Release 2.0 (2018-02-22)

The following incompatible changes have been made:

  • The manifest-based substituter mechanism (download-using-manifests) has been removed. It has been superseded by the binary cache substituter mechanism since several years. As a result, the following programs have been removed:

    • nix-pull

    • nix-generate-patches

    • bsdiff

    • bspatch

  • The “copy from other stores” substituter mechanism (copy-from-other-stores and the NIX_OTHER_STORES environment variable) has been removed. It was primarily used by the NixOS installer to copy available paths from the installation medium. The replacement is to use a chroot store as a substituter (e.g. --substituters /mnt), or to build into a chroot store (e.g. --store /mnt --substituters /).

  • The command nix-push has been removed as part of the effort to eliminate Nix's dependency on Perl. You can use nix copy instead, e.g. nix copy --to file:///tmp/my-binary-cache paths…

  • The “nested” log output feature (--log-type pretty) has been removed. As a result, nix-log2xml was also removed.

  • OpenSSL-based signing has been removed. This feature was never well-supported. A better alternative is provided by the secret-key-files and trusted-public-keys options.

  • Failed build caching has been removed. This feature was introduced to support the Hydra continuous build system, but Hydra no longer uses it.

  • nix-mode.el has been removed from Nix. It is now a separate repository and can be installed through the MELPA package repository.

This release has the following new features:

  • It introduces a new command named nix, which is intended to eventually replace all nix-* commands with a more consistent and better designed user interface. It currently provides replacements for some (but not all) of the functionality provided by nix-store, nix-build, nix-shell -p, nix-env -qa, nix-instantiate --eval, nix-push and nix-copy-closure. It has the following major features:

    • Unlike the legacy commands, it has a consistent way to refer to packages and package-like arguments (like store paths). For example, the following commands all copy the GNU Hello package to a remote machine:

      nix copy --to ssh://machine nixpkgs.hello
      nix copy --to ssh://machine /nix/store/0i2jd68mp5g6h2sa5k9c85rb80sn8hi9-hello-2.10
      nix copy --to ssh://machine '(with import <nixpkgs> {}; hello)'

      By contrast, nix-copy-closure only accepted store paths as arguments.

    • It is self-documenting: --help shows all available command-line arguments. If --help is given after a subcommand, it shows examples for that subcommand. nix --help-config shows all configuration options.

    • It is much less verbose. By default, it displays a single-line progress indicator that shows how many packages are left to be built or downloaded, and (if there are running builds) the most recent line of builder output. If a build fails, it shows the last few lines of builder output. The full build log can be retrieved using nix log.

    • It provides all nix.conf configuration options as command line flags. For example, instead of --option http-connections 100 you can write --http-connections 100. Boolean options can be written as --foo or --no-foo (e.g. --no-auto-optimise-store).

    • Many subcommands have a --json flag to write results to stdout in JSON format.


    Please note that the nix command is a work in progress and the interface is subject to change.

    It provides the following high-level (“porcelain”) subcommands:

    • nix build is a replacement for nix-build.

    • nix run executes a command in an environment in which the specified packages are available. It is (roughly) a replacement for nix-shell -p. Unlike that command, it does not execute the command in a shell, and has a flag (-c) that specifies the unquoted command line to be executed.

      It is particularly useful in conjunction with chroot stores, allowing Linux users who do not have permission to install Nix in /nix/store to still use binary substitutes that assume /nix/store. For example,

      nix run --store ~/my-nix nixpkgs.hello -c hello --greeting 'Hi everybody!'

      downloads (or if not substitutes are available, builds) the GNU Hello package into ~/my-nix/nix/store, then runs hello in a mount namespace where ~/my-nix/nix/store is mounted onto /nix/store.

    • nix search replaces nix-env -qa. It searches the available packages for occurrences of a search string in the attribute name, package name or description. Unlike nix-env -qa, it has a cache to speed up subsequent searches.

    • nix copy copies paths between arbitrary Nix stores, generalising nix-copy-closure and nix-push.

    • nix repl replaces the external program nix-repl. It provides an interactive environment for evaluating and building Nix expressions. Note that it uses linenoise-ng instead of GNU Readline.

    • nix upgrade-nix upgrades Nix to the latest stable version. This requires that Nix is installed in a profile. (Thus it won’t work on NixOS, or if it’s installed outside of the Nix store.)

    • nix verify checks whether store paths are unmodified and/or “trusted” (see below). It replaces nix-store --verify and nix-store --verify-path.

    • nix log shows the build log of a package or path. If the build log is not available locally, it will try to obtain it from the configured substituters (such as, which now provides build logs).

    • nix edit opens the source code of a package in your editor.

    • nix eval replaces nix-instantiate --eval.

    • nix why-depends shows why one store path has another in its closure. This is primarily useful to finding the causes of closure bloat. For example,

      nix why-depends nixpkgs.vlc

      shows a chain of files and fragments of file contents that cause the VLC package to have the “dev” output of libdrm in its closure — an undesirable situation.

    • nix path-info shows information about store paths, replacing nix-store -q. A useful feature is the option --closure-size (-S). For example, the following command show the closure sizes of every path in the current NixOS system closure, sorted by size:

      nix path-info -rS /run/current-system | sort -nk2
    • nix optimise-store replaces nix-store --optimise. The main difference is that it has a progress indicator.

    A number of low-level (“plumbing”) commands are also available:

    • nix ls-store and nix ls-nar list the contents of a store path or NAR file. The former is primarily useful in conjunction with remote stores, e.g.

      nix ls-store --store -lR /nix/store/0i2jd68mp5g6h2sa5k9c85rb80sn8hi9-hello-2.10

      lists the contents of path in a binary cache.

    • nix cat-store and nix cat-nar allow extracting a file from a store path or NAR file.

    • nix dump-path writes the contents of a store path to stdout in NAR format. This replaces nix-store --dump.

    • nix show-derivation displays a store derivation in JSON format. This is an alternative to pp-aterm.

    • nix add-to-store replaces nix-store --add.

    • nix sign-paths signs store paths.

    • nix copy-sigs copies signatures from one store to another.

    • nix show-config shows all configuration options and their current values.

  • The store abstraction that Nix has had for a long time to support store access via the Nix daemon has been extended significantly. In particular, substituters (which used to be external programs such as download-from-binary-cache) are now subclasses of the abstract Store class. This allows many Nix commands to operate on such store types. For example, nix path-info shows information about paths in your local Nix store, while nix path-info --store shows information about paths in the specified binary cache. Similarly, nix-copy-closure, nix-push and substitution are all instances of the general notion of copying paths between different kinds of Nix stores.

    Stores are specified using an URI-like syntax, e.g. or ssh://machine. The following store types are supported:

    • LocalStore (stori URI local or an absolute path) and the misnamed RemoteStore (daemon) provide access to a local Nix store, the latter via the Nix daemon. You can use auto or the empty string to auto-select a local or daemon store depending on whether you have write permission to the Nix store. It is no longer necessary to set the NIX_REMOTE environment variable to use the Nix daemon.

      As noted above, LocalStore now supports chroot builds, allowing the “physical” location of the Nix store (e.g. /home/alice/nix/store) to differ from its “logical” location (typically /nix/store). This allows non-root users to use Nix while still getting the benefits from prebuilt binaries from

    • BinaryCacheStore is the abstract superclass of all binary cache stores. It supports writing build logs and NAR content listings in JSON format.

    • HttpBinaryCacheStore (http://, https://) supports binary caches via HTTP or HTTPS. If the server supports PUT requests, it supports uploading store paths via commands such as nix copy.

    • LocalBinaryCacheStore (file://) supports binary caches in the local filesystem.

    • S3BinaryCacheStore (s3://) supports binary caches stored in Amazon S3, if enabled at compile time.

    • LegacySSHStore (ssh://) is used to implement remote builds and nix-copy-closure.

    • SSHStore (ssh-ng://) supports arbitrary Nix operations on a remote machine via the same protocol used by nix-daemon.

  • Security has been improved in various ways:

    • Nix now stores signatures for local store paths. When paths are copied between stores (e.g., copied from a binary cache to a local store), signatures are propagated.

      Locally-built paths are signed automatically using the secret keys specified by the secret-key-files store option. Secret/public key pairs can be generated using nix-store --generate-binary-cache-key.

      In addition, locally-built store paths are marked as “ultimately trusted”, but this bit is not propagated when paths are copied between stores.

    • Content-addressable store paths no longer require signatures — they can be imported into a store by unprivileged users even if they lack signatures.

    • The command nix verify checks whether the specified paths are trusted, i.e., have a certain number of trusted signatures, are ultimately trusted, or are content-addressed.

    • Substitutions from binary caches now require signatures by default. This was already the case on NixOS.

    • In Linux sandbox builds, we now use /build instead of /tmp as the temporary build directory. This fixes potential security problems when a build accidentally stores its TMPDIR in some security-sensitive place, such as an RPATH.

  • Pure evaluation mode. With the --pure-eval flag, Nix enables a variant of the existing restricted evaluation mode that forbids access to anything that could cause different evaluations of the same command line arguments to produce a different result. This includes builtin functions such as builtins.getEnv, but more importantly, all filesystem or network access unless a content hash or commit hash is specified. For example, calls to builtins.fetchGit are only allowed if a rev attribute is specified.

    The goal of this feature is to enable true reproducibility and traceability of builds (including NixOS system configurations) at the evaluation level. For example, in the future, nixos-rebuild might build configurations from a Nix expression in a Git repository in pure mode. That expression might fetch other repositories such as Nixpkgs via builtins.fetchGit. The commit hash of the top-level repository then uniquely identifies a running system, and, in conjunction with that repository, allows it to be reproduced or modified.

  • There are several new features to support binary reproducibility (i.e. to help ensure that multiple builds of the same derivation produce exactly the same output). When enforce-determinism is set to false, it’s no longer a fatal error if build rounds produce different output. Also, a hook named diff-hook is provided to allow you to run tools such as diffoscope when build rounds produce different output.

  • Configuring remote builds is a lot easier now. Provided you are not using the Nix daemon, you can now just specify a remote build machine on the command line, e.g. --option builders 'ssh://my-mac x86_64-darwin'. The environment variable NIX_BUILD_HOOK has been removed and is no longer needed. The environment variable NIX_REMOTE_SYSTEMS is still supported for compatibility, but it is also possible to specify builders in nix.conf by setting the option builders = @path.

  • If a fixed-output derivation produces a result with an incorrect hash, the output path is moved to the location corresponding to the actual hash and registered as valid. Thus, a subsequent build of the fixed-output derivation with the correct hash is unnecessary.

  • nix-shell now sets the IN_NIX_SHELL environment variable during evaluation and in the shell itself. This can be used to perform different actions depending on whether you’re in a Nix shell or in a regular build. Nixpkgs provides lib.inNixShell to check this variable during evaluation.

  • NIX_PATH is now lazy, so URIs in the path are only downloaded if they are needed for evaluation.

  • You can now use channel: as a short-hand for For example, nix-build channel:nixos-15.09 -A hello will build the GNU Hello package from the nixos-15.09 channel. In the future, this may use Git to fetch updates more efficiently.

  • When --no-build-output is given, the last 10 lines of the build log will be shown if a build fails.

  • Networking has been improved:

    • HTTP/2 is now supported. This makes binary cache lookups much more efficient.

    • We now retry downloads on many HTTP errors, making binary caches substituters more resilient to temporary failures.

    • HTTP credentials can now be configured via the standard netrc mechanism.

    • If S3 support is enabled at compile time, s3:// URIs are supported in all places where Nix allows URIs.

    • Brotli compression is now supported. In particular, build logs are now compressed using Brotli.

  • nix-env now ignores packages with bad derivation names (in particular those starting with a digit or containing a dot).

  • Many configuration options have been renamed, either because they were unnecessarily verbose (e.g. build-use-sandbox is now just sandbox) or to reflect generalised behaviour (e.g. binary-caches is now substituters because it allows arbitrary store URIs). The old names are still supported for compatibility.

  • The max-jobs option can now be set to auto to use the number of CPUs in the system.

  • Hashes can now be specified in base-64 format, in addition to base-16 and the non-standard base-32.

  • nix-shell now uses bashInteractive from Nixpkgs, rather than the bash command that happens to be in the caller’s PATH. This is especially important on macOS where the bash provided by the system is seriously outdated and cannot execute stdenv’s setup script.

  • Nix can now automatically trigger a garbage collection if free disk space drops below a certain level during a build. This is configured using the min-free and max-free options.

  • nix-store -q --roots and nix-store --gc --print-roots now show temporary and in-memory roots.

  • Nix can now be extended with plugins. See the documentation of the plugin-files option for more details.

The Nix language has the following new features:

  • It supports floating point numbers. They are based on the C++ float type and are supported by the existing numerical operators. Export and import to and from JSON and XML works, too.

  • Derivation attributes can now reference the outputs of the derivation using the placeholder builtin function. For example, the attribute

    configureFlags = "--prefix=${placeholder "out"} --includedir=${placeholder "dev"}";

    will cause the configureFlags environment variable to contain the actual store paths corresponding to the out and dev outputs.

The following builtin functions are new or extended:

  • builtins.fetchGit allows Git repositories to be fetched at evaluation time. Thus it differs from the fetchgit function in Nixpkgs, which fetches at build time and cannot be used to fetch Nix expressions during evaluation. A typical use case is to import external NixOS modules from your configuration, e.g.

    imports = [ (builtins.fetchGit + "/module.nix") ];
  • Similarly, builtins.fetchMercurial allows you to fetch Mercurial repositories.

  • builtins.path generalises builtins.filterSource and path literals (e.g. ./foo). It allows specifying a store path name that differs from the source path name (e.g. builtins.path { path = ./foo; name = "bar"; }) and also supports filtering out unwanted files.

  • builtins.fetchurl and builtins.fetchTarball now support sha256 and name attributes.

  • builtins.split splits a string using a POSIX extended regular expression as the separator.

  • builtins.partition partitions the elements of a list into two lists, depending on a Boolean predicate.

  • <nix/fetchurl.nix> now uses the content-addressable tarball cache at, just like fetchurl in Nixpkgs. (f2682e6e18a76ecbfb8a12c17e3a0ca15c084197)

  • In restricted and pure evaluation mode, builtin functions that download from the network (such as fetchGit) are permitted to fetch underneath a list of URI prefixes specified in the option allowed-uris.

The Nix build environment has the following changes:

  • Values such as Booleans, integers, (nested) lists and attribute sets can now be passed to builders in a non-lossy way. If the special attribute __structuredAttrs is set to true, the other derivation attributes are serialised in JSON format and made available to the builder via the file .attrs.json in the builder’s temporary directory. This obviates the need for passAsFile since JSON files have no size restrictions, unlike process environments.

    As a convenience to Bash builders, Nix writes a script named to the builder’s directory that initialises shell variables corresponding to all attributes that are representable in Bash. This includes non-nested (associative) arrays. For example, the attribute hardening.format = true ends up as the Bash associative array element ${hardening[format]}.

  • Builders can now communicate what build phase they are in by writing messages to the file descriptor specified in NIX_LOG_FD. The current phase is shown by the nix progress indicator.

  • In Linux sandbox builds, we now provide a default /bin/sh (namely ash from BusyBox).

  • In structured attribute mode, exportReferencesGraph exports extended information about closures in JSON format. In particular, it includes the sizes and hashes of paths. This is primarily useful for NixOS image builders.

  • Builds are now killed as soon as Nix receives EOF on the builder’s stdout or stderr. This fixes a bug that allowed builds to hang Nix indefinitely, regardless of timeouts.

  • The sandbox-paths configuration option can now specify optional paths by appending a ?, e.g. /dev/nvidiactl? will bind-mount /dev/nvidiactl only if it exists.

  • On Linux, builds are now executed in a user namespace with UID 1000 and GID 100.

A number of significant internal changes were made:

  • Nix no longer depends on Perl and all Perl components have been rewritten in C++ or removed. The Perl bindings that used to be part of Nix have been moved to a separate package, nix-perl.

  • All Store classes are now thread-safe. RemoteStore supports multiple concurrent connections to the daemon. This is primarily useful in multi-threaded programs such as hydra-queue-runner.

This release has contributions from Adrien Devresse, Alexander Ried, Alex Cruice, Alexey Shmalko, AmineChikhaoui, Andy Wingo, Aneesh Agrawal, Anthony Cowley, Armijn Hemel, aszlig, Ben Gamari, Benjamin Hipple, Benjamin Staffin, Benno Fünfstück, Bjørn Forsman, Brian McKenna, Charles Strahan, Chase Adams, Chris Martin, Christian Theune, Chris Warburton, Daiderd Jordan, Dan Connolly, Daniel Peebles, Dan Peebles, davidak, David McFarland, Dmitry Kalinkin, Domen Kožar, Eelco Dolstra, Emery Hemingway, Eric Litak, Eric Wolf, Fabian Schmitthenner, Frederik Rietdijk, Gabriel Gonzalez, Giorgio Gallo, Graham Christensen, Guillaume Maudoux, Harmen, Iavael, James Broadhead, James Earl Douglas, Janus Troelsen, Jeremy Shaw, Joachim Schiele, Joe Hermaszewski, Joel Moberg, Johannes 'fish' Ziemke, Jörg Thalheim, Jude Taylor, kballou, Keshav Kini, Kjetil Orbekk, Langston Barrett, Linus Heckemann, Ludovic Courtès, Manav Rathi, Marc Scholten, Markus Hauck, Matt Audesse, Matthew Bauer, Matthias Beyer, Matthieu Coudron, N1X, Nathan Zadoks, Neil Mayhew, Nicolas B. Pierron, Niklas Hambüchen, Nikolay Amiantov, Ole Jørgen Brønner, Orivej Desh, Peter Simons, Peter Stuart, Pyry Jahkola, regnat, Renzo Carbonara, Rhys, Robert Vollmert, Scott Olson, Scott R. Parish, Sergei Trofimovich, Shea Levy, Sheena Artrip, Spencer Baugh, Stefan Junker, Susan Potter, Thomas Tuegel, Timothy Allen, Tristan Hume, Tuomas Tynkkynen, tv, Tyson Whitehead, Vladimír Čunát, Will Dietz, wmertens, Wout Mertens, zimbatm and Zoran Plesivčak.