Nix (package manager)

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Initial releaseJune 15, 2003; 19 years ago (2003-06-15)
Stable release
2.11.0[1] / August 2022; 4 months ago (2022-08)
Written inC++
PlatformLinux, Unix-like
TypePackage management

Nix is a cross-platform package manager that utilizes a purely functional deployment model where software is installed into unique directories generated through cryptographic hashes. It is also the name of the tool's programming language. A package's hash takes into account the dependencies, which is claimed to eliminate dependency hell,[2] as an alternative to the typical solution of installing multiple versions of dependencies at the same time. This package management model advertises more reliable, reproducible, and portable packages.[3][4]

Nix packages are defined through a lazy functional programming language specifically designed for package management. Dependencies are tracked directly in this language through an intermediate format called "derivations". A Nix environment keeps track of references automatically, which allows unused packages to be garbage collected when no other package depends on them. At the cost of greater storage requirements, all upgrades in Nix are guaranteed to be both atomic and capable of efficient roll-back. This also enables multiple users to safely install software on the same system without administrator privileges.

Nix has full support for Linux and macOS and can safely be installed side by side with an existing package manager.


NixOS[5] is a Linux distribution using Nix for managing software in the system, including the Linux kernel.[6]


Nixpkgs is the package repository built upon the Nix package manager. According to Repology, as of July 2021 it contains more than 70,000 packages,[7] and is the most up-to-date package repository.[8]

Nix Expression Language[edit]

The Nix Expression Language is a dynamic, functional and lazy domain-specific language[9] used to instruct Nix how to build packages.[10][11]

Benefits of Nix programming language are reproducibility, binary caching, multiple versions, distributed and non-privileged builds.[12]

See also[edit]

  • Maak: a build automation utility similar to make, designed to build complex software systems.
  • GNU Guix: another declarative package manager using GNU Guile for configuration and customization.
  • Runbook automation: a functionality in Nix.


  1. ^ "Release 2.11.0 · NixOS/Nix". GitHub.
  2. ^ Prins, P., Suresh, J. and Dolstra, E., "Nix fixes dependency hell on all Linux distributions,", December 22, 2008
  3. ^ Dolstra, E., de Jonge, M. and Visser, E. "Nix: A Safe and Policy-Free System for Software Deployment." In Damon, L. (Ed.), 18th Large Installation System Administration Conference (LISA '04), pages 79–92, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. USENIX, November 2004.
  4. ^ Dolstra, E. The Purely Functional Software Deployment Model. PhD thesis, Faculty of Science, Utrecht, The Netherlands. January 2006. ISBN 90-393-4130-3.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Dolstra, E. and Löh, A. "NixOS: A Purely Functional Linux Distribution." In ICFP 2008: 13th ACM SIGPLAN International Conference on Functional Programming, pages 367–378, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. September 2008.
  7. ^ "Nixpkgs unstable repository information - Repology".
  8. ^ "Repository statistics - Repology".
  9. ^ "Nix Ecosystem - NixOS Wiki".
  10. ^ "Writing Nix Expressions".
  11. ^ "Practical Nix Flakes".
  12. ^ "What is Nix and Why You Should Use It".

External links[edit]