Install Nix

Nix (package manager) works alongside any other package manager and can be used with any Linux distribution.

It is important to know that Nix can be safely uninstalled by removing following folders:

% sudo rm -rf /nix /etc/nix /home/$USER/.nix*

Many developers confuse Nix (the package manager) with NixOS (Linux distribution). In this case we will only install Nix, the package manager.

Bellow instructions should work on any recent enough Linux distribution (we only tested below setup with latest distributions).

A fully automated script is available on the Github Repository. It has been succesfully tested on a fresh install of Ubuntu 16.04, and simply does the following steps.

To quickly install Nix please run the following command:

% curl | bash

For those more advance you can execute command manually:

  1. Installing Nix as single user mode

    As $USER run:

    % sudo mkdir -m 0755 /nix
    % sudo chown $USER /nix
    % curl | sh

    Above script will install Nix undex /nix and add ~/.nix-profile/bin to your $PATH. You need to relogin to your terminal to be able to use nix-* commands.

  2. Add custom binary cache

    During our build process we also generate binaries which can be also used locally to speed up building times locally.

    As root user run:

    % mkdir -p /etc/nix
    % echo 'binary-caches =' > /etc/nix/nix.conf
  3. Add build group and users for multi user mode

    As root user run:

    % 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

    And configure Nix to use above create group:

    % echo "build-users-group = nixbld" >> /etc/nix/nix.conf

    Give the nix store to root:nixbld ownership:

    % chown -R root:nixbld /nix
    % chmod 1777 /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user
    % mkdir -m 1777 -p /nix/var/nix/gcroots/per-user
  4. Enabling sandbox mode

    Builds will be performed in a sandboxed environment, i.e., they’re isolated from the normal file system hierarchy and will only see their dependencies in the Nix store, the temporary build directory, private versions of /proc, /dev, /dev/shm and /dev/pts (on Linux), and the paths configured with the build-sandbox-paths option. This is useful to prevent undeclared dependencies on files in directories such as /usr/bin. In addition, on Linux, builds run in private PID, mount, network, IPC and UTS namespaces to isolate them from other processes in the system (except that fixed-output derivations do not run in private network namespace to ensure they can access the network).

    As $USER run:

    % sudo echo "build-use-sandbox = true" >> /etc/nix/nix.conf
    % sudo mkdir -p /nix/var/nix/profiles
    % sudo /home/$USER/.nix-profile/bin/nix-env -iA nixpkgs.bash -p /nix/var/nix/profiles/sandbox
    % sudo echo "build-sandbox-paths = /bin/sh=`realpath /nix/var/nix/profiles/sandbox/bin/bash` `nix-store -qR \`realpath /nix/var/nix/profiles/sandbox/bin/bash\` | tr '\n' ' '`" >> /etc/nix/nix.conf
  5. Migrating from single user to multi user mode

    Run as $USER:

    % rm $HOME/.nix-profile
    % rm -r $HOME/.nix-defexpr
    % sudo cp -r /nix/var/nix/profiles/default-*-link /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/$USER/profile-1-link

    If default-*-link doesn’t exist it’s safe to skip that stage. It’s only necessary to keep any software already installed using nix.

    If there are multiple matches for default-*-link then use the numerically highest one.

  6. Add nix-daemon service

nix-daemon serves as a service which schedules all the builds when nix-build or nix-shell command are invoked. Builds are run as unpriviliged nixbld users which creates extra isolations (appart from running in chroot).

For systemd:

% cat <<"EOF" > /etc/systemd/system/nix-daemon.service
Description=Nix daemon

ExecStart=/nix/var/nix/profiles/default/bin/nix-daemon $EXTRA_OPTS


% mkdir -p /nix/var/nix/daemon-socket
% systemctl enable nix-daemon
% systemctl start nix-daemon

For upstart:

% cat <<"EOF" > /etc/init/nix-daemon.conf
description "Nix Daemon"
start on filesystem
stop on shutdown
env SSL_CERT_FILE=/nix/var/nix/profiles/default/etc/ssl/certs/ca-bundle.crt
exec /nix/var/nix/profiles/default/bin/nix-daemon $EXTRA_OPTS
% chmod 644 /etc/init/nix-daemon.conf
% initctl reload-configuration
% service nix-daemon start
  1. Nix multi user profile script

To hook Nix with create the following script (as root user):

% cat <<"EOF" > /etc/nix/
# From

# Heavily cribbed from the equivalent NixOS login script.
# This should work better with multi-user nix setups.

export NIXPKGS_CONFIG="/etc/nix/nixpkgs-config.nix"
export NIX_OTHER_STORES="/run/nix/remote-stores/\*/nix"
export NIX_USER_PROFILE_DIR="/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/$USER"
export NIX_PROFILES="/nix/var/nix/profiles/default $HOME/.nix-profile"
export NIX_PATH="/nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels"
export PATH="$HOME/.nix-profile/bin:$HOME/.nix-profile/sbin:/nix/var/nix/profiles/default/bin:/nix/var/nix/profiles/default/sbin:$PATH"

# Use the nix daemon for multi-user builds
if [ "$USER" != root -o ! -w /nix/var/nix/db ]; then
  export NIX_REMOTE=daemon

# Set up the per-user profile.
mkdir -m 0755 -p "$NIX_USER_PROFILE_DIR"
if test "$(stat --printf '%u' "$NIX_USER_PROFILE_DIR")" != "$(id -u)"; then
    echo "WARNING: bad ownership on $NIX_USER_PROFILE_DIR" >&2

if [ -w "$HOME" ]; then
  # Set the default profile.
  if ! [ -L "$HOME/.nix-profile" ]; then
    if [ "$USER" != root ]; then
      ln -s "$NIX_USER_PROFILE_DIR/profile" "$HOME/.nix-profile"
      # Root installs in the system-wide profile by default.
      ln -s /nix/var/nix/profiles/default "$HOME/.nix-profile"

  # Create the per-user garbage collector roots directory.
  mkdir -m 0755 -p "$NIX_USER_GCROOTS_DIR"
  if test "$(stat --printf '%u' "$NIX_USER_GCROOTS_DIR")" != "$(id -u)"; then
    echo "WARNING: bad ownership on $NIX_USER_GCROOTS_DIR" >&2

  # Set up a default Nix expression from which to install stuff.
  if [ ! -e "$HOME/.nix-defexpr" -o -L "$HOME/.nix-defexpr" ]; then
    rm -f "$HOME/.nix-defexpr"
    mkdir "$HOME/.nix-defexpr"
    if [ "$USER" != root ]; then
        ln -s /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels "$HOME/.nix-defexpr/channels_root"

  # Subscribe the to the Nixpkgs channel by default.
  if [ ! -e "$HOME/.nix-channels" ]; then
      echo " nixpkgs" > "$HOME/.nix-channels"

  # Prepend ~/.nix-defexpr/channels/nixpkgs to $NIX_PATH so that
  # <nixpkgs> paths work when the user has fetched the Nixpkgs
  # channel.
  export NIX_PATH="nixpkgs=$HOME/.nix-defexpr/channels/nixpkgs${NIX_PATH:+:$NIX_PATH}"

  # Make sure nix-channel --update works
  1. Set up the new default (root) profile

As root user run:

% source /etc/nix/
% nix-channel --update
% nix-env -p /nix/var/nix/profiles/default \
          -f /root/.nix-defexpr/channels/nixpkgs/ \
          -iA nix
% nix-env -iA nixpkgs.nix nixpkgs.cacert

We must also ensure that at every shell login we run source /etc/nix/ This would usually mean running this command:

% echo "source /etc/nix/" >> /root/.bashrc
  1. Set up the user profile

    As $USER run:

    % sudo mkdir /nix/var/nix/gcroots/per-user/$USER
    % sudo chown -R $USER:$USER /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/$USER /nix/var/nix/gcroots/per-user/$USER
    % echo "source /etc/nix/" >> ~/.bashrc
    % nix-channel --remove nixpkgs

    Last command might vary depending which shell are you using.

  2. Installing git and gnumake as user

As $USER run:

% nix-env -iA nixpkgs.git

Now git commands is in your $PATH.