Personal NixOS configuration
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NixOS configurations

My personal NixOS configurations.

You can put these configuration files under /etc/nixos as follows:

nix-shell -p yadm -p git -p gnupg1orig
yadm clone -w /etc/nixos -Y /etc/nixos/.yadm
yadm -Y /etc/nixos/.yadm decrypt
yadm -Y /etc/nixos/.yadm alt

If your hostname isn't included in the configuration file alternatives, symlinks aren't created properly. See Yadm manuals for more information.

Installing NixOS

Boot to NixOS installer.

Setting up internet connection

The installer needs internet connection. If you need to set up WLAN:

nmcli dev wifi connect <name> password <password>

Test internet connection:


Creating fully encrypted file systems

You first need to decide how to partition your disk(s). I'm using fully encrypted file systems with GPT partition table. I created the partitions with fdisk. Run fdisk /dev/some-device for each device you want to partition. I created GPT partition tables for them. Below are my somewhat cryptic and compact notes on how I partitioned my two machines.

On a laptop with only one disk, I created an unencrypted partition for /boot and an encrypted partition for /:

  • 250 GB SSD
    • partition 4, type 4 = BIOS boot, size = 1M
    • partition 1, size = 1G, ext4 nixos-boot, /boot
    • partition 2, size = 100%, LUKS luks-nixos-root, ext4 nixos-root, /

On a server with three disks:

  • 60 GB SSD
    • partition 4, type 4 = BIOS boot, size = 1M
    • partition 1, size = 1G, ext4 nixos-boot, /boot
    • partition 2, size = 100%, LUKS luks-nixos-root, ext4 nixos-root, /
  • 2 TB HDD
    • partition 1, size = 100%, LUKS luks-nixos-media, ext4 nixos-media, /media
  • 600 GB HDD
    • partition 1, type 31 = LVM, size = 500G, VG vg-nixos-var
      • LV lv-nixos-var, size = 450G, LUKS luks-nixos-var, ext4 nixos-var, /var
      • remaining 50G will be reserved for snapshots
    • partition 2, size = 100%, LUKS luks-nixos-home, ext4 nixos-home, /home

One notable goal of the above construction is to have everything that needs to be backed up under /var. This encrypted partition is under LVM, so I can take a snapshot of the encrypted disk and then sync that encrypted disk image with diskrsync to an untrusted remote location efficiently and safely. Also, note that I needed to create 1M BIOS boot partitions so that GPT works with BIOS.

Creating logical volumes:

# Use pvcreate for each partition you want to put under LVM
pvcreate /dev/put-device-here
# List all partitions this volume group should use
vgcreate put-vg-label-here /dev/put-devices-here
# Create logical volumes for the volume groups
lvcreate -L 666G -n put-lv-label-here put-vg-label-here

In my case, I put only one partition under LVM. I had only one volume group which contained only one logical volume.

Creating LUKS encrypted file systems:

cryptsetup -y -v luksFormat /dev/put-device-here
cryptsetup open /dev/put-device-here put-luks-label-here
mkfs.ext4 -L put-filesystem-label-here /dev/mapper/put-luks-label-here

Mount each file system to its place under /mnt. For instance, I mounted nixos-root under /mnt and nixos-boot under /mnt/boot.

Backing up encrypted logical volume

modprobe dm-snapshot    # if needed
lvcreate -l 100%FREE -s -n lv-nixos-var-snapshot /dev/vg-nixos-var/lv-nixos-var
diskrsync --no-compress /dev/vg-nixos-var/lv-nixos-var-snapshot user@host:/path/to/disk.img

Fetching configuration

Create folder under which configuration will be fetched:

mkdir -p /mnt/etc

Set the hostname so yadm will use correct host specific configurations.

hostname <name>

Get the configuration from GitHub using yadm:

nix-shell -p yadm -p git -p gnupg1orig
yadm clone -w /mnt/etc/nixos -Y /mnt/etc/nixos/.yadm
yadm -Y /mnt/etc/nixos/.yadm decrypt
yadm -Y /mnt/etc/nixos/.yadm alt

This funny thing is done because nixos-install changes root and yadm has created symlinks with /mnt at the beginning:

ln -s . /mnt/mnt

Generate hardware configuration automatically:

nixos-generate-config --root /mnt

NOTE: If you are installing from an existing NixOS installation, umask for root account may cause incorrect permissions for /mnt/etc. Check those. This issue has been fixed in recent NixOS.

NOTE: If you are using LUKS inside LVM, you need to manually modify the hardware configuration file /mnt/etc/nixos/hardware-configuration.nix. By default, LVM is loaded after LUKS, so for those LUKS devices that are inside LVM, you must set preLVM = false.


Install the system:

Something like could work on existing system but there's a bug in nixos-enter that network doesn't work. See:

nixos-enter --root /mnt
yadm -Y /etc/nixos/.yadm alt
mkdir -p /run/user/0
nixos-install --root /

If this worked (or yadm used relative alt links), all the yadm-related /mnt tricks should be unnecessary on an existing system. But instead use the following:

nixos-install --no-root-passwd

If you have NixOS already installed and you want to use nixpkgs from that installation:

nixos-install --no-root-passwd -I /nix/store/<SOME HASH HERE>/nixos/nixpkgs

To find out the hash, figure out where the symlinks are pointing recursively:

ls -l /nix/var/nix/profiles/per-user/root/channels

NOTE: The symlinks are pointing to absolute paths /nix/... but that existing system is under /mnt/nix/... so the symlinks aren't actually working but must be prepended with /mnt.

Finally, after running the installation, reboot to the new system:


After you have booted to the newly installed NixOS system, remove the hack symlink:

rm /mnt

Modify the worktree path in /etc/nixos/.yadm/repo.git/config. Regenerate alt symlinks.

yadm -Y /etc/nixos/.yadm alt