nix-bundle is a way to package Nix attributes into single-file executables.
- Single-file output
- Can be run by non-root users
- No runtime
- Distro agnostic
- Completely portable
- No installation
Make sure you have installed Nix already. See http://nixos.org/nix/ for more details.
Once you have a working Nix install, you can run:
$ ./nix-bundle.sh hello /bin/hello
hello indicates the Nix derivation from NixPkgs that you want to use, while
/bin/hello indicates the path of the executable relative to
hello that you want to run. This will create the file "hello". Running it:
$ ./hello Hello, world!
This is a standalone file that is completely portable! As long as you are running a same architecture Linux kernel and have a shell interpreter it will run. No external dependencies are required besides a compatible Linux kernel and a shell interpreter.
Some others to try:
./nix-bundle.sh nano /bin/nano
./nix-bundle.sh firefox /bin/firefox
./nix-bundle.sh emacs /bin/emacs
Startin with v0.1.3, you can bundle nix-bundle! To do this, just use nix-bundle normally:
NIX_PATH="nixpkgs=https://github.com/matthewbauer/nixpkgs/archive/nix-bundle.tar.gz" ./nix-bundle.sh nix-bundle /bin/nix-bundle
[Experimental] Create AppImage executables from Nix expressions
"nix-bundle.sh" tends to create fairly large outputs. This is largely because nix-bundle.sh uses gzip compression and AppImage uses lzma compression. Anyway, you can create a compliant "AppImage" using the "nix2appimage.sh" script:
This will create a file at Emacs-x86_64.AppImage which you can execute.
Notice that there is only one argument for nix2appimage.sh. This is because the target executable will be detected from the .desktop file in
/share/applications/*.desktop. As a side-effect, AppImage requires your package to have a .desktop file, so packages like "hello", "coreutils", etc. will not work.
Some other examples to try:
These may take a while because of the large closure size.
Comparison with AppImage, FlatPak, Snappy
|Name||Distro-agnostic||Runtime required||Root required||Storage|
|AppImage||yes||no||no||Squashfs w/ lzma compression|
How it works
Nix-bundle glues together four different projects to work correctly:
- Arx - an archive execution tool
- Creates single-file archive executable that can unpack themselves and then run some command. nix-bundle calls nix-user-chroot to bootstrap the Nix environment. It outputs a "./nix" folder.
- nix-user-chroot - a small bootstrap that uses Linux namespaces to call chroot
- This will create sub namespace and bind mount the "./nix" to "/nix" so that the Nix references function properly.
- Nix - a functional package manager
- Used to build runtime closures that are self-contained.
- Provides lots of different packages to choose from.
Nix-bundle has some drawbacks that need to be worked on:
- Slow startup
- Large files (Firefox 150MB)
- Only compatible Linux
- Outputs built on x86-64 will not run on i386
- Requires Linux kernel with CAP_SYS_USER_NS on and permissions setup correctly