Nixpkgs Release Notes

Release 0.10 (October 12, 2006)


This release of Nixpkgs requires Nix 0.10 or higher.

This release has the following improvements:

  • pkgs/system/all-packages-generic.nix is gone, we now just have pkgs/top-level/all-packages.nix that contains all available packages. This should cause much less confusion with users. all-packages.nix is a function that by default returns packages for the current platform, but you can override this by specifying a different system argument.

  • Certain packages in Nixpkgs are now user-configurable through a configuration file, i.e., without having to edit the Nix expressions in Nixpkgs. For instance, the Firefox provided in the Nixpkgs channel is built without the RealPlayer plugin (for legal reasons). Previously, you could easily enable RealPlayer support by editing the call to the Firefox function in all-packages.nix, but such changes are not respected when Firefox is subsequently updated through the Nixpkgs channel.

    The Nixpkgs configuration file (found in ~/.nixpkgs/config.nix or through the NIXPKGS_CONFIG environment variable) is an attribute set that contains configuration options that all-packages.nix reads and uses for certain packages. For instance, the following configuration file:

      firefox = {
        enableRealPlayer = true;

    persistently enables RealPlayer support in the Firefox build.

    (Actually, firefox.enableRealPlayer is the only configuration option currently available, but more are sure to be added.)

  • Support for new platforms:

    • i686-cygwin, i.e., Windows (using Cygwin). The standard environment on i686-cygwin by default builds binaries for the Cygwin environment (i.e., it uses Cygwin tools and produces executables that use the Cygwin library). However, there is also a standard environment that produces binaries that use MinGW. You can use it by calling all-package.nix with the stdenvType argument set to "i686-mingw".

    • i686-darwin, i.e., Mac OS X on Intel CPUs.

    • powerpc-linux.

    • x86_64-linux, i.e., Linux on 64-bit AMD/Intel CPUs. Unlike i686-linux, this platform doesn’t have a pure stdenv yet.

  • The default compiler is now GCC 4.1.1.

  • X11 updated to’s X11R7.1.

  • Notable new packages:

    • Opera.

    • Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition and the Windows SDK.

    In total there are now around 809 packages in Nixpkgs.

  • It is now much easier to override the default C compiler and other tools in stdenv for specific packages. all-packages.nix provides two utility functions for this purpose: overrideGCC and overrideInStdenv. Both take a stdenv and return an augmented stdenv; the formed changes the C compiler, and the latter adds additional packages to the front of stdenv’s initial PATH, allowing tools to be overriden.

    For instance, the package strategoxt doesn’t build with the GNU Make in stdenv (version 3.81), so we call it with an augmented stdenv that uses GNU Make 3.80:

    strategoxt = (import ../development/compilers/strategoxt) {
      inherit fetchurl pkgconfig sdf aterm;
      stdenv = overrideInStdenv stdenv [gnumake380];
    gnumake380 = ...;

    Likewise, there are many packages that don’t compile with the default GCC (4.1.1), but that’s easily fixed:

    exult = import ../games/exult {
      inherit fetchurl SDL SDL_mixer zlib libpng unzip;
      stdenv = overrideGCC stdenv gcc34;

  • It has also become much easier to experiment with changes to the stdenv setup script (which notably contains the generic builder). Since edits to pkgs/stdenv/generic/ trigger a rebuild of everything, this was formerly quite painful. But now stdenv contains a function to “regenerate” stdenv with a different setup script, allowing the use of a different setup script for specific packages:

    pkg = import ... {
      stdenv = stdenv.regenerate ./;

  • Packages can now have a human-readable description field. Package descriptions are shown by nix-env -qa --description. In addition, they’re shown on the Nixpkgs release page. A description can be added to a package as follows:

    stdenv.mkDerivation {
      name = "exult-1.2";
      meta = {
        description = "A reimplementation of the Ultima VII game engine";

    The meta attribute is not passed to the builder, so changes to the description do not trigger a rebuild. Additional meta attributes may be defined in the future (such as the URL of the package’s homepage, the license, etc.).

The following people contributed to this release: Andres Löh, Armijn Hemel, Christof Douma, Eelco Dolstra, Eelco Visser, Mart Kolthof, Martin Bravenboer, Merijn de Jonge, Rob Vermaas and Roy van den Broek.

Release 0.9 (January 31, 2006)

There have been zillions of changes since the last release of Nixpkgs. Many packages have been added or updated. The following are some of the more notable changes:

  • Distribution files have been moved to

  • The C library on Linux, Glibc, has been updated to version 2.3.6.

  • The default compiler is now GCC 3.4.5. GCC 4.0.2 is also available.

  • The old, unofficial Xlibs has been replaced by the official modularised X11 distribution from, i.e., X11R7.0. X11R7.0 consists of 287 (!) packages, all of which are in Nixpkgs though not all have been tested. It is now possible to build a working X server (previously we only had X client libraries). We use a fully Nixified X server on NixOS.

  • The Sun JDK 5 has been purified, i.e., it doesn’t require any non-Nix components such as /lib/ This means that Java applications such as Eclipse and Azureus can run on NixOS.

  • Hardware-accelerated OpenGL support, used by games like Quake 3 (which is now built from source).

  • Improved support for FreeBSD on x86.

  • Improved Haskell support; e.g., the GHC build is now pure.

  • Some support for cross-compilation: cross-compiling builds of GCC and Binutils, and cross-compiled builds of the C library uClibc.

  • Notable new packages:

    • teTeX, including support for building LaTeX documents using Nix (with automatic dependency determination).

    • Ruby.

    • System-level packages to support NixOS, e.g. Grub, GNU parted and so on.

    • ecj, the Eclipse Compiler for Java, so we finally have a freely distributable compiler that supports Java 5.0.

    • php.

    • The GIMP.

    • Inkscape.

    • GAIM.

    • kdelibs. This allows us to add KDE-based packages (such as kcachegrind).

The following people contributed to this release: Andres Löh, Armijn Hemel, Bogdan Dumitriu, Christof Douma, Eelco Dolstra, Eelco Visser, Mart Kolthof, Martin Bravenboer, Rob Vermaas and Roy van den Broek.

Release 0.8 (April 11, 2005)

This release is mostly to remain synchronised with the changed hashing scheme in Nix 0.8.

Notable updates:

  • Adobe Reader 7.0

  • Various security updates (zlib 1.2.2, etc.)

Release 0.7 (March 14, 2005)

  • The bootstrap process for the standard build environment on Linux (stdenv-linux) has been improved. It is no longer dependent in its initial bootstrap stages on the system Glibc, GCC, and other tools. Rather, Nixpkgs contains a statically linked bash and curl, and uses that to download other statically linked tools. These are then used to build a Glibc and dynamically linked versions of all other tools.

    This change also makes the bootstrap process faster. For instance, GCC is built only once instead of three times.

    (Contributed by Armijn Hemel.)

  • Tarballs used by Nixpkgs are now obtained from the same server that hosts Nixpkgs ( This reduces the risk of packages being unbuildable due to moved or deleted files on various servers.

  • There now is a generic mechanism for building Perl modules. See the various Perl modules defined in pkgs/system/all-packages-generic.nix.

  • Notable new packages:

    • Qt 3

    • MySQL

    • MythTV

    • Mono

    • MonoDevelop (alpha)

    • Xine

  • Notable updates:

    • GCC 3.4.3

    • Glibc 2.3.4

    • GTK 2.6