
    Prints the closure of the set of store paths paths under the referrers relation; that is, all store paths that directly or indirectly refer to one of paths. These are all the path currently in the Nix store that are dependent on paths.

  • --deriver; -d
    Prints the deriver that was used to build the store paths paths. If the path has no deriver (e.g., if it is a source file), or if the deriver is not known (e.g., in the case of a binary-only deployment), the string unknown-deriver is printed. The returned deriver is not guaranteed to exist in the local store, for example when paths were substituted from a binary cache. Use --valid-derivers instead to obtain valid paths only.

  • --valid-derivers
    Prints a set of derivation files (.drv) which are supposed produce said paths when realized. Might print nothing, for example for source paths or paths subsituted from a binary cache.

  • --graph
    Prints the references graph of the store paths paths in the format of the dot tool of AT&T's Graphviz package. This can be used to visualise dependency graphs. To obtain a build-time dependency graph, apply this to a store derivation. To obtain a runtime dependency graph, apply it to an output path.

  • --tree
    Prints the references graph of the store paths paths as a nested ASCII tree. References are ordered by descending closure size; this tends to flatten the tree, making it more readable. The query only recurses into a store path when it is first encountered; this prevents a blowup of the tree representation of the graph.

  • --graphml
    Prints the references graph of the store paths paths in the GraphML file format. This can be used to visualise dependency graphs. To obtain a build-time dependency graph, apply this to a store derivation. To obtain a runtime dependency graph, apply it to an output path.

  • --binding name; -b name
    Prints the value of the attribute name (i.e., environment variable) of the store derivations paths. It is an error for a derivation to not have the specified attribute.

  • --hash
    Prints the SHA-256 hash of the contents of the store paths paths (that is, the hash of the output of nix-store --dump on the given paths). Since the hash is stored in the Nix database, this is a fast operation.

  • --size
    Prints the size in bytes of the contents of the store paths paths — to be precise, the size of the output of nix-store --dump on the given paths. Note that the actual disk space required by the store paths may be higher, especially on filesystems with large cluster sizes.

  • --roots
    Prints the garbage collector roots that point, directly or indirectly, at the store paths paths.

Options

The following options are allowed for all nix-store operations, but may not always have an effect.

  • --add-root path

    Causes the result of a realisation (--realise and --force-realise) to be registered as a root of the garbage collector. path will be created as a symlink to the resulting store path. In addition, a uniquely named symlink to path will be created in /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto/. For instance,

    $ nix-store --add-root /home/eelco/bla/result --realise ...
    
    $ ls -l /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 dn54lcypm8f8... -> /home/eelco/bla/result
    
    $ ls -l /home/eelco/bla/result
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 /home/eelco/bla/result -> /nix/store/1r11343n6qd4...-f-spot-0.0.10
    

    Thus, when /home/eelco/bla/result is removed, the GC root in the auto directory becomes a dangling symlink and will be ignored by the collector.

    Warning

    Note that it is not possible to move or rename GC roots, since the symlink in the auto directory will still point to the old location.

    If there are multiple results, then multiple symlinks will be created by sequentially numbering symlinks beyond the first one (e.g., foo, foo-2, foo-3, and so on).

Common Options

Most Nix commands accept the following command-line options:

  • --help

    Prints out a summary of the command syntax and exits.

  • --version

    Prints out the Nix version number on standard output and exits.

  • --verbose / -v

    Increases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. For each Nix operation, the information printed on standard output is well-defined; any diagnostic information is printed on standard error, never on standard output.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. Currently, the following verbosity levels exist:

    • 0 “Errors only”

      Only print messages explaining why the Nix invocation failed.

    • 1 “Informational”

      Print useful messages about what Nix is doing. This is the default.

    • 2 “Talkative”

      Print more informational messages.

    • 3 “Chatty”

      Print even more informational messages.

    • 4 “Debug”

      Print debug information.

    • 5 “Vomit”

      Print vast amounts of debug information.

  • --quiet

    Decreases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. This is the inverse option to -v / --verbose.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. See the previous verbosity levels list.

  • --log-format format

    This option can be used to change the output of the log format, with format being one of:

    • raw

      This is the raw format, as outputted by nix-build.

    • internal-json

      Outputs the logs in a structured manner.

      Warning

      While the schema itself is relatively stable, the format of the error-messages (namely of the msg-field) can change between releases.

    • bar

      Only display a progress bar during the builds.

    • bar-with-logs

      Display the raw logs, with the progress bar at the bottom.

  • --no-build-output / -Q

    By default, output written by builders to standard output and standard error is echoed to the Nix command's standard error. This option suppresses this behaviour. Note that the builder's standard output and error are always written to a log file in prefix/nix/var/log/nix.

  • --max-jobs / -j number

    Sets the maximum number of build jobs that Nix will perform in parallel to the specified number. Specify auto to use the number of CPUs in the system. The default is specified by the max-jobs configuration setting, which itself defaults to 1. A higher value is useful on SMP systems or to exploit I/O latency.

    Setting it to 0 disallows building on the local machine, which is useful when you want builds to happen only on remote builders.

  • --cores

    Sets the value of the NIX_BUILD_CORES environment variable in the invocation of builders. Builders can use this variable at their discretion to control the maximum amount of parallelism. For instance, in Nixpkgs, if the derivation attribute enableParallelBuilding is set to true, the builder passes the -jN flag to GNU Make. It defaults to the value of the cores configuration setting, if set, or 1 otherwise. The value 0 means that the builder should use all available CPU cores in the system.

  • --max-silent-time

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can go without producing any data on standard output or standard error. The default is specified by the max-silent-time configuration setting. 0 means no time-out.

  • --timeout

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can run. The default is specified by the timeout configuration setting. 0 means no timeout.

  • --keep-going / -k

    Keep going in case of failed builds, to the greatest extent possible. That is, if building an input of some derivation fails, Nix will still build the other inputs, but not the derivation itself. Without this option, Nix stops if any build fails (except for builds of substitutes), possibly killing builds in progress (in case of parallel or distributed builds).

  • --keep-failed / -K

    Specifies that in case of a build failure, the temporary directory (usually in /tmp) in which the build takes place should not be deleted. The path of the build directory is printed as an informational message.

  • --fallback

    Whenever Nix attempts to build a derivation for which substitutes are known for each output path, but realising the output paths through the substitutes fails, fall back on building the derivation.

    The most common scenario in which this is useful is when we have registered substitutes in order to perform binary distribution from, say, a network repository. If the repository is down, the realisation of the derivation will fail. When this option is specified, Nix will build the derivation instead. Thus, installation from binaries falls back on installation from source. This option is not the default since it is generally not desirable for a transient failure in obtaining the substitutes to lead to a full build from source (with the related consumption of resources).

  • --readonly-mode

    When this option is used, no attempt is made to open the Nix database. Most Nix operations do need database access, so those operations will fail.

  • --arg name value

    This option is accepted by nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-shell and nix-build. When evaluating Nix expressions, the expression evaluator will automatically try to call functions that it encounters. It can automatically call functions for which every argument has a default value (e.g., { argName ? defaultValue }: ...).

    With --arg, you can also call functions that have arguments without a default value (or override a default value). That is, if the evaluator encounters a function with an argument named name, it will call it with value value.

    For instance, the top-level default.nix in Nixpkgs is actually a function:

    { # The system (e.g., `i686-linux') for which to build the packages.
      system ? builtins.currentSystem
      ...
    }: ...
    

    So if you call this Nix expression (e.g., when you do nix-env --install --attr pkgname), the function will be called automatically using the value builtins.currentSystem for the system argument. You can override this using --arg, e.g., nix-env --install --attr pkgname --arg system \"i686-freebsd\". (Note that since the argument is a Nix string literal, you have to escape the quotes.)

  • --argstr name value

    This option is like --arg, only the value is not a Nix expression but a string. So instead of --arg system \"i686-linux\" (the outer quotes are to keep the shell happy) you can say --argstr system i686-linux.

  • --attr / -A attrPath

    Select an attribute from the top-level Nix expression being evaluated. (nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.) The attribute path attrPath is a sequence of attribute names separated by dots. For instance, given a top-level Nix expression e, the attribute path xorg.xorgserver would cause the expression e.xorg.xorgserver to be used. See nix-env --install for some concrete examples.

    In addition to attribute names, you can also specify array indices. For instance, the attribute path foo.3.bar selects the bar attribute of the fourth element of the array in the foo attribute of the top-level expression.

  • --expr / -E

    Interpret the command line arguments as a list of Nix expressions to be parsed and evaluated, rather than as a list of file names of Nix expressions. (nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.)

    For nix-shell, this option is commonly used to give you a shell in which you can build the packages returned by the expression. If you want to get a shell which contain the built packages ready for use, give your expression to the nix-shell --packages convenience flag instead.

  • -I path

    Add an entry to the Nix expression search path. This option may be given multiple times. Paths added through -I take precedence over NIX_PATH.

  • --option name value

    Set the Nix configuration option name to value. This overrides settings in the Nix configuration file (see nix.conf5).

  • --repair

    Fix corrupted or missing store paths by redownloading or rebuilding them. Note that this is slow because it requires computing a cryptographic hash of the contents of every path in the closure of the build. Also note the warning under nix-store --repair-path.

Note

See man nix.conf for overriding configuration settings with command line flags.

Common Environment Variables

Most Nix commands interpret the following environment variables:

  • IN_NIX_SHELL

    Indicator that tells if the current environment was set up by nix-shell. It can have the values pure or impure.

  • NIX_PATH

    A colon-separated list of directories used to look up the location of Nix expressions using paths enclosed in angle brackets (i.e., <path>), e.g. /home/eelco/Dev:/etc/nixos. It can be extended using the -I option.

    If NIX_PATH is not set at all, Nix will fall back to the following list in impure and unrestricted evaluation mode:

    1. $HOME/.nix-defexpr/channels
    2. nixpkgs=/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels/nixpkgs
    3. /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels

    If NIX_PATH is set to an empty string, resolving search paths will always fail. For example, attempting to use <nixpkgs> will produce:

    error: file 'nixpkgs' was not found in the Nix search path
    
  • NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE

    Normally, the Nix store directory (typically /nix/store) is not allowed to contain any symlink components. This is to prevent “impure” builds. Builders sometimes “canonicalise” paths by resolving all symlink components. Thus, builds on different machines (with /nix/store resolving to different locations) could yield different results. This is generally not a problem, except when builds are deployed to machines where /nix/store resolves differently. If you are sure that you’re not going to do that, you can set NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE to 1.

    Note that if you’re symlinking the Nix store so that you can put it on another file system than the root file system, on Linux you’re better off using bind mount points, e.g.,

    $ mkdir /nix
    $ mount -o bind /mnt/otherdisk/nix /nix
    

    Consult the mount 8 manual page for details.

  • NIX_STORE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix store (default prefix/store).

  • NIX_DATA_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix static data directory (default prefix/share).

  • NIX_LOG_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix log directory (default prefix/var/log/nix).

  • NIX_STATE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix state directory (default prefix/var/nix).

  • NIX_CONF_DIR

    Overrides the location of the system Nix configuration directory (default prefix/etc/nix).

  • NIX_CONFIG

    Applies settings from Nix configuration from the environment. The content is treated as if it was read from a Nix configuration file. Settings are separated by the newline character.

  • NIX_USER_CONF_FILES

    Overrides the location of the Nix user configuration files to load from.

    The default are the locations according to the XDG Base Directory Specification. See the XDG Base Directories sub-section for details.

    The variable is treated as a list separated by the : token.

  • TMPDIR

    Use the specified directory to store temporary files. In particular, this includes temporary build directories; these can take up substantial amounts of disk space. The default is /tmp.

  • NIX_REMOTE

    This variable should be set to daemon if you want to use the Nix daemon to execute Nix operations. This is necessary in multi-user Nix installations. If the Nix daemon's Unix socket is at some non-standard path, this variable should be set to unix://path/to/socket. Otherwise, it should be left unset.

  • NIX_SHOW_STATS

    If set to 1, Nix will print some evaluation statistics, such as the number of values allocated.

  • NIX_COUNT_CALLS

    If set to 1, Nix will print how often functions were called during Nix expression evaluation. This is useful for profiling your Nix expressions.

  • GC_INITIAL_HEAP_SIZE

    If Nix has been configured to use the Boehm garbage collector, this variable sets the initial size of the heap in bytes. It defaults to 384 MiB. Setting it to a low value reduces memory consumption, but will increase runtime due to the overhead of garbage collection.

XDG Base Directories

Nix follows the XDG Base Directory Specification.

For backwards compatibility, Nix commands will follow the standard only when use-xdg-base-directories is enabled. New Nix commands (experimental) conform to the standard by default.

The following environment variables are used to determine locations of various state and configuration files:

Examples

Print the closure (runtime dependencies) of the svn program in the current user environment:

$ nix-store --query --requisites $(which svn)
/nix/store/5mbglq5ldqld8sj57273aljwkfvj22mc-subversion-1.1.4
/nix/store/9lz9yc6zgmc0vlqmn2ipcpkjlmbi51vv-glibc-2.3.4
...

Print the build-time dependencies of svn:

$ nix-store --query --requisites $(nix-store --query --deriver $(which svn))
/nix/store/02iizgn86m42q905rddvg4ja975bk2i4-grep-2.5.1.tar.bz2.drv
/nix/store/07a2bzxmzwz5hp58nf03pahrv2ygwgs3-gcc-wrapper.sh
/nix/store/0ma7c9wsbaxahwwl04gbw3fcd806ski4-glibc-2.3.4.drv
... lots of other paths ...

The difference with the previous example is that we ask the closure of the derivation (-qd), not the closure of the output path that contains svn.

Show the build-time dependencies as a tree:

$ nix-store --query --tree $(nix-store --query --deriver $(which svn))
/nix/store/7i5082kfb6yjbqdbiwdhhza0am2xvh6c-subversion-1.1.4.drv
+---/nix/store/d8afh10z72n8l1cr5w42366abiblgn54-builder.sh
+---/nix/store/fmzxmpjx2lh849ph0l36snfj9zdibw67-bash-3.0.drv
|   +---/nix/store/570hmhmx3v57605cqg9yfvvyh0nnb8k8-bash
|   +---/nix/store/p3srsbd8dx44v2pg6nbnszab5mcwx03v-builder.sh
...

Show all paths that depend on the same OpenSSL library as svn:

$ nix-store --query --referrers $(nix-store --query --binding openssl $(nix-store --query --deriver $(which svn)))
/nix/store/23ny9l9wixx21632y2wi4p585qhva1q8-sylpheed-1.0.0
/nix/store/5mbglq5ldqld8sj57273aljwkfvj22mc-subversion-1.1.4
/nix/store/dpmvp969yhdqs7lm2r1a3gng7pyq6vy4-subversion-1.1.3
/nix/store/l51240xqsgg8a7yrbqdx1rfzyv6l26fx-lynx-2.8.5

Show all paths that directly or indirectly depend on the Glibc (C library) used by svn:

$ nix-store --query --referrers-closure $(ldd $(which svn) | grep /libc.so | awk '{print $3}')
/nix/store/034a6h4vpz9kds5r6kzb9lhh81mscw43-libgnomeprintui-2.8.2
/nix/store/15l3yi0d45prm7a82pcrknxdh6nzmxza-gawk-3.1.4
...

Note that ldd is a command that prints out the dynamic libraries used by an ELF executable.

Make a picture of the runtime dependency graph of the current user environment:

$ nix-store --query --graph ~/.nix-profile | dot -Tps > graph.ps
$ gv graph.ps

Show every garbage collector root that points to a store path that depends on svn:

$ nix-store --query --roots $(which svn)
/nix/var/nix/profiles/default-81-link
/nix/var/nix/profiles/default-82-link
/home/eelco/.local/state/nix/profiles/profile-97-link

Name

nix-store --read-log - print build log

Synopsis

nix-store {--read-log | -l} paths…

Description

The operation --read-log prints the build log of the specified store paths on standard output. The build log is whatever the builder of a derivation wrote to standard output and standard error. If a store path is not a derivation, the deriver of the store path is used.

Build logs are kept in /nix/var/log/nix/drvs. However, there is no guarantee that a build log is available for any particular store path. For instance, if the path was downloaded as a pre-built binary through a substitute, then the log is unavailable.

Options

The following options are allowed for all nix-store operations, but may not always have an effect.

  • --add-root path

    Causes the result of a realisation (--realise and --force-realise) to be registered as a root of the garbage collector. path will be created as a symlink to the resulting store path. In addition, a uniquely named symlink to path will be created in /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto/. For instance,

    $ nix-store --add-root /home/eelco/bla/result --realise ...
    
    $ ls -l /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 dn54lcypm8f8... -> /home/eelco/bla/result
    
    $ ls -l /home/eelco/bla/result
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 /home/eelco/bla/result -> /nix/store/1r11343n6qd4...-f-spot-0.0.10
    

    Thus, when /home/eelco/bla/result is removed, the GC root in the auto directory becomes a dangling symlink and will be ignored by the collector.

    Warning

    Note that it is not possible to move or rename GC roots, since the symlink in the auto directory will still point to the old location.

    If there are multiple results, then multiple symlinks will be created by sequentially numbering symlinks beyond the first one (e.g., foo, foo-2, foo-3, and so on).

Common Options

Most Nix commands accept the following command-line options:

  • --help

    Prints out a summary of the command syntax and exits.

  • --version

    Prints out the Nix version number on standard output and exits.

  • --verbose / -v

    Increases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. For each Nix operation, the information printed on standard output is well-defined; any diagnostic information is printed on standard error, never on standard output.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. Currently, the following verbosity levels exist:

    • 0 “Errors only”

      Only print messages explaining why the Nix invocation failed.

    • 1 “Informational”

      Print useful messages about what Nix is doing. This is the default.

    • 2 “Talkative”

      Print more informational messages.

    • 3 “Chatty”

      Print even more informational messages.

    • 4 “Debug”

      Print debug information.

    • 5 “Vomit”

      Print vast amounts of debug information.

  • --quiet

    Decreases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. This is the inverse option to -v / --verbose.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. See the previous verbosity levels list.

  • --log-format format

    This option can be used to change the output of the log format, with format being one of:

    • raw

      This is the raw format, as outputted by nix-build.

    • internal-json

      Outputs the logs in a structured manner.

      Warning

      While the schema itself is relatively stable, the format of the error-messages (namely of the msg-field) can change between releases.

    • bar

      Only display a progress bar during the builds.

    • bar-with-logs

      Display the raw logs, with the progress bar at the bottom.

  • --no-build-output / -Q

    By default, output written by builders to standard output and standard error is echoed to the Nix command's standard error. This option suppresses this behaviour. Note that the builder's standard output and error are always written to a log file in prefix/nix/var/log/nix.

  • --max-jobs / -j number

    Sets the maximum number of build jobs that Nix will perform in parallel to the specified number. Specify auto to use the number of CPUs in the system. The default is specified by the max-jobs configuration setting, which itself defaults to 1. A higher value is useful on SMP systems or to exploit I/O latency.

    Setting it to 0 disallows building on the local machine, which is useful when you want builds to happen only on remote builders.

  • --cores

    Sets the value of the NIX_BUILD_CORES environment variable in the invocation of builders. Builders can use this variable at their discretion to control the maximum amount of parallelism. For instance, in Nixpkgs, if the derivation attribute enableParallelBuilding is set to true, the builder passes the -jN flag to GNU Make. It defaults to the value of the cores configuration setting, if set, or 1 otherwise. The value 0 means that the builder should use all available CPU cores in the system.

  • --max-silent-time

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can go without producing any data on standard output or standard error. The default is specified by the max-silent-time configuration setting. 0 means no time-out.

  • --timeout

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can run. The default is specified by the timeout configuration setting. 0 means no timeout.

  • --keep-going / -k

    Keep going in case of failed builds, to the greatest extent possible. That is, if building an input of some derivation fails, Nix will still build the other inputs, but not the derivation itself. Without this option, Nix stops if any build fails (except for builds of substitutes), possibly killing builds in progress (in case of parallel or distributed builds).

  • --keep-failed / -K

    Specifies that in case of a build failure, the temporary directory (usually in /tmp) in which the build takes place should not be deleted. The path of the build directory is printed as an informational message.

  • --fallback

    Whenever Nix attempts to build a derivation for which substitutes are known for each output path, but realising the output paths through the substitutes fails, fall back on building the derivation.

    The most common scenario in which this is useful is when we have registered substitutes in order to perform binary distribution from, say, a network repository. If the repository is down, the realisation of the derivation will fail. When this option is specified, Nix will build the derivation instead. Thus, installation from binaries falls back on installation from source. This option is not the default since it is generally not desirable for a transient failure in obtaining the substitutes to lead to a full build from source (with the related consumption of resources).

  • --readonly-mode

    When this option is used, no attempt is made to open the Nix database. Most Nix operations do need database access, so those operations will fail.

  • --arg name value

    This option is accepted by nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-shell and nix-build. When evaluating Nix expressions, the expression evaluator will automatically try to call functions that it encounters. It can automatically call functions for which every argument has a default value (e.g., { argName ? defaultValue }: ...).

    With --arg, you can also call functions that have arguments without a default value (or override a default value). That is, if the evaluator encounters a function with an argument named name, it will call it with value value.

    For instance, the top-level default.nix in Nixpkgs is actually a function:

    { # The system (e.g., `i686-linux') for which to build the packages.
      system ? builtins.currentSystem
      ...
    }: ...
    

    So if you call this Nix expression (e.g., when you do nix-env --install --attr pkgname), the function will be called automatically using the value builtins.currentSystem for the system argument. You can override this using --arg, e.g., nix-env --install --attr pkgname --arg system \"i686-freebsd\". (Note that since the argument is a Nix string literal, you have to escape the quotes.)

  • --argstr name value

    This option is like --arg, only the value is not a Nix expression but a string. So instead of --arg system \"i686-linux\" (the outer quotes are to keep the shell happy) you can say --argstr system i686-linux.

  • --attr / -A attrPath

    Select an attribute from the top-level Nix expression being evaluated. (nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.) The attribute path attrPath is a sequence of attribute names separated by dots. For instance, given a top-level Nix expression e, the attribute path xorg.xorgserver would cause the expression e.xorg.xorgserver to be used. See nix-env --install for some concrete examples.

    In addition to attribute names, you can also specify array indices. For instance, the attribute path foo.3.bar selects the bar attribute of the fourth element of the array in the foo attribute of the top-level expression.

  • --expr / -E

    Interpret the command line arguments as a list of Nix expressions to be parsed and evaluated, rather than as a list of file names of Nix expressions. (nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.)

    For nix-shell, this option is commonly used to give you a shell in which you can build the packages returned by the expression. If you want to get a shell which contain the built packages ready for use, give your expression to the nix-shell --packages convenience flag instead.

  • -I path

    Add an entry to the Nix expression search path. This option may be given multiple times. Paths added through -I take precedence over NIX_PATH.

  • --option name value

    Set the Nix configuration option name to value. This overrides settings in the Nix configuration file (see nix.conf5).

  • --repair

    Fix corrupted or missing store paths by redownloading or rebuilding them. Note that this is slow because it requires computing a cryptographic hash of the contents of every path in the closure of the build. Also note the warning under nix-store --repair-path.

Note

See man nix.conf for overriding configuration settings with command line flags.

Common Environment Variables

Most Nix commands interpret the following environment variables:

  • IN_NIX_SHELL

    Indicator that tells if the current environment was set up by nix-shell. It can have the values pure or impure.

  • NIX_PATH

    A colon-separated list of directories used to look up the location of Nix expressions using paths enclosed in angle brackets (i.e., <path>), e.g. /home/eelco/Dev:/etc/nixos. It can be extended using the -I option.

    If NIX_PATH is not set at all, Nix will fall back to the following list in impure and unrestricted evaluation mode:

    1. $HOME/.nix-defexpr/channels
    2. nixpkgs=/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels/nixpkgs
    3. /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels

    If NIX_PATH is set to an empty string, resolving search paths will always fail. For example, attempting to use <nixpkgs> will produce:

    error: file 'nixpkgs' was not found in the Nix search path
    
  • NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE

    Normally, the Nix store directory (typically /nix/store) is not allowed to contain any symlink components. This is to prevent “impure” builds. Builders sometimes “canonicalise” paths by resolving all symlink components. Thus, builds on different machines (with /nix/store resolving to different locations) could yield different results. This is generally not a problem, except when builds are deployed to machines where /nix/store resolves differently. If you are sure that you’re not going to do that, you can set NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE to 1.

    Note that if you’re symlinking the Nix store so that you can put it on another file system than the root file system, on Linux you’re better off using bind mount points, e.g.,

    $ mkdir /nix
    $ mount -o bind /mnt/otherdisk/nix /nix
    

    Consult the mount 8 manual page for details.

  • NIX_STORE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix store (default prefix/store).

  • NIX_DATA_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix static data directory (default prefix/share).

  • NIX_LOG_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix log directory (default prefix/var/log/nix).

  • NIX_STATE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix state directory (default prefix/var/nix).

  • NIX_CONF_DIR

    Overrides the location of the system Nix configuration directory (default prefix/etc/nix).

  • NIX_CONFIG

    Applies settings from Nix configuration from the environment. The content is treated as if it was read from a Nix configuration file. Settings are separated by the newline character.

  • NIX_USER_CONF_FILES

    Overrides the location of the Nix user configuration files to load from.

    The default are the locations according to the XDG Base Directory Specification. See the XDG Base Directories sub-section for details.

    The variable is treated as a list separated by the : token.

  • TMPDIR

    Use the specified directory to store temporary files. In particular, this includes temporary build directories; these can take up substantial amounts of disk space. The default is /tmp.

  • NIX_REMOTE

    This variable should be set to daemon if you want to use the Nix daemon to execute Nix operations. This is necessary in multi-user Nix installations. If the Nix daemon's Unix socket is at some non-standard path, this variable should be set to unix://path/to/socket. Otherwise, it should be left unset.

  • NIX_SHOW_STATS

    If set to 1, Nix will print some evaluation statistics, such as the number of values allocated.

  • NIX_COUNT_CALLS

    If set to 1, Nix will print how often functions were called during Nix expression evaluation. This is useful for profiling your Nix expressions.

  • GC_INITIAL_HEAP_SIZE

    If Nix has been configured to use the Boehm garbage collector, this variable sets the initial size of the heap in bytes. It defaults to 384 MiB. Setting it to a low value reduces memory consumption, but will increase runtime due to the overhead of garbage collection.

XDG Base Directories

Nix follows the XDG Base Directory Specification.

For backwards compatibility, Nix commands will follow the standard only when use-xdg-base-directories is enabled. New Nix commands (experimental) conform to the standard by default.

The following environment variables are used to determine locations of various state and configuration files:

Example

$ nix-store --read-log $(which ktorrent)
building /nix/store/dhc73pvzpnzxhdgpimsd9sw39di66ph1-ktorrent-2.2.1
unpacking sources
unpacking source archive /nix/store/p8n1jpqs27mgkjw07pb5269717nzf5f8-ktorrent-2.2.1.tar.gz
ktorrent-2.2.1/
ktorrent-2.2.1/NEWS
...

Name

nix-store --realise - build or fetch store objects

Synopsis

nix-store {--realise | -r} paths… [--dry-run]

Description

Each of paths is processed as follows:

If no substitutes are available and no store derivation is given, realisation fails.

The resulting paths are printed on standard output. For non-derivation arguments, the argument itself is printed.

Special exit codes for build failure

1xx status codes are used when requested builds failed. The following codes are in use:

  • 100 Generic build failure

    The builder process returned with a non-zero exit code.

  • 101 Build timeout

    The build was aborted because it did not complete within the specified timeout.

  • 102 Hash mismatch

    The build output was rejected because it does not match the outputHash attribute of the derivation.

  • 104 Not deterministic

    The build succeeded in check mode but the resulting output is not binary reproducible.

With the --keep-going flag it's possible for multiple failures to occur. In this case the 1xx status codes are or combined using bitwise OR.

0b1100100
     ^^^^
     |||`- timeout
     ||`-- output hash mismatch
     |`--- build failure
     `---- not deterministic

Options

  • --dry-run
    Print on standard error a description of what packages would be built or downloaded, without actually performing the operation.

  • --ignore-unknown
    If a non-derivation path does not have a substitute, then silently ignore it.

  • --check
    This option allows you to check whether a derivation is deterministic. It rebuilds the specified derivation and checks whether the result is bitwise-identical with the existing outputs, printing an error if that’s not the case. The outputs of the specified derivation must already exist. When used with -K, if an output path is not identical to the corresponding output from the previous build, the new output path is left in /nix/store/name.check.

Options

The following options are allowed for all nix-store operations, but may not always have an effect.

  • --add-root path

    Causes the result of a realisation (--realise and --force-realise) to be registered as a root of the garbage collector. path will be created as a symlink to the resulting store path. In addition, a uniquely named symlink to path will be created in /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto/. For instance,

    $ nix-store --add-root /home/eelco/bla/result --realise ...
    
    $ ls -l /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 dn54lcypm8f8... -> /home/eelco/bla/result
    
    $ ls -l /home/eelco/bla/result
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 /home/eelco/bla/result -> /nix/store/1r11343n6qd4...-f-spot-0.0.10
    

    Thus, when /home/eelco/bla/result is removed, the GC root in the auto directory becomes a dangling symlink and will be ignored by the collector.

    Warning

    Note that it is not possible to move or rename GC roots, since the symlink in the auto directory will still point to the old location.

    If there are multiple results, then multiple symlinks will be created by sequentially numbering symlinks beyond the first one (e.g., foo, foo-2, foo-3, and so on).

Common Options

Most Nix commands accept the following command-line options:

  • --help

    Prints out a summary of the command syntax and exits.

  • --version

    Prints out the Nix version number on standard output and exits.

  • --verbose / -v

    Increases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. For each Nix operation, the information printed on standard output is well-defined; any diagnostic information is printed on standard error, never on standard output.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. Currently, the following verbosity levels exist:

    • 0 “Errors only”

      Only print messages explaining why the Nix invocation failed.

    • 1 “Informational”

      Print useful messages about what Nix is doing. This is the default.

    • 2 “Talkative”

      Print more informational messages.

    • 3 “Chatty”

      Print even more informational messages.

    • 4 “Debug”

      Print debug information.

    • 5 “Vomit”

      Print vast amounts of debug information.

  • --quiet

    Decreases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. This is the inverse option to -v / --verbose.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. See the previous verbosity levels list.

  • --log-format format

    This option can be used to change the output of the log format, with format being one of:

    • raw

      This is the raw format, as outputted by nix-build.

    • internal-json

      Outputs the logs in a structured manner.

      Warning

      While the schema itself is relatively stable, the format of the error-messages (namely of the msg-field) can change between releases.

    • bar

      Only display a progress bar during the builds.

    • bar-with-logs

      Display the raw logs, with the progress bar at the bottom.

  • --no-build-output / -Q

    By default, output written by builders to standard output and standard error is echoed to the Nix command's standard error. This option suppresses this behaviour. Note that the builder's standard output and error are always written to a log file in prefix/nix/var/log/nix.

  • --max-jobs / -j number

    Sets the maximum number of build jobs that Nix will perform in parallel to the specified number. Specify auto to use the number of CPUs in the system. The default is specified by the max-jobs configuration setting, which itself defaults to 1. A higher value is useful on SMP systems or to exploit I/O latency.

    Setting it to 0 disallows building on the local machine, which is useful when you want builds to happen only on remote builders.

  • --cores

    Sets the value of the NIX_BUILD_CORES environment variable in the invocation of builders. Builders can use this variable at their discretion to control the maximum amount of parallelism. For instance, in Nixpkgs, if the derivation attribute enableParallelBuilding is set to true, the builder passes the -jN flag to GNU Make. It defaults to the value of the cores configuration setting, if set, or 1 otherwise. The value 0 means that the builder should use all available CPU cores in the system.

  • --max-silent-time

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can go without producing any data on standard output or standard error. The default is specified by the max-silent-time configuration setting. 0 means no time-out.

  • --timeout

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can run. The default is specified by the timeout configuration setting. 0 means no timeout.

  • --keep-going / -k

    Keep going in case of failed builds, to the greatest extent possible. That is, if building an input of some derivation fails, Nix will still build the other inputs, but not the derivation itself. Without this option, Nix stops if any build fails (except for builds of substitutes), possibly killing builds in progress (in case of parallel or distributed builds).

  • --keep-failed / -K

    Specifies that in case of a build failure, the temporary directory (usually in /tmp) in which the build takes place should not be deleted. The path of the build directory is printed as an informational message.

  • --fallback

    Whenever Nix attempts to build a derivation for which substitutes are known for each output path, but realising the output paths through the substitutes fails, fall back on building the derivation.

    The most common scenario in which this is useful is when we have registered substitutes in order to perform binary distribution from, say, a network repository. If the repository is down, the realisation of the derivation will fail. When this option is specified, Nix will build the derivation instead. Thus, installation from binaries falls back on installation from source. This option is not the default since it is generally not desirable for a transient failure in obtaining the substitutes to lead to a full build from source (with the related consumption of resources).

  • --readonly-mode

    When this option is used, no attempt is made to open the Nix database. Most Nix operations do need database access, so those operations will fail.

  • --arg name value

    This option is accepted by nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-shell and nix-build. When evaluating Nix expressions, the expression evaluator will automatically try to call functions that it encounters. It can automatically call functions for which every argument has a default value (e.g., { argName ? defaultValue }: ...).

    With --arg, you can also call functions that have arguments without a default value (or override a default value). That is, if the evaluator encounters a function with an argument named name, it will call it with value value.

    For instance, the top-level default.nix in Nixpkgs is actually a function:

    { # The system (e.g., `i686-linux') for which to build the packages.
      system ? builtins.currentSystem
      ...
    }: ...
    

    So if you call this Nix expression (e.g., when you do nix-env --install --attr pkgname), the function will be called automatically using the value builtins.currentSystem for the system argument. You can override this using --arg, e.g., nix-env --install --attr pkgname --arg system \"i686-freebsd\". (Note that since the argument is a Nix string literal, you have to escape the quotes.)

  • --argstr name value

    This option is like --arg, only the value is not a Nix expression but a string. So instead of --arg system \"i686-linux\" (the outer quotes are to keep the shell happy) you can say --argstr system i686-linux.

  • --attr / -A attrPath

    Select an attribute from the top-level Nix expression being evaluated. (nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.) The attribute path attrPath is a sequence of attribute names separated by dots. For instance, given a top-level Nix expression e, the attribute path xorg.xorgserver would cause the expression e.xorg.xorgserver to be used. See nix-env --install for some concrete examples.

    In addition to attribute names, you can also specify array indices. For instance, the attribute path foo.3.bar selects the bar attribute of the fourth element of the array in the foo attribute of the top-level expression.

  • --expr / -E

    Interpret the command line arguments as a list of Nix expressions to be parsed and evaluated, rather than as a list of file names of Nix expressions. (nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.)

    For nix-shell, this option is commonly used to give you a shell in which you can build the packages returned by the expression. If you want to get a shell which contain the built packages ready for use, give your expression to the nix-shell --packages convenience flag instead.

  • -I path

    Add an entry to the Nix expression search path. This option may be given multiple times. Paths added through -I take precedence over NIX_PATH.

  • --option name value

    Set the Nix configuration option name to value. This overrides settings in the Nix configuration file (see nix.conf5).

  • --repair

    Fix corrupted or missing store paths by redownloading or rebuilding them. Note that this is slow because it requires computing a cryptographic hash of the contents of every path in the closure of the build. Also note the warning under nix-store --repair-path.

Note

See man nix.conf for overriding configuration settings with command line flags.

Common Environment Variables

Most Nix commands interpret the following environment variables:

  • IN_NIX_SHELL

    Indicator that tells if the current environment was set up by nix-shell. It can have the values pure or impure.

  • NIX_PATH

    A colon-separated list of directories used to look up the location of Nix expressions using paths enclosed in angle brackets (i.e., <path>), e.g. /home/eelco/Dev:/etc/nixos. It can be extended using the -I option.

    If NIX_PATH is not set at all, Nix will fall back to the following list in impure and unrestricted evaluation mode:

    1. $HOME/.nix-defexpr/channels
    2. nixpkgs=/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels/nixpkgs
    3. /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels

    If NIX_PATH is set to an empty string, resolving search paths will always fail. For example, attempting to use <nixpkgs> will produce:

    error: file 'nixpkgs' was not found in the Nix search path
    
  • NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE

    Normally, the Nix store directory (typically /nix/store) is not allowed to contain any symlink components. This is to prevent “impure” builds. Builders sometimes “canonicalise” paths by resolving all symlink components. Thus, builds on different machines (with /nix/store resolving to different locations) could yield different results. This is generally not a problem, except when builds are deployed to machines where /nix/store resolves differently. If you are sure that you’re not going to do that, you can set NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE to 1.

    Note that if you’re symlinking the Nix store so that you can put it on another file system than the root file system, on Linux you’re better off using bind mount points, e.g.,

    $ mkdir /nix
    $ mount -o bind /mnt/otherdisk/nix /nix
    

    Consult the mount 8 manual page for details.

  • NIX_STORE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix store (default prefix/store).

  • NIX_DATA_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix static data directory (default prefix/share).

  • NIX_LOG_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix log directory (default prefix/var/log/nix).

  • NIX_STATE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix state directory (default prefix/var/nix).

  • NIX_CONF_DIR

    Overrides the location of the system Nix configuration directory (default prefix/etc/nix).

  • NIX_CONFIG

    Applies settings from Nix configuration from the environment. The content is treated as if it was read from a Nix configuration file. Settings are separated by the newline character.

  • NIX_USER_CONF_FILES

    Overrides the location of the Nix user configuration files to load from.

    The default are the locations according to the XDG Base Directory Specification. See the XDG Base Directories sub-section for details.

    The variable is treated as a list separated by the : token.

  • TMPDIR

    Use the specified directory to store temporary files. In particular, this includes temporary build directories; these can take up substantial amounts of disk space. The default is /tmp.

  • NIX_REMOTE

    This variable should be set to daemon if you want to use the Nix daemon to execute Nix operations. This is necessary in multi-user Nix installations. If the Nix daemon's Unix socket is at some non-standard path, this variable should be set to unix://path/to/socket. Otherwise, it should be left unset.

  • NIX_SHOW_STATS

    If set to 1, Nix will print some evaluation statistics, such as the number of values allocated.

  • NIX_COUNT_CALLS

    If set to 1, Nix will print how often functions were called during Nix expression evaluation. This is useful for profiling your Nix expressions.

  • GC_INITIAL_HEAP_SIZE

    If Nix has been configured to use the Boehm garbage collector, this variable sets the initial size of the heap in bytes. It defaults to 384 MiB. Setting it to a low value reduces memory consumption, but will increase runtime due to the overhead of garbage collection.

XDG Base Directories

Nix follows the XDG Base Directory Specification.

For backwards compatibility, Nix commands will follow the standard only when use-xdg-base-directories is enabled. New Nix commands (experimental) conform to the standard by default.

The following environment variables are used to determine locations of various state and configuration files:

Examples

This operation is typically used to build store derivations produced by nix-instantiate:

$ nix-store --realise $(nix-instantiate ./test.nix)
/nix/store/31axcgrlbfsxzmfff1gyj1bf62hvkby2-aterm-2.3.1

This is essentially what nix-build does.

To test whether a previously-built derivation is deterministic:

$ nix-build '<nixpkgs>' --attr hello --check -K

Use nix-store --read-log to show the stderr and stdout of a build:

$ nix-store --read-log $(nix-instantiate ./test.nix)

Name

nix --repair-path - re-download path from substituter

Synopsis

nix-store --repair-path paths…

Description

The operation --repair-path attempts to “repair” the specified paths by redownloading them using the available substituters. If no substitutes are available, then repair is not possible.

Warning

During repair, there is a very small time window during which the old path (if it exists) is moved out of the way and replaced with the new path. If repair is interrupted in between, then the system may be left in a broken state (e.g., if the path contains a critical system component like the GNU C Library).

Example

$ nix-store --verify-path /nix/store/dj7a81wsm1ijwwpkks3725661h3263p5-glibc-2.13
path `/nix/store/dj7a81wsm1ijwwpkks3725661h3263p5-glibc-2.13' was modified!
  expected hash `2db57715ae90b7e31ff1f2ecb8c12ec1cc43da920efcbe3b22763f36a1861588',
  got `481c5aa5483ebc97c20457bb8bca24deea56550d3985cda0027f67fe54b808e4'

$ nix-store --repair-path /nix/store/dj7a81wsm1ijwwpkks3725661h3263p5-glibc-2.13
fetching path `/nix/store/d7a81wsm1ijwwpkks3725661h3263p5-glibc-2.13'...
…

Name

nix-store --restore - extract a Nix archive

Synopsis

nix-store --restore path

Description

The operation --restore unpacks a NAR archive to path, which must not already exist. The archive is read from standard input.

Options

The following options are allowed for all nix-store operations, but may not always have an effect.

  • --add-root path

    Causes the result of a realisation (--realise and --force-realise) to be registered as a root of the garbage collector. path will be created as a symlink to the resulting store path. In addition, a uniquely named symlink to path will be created in /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto/. For instance,

    $ nix-store --add-root /home/eelco/bla/result --realise ...
    
    $ ls -l /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 dn54lcypm8f8... -> /home/eelco/bla/result
    
    $ ls -l /home/eelco/bla/result
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 /home/eelco/bla/result -> /nix/store/1r11343n6qd4...-f-spot-0.0.10
    

    Thus, when /home/eelco/bla/result is removed, the GC root in the auto directory becomes a dangling symlink and will be ignored by the collector.

    Warning

    Note that it is not possible to move or rename GC roots, since the symlink in the auto directory will still point to the old location.

    If there are multiple results, then multiple symlinks will be created by sequentially numbering symlinks beyond the first one (e.g., foo, foo-2, foo-3, and so on).

Common Options

Most Nix commands accept the following command-line options:

  • --help

    Prints out a summary of the command syntax and exits.

  • --version

    Prints out the Nix version number on standard output and exits.

  • --verbose / -v

    Increases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. For each Nix operation, the information printed on standard output is well-defined; any diagnostic information is printed on standard error, never on standard output.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. Currently, the following verbosity levels exist:

    • 0 “Errors only”

      Only print messages explaining why the Nix invocation failed.

    • 1 “Informational”

      Print useful messages about what Nix is doing. This is the default.

    • 2 “Talkative”

      Print more informational messages.

    • 3 “Chatty”

      Print even more informational messages.

    • 4 “Debug”

      Print debug information.

    • 5 “Vomit”

      Print vast amounts of debug information.

  • --quiet

    Decreases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. This is the inverse option to -v / --verbose.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. See the previous verbosity levels list.

  • --log-format format

    This option can be used to change the output of the log format, with format being one of:

    • raw

      This is the raw format, as outputted by nix-build.

    • internal-json

      Outputs the logs in a structured manner.

      Warning

      While the schema itself is relatively stable, the format of the error-messages (namely of the msg-field) can change between releases.

    • bar

      Only display a progress bar during the builds.

    • bar-with-logs

      Display the raw logs, with the progress bar at the bottom.

  • --no-build-output / -Q

    By default, output written by builders to standard output and standard error is echoed to the Nix command's standard error. This option suppresses this behaviour. Note that the builder's standard output and error are always written to a log file in prefix/nix/var/log/nix.

  • --max-jobs / -j number

    Sets the maximum number of build jobs that Nix will perform in parallel to the specified number. Specify auto to use the number of CPUs in the system. The default is specified by the max-jobs configuration setting, which itself defaults to 1. A higher value is useful on SMP systems or to exploit I/O latency.

    Setting it to 0 disallows building on the local machine, which is useful when you want builds to happen only on remote builders.

  • --cores

    Sets the value of the NIX_BUILD_CORES environment variable in the invocation of builders. Builders can use this variable at their discretion to control the maximum amount of parallelism. For instance, in Nixpkgs, if the derivation attribute enableParallelBuilding is set to true, the builder passes the -jN flag to GNU Make. It defaults to the value of the cores configuration setting, if set, or 1 otherwise. The value 0 means that the builder should use all available CPU cores in the system.

  • --max-silent-time

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can go without producing any data on standard output or standard error. The default is specified by the max-silent-time configuration setting. 0 means no time-out.

  • --timeout

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can run. The default is specified by the timeout configuration setting. 0 means no timeout.

  • --keep-going / -k

    Keep going in case of failed builds, to the greatest extent possible. That is, if building an input of some derivation fails, Nix will still build the other inputs, but not the derivation itself. Without this option, Nix stops if any build fails (except for builds of substitutes), possibly killing builds in progress (in case of parallel or distributed builds).

  • --keep-failed / -K

    Specifies that in case of a build failure, the temporary directory (usually in /tmp) in which the build takes place should not be deleted. The path of the build directory is printed as an informational message.

  • --fallback

    Whenever Nix attempts to build a derivation for which substitutes are known for each output path, but realising the output paths through the substitutes fails, fall back on building the derivation.

    The most common scenario in which this is useful is when we have registered substitutes in order to perform binary distribution from, say, a network repository. If the repository is down, the realisation of the derivation will fail. When this option is specified, Nix will build the derivation instead. Thus, installation from binaries falls back on installation from source. This option is not the default since it is generally not desirable for a transient failure in obtaining the substitutes to lead to a full build from source (with the related consumption of resources).

  • --readonly-mode

    When this option is used, no attempt is made to open the Nix database. Most Nix operations do need database access, so those operations will fail.

  • --arg name value

    This option is accepted by nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-shell and nix-build. When evaluating Nix expressions, the expression evaluator will automatically try to call functions that it encounters. It can automatically call functions for which every argument has a default value (e.g., { argName ? defaultValue }: ...).

    With --arg, you can also call functions that have arguments without a default value (or override a default value). That is, if the evaluator encounters a function with an argument named name, it will call it with value value.

    For instance, the top-level default.nix in Nixpkgs is actually a function:

    { # The system (e.g., `i686-linux') for which to build the packages.
      system ? builtins.currentSystem
      ...
    }: ...
    

    So if you call this Nix expression (e.g., when you do nix-env --install --attr pkgname), the function will be called automatically using the value builtins.currentSystem for the system argument. You can override this using --arg, e.g., nix-env --install --attr pkgname --arg system \"i686-freebsd\". (Note that since the argument is a Nix string literal, you have to escape the quotes.)

  • --argstr name value

    This option is like --arg, only the value is not a Nix expression but a string. So instead of --arg system \"i686-linux\" (the outer quotes are to keep the shell happy) you can say --argstr system i686-linux.

  • --attr / -A attrPath

    Select an attribute from the top-level Nix expression being evaluated. (nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.) The attribute path attrPath is a sequence of attribute names separated by dots. For instance, given a top-level Nix expression e, the attribute path xorg.xorgserver would cause the expression e.xorg.xorgserver to be used. See nix-env --install for some concrete examples.

    In addition to attribute names, you can also specify array indices. For instance, the attribute path foo.3.bar selects the bar attribute of the fourth element of the array in the foo attribute of the top-level expression.

  • --expr / -E

    Interpret the command line arguments as a list of Nix expressions to be parsed and evaluated, rather than as a list of file names of Nix expressions. (nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.)

    For nix-shell, this option is commonly used to give you a shell in which you can build the packages returned by the expression. If you want to get a shell which contain the built packages ready for use, give your expression to the nix-shell --packages convenience flag instead.

  • -I path

    Add an entry to the Nix expression search path. This option may be given multiple times. Paths added through -I take precedence over NIX_PATH.

  • --option name value

    Set the Nix configuration option name to value. This overrides settings in the Nix configuration file (see nix.conf5).

  • --repair

    Fix corrupted or missing store paths by redownloading or rebuilding them. Note that this is slow because it requires computing a cryptographic hash of the contents of every path in the closure of the build. Also note the warning under nix-store --repair-path.

Note

See man nix.conf for overriding configuration settings with command line flags.

Common Environment Variables

Most Nix commands interpret the following environment variables:

  • IN_NIX_SHELL

    Indicator that tells if the current environment was set up by nix-shell. It can have the values pure or impure.

  • NIX_PATH

    A colon-separated list of directories used to look up the location of Nix expressions using paths enclosed in angle brackets (i.e., <path>), e.g. /home/eelco/Dev:/etc/nixos. It can be extended using the -I option.

    If NIX_PATH is not set at all, Nix will fall back to the following list in impure and unrestricted evaluation mode:

    1. $HOME/.nix-defexpr/channels
    2. nixpkgs=/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels/nixpkgs
    3. /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels

    If NIX_PATH is set to an empty string, resolving search paths will always fail. For example, attempting to use <nixpkgs> will produce:

    error: file 'nixpkgs' was not found in the Nix search path
    
  • NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE

    Normally, the Nix store directory (typically /nix/store) is not allowed to contain any symlink components. This is to prevent “impure” builds. Builders sometimes “canonicalise” paths by resolving all symlink components. Thus, builds on different machines (with /nix/store resolving to different locations) could yield different results. This is generally not a problem, except when builds are deployed to machines where /nix/store resolves differently. If you are sure that you’re not going to do that, you can set NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE to 1.

    Note that if you’re symlinking the Nix store so that you can put it on another file system than the root file system, on Linux you’re better off using bind mount points, e.g.,

    $ mkdir /nix
    $ mount -o bind /mnt/otherdisk/nix /nix
    

    Consult the mount 8 manual page for details.

  • NIX_STORE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix store (default prefix/store).

  • NIX_DATA_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix static data directory (default prefix/share).

  • NIX_LOG_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix log directory (default prefix/var/log/nix).

  • NIX_STATE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix state directory (default prefix/var/nix).

  • NIX_CONF_DIR

    Overrides the location of the system Nix configuration directory (default prefix/etc/nix).

  • NIX_CONFIG

    Applies settings from Nix configuration from the environment. The content is treated as if it was read from a Nix configuration file. Settings are separated by the newline character.

  • NIX_USER_CONF_FILES

    Overrides the location of the Nix user configuration files to load from.

    The default are the locations according to the XDG Base Directory Specification. See the XDG Base Directories sub-section for details.

    The variable is treated as a list separated by the : token.

  • TMPDIR

    Use the specified directory to store temporary files. In particular, this includes temporary build directories; these can take up substantial amounts of disk space. The default is /tmp.

  • NIX_REMOTE

    This variable should be set to daemon if you want to use the Nix daemon to execute Nix operations. This is necessary in multi-user Nix installations. If the Nix daemon's Unix socket is at some non-standard path, this variable should be set to unix://path/to/socket. Otherwise, it should be left unset.

  • NIX_SHOW_STATS

    If set to 1, Nix will print some evaluation statistics, such as the number of values allocated.

  • NIX_COUNT_CALLS

    If set to 1, Nix will print how often functions were called during Nix expression evaluation. This is useful for profiling your Nix expressions.

  • GC_INITIAL_HEAP_SIZE

    If Nix has been configured to use the Boehm garbage collector, this variable sets the initial size of the heap in bytes. It defaults to 384 MiB. Setting it to a low value reduces memory consumption, but will increase runtime due to the overhead of garbage collection.

XDG Base Directories

Nix follows the XDG Base Directory Specification.

For backwards compatibility, Nix commands will follow the standard only when use-xdg-base-directories is enabled. New Nix commands (experimental) conform to the standard by default.

The following environment variables are used to determine locations of various state and configuration files:

Name

nix-store --serve - serve local Nix store over SSH

Synopsis

nix-store --serve [--write]

Description

The operation --serve provides access to the Nix store over stdin and stdout, and is intended to be used as a means of providing Nix store access to a restricted ssh user.

The following flags are available:

  • --write
    Allow the connected client to request the realization of derivations. In effect, this can be used to make the host act as a remote builder.

Options

The following options are allowed for all nix-store operations, but may not always have an effect.

  • --add-root path

    Causes the result of a realisation (--realise and --force-realise) to be registered as a root of the garbage collector. path will be created as a symlink to the resulting store path. In addition, a uniquely named symlink to path will be created in /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto/. For instance,

    $ nix-store --add-root /home/eelco/bla/result --realise ...
    
    $ ls -l /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 dn54lcypm8f8... -> /home/eelco/bla/result
    
    $ ls -l /home/eelco/bla/result
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 /home/eelco/bla/result -> /nix/store/1r11343n6qd4...-f-spot-0.0.10
    

    Thus, when /home/eelco/bla/result is removed, the GC root in the auto directory becomes a dangling symlink and will be ignored by the collector.

    Warning

    Note that it is not possible to move or rename GC roots, since the symlink in the auto directory will still point to the old location.

    If there are multiple results, then multiple symlinks will be created by sequentially numbering symlinks beyond the first one (e.g., foo, foo-2, foo-3, and so on).

Common Options

Most Nix commands accept the following command-line options:

  • --help

    Prints out a summary of the command syntax and exits.

  • --version

    Prints out the Nix version number on standard output and exits.

  • --verbose / -v

    Increases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. For each Nix operation, the information printed on standard output is well-defined; any diagnostic information is printed on standard error, never on standard output.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. Currently, the following verbosity levels exist:

    • 0 “Errors only”

      Only print messages explaining why the Nix invocation failed.

    • 1 “Informational”

      Print useful messages about what Nix is doing. This is the default.

    • 2 “Talkative”

      Print more informational messages.

    • 3 “Chatty”

      Print even more informational messages.

    • 4 “Debug”

      Print debug information.

    • 5 “Vomit”

      Print vast amounts of debug information.

  • --quiet

    Decreases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. This is the inverse option to -v / --verbose.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. See the previous verbosity levels list.

  • --log-format format

    This option can be used to change the output of the log format, with format being one of:

    • raw

      This is the raw format, as outputted by nix-build.

    • internal-json

      Outputs the logs in a structured manner.

      Warning

      While the schema itself is relatively stable, the format of the error-messages (namely of the msg-field) can change between releases.

    • bar

      Only display a progress bar during the builds.

    • bar-with-logs

      Display the raw logs, with the progress bar at the bottom.

  • --no-build-output / -Q

    By default, output written by builders to standard output and standard error is echoed to the Nix command's standard error. This option suppresses this behaviour. Note that the builder's standard output and error are always written to a log file in prefix/nix/var/log/nix.

  • --max-jobs / -j number

    Sets the maximum number of build jobs that Nix will perform in parallel to the specified number. Specify auto to use the number of CPUs in the system. The default is specified by the max-jobs configuration setting, which itself defaults to 1. A higher value is useful on SMP systems or to exploit I/O latency.

    Setting it to 0 disallows building on the local machine, which is useful when you want builds to happen only on remote builders.

  • --cores

    Sets the value of the NIX_BUILD_CORES environment variable in the invocation of builders. Builders can use this variable at their discretion to control the maximum amount of parallelism. For instance, in Nixpkgs, if the derivation attribute enableParallelBuilding is set to true, the builder passes the -jN flag to GNU Make. It defaults to the value of the cores configuration setting, if set, or 1 otherwise. The value 0 means that the builder should use all available CPU cores in the system.

  • --max-silent-time

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can go without producing any data on standard output or standard error. The default is specified by the max-silent-time configuration setting. 0 means no time-out.

  • --timeout

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can run. The default is specified by the timeout configuration setting. 0 means no timeout.

  • --keep-going / -k

    Keep going in case of failed builds, to the greatest extent possible. That is, if building an input of some derivation fails, Nix will still build the other inputs, but not the derivation itself. Without this option, Nix stops if any build fails (except for builds of substitutes), possibly killing builds in progress (in case of parallel or distributed builds).

  • --keep-failed / -K

    Specifies that in case of a build failure, the temporary directory (usually in /tmp) in which the build takes place should not be deleted. The path of the build directory is printed as an informational message.

  • --fallback

    Whenever Nix attempts to build a derivation for which substitutes are known for each output path, but realising the output paths through the substitutes fails, fall back on building the derivation.

    The most common scenario in which this is useful is when we have registered substitutes in order to perform binary distribution from, say, a network repository. If the repository is down, the realisation of the derivation will fail. When this option is specified, Nix will build the derivation instead. Thus, installation from binaries falls back on installation from source. This option is not the default since it is generally not desirable for a transient failure in obtaining the substitutes to lead to a full build from source (with the related consumption of resources).

  • --readonly-mode

    When this option is used, no attempt is made to open the Nix database. Most Nix operations do need database access, so those operations will fail.

  • --arg name value

    This option is accepted by nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-shell and nix-build. When evaluating Nix expressions, the expression evaluator will automatically try to call functions that it encounters. It can automatically call functions for which every argument has a default value (e.g., { argName ? defaultValue }: ...).

    With --arg, you can also call functions that have arguments without a default value (or override a default value). That is, if the evaluator encounters a function with an argument named name, it will call it with value value.

    For instance, the top-level default.nix in Nixpkgs is actually a function:

    { # The system (e.g., `i686-linux') for which to build the packages.
      system ? builtins.currentSystem
      ...
    }: ...
    

    So if you call this Nix expression (e.g., when you do nix-env --install --attr pkgname), the function will be called automatically using the value builtins.currentSystem for the system argument. You can override this using --arg, e.g., nix-env --install --attr pkgname --arg system \"i686-freebsd\". (Note that since the argument is a Nix string literal, you have to escape the quotes.)

  • --argstr name value

    This option is like --arg, only the value is not a Nix expression but a string. So instead of --arg system \"i686-linux\" (the outer quotes are to keep the shell happy) you can say --argstr system i686-linux.

  • --attr / -A attrPath

    Select an attribute from the top-level Nix expression being evaluated. (nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.) The attribute path attrPath is a sequence of attribute names separated by dots. For instance, given a top-level Nix expression e, the attribute path xorg.xorgserver would cause the expression e.xorg.xorgserver to be used. See nix-env --install for some concrete examples.

    In addition to attribute names, you can also specify array indices. For instance, the attribute path foo.3.bar selects the bar attribute of the fourth element of the array in the foo attribute of the top-level expression.

  • --expr / -E

    Interpret the command line arguments as a list of Nix expressions to be parsed and evaluated, rather than as a list of file names of Nix expressions. (nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.)

    For nix-shell, this option is commonly used to give you a shell in which you can build the packages returned by the expression. If you want to get a shell which contain the built packages ready for use, give your expression to the nix-shell --packages convenience flag instead.

  • -I path

    Add an entry to the Nix expression search path. This option may be given multiple times. Paths added through -I take precedence over NIX_PATH.

  • --option name value

    Set the Nix configuration option name to value. This overrides settings in the Nix configuration file (see nix.conf5).

  • --repair

    Fix corrupted or missing store paths by redownloading or rebuilding them. Note that this is slow because it requires computing a cryptographic hash of the contents of every path in the closure of the build. Also note the warning under nix-store --repair-path.

Note

See man nix.conf for overriding configuration settings with command line flags.

Common Environment Variables

Most Nix commands interpret the following environment variables:

  • IN_NIX_SHELL

    Indicator that tells if the current environment was set up by nix-shell. It can have the values pure or impure.

  • NIX_PATH

    A colon-separated list of directories used to look up the location of Nix expressions using paths enclosed in angle brackets (i.e., <path>), e.g. /home/eelco/Dev:/etc/nixos. It can be extended using the -I option.

    If NIX_PATH is not set at all, Nix will fall back to the following list in impure and unrestricted evaluation mode:

    1. $HOME/.nix-defexpr/channels
    2. nixpkgs=/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels/nixpkgs
    3. /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels

    If NIX_PATH is set to an empty string, resolving search paths will always fail. For example, attempting to use <nixpkgs> will produce:

    error: file 'nixpkgs' was not found in the Nix search path
    
  • NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE

    Normally, the Nix store directory (typically /nix/store) is not allowed to contain any symlink components. This is to prevent “impure” builds. Builders sometimes “canonicalise” paths by resolving all symlink components. Thus, builds on different machines (with /nix/store resolving to different locations) could yield different results. This is generally not a problem, except when builds are deployed to machines where /nix/store resolves differently. If you are sure that you’re not going to do that, you can set NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE to 1.

    Note that if you’re symlinking the Nix store so that you can put it on another file system than the root file system, on Linux you’re better off using bind mount points, e.g.,

    $ mkdir /nix
    $ mount -o bind /mnt/otherdisk/nix /nix
    

    Consult the mount 8 manual page for details.

  • NIX_STORE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix store (default prefix/store).

  • NIX_DATA_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix static data directory (default prefix/share).

  • NIX_LOG_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix log directory (default prefix/var/log/nix).

  • NIX_STATE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix state directory (default prefix/var/nix).

  • NIX_CONF_DIR

    Overrides the location of the system Nix configuration directory (default prefix/etc/nix).

  • NIX_CONFIG

    Applies settings from Nix configuration from the environment. The content is treated as if it was read from a Nix configuration file. Settings are separated by the newline character.

  • NIX_USER_CONF_FILES

    Overrides the location of the Nix user configuration files to load from.

    The default are the locations according to the XDG Base Directory Specification. See the XDG Base Directories sub-section for details.

    The variable is treated as a list separated by the : token.

  • TMPDIR

    Use the specified directory to store temporary files. In particular, this includes temporary build directories; these can take up substantial amounts of disk space. The default is /tmp.

  • NIX_REMOTE

    This variable should be set to daemon if you want to use the Nix daemon to execute Nix operations. This is necessary in multi-user Nix installations. If the Nix daemon's Unix socket is at some non-standard path, this variable should be set to unix://path/to/socket. Otherwise, it should be left unset.

  • NIX_SHOW_STATS

    If set to 1, Nix will print some evaluation statistics, such as the number of values allocated.

  • NIX_COUNT_CALLS

    If set to 1, Nix will print how often functions were called during Nix expression evaluation. This is useful for profiling your Nix expressions.

  • GC_INITIAL_HEAP_SIZE

    If Nix has been configured to use the Boehm garbage collector, this variable sets the initial size of the heap in bytes. It defaults to 384 MiB. Setting it to a low value reduces memory consumption, but will increase runtime due to the overhead of garbage collection.

XDG Base Directories

Nix follows the XDG Base Directory Specification.

For backwards compatibility, Nix commands will follow the standard only when use-xdg-base-directories is enabled. New Nix commands (experimental) conform to the standard by default.

The following environment variables are used to determine locations of various state and configuration files:

Examples

To turn a host into a build server, the authorized_keys file can be used to provide build access to a given SSH public key:

$ cat <<EOF >>/root/.ssh/authorized_keys
command="nice -n20 nix-store --serve --write" ssh-rsa AAAAB3NzaC1yc2EAAAA...
EOF

Name

nix-store --verify-path - check path contents against Nix database

Synopsis

nix-store --verify-path paths…

Description

The operation --verify-path compares the contents of the given store paths to their cryptographic hashes stored in Nix’s database. For every changed path, it prints a warning message. The exit status is 0 if no path has changed, and 1 otherwise.

Options

The following options are allowed for all nix-store operations, but may not always have an effect.

  • --add-root path

    Causes the result of a realisation (--realise and --force-realise) to be registered as a root of the garbage collector. path will be created as a symlink to the resulting store path. In addition, a uniquely named symlink to path will be created in /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto/. For instance,

    $ nix-store --add-root /home/eelco/bla/result --realise ...
    
    $ ls -l /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 dn54lcypm8f8... -> /home/eelco/bla/result
    
    $ ls -l /home/eelco/bla/result
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 /home/eelco/bla/result -> /nix/store/1r11343n6qd4...-f-spot-0.0.10
    

    Thus, when /home/eelco/bla/result is removed, the GC root in the auto directory becomes a dangling symlink and will be ignored by the collector.

    Warning

    Note that it is not possible to move or rename GC roots, since the symlink in the auto directory will still point to the old location.

    If there are multiple results, then multiple symlinks will be created by sequentially numbering symlinks beyond the first one (e.g., foo, foo-2, foo-3, and so on).

Common Options

Most Nix commands accept the following command-line options:

  • --help

    Prints out a summary of the command syntax and exits.

  • --version

    Prints out the Nix version number on standard output and exits.

  • --verbose / -v

    Increases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. For each Nix operation, the information printed on standard output is well-defined; any diagnostic information is printed on standard error, never on standard output.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. Currently, the following verbosity levels exist:

    • 0 “Errors only”

      Only print messages explaining why the Nix invocation failed.

    • 1 “Informational”

      Print useful messages about what Nix is doing. This is the default.

    • 2 “Talkative”

      Print more informational messages.

    • 3 “Chatty”

      Print even more informational messages.

    • 4 “Debug”

      Print debug information.

    • 5 “Vomit”

      Print vast amounts of debug information.

  • --quiet

    Decreases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. This is the inverse option to -v / --verbose.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. See the previous verbosity levels list.

  • --log-format format

    This option can be used to change the output of the log format, with format being one of:

    • raw

      This is the raw format, as outputted by nix-build.

    • internal-json

      Outputs the logs in a structured manner.

      Warning

      While the schema itself is relatively stable, the format of the error-messages (namely of the msg-field) can change between releases.

    • bar

      Only display a progress bar during the builds.

    • bar-with-logs

      Display the raw logs, with the progress bar at the bottom.

  • --no-build-output / -Q

    By default, output written by builders to standard output and standard error is echoed to the Nix command's standard error. This option suppresses this behaviour. Note that the builder's standard output and error are always written to a log file in prefix/nix/var/log/nix.

  • --max-jobs / -j number

    Sets the maximum number of build jobs that Nix will perform in parallel to the specified number. Specify auto to use the number of CPUs in the system. The default is specified by the max-jobs configuration setting, which itself defaults to 1. A higher value is useful on SMP systems or to exploit I/O latency.

    Setting it to 0 disallows building on the local machine, which is useful when you want builds to happen only on remote builders.

  • --cores

    Sets the value of the NIX_BUILD_CORES environment variable in the invocation of builders. Builders can use this variable at their discretion to control the maximum amount of parallelism. For instance, in Nixpkgs, if the derivation attribute enableParallelBuilding is set to true, the builder passes the -jN flag to GNU Make. It defaults to the value of the cores configuration setting, if set, or 1 otherwise. The value 0 means that the builder should use all available CPU cores in the system.

  • --max-silent-time

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can go without producing any data on standard output or standard error. The default is specified by the max-silent-time configuration setting. 0 means no time-out.

  • --timeout

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can run. The default is specified by the timeout configuration setting. 0 means no timeout.

  • --keep-going / -k

    Keep going in case of failed builds, to the greatest extent possible. That is, if building an input of some derivation fails, Nix will still build the other inputs, but not the derivation itself. Without this option, Nix stops if any build fails (except for builds of substitutes), possibly killing builds in progress (in case of parallel or distributed builds).

  • --keep-failed / -K

    Specifies that in case of a build failure, the temporary directory (usually in /tmp) in which the build takes place should not be deleted. The path of the build directory is printed as an informational message.

  • --fallback

    Whenever Nix attempts to build a derivation for which substitutes are known for each output path, but realising the output paths through the substitutes fails, fall back on building the derivation.

    The most common scenario in which this is useful is when we have registered substitutes in order to perform binary distribution from, say, a network repository. If the repository is down, the realisation of the derivation will fail. When this option is specified, Nix will build the derivation instead. Thus, installation from binaries falls back on installation from source. This option is not the default since it is generally not desirable for a transient failure in obtaining the substitutes to lead to a full build from source (with the related consumption of resources).

  • --readonly-mode

    When this option is used, no attempt is made to open the Nix database. Most Nix operations do need database access, so those operations will fail.

  • --arg name value

    This option is accepted by nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-shell and nix-build. When evaluating Nix expressions, the expression evaluator will automatically try to call functions that it encounters. It can automatically call functions for which every argument has a default value (e.g., { argName ? defaultValue }: ...).

    With --arg, you can also call functions that have arguments without a default value (or override a default value). That is, if the evaluator encounters a function with an argument named name, it will call it with value value.

    For instance, the top-level default.nix in Nixpkgs is actually a function:

    { # The system (e.g., `i686-linux') for which to build the packages.
      system ? builtins.currentSystem
      ...
    }: ...
    

    So if you call this Nix expression (e.g., when you do nix-env --install --attr pkgname), the function will be called automatically using the value builtins.currentSystem for the system argument. You can override this using --arg, e.g., nix-env --install --attr pkgname --arg system \"i686-freebsd\". (Note that since the argument is a Nix string literal, you have to escape the quotes.)

  • --argstr name value

    This option is like --arg, only the value is not a Nix expression but a string. So instead of --arg system \"i686-linux\" (the outer quotes are to keep the shell happy) you can say --argstr system i686-linux.

  • --attr / -A attrPath

    Select an attribute from the top-level Nix expression being evaluated. (nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.) The attribute path attrPath is a sequence of attribute names separated by dots. For instance, given a top-level Nix expression e, the attribute path xorg.xorgserver would cause the expression e.xorg.xorgserver to be used. See nix-env --install for some concrete examples.

    In addition to attribute names, you can also specify array indices. For instance, the attribute path foo.3.bar selects the bar attribute of the fourth element of the array in the foo attribute of the top-level expression.

  • --expr / -E

    Interpret the command line arguments as a list of Nix expressions to be parsed and evaluated, rather than as a list of file names of Nix expressions. (nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.)

    For nix-shell, this option is commonly used to give you a shell in which you can build the packages returned by the expression. If you want to get a shell which contain the built packages ready for use, give your expression to the nix-shell --packages convenience flag instead.

  • -I path

    Add an entry to the Nix expression search path. This option may be given multiple times. Paths added through -I take precedence over NIX_PATH.

  • --option name value

    Set the Nix configuration option name to value. This overrides settings in the Nix configuration file (see nix.conf5).

  • --repair

    Fix corrupted or missing store paths by redownloading or rebuilding them. Note that this is slow because it requires computing a cryptographic hash of the contents of every path in the closure of the build. Also note the warning under nix-store --repair-path.

Note

See man nix.conf for overriding configuration settings with command line flags.

Common Environment Variables

Most Nix commands interpret the following environment variables:

  • IN_NIX_SHELL

    Indicator that tells if the current environment was set up by nix-shell. It can have the values pure or impure.

  • NIX_PATH

    A colon-separated list of directories used to look up the location of Nix expressions using paths enclosed in angle brackets (i.e., <path>), e.g. /home/eelco/Dev:/etc/nixos. It can be extended using the -I option.

    If NIX_PATH is not set at all, Nix will fall back to the following list in impure and unrestricted evaluation mode:

    1. $HOME/.nix-defexpr/channels
    2. nixpkgs=/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels/nixpkgs
    3. /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels

    If NIX_PATH is set to an empty string, resolving search paths will always fail. For example, attempting to use <nixpkgs> will produce:

    error: file 'nixpkgs' was not found in the Nix search path
    
  • NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE

    Normally, the Nix store directory (typically /nix/store) is not allowed to contain any symlink components. This is to prevent “impure” builds. Builders sometimes “canonicalise” paths by resolving all symlink components. Thus, builds on different machines (with /nix/store resolving to different locations) could yield different results. This is generally not a problem, except when builds are deployed to machines where /nix/store resolves differently. If you are sure that you’re not going to do that, you can set NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE to 1.

    Note that if you’re symlinking the Nix store so that you can put it on another file system than the root file system, on Linux you’re better off using bind mount points, e.g.,

    $ mkdir /nix
    $ mount -o bind /mnt/otherdisk/nix /nix
    

    Consult the mount 8 manual page for details.

  • NIX_STORE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix store (default prefix/store).

  • NIX_DATA_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix static data directory (default prefix/share).

  • NIX_LOG_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix log directory (default prefix/var/log/nix).

  • NIX_STATE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix state directory (default prefix/var/nix).

  • NIX_CONF_DIR

    Overrides the location of the system Nix configuration directory (default prefix/etc/nix).

  • NIX_CONFIG

    Applies settings from Nix configuration from the environment. The content is treated as if it was read from a Nix configuration file. Settings are separated by the newline character.

  • NIX_USER_CONF_FILES

    Overrides the location of the Nix user configuration files to load from.

    The default are the locations according to the XDG Base Directory Specification. See the XDG Base Directories sub-section for details.

    The variable is treated as a list separated by the : token.

  • TMPDIR

    Use the specified directory to store temporary files. In particular, this includes temporary build directories; these can take up substantial amounts of disk space. The default is /tmp.

  • NIX_REMOTE

    This variable should be set to daemon if you want to use the Nix daemon to execute Nix operations. This is necessary in multi-user Nix installations. If the Nix daemon's Unix socket is at some non-standard path, this variable should be set to unix://path/to/socket. Otherwise, it should be left unset.

  • NIX_SHOW_STATS

    If set to 1, Nix will print some evaluation statistics, such as the number of values allocated.

  • NIX_COUNT_CALLS

    If set to 1, Nix will print how often functions were called during Nix expression evaluation. This is useful for profiling your Nix expressions.

  • GC_INITIAL_HEAP_SIZE

    If Nix has been configured to use the Boehm garbage collector, this variable sets the initial size of the heap in bytes. It defaults to 384 MiB. Setting it to a low value reduces memory consumption, but will increase runtime due to the overhead of garbage collection.

XDG Base Directories

Nix follows the XDG Base Directory Specification.

For backwards compatibility, Nix commands will follow the standard only when use-xdg-base-directories is enabled. New Nix commands (experimental) conform to the standard by default.

The following environment variables are used to determine locations of various state and configuration files:

Example

To verify the integrity of the svn command and all its dependencies:

$ nix-store --verify-path $(nix-store --query --requisites $(which svn))

Name

nix-store --verify - check Nix database for consistency

Synopsis

nix-store --verify [--check-contents] [--repair]

Description

The operation --verify verifies the internal consistency of the Nix database, and the consistency between the Nix database and the Nix store. Any inconsistencies encountered are automatically repaired. Inconsistencies are generally the result of the Nix store or database being modified by non-Nix tools, or of bugs in Nix itself.

This operation has the following options:

  • --check-contents
    Checks that the contents of every valid store path has not been altered by computing a SHA-256 hash of the contents and comparing it with the hash stored in the Nix database at build time. Paths that have been modified are printed out. For large stores, --check-contents is obviously quite slow.

  • --repair
    If any valid path is missing from the store, or (if --check-contents is given) the contents of a valid path has been modified, then try to repair the path by redownloading it. See nix-store --repair-path for details.

Options

The following options are allowed for all nix-store operations, but may not always have an effect.

  • --add-root path

    Causes the result of a realisation (--realise and --force-realise) to be registered as a root of the garbage collector. path will be created as a symlink to the resulting store path. In addition, a uniquely named symlink to path will be created in /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto/. For instance,

    $ nix-store --add-root /home/eelco/bla/result --realise ...
    
    $ ls -l /nix/var/nix/gcroots/auto
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 dn54lcypm8f8... -> /home/eelco/bla/result
    
    $ ls -l /home/eelco/bla/result
    lrwxrwxrwx    1 ... 2005-03-13 21:10 /home/eelco/bla/result -> /nix/store/1r11343n6qd4...-f-spot-0.0.10
    

    Thus, when /home/eelco/bla/result is removed, the GC root in the auto directory becomes a dangling symlink and will be ignored by the collector.

    Warning

    Note that it is not possible to move or rename GC roots, since the symlink in the auto directory will still point to the old location.

    If there are multiple results, then multiple symlinks will be created by sequentially numbering symlinks beyond the first one (e.g., foo, foo-2, foo-3, and so on).

Common Options

Most Nix commands accept the following command-line options:

  • --help

    Prints out a summary of the command syntax and exits.

  • --version

    Prints out the Nix version number on standard output and exits.

  • --verbose / -v

    Increases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. For each Nix operation, the information printed on standard output is well-defined; any diagnostic information is printed on standard error, never on standard output.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. Currently, the following verbosity levels exist:

    • 0 “Errors only”

      Only print messages explaining why the Nix invocation failed.

    • 1 “Informational”

      Print useful messages about what Nix is doing. This is the default.

    • 2 “Talkative”

      Print more informational messages.

    • 3 “Chatty”

      Print even more informational messages.

    • 4 “Debug”

      Print debug information.

    • 5 “Vomit”

      Print vast amounts of debug information.

  • --quiet

    Decreases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. This is the inverse option to -v / --verbose.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. See the previous verbosity levels list.

  • --log-format format

    This option can be used to change the output of the log format, with format being one of:

    • raw

      This is the raw format, as outputted by nix-build.

    • internal-json

      Outputs the logs in a structured manner.

      Warning

      While the schema itself is relatively stable, the format of the error-messages (namely of the msg-field) can change between releases.

    • bar

      Only display a progress bar during the builds.

    • bar-with-logs

      Display the raw logs, with the progress bar at the bottom.

  • --no-build-output / -Q

    By default, output written by builders to standard output and standard error is echoed to the Nix command's standard error. This option suppresses this behaviour. Note that the builder's standard output and error are always written to a log file in prefix/nix/var/log/nix.

  • --max-jobs / -j number

    Sets the maximum number of build jobs that Nix will perform in parallel to the specified number. Specify auto to use the number of CPUs in the system. The default is specified by the max-jobs configuration setting, which itself defaults to 1. A higher value is useful on SMP systems or to exploit I/O latency.

    Setting it to 0 disallows building on the local machine, which is useful when you want builds to happen only on remote builders.

  • --cores

    Sets the value of the NIX_BUILD_CORES environment variable in the invocation of builders. Builders can use this variable at their discretion to control the maximum amount of parallelism. For instance, in Nixpkgs, if the derivation attribute enableParallelBuilding is set to true, the builder passes the -jN flag to GNU Make. It defaults to the value of the cores configuration setting, if set, or 1 otherwise. The value 0 means that the builder should use all available CPU cores in the system.

  • --max-silent-time

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can go without producing any data on standard output or standard error. The default is specified by the max-silent-time configuration setting. 0 means no time-out.

  • --timeout

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can run. The default is specified by the timeout configuration setting. 0 means no timeout.

  • --keep-going / -k

    Keep going in case of failed builds, to the greatest extent possible. That is, if building an input of some derivation fails, Nix will still build the other inputs, but not the derivation itself. Without this option, Nix stops if any build fails (except for builds of substitutes), possibly killing builds in progress (in case of parallel or distributed builds).

  • --keep-failed / -K

    Specifies that in case of a build failure, the temporary directory (usually in /tmp) in which the build takes place should not be deleted. The path of the build directory is printed as an informational message.

  • --fallback

    Whenever Nix attempts to build a derivation for which substitutes are known for each output path, but realising the output paths through the substitutes fails, fall back on building the derivation.

    The most common scenario in which this is useful is when we have registered substitutes in order to perform binary distribution from, say, a network repository. If the repository is down, the realisation of the derivation will fail. When this option is specified, Nix will build the derivation instead. Thus, installation from binaries falls back on installation from source. This option is not the default since it is generally not desirable for a transient failure in obtaining the substitutes to lead to a full build from source (with the related consumption of resources).

  • --readonly-mode

    When this option is used, no attempt is made to open the Nix database. Most Nix operations do need database access, so those operations will fail.

  • --arg name value

    This option is accepted by nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-shell and nix-build. When evaluating Nix expressions, the expression evaluator will automatically try to call functions that it encounters. It can automatically call functions for which every argument has a default value (e.g., { argName ? defaultValue }: ...).

    With --arg, you can also call functions that have arguments without a default value (or override a default value). That is, if the evaluator encounters a function with an argument named name, it will call it with value value.

    For instance, the top-level default.nix in Nixpkgs is actually a function:

    { # The system (e.g., `i686-linux') for which to build the packages.
      system ? builtins.currentSystem
      ...
    }: ...
    

    So if you call this Nix expression (e.g., when you do nix-env --install --attr pkgname), the function will be called automatically using the value builtins.currentSystem for the system argument. You can override this using --arg, e.g., nix-env --install --attr pkgname --arg system \"i686-freebsd\". (Note that since the argument is a Nix string literal, you have to escape the quotes.)

  • --argstr name value

    This option is like --arg, only the value is not a Nix expression but a string. So instead of --arg system \"i686-linux\" (the outer quotes are to keep the shell happy) you can say --argstr system i686-linux.

  • --attr / -A attrPath

    Select an attribute from the top-level Nix expression being evaluated. (nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.) The attribute path attrPath is a sequence of attribute names separated by dots. For instance, given a top-level Nix expression e, the attribute path xorg.xorgserver would cause the expression e.xorg.xorgserver to be used. See nix-env --install for some concrete examples.

    In addition to attribute names, you can also specify array indices. For instance, the attribute path foo.3.bar selects the bar attribute of the fourth element of the array in the foo attribute of the top-level expression.

  • --expr / -E

    Interpret the command line arguments as a list of Nix expressions to be parsed and evaluated, rather than as a list of file names of Nix expressions. (nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.)

    For nix-shell, this option is commonly used to give you a shell in which you can build the packages returned by the expression. If you want to get a shell which contain the built packages ready for use, give your expression to the nix-shell --packages convenience flag instead.

  • -I path

    Add an entry to the Nix expression search path. This option may be given multiple times. Paths added through -I take precedence over NIX_PATH.

  • --option name value

    Set the Nix configuration option name to value. This overrides settings in the Nix configuration file (see nix.conf5).

  • --repair

    Fix corrupted or missing store paths by redownloading or rebuilding them. Note that this is slow because it requires computing a cryptographic hash of the contents of every path in the closure of the build. Also note the warning under nix-store --repair-path.

Note

See man nix.conf for overriding configuration settings with command line flags.

Common Environment Variables

Most Nix commands interpret the following environment variables:

  • IN_NIX_SHELL

    Indicator that tells if the current environment was set up by nix-shell. It can have the values pure or impure.

  • NIX_PATH

    A colon-separated list of directories used to look up the location of Nix expressions using paths enclosed in angle brackets (i.e., <path>), e.g. /home/eelco/Dev:/etc/nixos. It can be extended using the -I option.

    If NIX_PATH is not set at all, Nix will fall back to the following list in impure and unrestricted evaluation mode:

    1. $HOME/.nix-defexpr/channels
    2. nixpkgs=/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels/nixpkgs
    3. /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels

    If NIX_PATH is set to an empty string, resolving search paths will always fail. For example, attempting to use <nixpkgs> will produce:

    error: file 'nixpkgs' was not found in the Nix search path
    
  • NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE

    Normally, the Nix store directory (typically /nix/store) is not allowed to contain any symlink components. This is to prevent “impure” builds. Builders sometimes “canonicalise” paths by resolving all symlink components. Thus, builds on different machines (with /nix/store resolving to different locations) could yield different results. This is generally not a problem, except when builds are deployed to machines where /nix/store resolves differently. If you are sure that you’re not going to do that, you can set NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE to 1.

    Note that if you’re symlinking the Nix store so that you can put it on another file system than the root file system, on Linux you’re better off using bind mount points, e.g.,

    $ mkdir /nix
    $ mount -o bind /mnt/otherdisk/nix /nix
    

    Consult the mount 8 manual page for details.

  • NIX_STORE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix store (default prefix/store).

  • NIX_DATA_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix static data directory (default prefix/share).

  • NIX_LOG_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix log directory (default prefix/var/log/nix).

  • NIX_STATE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix state directory (default prefix/var/nix).

  • NIX_CONF_DIR

    Overrides the location of the system Nix configuration directory (default prefix/etc/nix).

  • NIX_CONFIG

    Applies settings from Nix configuration from the environment. The content is treated as if it was read from a Nix configuration file. Settings are separated by the newline character.

  • NIX_USER_CONF_FILES

    Overrides the location of the Nix user configuration files to load from.

    The default are the locations according to the XDG Base Directory Specification. See the XDG Base Directories sub-section for details.

    The variable is treated as a list separated by the : token.

  • TMPDIR

    Use the specified directory to store temporary files. In particular, this includes temporary build directories; these can take up substantial amounts of disk space. The default is /tmp.

  • NIX_REMOTE

    This variable should be set to daemon if you want to use the Nix daemon to execute Nix operations. This is necessary in multi-user Nix installations. If the Nix daemon's Unix socket is at some non-standard path, this variable should be set to unix://path/to/socket. Otherwise, it should be left unset.

  • NIX_SHOW_STATS

    If set to 1, Nix will print some evaluation statistics, such as the number of values allocated.

  • NIX_COUNT_CALLS

    If set to 1, Nix will print how often functions were called during Nix expression evaluation. This is useful for profiling your Nix expressions.

  • GC_INITIAL_HEAP_SIZE

    If Nix has been configured to use the Boehm garbage collector, this variable sets the initial size of the heap in bytes. It defaults to 384 MiB. Setting it to a low value reduces memory consumption, but will increase runtime due to the overhead of garbage collection.

XDG Base Directories

Nix follows the XDG Base Directory Specification.

For backwards compatibility, Nix commands will follow the standard only when use-xdg-base-directories is enabled. New Nix commands (experimental) conform to the standard by default.

The following environment variables are used to determine locations of various state and configuration files:

Name

nix-env - manipulate or query Nix user environments

Synopsis

nix-env operation [options] [arguments…] [--option name value] [--arg name value] [--argstr name value] [{--file | -f} path] [{--profile | -p} path] [--system-filter system] [--dry-run]

Description

The command nix-env is used to manipulate Nix user environments. User environments are sets of software packages available to a user at some point in time. In other words, they are a synthesised view of the programs available in the Nix store. There may be many user environments: different users can have different environments, and individual users can switch between different environments.

nix-env takes exactly one operation flag which indicates the subcommand to be performed. The following operations are available:

These pages can be viewed offline:

  • man nix-env-<operation>.

    Example: man nix-env-install

  • nix-env --help --<operation>

    Example: nix-env --help --install

Selectors

Several commands, such as nix-env --query and nix-env --install , take a list of arguments that specify the packages on which to operate. These are extended regular expressions that must match the entire name of the package. (For details on regular expressions, see regex(7).) The match is case-sensitive. The regular expression can optionally be followed by a dash and a version number; if omitted, any version of the package will match. Here are some examples:

  • firefox
    Matches the package name firefox and any version.

  • firefox-32.0
    Matches the package name firefox and version 32.0.

  • gtk\\+
    Matches the package name gtk+. The + character must be escaped using a backslash to prevent it from being interpreted as a quantifier, and the backslash must be escaped in turn with another backslash to ensure that the shell passes it on.

  • .\*
    Matches any package name. This is the default for most commands.

  • '.*zip.*'
    Matches any package name containing the string zip. Note the dots: '*zip*' does not work, because in a regular expression, the character * is interpreted as a quantifier.

  • '.*(firefox|chromium).*'
    Matches any package name containing the strings firefox or chromium.

Files

nix-env operates on the following files.

Default Nix expression

The source for the default Nix expressions used by nix-env:

It is loaded as follows:

  • If the default expression is a file, it is loaded as a Nix expression.
  • If the default expression is a directory containing a default.nix file, that default.nix file is loaded as a Nix expression.
  • If the default expression is a directory without a default.nix file, then its contents (both files and subdirectories) are loaded as Nix expressions. The expressions are combined into a single attribute set, each expression under an attribute with the same name as the original file or subdirectory. Subdirectories without a default.nix file are traversed recursively in search of more Nix expressions, but the names of these intermediate directories are not added to the attribute paths of the default Nix expression.

Then, the resulting expression is interpreted like this:

  • If the expression is an attribute set, it is used as the default Nix expression.
  • If the expression is a function, an empty set is passed as argument and the return value is used as the default Nix expression.

For example, if the default expression contains two files, foo.nix and bar.nix, then the default Nix expression will be equivalent to

{
  foo = import ~/.nix-defexpr/foo.nix;
  bar = import ~/.nix-defexpr/bar.nix;
}

The file manifest.nix is always ignored.

The command nix-channel places a symlink to the user's current channels profile in this directory. This makes all subscribed channels available as attributes in the default expression.

A symlink that ensures that nix-env can find your channels:

This symlink points to:

  • $XDG_STATE_HOME/profiles/channels for regular users
  • $NIX_STATE_DIR/profiles/per-user/root/channels for root

In a multi-user installation, you may also have ~/.nix-defexpr/channels_root, which links to the channels of the root user.nix-env: ../nix-env.md

Profiles

A directory that contains links to profiles managed by nix-env and nix profile:

  • $XDG_STATE_HOME/nix/profiles for regular users
  • $NIX_STATE_DIR/profiles/per-user/root if the user is root

A profile is a directory of symlinks to files in the Nix store.

Filesystem layout

Profiles are versioned as follows. When using a profile named path, path is a symlink to path-N-link, where N is the version of the profile. In turn, path-N-link is a symlink to a path in the Nix store. For example:

$ ls -l ~alice/.local/state/nix/profiles/profile*
lrwxrwxrwx 1 alice users 14 Nov 25 14:35 /home/alice/.local/state/nix/profiles/profile -> profile-7-link
lrwxrwxrwx 1 alice users 51 Oct 28 16:18 /home/alice/.local/state/nix/profiles/profile-5-link -> /nix/store/q69xad13ghpf7ir87h0b2gd28lafjj1j-profile
lrwxrwxrwx 1 alice users 51 Oct 29 13:20 /home/alice/.local/state/nix/profiles/profile-6-link -> /nix/store/6bvhpysd7vwz7k3b0pndn7ifi5xr32dg-profile
lrwxrwxrwx 1 alice users 51 Nov 25 14:35 /home/alice/.local/state/nix/profiles/profile-7-link -> /nix/store/mp0x6xnsg0b8qhswy6riqvimai4gm677-profile

Each of these symlinks is a root for the Nix garbage collector.

The contents of the store path corresponding to each version of the profile is a tree of symlinks to the files of the installed packages, e.g.

$ ll -R ~eelco/.local/state/nix/profiles/profile-7-link/
/home/eelco/.local/state/nix/profiles/profile-7-link/:
total 20
dr-xr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Jan  1  1970 bin
-r--r--r-- 2 root root 1402 Jan  1  1970 manifest.nix
dr-xr-xr-x 4 root root 4096 Jan  1  1970 share

/home/eelco/.local/state/nix/profiles/profile-7-link/bin:
total 20
lrwxrwxrwx 5 root root 79 Jan  1  1970 chromium -> /nix/store/ijm5k0zqisvkdwjkc77mb9qzb35xfi4m-chromium-86.0.4240.111/bin/chromium
lrwxrwxrwx 7 root root 87 Jan  1  1970 spotify -> /nix/store/w9182874m1bl56smps3m5zjj36jhp3rn-spotify-1.1.26.501.gbe11e53b-15/bin/spotify
lrwxrwxrwx 3 root root 79 Jan  1  1970 zoom-us -> /nix/store/wbhg2ga8f3h87s9h5k0slxk0m81m4cxl-zoom-us-5.3.469451.0927/bin/zoom-us

/home/eelco/.local/state/nix/profiles/profile-7-link/share/applications:
total 12
lrwxrwxrwx 4 root root 120 Jan  1  1970 chromium-browser.desktop -> /nix/store/4cf803y4vzfm3gyk3vzhzb2327v0kl8a-chromium-unwrapped-86.0.4240.111/share/applications/chromium-browser.desktop
lrwxrwxrwx 7 root root 110 Jan  1  1970 spotify.desktop -> /nix/store/w9182874m1bl56smps3m5zjj36jhp3rn-spotify-1.1.26.501.gbe11e53b-15/share/applications/spotify.desktop
lrwxrwxrwx 3 root root 107 Jan  1  1970 us.zoom.Zoom.desktop -> /nix/store/wbhg2ga8f3h87s9h5k0slxk0m81m4cxl-zoom-us-5.3.469451.0927/share/applications/us.zoom.Zoom.desktop

…

Each profile version contains a manifest file:

A symbolic link to the user's current profile:

By default, this symlink points to:

  • $XDG_STATE_HOME/nix/profiles/profile for regular users
  • $NIX_STATE_DIR/profiles/per-user/root/profile for root

The PATH environment variable should include /bin subdirectory of the profile link (e.g. ~/.nix-profile/bin) for the user environment to be visible to the user. The installer sets this up by default, unless you enable use-xdg-base-directories.

Name

nix-env --delete-generations - delete profile generations

Synopsis

nix-env --delete-generations generations

Description

This operation deletes the specified generations of the current profile.

generations can be a one of the following:

  • <number>...:
    A list of generation numbers, each one a separate command-line argument.

    Delete exactly the profile generations given by their generation number. Deleting the current generation is not allowed.

  • The special value old

    Delete all generations except the current one.

    WARNING

    Older and newer generations will be deleted by this operation.

    One might expect this to just delete older generations than the curent one, but that is only true if the current generation is also the latest. Because one can roll back to a previous generation, it is possible to have generations newer than the current one. They will also be deleted.

  • <number>d:
    The last number days

    Example: 30d

    Delete all generations created more than number days ago, except the most recent one of them. This allows rolling back to generations that were available within the specified period.

  • +<number>:
    The last number generations up to the present

    Example: +5

    Keep the last number generations, along with any newer than current.

Periodically deleting old generations is important to make garbage collection effective. The is because profiles are also garbage collection roots — any store object reachable from a profile is "alive" and ineligible for deletion.

Options

The following options are allowed for all nix-env operations, but may not always have an effect.

  • --file / -f path
    Specifies the Nix expression (designated below as the active Nix expression) used by the --install, --upgrade, and --query --available operations to obtain derivations. The default is ~/.nix-defexpr.

    If the argument starts with http:// or https://, it is interpreted as the URL of a tarball that will be downloaded and unpacked to a temporary location. The tarball must include a single top-level directory containing at least a file named default.nix.

  • --profile / -p path
    Specifies the profile to be used by those operations that operate on a profile (designated below as the active profile). A profile is a sequence of user environments called generations, one of which is the current generation.

  • --dry-run
    For the --install, --upgrade, --uninstall, --switch-generation, --delete-generations and --rollback operations, this flag will cause nix-env to print what would be done if this flag had not been specified, without actually doing it.

    --dry-run also prints out which paths will be substituted (i.e., downloaded) and which paths will be built from source (because no substitute is available).

  • --system-filter system
    By default, operations such as --query --available show derivations matching any platform. This option allows you to use derivations for the specified platform system.

Common Options

Most Nix commands accept the following command-line options:

  • --help

    Prints out a summary of the command syntax and exits.

  • --version

    Prints out the Nix version number on standard output and exits.

  • --verbose / -v

    Increases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. For each Nix operation, the information printed on standard output is well-defined; any diagnostic information is printed on standard error, never on standard output.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. Currently, the following verbosity levels exist:

    • 0 “Errors only”

      Only print messages explaining why the Nix invocation failed.

    • 1 “Informational”

      Print useful messages about what Nix is doing. This is the default.

    • 2 “Talkative”

      Print more informational messages.

    • 3 “Chatty”

      Print even more informational messages.

    • 4 “Debug”

      Print debug information.

    • 5 “Vomit”

      Print vast amounts of debug information.

  • --quiet

    Decreases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. This is the inverse option to -v / --verbose.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. See the previous verbosity levels list.

  • --log-format format

    This option can be used to change the output of the log format, with format being one of:

    • raw

      This is the raw format, as outputted by nix-build.

    • internal-json

      Outputs the logs in a structured manner.

      Warning

      While the schema itself is relatively stable, the format of the error-messages (namely of the msg-field) can change between releases.

    • bar

      Only display a progress bar during the builds.

    • bar-with-logs

      Display the raw logs, with the progress bar at the bottom.

  • --no-build-output / -Q

    By default, output written by builders to standard output and standard error is echoed to the Nix command's standard error. This option suppresses this behaviour. Note that the builder's standard output and error are always written to a log file in prefix/nix/var/log/nix.

  • --max-jobs / -j number

    Sets the maximum number of build jobs that Nix will perform in parallel to the specified number. Specify auto to use the number of CPUs in the system. The default is specified by the max-jobs configuration setting, which itself defaults to 1. A higher value is useful on SMP systems or to exploit I/O latency.

    Setting it to 0 disallows building on the local machine, which is useful when you want builds to happen only on remote builders.

  • --cores

    Sets the value of the NIX_BUILD_CORES environment variable in the invocation of builders. Builders can use this variable at their discretion to control the maximum amount of parallelism. For instance, in Nixpkgs, if the derivation attribute enableParallelBuilding is set to true, the builder passes the -jN flag to GNU Make. It defaults to the value of the cores configuration setting, if set, or 1 otherwise. The value 0 means that the builder should use all available CPU cores in the system.

  • --max-silent-time

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can go without producing any data on standard output or standard error. The default is specified by the max-silent-time configuration setting. 0 means no time-out.

  • --timeout

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can run. The default is specified by the timeout configuration setting. 0 means no timeout.

  • --keep-going / -k

    Keep going in case of failed builds, to the greatest extent possible. That is, if building an input of some derivation fails, Nix will still build the other inputs, but not the derivation itself. Without this option, Nix stops if any build fails (except for builds of substitutes), possibly killing builds in progress (in case of parallel or distributed builds).

  • --keep-failed / -K

    Specifies that in case of a build failure, the temporary directory (usually in /tmp) in which the build takes place should not be deleted. The path of the build directory is printed as an informational message.

  • --fallback

    Whenever Nix attempts to build a derivation for which substitutes are known for each output path, but realising the output paths through the substitutes fails, fall back on building the derivation.

    The most common scenario in which this is useful is when we have registered substitutes in order to perform binary distribution from, say, a network repository. If the repository is down, the realisation of the derivation will fail. When this option is specified, Nix will build the derivation instead. Thus, installation from binaries falls back on installation from source. This option is not the default since it is generally not desirable for a transient failure in obtaining the substitutes to lead to a full build from source (with the related consumption of resources).

  • --readonly-mode

    When this option is used, no attempt is made to open the Nix database. Most Nix operations do need database access, so those operations will fail.

  • --arg name value

    This option is accepted by nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-shell and nix-build. When evaluating Nix expressions, the expression evaluator will automatically try to call functions that it encounters. It can automatically call functions for which every argument has a default value (e.g., { argName ? defaultValue }: ...).

    With --arg, you can also call functions that have arguments without a default value (or override a default value). That is, if the evaluator encounters a function with an argument named name, it will call it with value value.

    For instance, the top-level default.nix in Nixpkgs is actually a function:

    { # The system (e.g., `i686-linux') for which to build the packages.
      system ? builtins.currentSystem
      ...
    }: ...
    

    So if you call this Nix expression (e.g., when you do nix-env --install --attr pkgname), the function will be called automatically using the value builtins.currentSystem for the system argument. You can override this using --arg, e.g., nix-env --install --attr pkgname --arg system \"i686-freebsd\". (Note that since the argument is a Nix string literal, you have to escape the quotes.)

  • --argstr name value

    This option is like --arg, only the value is not a Nix expression but a string. So instead of --arg system \"i686-linux\" (the outer quotes are to keep the shell happy) you can say --argstr system i686-linux.

  • --attr / -A attrPath

    Select an attribute from the top-level Nix expression being evaluated. (nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.) The attribute path attrPath is a sequence of attribute names separated by dots. For instance, given a top-level Nix expression e, the attribute path xorg.xorgserver would cause the expression e.xorg.xorgserver to be used. See nix-env --install for some concrete examples.

    In addition to attribute names, you can also specify array indices. For instance, the attribute path foo.3.bar selects the bar attribute of the fourth element of the array in the foo attribute of the top-level expression.

  • --expr / -E

    Interpret the command line arguments as a list of Nix expressions to be parsed and evaluated, rather than as a list of file names of Nix expressions. (nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.)

    For nix-shell, this option is commonly used to give you a shell in which you can build the packages returned by the expression. If you want to get a shell which contain the built packages ready for use, give your expression to the nix-shell --packages convenience flag instead.

  • -I path

    Add an entry to the Nix expression search path. This option may be given multiple times. Paths added through -I take precedence over NIX_PATH.

  • --option name value

    Set the Nix configuration option name to value. This overrides settings in the Nix configuration file (see nix.conf5).

  • --repair

    Fix corrupted or missing store paths by redownloading or rebuilding them. Note that this is slow because it requires computing a cryptographic hash of the contents of every path in the closure of the build. Also note the warning under nix-store --repair-path.

Note

See man nix.conf for overriding configuration settings with command line flags.

Environment variables

  • NIX_PROFILE
    Location of the Nix profile. Defaults to the target of the symlink ~/.nix-profile, if it exists, or /nix/var/nix/profiles/default otherwise.

Common Environment Variables

Most Nix commands interpret the following environment variables:

  • IN_NIX_SHELL

    Indicator that tells if the current environment was set up by nix-shell. It can have the values pure or impure.

  • NIX_PATH

    A colon-separated list of directories used to look up the location of Nix expressions using paths enclosed in angle brackets (i.e., <path>), e.g. /home/eelco/Dev:/etc/nixos. It can be extended using the -I option.

    If NIX_PATH is not set at all, Nix will fall back to the following list in impure and unrestricted evaluation mode:

    1. $HOME/.nix-defexpr/channels
    2. nixpkgs=/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels/nixpkgs
    3. /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels

    If NIX_PATH is set to an empty string, resolving search paths will always fail. For example, attempting to use <nixpkgs> will produce:

    error: file 'nixpkgs' was not found in the Nix search path
    
  • NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE

    Normally, the Nix store directory (typically /nix/store) is not allowed to contain any symlink components. This is to prevent “impure” builds. Builders sometimes “canonicalise” paths by resolving all symlink components. Thus, builds on different machines (with /nix/store resolving to different locations) could yield different results. This is generally not a problem, except when builds are deployed to machines where /nix/store resolves differently. If you are sure that you’re not going to do that, you can set NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE to 1.

    Note that if you’re symlinking the Nix store so that you can put it on another file system than the root file system, on Linux you’re better off using bind mount points, e.g.,

    $ mkdir /nix
    $ mount -o bind /mnt/otherdisk/nix /nix
    

    Consult the mount 8 manual page for details.

  • NIX_STORE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix store (default prefix/store).

  • NIX_DATA_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix static data directory (default prefix/share).

  • NIX_LOG_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix log directory (default prefix/var/log/nix).

  • NIX_STATE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix state directory (default prefix/var/nix).

  • NIX_CONF_DIR

    Overrides the location of the system Nix configuration directory (default prefix/etc/nix).

  • NIX_CONFIG

    Applies settings from Nix configuration from the environment. The content is treated as if it was read from a Nix configuration file. Settings are separated by the newline character.

  • NIX_USER_CONF_FILES

    Overrides the location of the Nix user configuration files to load from.

    The default are the locations according to the XDG Base Directory Specification. See the XDG Base Directories sub-section for details.

    The variable is treated as a list separated by the : token.

  • TMPDIR

    Use the specified directory to store temporary files. In particular, this includes temporary build directories; these can take up substantial amounts of disk space. The default is /tmp.

  • NIX_REMOTE

    This variable should be set to daemon if you want to use the Nix daemon to execute Nix operations. This is necessary in multi-user Nix installations. If the Nix daemon's Unix socket is at some non-standard path, this variable should be set to unix://path/to/socket. Otherwise, it should be left unset.

  • NIX_SHOW_STATS

    If set to 1, Nix will print some evaluation statistics, such as the number of values allocated.

  • NIX_COUNT_CALLS

    If set to 1, Nix will print how often functions were called during Nix expression evaluation. This is useful for profiling your Nix expressions.

  • GC_INITIAL_HEAP_SIZE

    If Nix has been configured to use the Boehm garbage collector, this variable sets the initial size of the heap in bytes. It defaults to 384 MiB. Setting it to a low value reduces memory consumption, but will increase runtime due to the overhead of garbage collection.

XDG Base Directories

Nix follows the XDG Base Directory Specification.

For backwards compatibility, Nix commands will follow the standard only when use-xdg-base-directories is enabled. New Nix commands (experimental) conform to the standard by default.

The following environment variables are used to determine locations of various state and configuration files:

Examples

Delete explicit generation numbers

$ nix-env --delete-generations 3 4 8

Delete the generations numbered 3, 4, and 8, so long as the current active generation is not any of those.

Keep most-recent by count (number of generations)

$ nix-env --delete-generations +5

Suppose 30 is the current generation, and we currently have generations numbered 20 through 32.

Then this command will delete generations 20 through 25 (<= 30 - 5), and keep generations 26 through 31 (> 30 - 5).

Keep most-recent by time (number of days)

$ nix-env --delete-generations 30d

This command will delete all generations older than 30 days, except for the generation that was active 30 days ago (if it currently exists).

Delete all older

$ nix-env --profile other_profile --delete-generations old

Name

nix-env --install - add packages to user environment

Synopsis

nix-env {--install | -i} args… [{--prebuilt-only | -b}] [{--attr | -A}] [--from-expression] [-E] [--from-profile path] [--preserve-installed | -P] [--remove-all | -r]

Description

The install operation creates a new user environment. It is based on the current generation of the active profile, to which a set of store paths described by args is added.

The arguments args map to store paths in a number of possible ways:

  • By default, args is a set of derivation names denoting derivations in the default Nix expression. These are realised, and the resulting output paths are installed. Currently installed derivations with a name equal to the name of a derivation being added are removed unless the option --preserve-installed is specified.

    If there are multiple derivations matching a name in args that have the same name (e.g., gcc-3.3.6 and gcc-4.1.1), then the derivation with the highest priority is used. A derivation can define a priority by declaring the meta.priority attribute. This attribute should be a number, with a higher value denoting a lower priority. The default priority is 5.

    If there are multiple matching derivations with the same priority, then the derivation with the highest version will be installed.

    You can force the installation of multiple derivations with the same name by being specific about the versions. For instance, nix-env --install gcc-3.3.6 gcc-4.1.1 will install both version of GCC (and will probably cause a user environment conflict!).

  • If --attr / -A is specified, the arguments are attribute paths that select attributes from the default Nix expression. This is faster than using derivation names and unambiguous. Show the attribute paths of available packages with nix-env --query:

    nix-env --query --available --attr-path`
    
  • If --from-profile path is given, args is a set of names denoting installed store paths in the profile path. This is an easy way to copy user environment elements from one profile to another.

  • If --from-expression is given, args are Nix language functions that are called with the default Nix expression as their single argument. The derivations returned by those function calls are installed. This allows derivations to be specified in an unambiguous way, which is necessary if there are multiple derivations with the same name.

  • If args are store derivations, then these are realised, and the resulting output paths are installed.

  • If args are store paths that are not store derivations, then these are realised and installed.

  • By default all outputs are installed for each derivation. This can be overridden by adding a meta.outputsToInstall attribute on the derivation listing a subset of the output names.

    Example:

    The file example.nix defines a derivation with two outputs foo and bar, each containing a file.

    # example.nix
    let
      pkgs = import <nixpkgs> {};
      command = ''
        ${pkgs.coreutils}/bin/mkdir -p $foo $bar
        echo foo > $foo/foo-file
        echo bar > $bar/bar-file
      '';
    in
    derivation {
      name = "example";
      builder = "${pkgs.bash}/bin/bash";
      args = [ "-c" command ];
      outputs = [ "foo" "bar" ];
      system = builtins.currentSystem;
    }
    

    Installing from this Nix expression will make files from both outputs appear in the current profile.

    $ nix-env --install --file example.nix
    installing 'example'
    $ ls ~/.nix-profile
    foo-file
    bar-file
    manifest.nix
    

    Adding meta.outputsToInstall to that derivation will make nix-env only install files from the specified outputs.

    # example-outputs.nix
    import ./example.nix // { meta.outputsToInstall = [ "bar" ]; }
    
    $ nix-env --install --file example-outputs.nix
    installing 'example'
    $ ls ~/.nix-profile
    bar-file
    manifest.nix
    

Options

  • --prebuilt-only / -b

    Use only derivations for which a substitute is registered, i.e., there is a pre-built binary available that can be downloaded in lieu of building the derivation. Thus, no packages will be built from source.

  • --preserve-installed / -P

    Do not remove derivations with a name matching one of the derivations being installed. Usually, trying to have two versions of the same package installed in the same generation of a profile will lead to an error in building the generation, due to file name clashes between the two versions. However, this is not the case for all packages.

  • --remove-all / -r

    Remove all previously installed packages first. This is equivalent to running nix-env --uninstall '.*' first, except that everything happens in a single transaction.

Options

The following options are allowed for all nix-env operations, but may not always have an effect.

  • --file / -f path
    Specifies the Nix expression (designated below as the active Nix expression) used by the --install, --upgrade, and --query --available operations to obtain derivations. The default is ~/.nix-defexpr.

    If the argument starts with http:// or https://, it is interpreted as the URL of a tarball that will be downloaded and unpacked to a temporary location. The tarball must include a single top-level directory containing at least a file named default.nix.

  • --profile / -p path
    Specifies the profile to be used by those operations that operate on a profile (designated below as the active profile). A profile is a sequence of user environments called generations, one of which is the current generation.

  • --dry-run
    For the --install, --upgrade, --uninstall, --switch-generation, --delete-generations and --rollback operations, this flag will cause nix-env to print what would be done if this flag had not been specified, without actually doing it.

    --dry-run also prints out which paths will be substituted (i.e., downloaded) and which paths will be built from source (because no substitute is available).

  • --system-filter system
    By default, operations such as --query --available show derivations matching any platform. This option allows you to use derivations for the specified platform system.

Common Options

Most Nix commands accept the following command-line options:

  • --help

    Prints out a summary of the command syntax and exits.

  • --version

    Prints out the Nix version number on standard output and exits.

  • --verbose / -v

    Increases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. For each Nix operation, the information printed on standard output is well-defined; any diagnostic information is printed on standard error, never on standard output.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. Currently, the following verbosity levels exist:

    • 0 “Errors only”

      Only print messages explaining why the Nix invocation failed.

    • 1 “Informational”

      Print useful messages about what Nix is doing. This is the default.

    • 2 “Talkative”

      Print more informational messages.

    • 3 “Chatty”

      Print even more informational messages.

    • 4 “Debug”

      Print debug information.

    • 5 “Vomit”

      Print vast amounts of debug information.

  • --quiet

    Decreases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. This is the inverse option to -v / --verbose.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. See the previous verbosity levels list.

  • --log-format format

    This option can be used to change the output of the log format, with format being one of:

    • raw

      This is the raw format, as outputted by nix-build.

    • internal-json

      Outputs the logs in a structured manner.

      Warning

      While the schema itself is relatively stable, the format of the error-messages (namely of the msg-field) can change between releases.

    • bar

      Only display a progress bar during the builds.

    • bar-with-logs

      Display the raw logs, with the progress bar at the bottom.

  • --no-build-output / -Q

    By default, output written by builders to standard output and standard error is echoed to the Nix command's standard error. This option suppresses this behaviour. Note that the builder's standard output and error are always written to a log file in prefix/nix/var/log/nix.

  • --max-jobs / -j number

    Sets the maximum number of build jobs that Nix will perform in parallel to the specified number. Specify auto to use the number of CPUs in the system. The default is specified by the max-jobs configuration setting, which itself defaults to 1. A higher value is useful on SMP systems or to exploit I/O latency.

    Setting it to 0 disallows building on the local machine, which is useful when you want builds to happen only on remote builders.

  • --cores

    Sets the value of the NIX_BUILD_CORES environment variable in the invocation of builders. Builders can use this variable at their discretion to control the maximum amount of parallelism. For instance, in Nixpkgs, if the derivation attribute enableParallelBuilding is set to true, the builder passes the -jN flag to GNU Make. It defaults to the value of the cores configuration setting, if set, or 1 otherwise. The value 0 means that the builder should use all available CPU cores in the system.

  • --max-silent-time

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can go without producing any data on standard output or standard error. The default is specified by the max-silent-time configuration setting. 0 means no time-out.

  • --timeout

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can run. The default is specified by the timeout configuration setting. 0 means no timeout.

  • --keep-going / -k

    Keep going in case of failed builds, to the greatest extent possible. That is, if building an input of some derivation fails, Nix will still build the other inputs, but not the derivation itself. Without this option, Nix stops if any build fails (except for builds of substitutes), possibly killing builds in progress (in case of parallel or distributed builds).

  • --keep-failed / -K

    Specifies that in case of a build failure, the temporary directory (usually in /tmp) in which the build takes place should not be deleted. The path of the build directory is printed as an informational message.

  • --fallback

    Whenever Nix attempts to build a derivation for which substitutes are known for each output path, but realising the output paths through the substitutes fails, fall back on building the derivation.

    The most common scenario in which this is useful is when we have registered substitutes in order to perform binary distribution from, say, a network repository. If the repository is down, the realisation of the derivation will fail. When this option is specified, Nix will build the derivation instead. Thus, installation from binaries falls back on installation from source. This option is not the default since it is generally not desirable for a transient failure in obtaining the substitutes to lead to a full build from source (with the related consumption of resources).

  • --readonly-mode

    When this option is used, no attempt is made to open the Nix database. Most Nix operations do need database access, so those operations will fail.

  • --arg name value

    This option is accepted by nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-shell and nix-build. When evaluating Nix expressions, the expression evaluator will automatically try to call functions that it encounters. It can automatically call functions for which every argument has a default value (e.g., { argName ? defaultValue }: ...).

    With --arg, you can also call functions that have arguments without a default value (or override a default value). That is, if the evaluator encounters a function with an argument named name, it will call it with value value.

    For instance, the top-level default.nix in Nixpkgs is actually a function:

    { # The system (e.g., `i686-linux') for which to build the packages.
      system ? builtins.currentSystem
      ...
    }: ...
    

    So if you call this Nix expression (e.g., when you do nix-env --install --attr pkgname), the function will be called automatically using the value builtins.currentSystem for the system argument. You can override this using --arg, e.g., nix-env --install --attr pkgname --arg system \"i686-freebsd\". (Note that since the argument is a Nix string literal, you have to escape the quotes.)

  • --argstr name value

    This option is like --arg, only the value is not a Nix expression but a string. So instead of --arg system \"i686-linux\" (the outer quotes are to keep the shell happy) you can say --argstr system i686-linux.

  • --attr / -A attrPath

    Select an attribute from the top-level Nix expression being evaluated. (nix-env, nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.) The attribute path attrPath is a sequence of attribute names separated by dots. For instance, given a top-level Nix expression e, the attribute path xorg.xorgserver would cause the expression e.xorg.xorgserver to be used. See nix-env --install for some concrete examples.

    In addition to attribute names, you can also specify array indices. For instance, the attribute path foo.3.bar selects the bar attribute of the fourth element of the array in the foo attribute of the top-level expression.

  • --expr / -E

    Interpret the command line arguments as a list of Nix expressions to be parsed and evaluated, rather than as a list of file names of Nix expressions. (nix-instantiate, nix-build and nix-shell only.)

    For nix-shell, this option is commonly used to give you a shell in which you can build the packages returned by the expression. If you want to get a shell which contain the built packages ready for use, give your expression to the nix-shell --packages convenience flag instead.

  • -I path

    Add an entry to the Nix expression search path. This option may be given multiple times. Paths added through -I take precedence over NIX_PATH.

  • --option name value

    Set the Nix configuration option name to value. This overrides settings in the Nix configuration file (see nix.conf5).

  • --repair

    Fix corrupted or missing store paths by redownloading or rebuilding them. Note that this is slow because it requires computing a cryptographic hash of the contents of every path in the closure of the build. Also note the warning under nix-store --repair-path.

Note

See man nix.conf for overriding configuration settings with command line flags.

Environment variables

  • NIX_PROFILE
    Location of the Nix profile. Defaults to the target of the symlink ~/.nix-profile, if it exists, or /nix/var/nix/profiles/default otherwise.

Common Environment Variables

Most Nix commands interpret the following environment variables:

  • IN_NIX_SHELL

    Indicator that tells if the current environment was set up by nix-shell. It can have the values pure or impure.

  • NIX_PATH

    A colon-separated list of directories used to look up the location of Nix expressions using paths enclosed in angle brackets (i.e., <path>), e.g. /home/eelco/Dev:/etc/nixos. It can be extended using the -I option.

    If NIX_PATH is not set at all, Nix will fall back to the following list in impure and unrestricted evaluation mode:

    1. $HOME/.nix-defexpr/channels
    2. nixpkgs=/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels/nixpkgs
    3. /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels

    If NIX_PATH is set to an empty string, resolving search paths will always fail. For example, attempting to use <nixpkgs> will produce:

    error: file 'nixpkgs' was not found in the Nix search path
    
  • NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE

    Normally, the Nix store directory (typically /nix/store) is not allowed to contain any symlink components. This is to prevent “impure” builds. Builders sometimes “canonicalise” paths by resolving all symlink components. Thus, builds on different machines (with /nix/store resolving to different locations) could yield different results. This is generally not a problem, except when builds are deployed to machines where /nix/store resolves differently. If you are sure that you’re not going to do that, you can set NIX_IGNORE_SYMLINK_STORE to 1.

    Note that if you’re symlinking the Nix store so that you can put it on another file system than the root file system, on Linux you’re better off using bind mount points, e.g.,

    $ mkdir /nix
    $ mount -o bind /mnt/otherdisk/nix /nix
    

    Consult the mount 8 manual page for details.

  • NIX_STORE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix store (default prefix/store).

  • NIX_DATA_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix static data directory (default prefix/share).

  • NIX_LOG_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix log directory (default prefix/var/log/nix).

  • NIX_STATE_DIR

    Overrides the location of the Nix state directory (default prefix/var/nix).

  • NIX_CONF_DIR

    Overrides the location of the system Nix configuration directory (default prefix/etc/nix).

  • NIX_CONFIG

    Applies settings from Nix configuration from the environment. The content is treated as if it was read from a Nix configuration file. Settings are separated by the newline character.

  • NIX_USER_CONF_FILES

    Overrides the location of the Nix user configuration files to load from.

    The default are the locations according to the XDG Base Directory Specification. See the XDG Base Directories sub-section for details.

    The variable is treated as a list separated by the : token.

  • TMPDIR

    Use the specified directory to store temporary files. In particular, this includes temporary build directories; these can take up substantial amounts of disk space. The default is /tmp.

  • NIX_REMOTE

    This variable should be set to daemon if you want to use the Nix daemon to execute Nix operations. This is necessary in multi-user Nix installations. If the Nix daemon's Unix socket is at some non-standard path, this variable should be set to unix://path/to/socket. Otherwise, it should be left unset.

  • NIX_SHOW_STATS

    If set to 1, Nix will print some evaluation statistics, such as the number of values allocated.

  • NIX_COUNT_CALLS

    If set to 1, Nix will print how often functions were called during Nix expression evaluation. This is useful for profiling your Nix expressions.

  • GC_INITIAL_HEAP_SIZE

    If Nix has been configured to use the Boehm garbage collector, this variable sets the initial size of the heap in bytes. It defaults to 384 MiB. Setting it to a low value reduces memory consumption, but will increase runtime due to the overhead of garbage collection.

XDG Base Directories

Nix follows the XDG Base Directory Specification.

For backwards compatibility, Nix commands will follow the standard only when use-xdg-base-directories is enabled. New Nix commands (experimental) conform to the standard by default.

The following environment variables are used to determine locations of various state and configuration files:

Examples

To install a package using a specific attribute path from the active Nix expression:

$ nix-env --install --attr gcc40mips
installing `gcc-4.0.2'
$ nix-env --install --attr xorg.xorgserver
installing `xorg-server-1.2.0'

To install a specific version of gcc using the derivation name:

$ nix-env --install gcc-3.3.2
installing `gcc-3.3.2'
uninstalling `gcc-3.1'

Using attribute path for selecting a package is preferred, as it is much faster and there will not be multiple matches.

Note the previously installed version is removed, since --preserve-installed was not specified.

To install an arbitrary version:

$ nix-env --install gcc
installing `gcc-3.3.2'

To install all derivations in the Nix expression foo.nix:

$ nix-env --file ~/foo.nix --install '.*'

To copy the store path with symbolic name gcc from another profile:

$ nix-env --install --from-profile /nix/var/nix/profiles/foo gcc

To install a specific [store derivation] (typically created by nix-instantiate):

$ nix-env --install /nix/store/fibjb1bfbpm5mrsxc4mh2d8n37sxh91i-gcc-3.4.3.drv

To install a specific output path:

$ nix-env --install /nix/store/y3cgx0xj1p4iv9x0pnnmdhr8iyg741vk-gcc-3.4.3

To install from a Nix expression specified on the command-line:

$ nix-env --file ./foo.nix --install --expr \
    'f: (f {system = "i686-linux";}).subversionWithJava'

I.e., this evaluates to (f: (f {system = "i686-linux";}).subversionWithJava) (import ./foo.nix), thus selecting the subversionWithJava attribute from the set returned by calling the function defined in ./foo.nix.

A dry-run tells you which paths will be downloaded or built from source:

$ nix-env --file '<nixpkgs>' --install --attr hello --dry-run
(dry run; not doing anything)
installing ‘hello-2.10’
this path will be fetched (0.04 MiB download, 0.19 MiB unpacked):
  /nix/store/wkhdf9jinag5750mqlax6z2zbwhqb76n-hello-2.10
  ...

To install Firefox from the latest revision in the Nixpkgs/NixOS 14.12 channel:

$ nix-env --file https://github.com/NixOS/nixpkgs/archive/nixos-14.12.tar.gz --install --attr firefox

Name

nix-env --list-generations - list profile generations

Synopsis

nix-env --list-generations

Description

This operation print a list of all the currently existing generations for the active profile. These may be switched to using the --switch-generation operation. It also prints the creation date of the generation, and indicates the current generation.

Options

The following options are allowed for all nix-env operations, but may not always have an effect.

  • --file / -f path
    Specifies the Nix expression (designated below as the active Nix expression) used by the --install, --upgrade, and --query --available operations to obtain derivations. The default is ~/.nix-defexpr.

    If the argument starts with http:// or https://, it is interpreted as the URL of a tarball that will be downloaded and unpacked to a temporary location. The tarball must include a single top-level directory containing at least a file named default.nix.

  • --profile / -p path
    Specifies the profile to be used by those operations that operate on a profile (designated below as the active profile). A profile is a sequence of user environments called generations, one of which is the current generation.

  • --dry-run
    For the --install, --upgrade, --uninstall, --switch-generation, --delete-generations and --rollback operations, this flag will cause nix-env to print what would be done if this flag had not been specified, without actually doing it.

    --dry-run also prints out which paths will be substituted (i.e., downloaded) and which paths will be built from source (because no substitute is available).

  • --system-filter system
    By default, operations such as --query --available show derivations matching any platform. This option allows you to use derivations for the specified platform system.

Common Options

Most Nix commands accept the following command-line options:

  • --help

    Prints out a summary of the command syntax and exits.

  • --version

    Prints out the Nix version number on standard output and exits.

  • --verbose / -v

    Increases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. For each Nix operation, the information printed on standard output is well-defined; any diagnostic information is printed on standard error, never on standard output.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. Currently, the following verbosity levels exist:

    • 0 “Errors only”

      Only print messages explaining why the Nix invocation failed.

    • 1 “Informational”

      Print useful messages about what Nix is doing. This is the default.

    • 2 “Talkative”

      Print more informational messages.

    • 3 “Chatty”

      Print even more informational messages.

    • 4 “Debug”

      Print debug information.

    • 5 “Vomit”

      Print vast amounts of debug information.

  • --quiet

    Decreases the level of verbosity of diagnostic messages printed on standard error. This is the inverse option to -v / --verbose.

    This option may be specified repeatedly. See the previous verbosity levels list.

  • --log-format format

    This option can be used to change the output of the log format, with format being one of:

    • raw

      This is the raw format, as outputted by nix-build.

    • internal-json

      Outputs the logs in a structured manner.

      Warning

      While the schema itself is relatively stable, the format of the error-messages (namely of the msg-field) can change between releases.

    • bar

      Only display a progress bar during the builds.

    • bar-with-logs

      Display the raw logs, with the progress bar at the bottom.

  • --no-build-output / -Q

    By default, output written by builders to standard output and standard error is echoed to the Nix command's standard error. This option suppresses this behaviour. Note that the builder's standard output and error are always written to a log file in prefix/nix/var/log/nix.

  • --max-jobs / -j number

    Sets the maximum number of build jobs that Nix will perform in parallel to the specified number. Specify auto to use the number of CPUs in the system. The default is specified by the max-jobs configuration setting, which itself defaults to 1. A higher value is useful on SMP systems or to exploit I/O latency.

    Setting it to 0 disallows building on the local machine, which is useful when you want builds to happen only on remote builders.

  • --cores

    Sets the value of the NIX_BUILD_CORES environment variable in the invocation of builders. Builders can use this variable at their discretion to control the maximum amount of parallelism. For instance, in Nixpkgs, if the derivation attribute enableParallelBuilding is set to true, the builder passes the -jN flag to GNU Make. It defaults to the value of the cores configuration setting, if set, or 1 otherwise. The value 0 means that the builder should use all available CPU cores in the system.

  • --max-silent-time

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can go without producing any data on standard output or standard error. The default is specified by the max-silent-time configuration setting. 0 means no time-out.

  • --timeout

    Sets the maximum number of seconds that a builder can run. The default is specified by the timeout configuration setting. 0 means no timeout.

  • --keep-going / -k

    Keep going in case of failed builds, to the greatest extent possible. That is, if building an input of some derivation fails, Nix will still build the other inputs, but not the derivation itself. Without this option, Nix stops if any build fails (except for builds of substitutes), possibly killing builds in progress (in case of parallel or distributed builds).

  • --keep-failed / -K

    Specifies that in case of a build failure, the temporary directory (usually in /tmp) in which the build takes place should not be deleted. The path of the build directory is printed as an informational message.

  • --fallback

    Whenever Nix attempts to build a derivation for which substitutes are known for each output path, but realising the output paths through the substitutes fails, fall back on building the derivation.

    The most common scenario in which this is useful is when we have registered substitutes in order to perform binary distribution from, say, a network repository. If the repository is down, the realisation of the derivation will fail. When this option is specified, Nix will build the derivation instead. Thus, installation from binaries falls back on installation from sour