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


nix build - build a derivation or fetch a store path


nix build [option...] installables...


  • Build the default package from the flake in the current directory:

    # nix build
  • Build and run GNU Hello from the nixpkgs flake:

    # nix build nixpkgs#hello
    # ./result/bin/hello
    Hello, world!
  • Build GNU Hello and Cowsay, leaving two result symlinks:

    # nix build nixpkgs#hello nixpkgs#cowsay
    # ls -l result*
    lrwxrwxrwx 1 … result -> /nix/store/v5sv61sszx301i0x6xysaqzla09nksnd-hello-2.10
    lrwxrwxrwx 1 … result-1 -> /nix/store/rkfrm0z6x6jmi7d3gsmma4j53h15mg33-cowsay-3.03+dfsg2
  • Build GNU Hello and print the resulting store path.

    # nix build nixpkgs#hello --print-out-paths
  • Build a specific output:

    # nix build nixpkgs#glibc.dev
    # ls -ld ./result-dev
    lrwxrwxrwx 1 … ./result-dev -> /nix/store/dkm3gwl0xrx0wrw6zi5x3px3lpgjhlw4-glibc-2.32-dev
  • Build all outputs:

    # nix build "nixpkgs#openssl^*" --print-out-paths
  • Build attribute build.x86_64-linux from (non-flake) Nix expression release.nix:

    # nix build --file release.nix build.x86_64-linux
  • Build a NixOS system configuration from a flake, and make a profile point to the result:

    # nix build --profile /nix/var/nix/profiles/system \

    (This is essentially what nixos-rebuild does.)

  • Build an expression specified on the command line:

    # nix build --impure --expr \
        'with import <nixpkgs> {};
         runCommand "foo" {
           buildInputs = [ hello ];
         "hello > $out"'
    # cat ./result
    Hello, world!

    Note that --impure is needed because we're using <nixpkgs>, which relies on the $NIX_PATH environment variable.

  • Fetch a store path from the configured substituters, if it doesn't already exist:

    # nix build /nix/store/rkfrm0z6x6jmi7d3gsmma4j53h15mg33-cowsay-3.03+dfsg2


nix build builds the specified installables. Installables that resolve to derivations are built (or substituted if possible). Store path installables are substituted.

Unless --no-link is specified, after a successful build, it creates symlinks to the store paths of the installables. These symlinks have the prefix ./result by default; this can be overridden using the --out-link option. Each symlink has a suffix -<N>-<outname>, where N is the index of the installable (with the left-most installable having index 0), and outname is the symbolic derivation output name (e.g. bin, dev or lib). -<N> is omitted if N = 0, and -<outname> is omitted if outname = out (denoting the default output).


  • --dry-run

    Show what this command would do without doing it.

  • --json

    Produce output in JSON format, suitable for consumption by another program.

  • --no-link

    Do not create symlinks to the build results.

  • --out-link / -o path

    Use path as prefix for the symlinks to the build results. It defaults to result.

  • --print-out-paths

    Print the resulting output paths

  • --profile path

    The profile to operate on.

  • --rebuild

    Rebuild an already built package and compare the result to the existing store paths.

  • --stdin

    Read installables from the standard input. No default installable applied.

Common evaluation options

  • --arg name expr

    Pass the value expr as the argument name to Nix functions.

  • --arg-from-file name path

    Pass the contents of file path as the argument name to Nix functions.

  • --arg-from-stdin name

    Pass the contents of stdin as the argument name to Nix functions.

  • --argstr name string

    Pass the string string as the argument name to Nix functions.

  • --debugger

    Start an interactive environment if evaluation fails.

  • --eval-store store-url

    The URL of the Nix store to use for evaluation, i.e. to store derivations (.drv files) and inputs referenced by them.

  • --impure

    Allow access to mutable paths and repositories.

  • --include / -I path

    Add path to the Nix search path. The Nix search path is initialized from the colon-separated NIX_PATH environment variable, and is used to look up the location of Nix expressions using paths enclosed in angle brackets (i.e., <nixpkgs>).

    For instance, passing

    -I /home/eelco/Dev
    -I /etc/nixos

    will cause Nix to look for paths relative to /home/eelco/Dev and /etc/nixos, in that order. This is equivalent to setting the NIX_PATH environment variable to


    It is also possible to match paths against a prefix. For example, passing

    -I nixpkgs=/home/eelco/Dev/nixpkgs-branch
    -I /etc/nixos

    will cause Nix to search for <nixpkgs/path> in /home/eelco/Dev/nixpkgs-branch/path and /etc/nixos/nixpkgs/path.

    If a path in the Nix search path starts with http:// or https://, it is interpreted as the URL of a tarball that will be downloaded and unpacked to a temporary location. The tarball must consist of a single top-level directory. For example, passing

    -I nixpkgs=https://github.com/NixOS/nixpkgs/archive/master.tar.gz

    tells Nix to download and use the current contents of the master branch in the nixpkgs repository.

    The URLs of the tarballs from the official nixos.org channels (see the manual page for nix-channel) can be abbreviated as channel:<channel-name>. For instance, the following two flags are equivalent:

    -I nixpkgs=channel:nixos-21.05
    -I nixpkgs=https://nixos.org/channels/nixos-21.05/nixexprs.tar.xz

    You can also fetch source trees using flake URLs and add them to the search path. For instance,

    -I nixpkgs=flake:nixpkgs

    specifies that the prefix nixpkgs shall refer to the source tree downloaded from the nixpkgs entry in the flake registry. Similarly,

    -I nixpkgs=flake:github:NixOS/nixpkgs/nixos-22.05

    makes <nixpkgs> refer to a particular branch of the NixOS/nixpkgs repository on GitHub.

  • --override-flake original-ref resolved-ref

    Override the flake registries, redirecting original-ref to resolved-ref.

  • --debug

    Set the logging verbosity level to 'debug'.

  • --log-format format

    Set the format of log output; one of raw, internal-json, bar or bar-with-logs.

  • --print-build-logs / -L

    Print full build logs on standard error.

  • --quiet

    Decrease the logging verbosity level.

  • --verbose / -v

    Increase the logging verbosity level.

Miscellaneous global options

  • --help

    Show usage information.

  • --offline

    Disable substituters and consider all previously downloaded files up-to-date.

  • --option name value

    Set the Nix configuration setting name to value (overriding nix.conf).

  • --refresh

    Consider all previously downloaded files out-of-date.

  • --repair

    During evaluation, rewrite missing or corrupted files in the Nix store. During building, rebuild missing or corrupted store paths.

  • --version

    Show version information.

Options that change the interpretation of installables

  • --expr expr

    Interpret installables as attribute paths relative to the Nix expression expr.

  • --file / -f file

    Interpret installables as attribute paths relative to the Nix expression stored in file. If file is the character -, then a Nix expression will be read from standard input. Implies --impure.


See man nix.conf for overriding configuration settings with command line flags.