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NixOS: The Only Functional GNU/Linux Distribution

Speaker(s) : Ludovic Courtès
Language : English Level : Confirmed Nature : Conference
Date : Friday 9 July 2010 Schedule : 16h20 Duration : 40 minutes
Place: ENSEIRB - Amphi B
PDF - 1.4 Mb

The talk

NixOS is the only functional GNU/Linux distribution in existence. At the core of NixOS is the Nix package manager. Nix allows users to install packages without requiring root privileges, and provides each user with its own view of the set of installed packages. Multiple versions of a program or library can be installed at the same time. Package upgrades are atomic and can be rolled back.

NixOS can instantiate system-wide configurations, comprising not only the kernel, boot loader, and basic system software, but also system services (daemons). A NixOS system can similarly be atomically upgraded, and rolled back. New system instances can be tested in a VM before being deployed.

Nix allows packagers to write unambiguous, referentially transparent package descriptions, called "Nix expressions". Nix applies the principle of least authority (POLA): packages can only refer to dependencies explicitly described in their Nix expression. This fine control over the build environment makes deterministic builds reproducible.

This talk will drive us through the unprecedented bells and whistles Nix and NixOS have to offer us. It will then describe the fine design points that make it possible. Everyone deserves a functional OS!

The speaker

Ludovic Courtès contributes to the GNU project and he is in particular co-maintainer of the GNU Guile project. He has been using and contributing to NixOS and its related projects for 2 years.