A Disnix deployment example using target-specific services
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This is an example deploying a collection web applications and a reverse proxy that support multiple virtual hosts. The purpose of this example is to demonstrate how we can dynamically create target-specific services and deploy them to the corresponding machines with Disnix.


A virtualhosts deployment

With this example you can automatically set up deployments as shown in the figure above. We have two kinds of services:

  • Web applications returning their virtual host name (their names are prefixed with webapp)
  • An nginx reverse proxy per machine forwarding requests to the web applications that are deployed to the machine

In general, services in Disnix are independendent units of deployment that have the same structure regardless to which machines they are deployed in the network.

In some cases, however, it may also be desirable to define services that are configured for a specific target machines.

In this example, the reverse proxies are services having a target-specific configuration -- their configurations are specifically optimised for the machine to which they have been deployed. For example, the nginx reverse proxy on machine test1 only knows about the web application that have been deployed to it.

The advantage of deploying target-specific components is that they will prevent expensive redeployments in case of an upgrade. For example, if a change has been to test2's configuration, then test1 should not be affected.


The deployment/DistributedDeployment sub folder contains all neccessary Disnix models, such as a services, infrastructure and distribution models required for deployment.

Deployment using Disnix in a heterogeneous network

For this scenario only installation of the basic Disnix toolset is required. First, you must manually install a network of machines running the Disnix service. Then you must adapt the infrastructure model to match to properties of your network and the distribution model to map the services to the right machines.

The system can be deployed by running the following command:

$ disnix-env -s services.nix -i infrastructure.nix -d distribution.nix

Hybrid deployment of NixOS infrastructure and services using DisnixOS

For this scenario you need to install a network of NixOS machines, running the Disnix service. This can be done by enabling the following configuration option in each /etc/nixos/configuration.nix file:

services.disnix.enable = true;

You may also need to adapt the NixOS configurations to which the network.nix model is referring, so that they will match the actual system configurations.

The system including its underlying infrastructure can be deployed by using the disnixos-env command. The following instruction deploys the system including the underlying infrastructure.

$ disnixos-env -s services.nix -n network.nix -d distribution.nix

Deployment using the NixOS test driver

This system can be deployed without adapting any of the models in deployment/DistributedDeployment. By running the following instruction, the variant without the proxy can be deployed in a network of virtual machines:

$ disnixos-vm-env -s services.nix -n network.nix -d distribution.nix

Deployment using NixOps for infrastructure and Disnix for service deployment

It's also possible to use NixOps for deploying the infrastructure (machines) and let Disnix do the deployment of the services to these machines.

A virtualbox network can be deployed as follows:

$ nixops create ./network.nix ./network-virtualbox.nix -d vboxtest
$ nixops deploy -d vboxtest

The services can be deployed by running the following commands:

$ export NIXOPS_DEPLOYMENT=vboxtest
$ disnixos-env -s services.nix -n network.nix -d distribution.nix --use-nixops

Running the system

After the system has been deployed, open a terminal on the third machine and run:

$ curl -H 'Host: webapp2.local' http://test1

Subsitute webapp2.local with the desired virtual hostname.

What you will also notice is that if you request a non-existent web application on a specific-machine, it will return an error page:

$ curl -H 'Host: nonexistent.local' http://test1

A more advanced use case

The previously described use cases only deploy two reverse proxies and four web application instances attached to them.

We can also do the same thing on a large scale by dynamically composing as many web application variants as we want and dynamically map them to machines with reverse proxies.

Edit services-dynamic.nix and change the line:

  numbers = pkgs.lib.range 1 4;

into a desired range. For example, to deploy 20 instances of the webapp, we can change it into:

  numbers = pkgs.lib.range 1 20;

We can use the dydisnix-gendist tool from the Dynamic Disnix toolset to generate a distribution model that map our 20 services to the machines in the infrastructure model:

$ distribution=$(dydisnix-gendist -s services-dynamic.nix -i infrastructure.nix -q qos.nix)

The above command-line instruction uses a QoS model that distributes the services to each target in the distribution model using a greedy strategy. In the infrastructure model, each target states that it has a capacity of hosting 10 services:

  test1 = {
    properties = {
      capacity = 10;

After generating the distribution model, we must assign unique TCP port numbers to each service so that they can be properly reached. We can automatically assign them by running:

$ dydisnix-port-assign -s services-dynamic.nix -i infrastructure.nix -d $distribution > ports2.nix

and replace the original ports specification by running:

$ mv ports2.nix ports.nix

Finally, we can deploy the dynamically composed configuration:

$ disnix-env -s services-dynamic.nix -i infrastructure.nix -d $distribution

After the above command succeeds, we have two machines each hosting 10 web applications with reverse proxies in front of them.


This package is released under the MIT license.