Playing around with Nix on Arch

I’ve long been a fan of functional programming, so when I learned about NixOS, I just had to try it. I ran into issues installing it on my laptop, though, so I decided it might be best to install its Nix package manager on top of a barebones Arch installation. Before I tried it on my laptop, though, I wanted to play around with it in Docker to get a feel for how it would go.

docker run -it vlpro/arch-yaourt /bin/bash

This drops me into a shell in an Arch environment.

useradd builder
passwd builder # set password for user "builder" so I can sudo later
mkdir /home/builder
chown builder /home/builder
mkdir /nix
chown builder /nix
pacman -S sudo vim # replace "vim" with "nano" if you're not a Vim fan
EDITOR=vim visudo  # again, you can use "nano" if you like

This will open the editor with the sudoers file. Scroll down until you find where it says root ALL=(ALL) ALL, and add a line below that says builder ALL=(ALL) ALL. Save and quit.

Switch to the builder user, install nix, and update the package index:

su builder
bash <(curl
nix-channel --update

The installer tells you to add a line to your shell profile. In this case, the shell profile is ~/.profile. If this were an actual computer I’d set up, I’d add it to ~/.zshrc because I prefer ZSH.

echo '. /home/builder/.nix-profile/etc/profile.d/' >> .profile

Now it’s time to search for packages!

nix-env --query --available cowsay

This returns a single result on my system, cowsay-3.03. I’m going to install that:

nix-env -i cowsay

The installer will pull the files from the NixOS cache and place them on your system. Time to test our installation!

[builder@9295696d3c6d ~]$ cowsay 'Hello Nix!'
< Hello Nix! >
        \   ^__^
         \  (oo)\_______
            (__)\       )\/\
                ||----w |  
                ||     ||

Hooray! We’re now ready to go with Nix, and can reap all the benefits of using a functional package manager.

You can watch me fumble through the process below.


Further reading