This program is experimental and its interface is subject to change.


nix profile - manage Nix profiles


nix profile [option...] subcommand

where subcommand is one of the following:


nix profile allows you to create and manage Nix profiles. A Nix profile is a set of packages that can be installed and upgraded independently from each other. Nix profiles are versioned, allowing them to be rolled back easily.



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/
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

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-
lrwxrwxrwx 3 root root 79 Jan  1  1970 zoom-us -> /nix/store/wbhg2ga8f3h87s9h5k0slxk0m81m4cxl-zoom-us-5.3.469451.0927/bin/zoom-us

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-
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.

Profile compatibility


Once you have used nix profile you can no longer use nix-env without first deleting $XDG_STATE_HOME/nix/profiles/profile

Once you installed a package with nix profile, you get the following error message when using nix-env:

$ nix-env -f '<nixpkgs>' -iA 'hello'
error: nix-env
profile '/home/alice/.local/state/nix/profiles/profile' is incompatible with 'nix-env'; please use 'nix profile' instead

To migrate back to nix-env you can delete your current profile:


This will delete packages that have been installed before, so you may want to back up this information before running the command.

 $ rm -rf "${XDG_STATE_HOME-$HOME/.local/state}/nix/profiles/profile"