Nix and NixOS, my pain points

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  • nixpkgs

    Nix Packages collection & NixOS

  • Nix actually has far better than average documentation compared to other typical open source projects. I started using Nix years ago on Ubuntu to quickly install a package that wasn't present in Ubuntu's repository. Eventually, I began customizing packages using Nix expressions. Before I knew it, I migrated my existing systems over to NixOS. What I can say is it wasn't at all the uphill struggle that's associated with Nix in online discussions. Even though the documentation isn't perfect and going through active improvements, there's a considerable gap between Nix's reputation regarding documentation and my own actual experience.

    What surprises me is that people tout RPM/Chef as easier replacements to Nix/NixOS. The assumption about those being "replacements" of each other is questionable because they address different needs. What's even more questionable is the part about RPM or Chef being easy. I have dealt with those two for years as part of my day job, and they're both far from easy. I still have troubles with them to this day. Documentation is far more lacking than Nix, and it's not because things are obvious. If you encounter any trouble, you almost always have to dive into the source code. Navigating the source code of RPM or Chef is a nightmare because the code is scattered across countless different repositories and it's impossible to guess where to look for to begin with. Choice of programming languages doen't help here too. Chef is written in Ruby, which has a tendency of making code ungreppable due to its metaprogramming features. RPM has its own macro syntax which works similar to the C preprocessor. It's very terse and full of gotchas. Navigating around Nix code is much, much easier in comparison. Everything you need is in a single repo,, and written in a JSON-like language.

    Many people also claim that Nix is hard because it requires a functional programming background. That too doesn't match my experience. Nix expressions are basically JSON with functions. Learning the syntax is a non-issue if you know JSON and some common programming language constructs like conditionals, functions, map, filter and reduce. The only functional programming experience I had prior to Nix was LISP, in a university classroom. Yet I didn't experience problems learning the syntax. The hard part is learning how to actually utilize the language. The documentation and some grepping around of the Nixpkgs codebase helped a lot with this.

  • nonguix

  • I agree with the Guix bit. At some point, I tried using Guix System on my laptop (with wireless support), and of course I was greeted with « use a wifi card that respect your freedom » or something like that. At some point, I might try again, using NonGuix ( ), so for the moment I try to use Guix on small projects (like building websites using pelican), without going full Guix. What I'm most impressed with Guix is the time machine, but it still needs a lot of improvement for developers, for example allowing to specify environment variables in manifest.scm files.

  • InfluxDB

    Power Real-Time Data Analytics at Scale. Get real-time insights from all types of time series data with InfluxDB. Ingest, query, and analyze billions of data points in real-time with unbounded cardinality.

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  • nixpkgs

    Nix Packages collection (by ElvishJerricco)

  • > When we use NixOS, and we want to use a package that is not available under NixOS / Nixpkgs (which happens quite often), we have only one choice: pack it into NixOS.

    That's not really true. It's definitely the easiest option, but you can also create a temporary fhs environment

  • nix-direnv

    A fast, persistent use_nix/use_flake implementation for direnv [maintainer=@Mic92 / @bbenne10]

  • devenv

    Fast, Declarative, Reproducible, and Composable Developer Environments

  • covers most of these points as none of the complaints mentioned are design flaws, but they are just something we have yet to reach.

  • SaaSHub

    SaaSHub - Software Alternatives and Reviews. SaaSHub helps you find the best software and product alternatives

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NOTE: The number of mentions on this list indicates mentions on common posts plus user suggested alternatives. Hence, a higher number means a more popular project.

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