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Painless dependencies for Nix projects. Read more in the Getting started section below.


$ nix-env -iA niv -f


Inside the provided nix shell:

$ repl

Run the test suite with this command:

$ ./script/test


niv simplifies adding and updating dependencies in Nix projects. It uses a single file, nix/sources.json, where it stores the data necessary for fetching and updating the packages.

  • Add: inserts a package in nix/sources.json.
  • Update: updates one or all packages in nix/sources.json.
  • Drop: deletes a package from nix/sources.json.

niv has two more utility functions:

  • Init: bootstraps a Nix project, in particular creates a nix/sources.json file containing niv and nixpkgs as well as a nix/sources.nix file that returns the sources as a Nix object.
  • Show: shows the packages' information.

The next two sections cover common use cases and full command description.

Getting started

This section covers common use cases:

Bootstrapping a Nix project

Use the init command when starting a new Nix project or when porting an existing Nix project to niv:

$ niv init
$ tree
└── nix
    ├── sources.json
    └── sources.nix

1 directory, 2 files

The file nix/sources.json is the file used by niv to store versions and is initialized with niv and nixpkgs:

    "nixpkgs": {
        "url": "",
        "owner": "NixOS",
        "branch": "nixos-18.09",
        "url_template": "<owner>/<repo>/archive/<rev>.tar.gz",
        "repo": "nixpkgs-channels",
        "sha256": "12wnxla7ld4cgpdndaipdh3j4zdalifk287ihxhnmrzrghjahs3q",
        "description": "Nixpkgs/NixOS branches that track the Nixpkgs/NixOS channels",
        "rev": "109a28ab954a0ad129f7621d468f829981b8b96c"
    "niv": {
        "homepage": "",
        "url": "",
        "owner": "nmattia",
        "branch": "master",
        "url_template": "<owner>/<repo>/archive/<rev>.tar.gz",
        "repo": "niv",
        "sha256": "1zjcyzxhq9iwxh58j5d7sx1vz5s3r1f6gpmnfgj2a3rxmclwvn3c",
        "description": "Easy dependency management for Nix projects",
        "rev": "72e77204544527279e8f1e2d982d29503482b8f4"

To use those dependencies import the file nix/sources.nix, e.g.:

{ sources ? import ./sources.nix }:     # import the sources
  { overlay = _: pkgs:
      { niv = import sources.niv {};    # use the sources :)
import sources.nixpkgs                  # and use them again!
  { overlays = [ overlay ] ; config = {}; }

Tracking a nixpkgs branch

The init command sets the nix/sources.json file to track the latest commit present on nixpkgs 18.09 when the command was run. Run the following command to update it:

$ niv update nixpkgs

To change the branch being tracked run this command:

$ niv update nixpkgs -b nixos-19.03     # equivalent to --branch nixos-19.03

Importing packages from GitHub

The add command will infer information about the package being added, when possible. This works very well for GitHub repositories. Run this command to add jq to your project:

$ niv add stedolan/jq

The following data was added in nix/sources.json for jq:

  "homepage": "",
  "url": "",
  "owner": "stedolan",
  "branch": "master",
  "url_template": "<owner>/<repo>/archive/<rev>.tar.gz",
  "repo": "jq",
  "sha256": "0819rvk8057qgcqvgn7fpldvly2pfdw9fxcjrlqa8gr59p8a1cic",
  "description": "Command-line JSON processor",
  "rev": "9fa2e51099c55af56e3e541dc4b399f11de74abe"

Using custom URLs

It is possible to use niv to fetch packages from custom URLs. Run this command to add the Haskell compiler GHC to your nix/sources.json:

$ niv add ghc   \
    -v 8.4.3    \
    -t '<version>/ghc-<version>-i386-deb8-linux.tar.xz'

The option -v sets the "version" attribute to 8.4.3. The option -t sets a template that can be reused by niv when fetching a new URL (see the documentation for add and update).

For updating the version of GHC used run this command:

$ niv update ghc -v 8.6.2












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