[nycbug-talk] Nix - purely functional package management

Bob Ippolito bob at redivi.com
Mon Jan 9 20:41:10 EST 2012

I saw a presentation on Nix a few years ago at ICFP. Unlike most of the
things you'd see at one of those academic conferences, it appears that
they're actually maintaining this research project well beyond the proof of
concept stage:

Has anyone else looked at this or tried it? Seems very interesting to me,
would solve a few of the problems that I've had to deal with over the past
few years.

Of particular interest to me is Nix (package manager) and Nixpkgs (packages
compatible with Nix).

The selling points are:

* Purely functional. Multiple versions of a package can co-exist on the
same system. Results are always reproducible. Atomic commits and rollback
possible, etc.
* Cross-platform. They claim to support Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and Mac OS
* Multi-user support. You can use it without root.
* Can do fast upgrades by building from binaries and doing deltas from

Obvious cons would be:

* Bleeding edge
* It's a research project
* Seems to be pretty complicated source (perl, c, c++, automake, …)

Very ambitious project, and there are some other interesting things they're
working on in conjunction with this stuff: a distributed service deployment
system (Disnix), a continuous build system (Hydra), and a Nix-based Linux
OS (NixOS). Might be a good replacement for something like homebrew.

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