Frequently Asked Questions#


How to operate between Nix paths and strings?#

See the Nix reference manual on string interpolation and operators on paths and strings

How to build reverse dependencies of a package?#

$ nix-shell -p nixpkgs-review --run "nixpkgs-review wip"

How can I manage dotfiles in $HOME with Nix?#

See nix-community/home-manager

How to use a clone of the Nixpkgs repository to update or write new packages?#

Please read Packaging existing software with Nix and the Nixpkgs contributing guide.


How to run non-nix executables?#

NixOS cannot run dynamically linked executables intended for generic Linux environments out of the box. This is because, by design, it does not have a global library path, nor does it follow the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard (FHS).

There are a few ways to resolve this mismatch in environment expectations:

  • Use the version packaged in Nixpkgs, if there is one. You can search available packages at

  • Write a Nix expression for the program to package it in your own configuration.

    There are multiple approaches to this:

    • Build from source.

      Many open-source programs are highly flexible at compile time in terms of where their files go. For an introduction to this, see Packaging existing software with Nix.

    • Modify the program’s ELF header to include paths to libraries using autoPatchelfHook.

      Do this if building from source isn’t feasible.

    • Wrap the program to run in an FHS-like environment using buildFHSEnv.

      This is a last resort, but sometimes necessary, for example if the program downloads and runs other executables.

  • Create a library path that only applies to unpackaged programs by using nix-ld. Add this to your configuration.nix:

    1  programs.nix-ld.enable = true;
    2  programs.nix-ld.libraries = with pkgs; [
    3    # Add any missing dynamic libraries for unpackaged programs
    4    # here, NOT in environment.systemPackages
    5  ];

    Then run nixos-rebuild switch, and log out and back in again to propagate the new environment variables. (This is only necessary when enabling nix-ld; changes in included libraries take effect immediately on rebuild.)


    nix-ld does not work for 32-bit executables on x86_64 machines.

  • Run your program in the FHS-like environment made for the Steam package using steam-run:

    $ nix-shell -p steam-run --run "steam-run <command>"

How to build my own ISO?#


How do I connect to any of the machines in NixOS tests?#

Apply following patch:

diff --git a/nixos/lib/test-driver/ b/nixos/lib/test-driver/
index 8ad0d67..838fbdd 100644
--- a/nixos/lib/test-driver/
+++ b/nixos/lib/test-driver/
@@ -34,7 +34,7 @@ foreach my $vlan (split / /, $ENV{VLANS} || "") {
     if ($pid == 0) {
         dup2(fileno($pty->slave), 0);
         dup2(fileno($stdoutW), 1);
-        exec "vde_switch -s $socket" or _exit(1);
+        exec "vde_switch -tap tap0 -s $socket" or _exit(1);
     close $stdoutW;
     print $pty "version\n";

And then the vde_switch network should be accessible locally.

How to bootstrap NixOS inside an existing Linux installation?#

There are a couple of tools: