This couple of weeks in NixOS

Welcome to a new issue of This Week in NixOS. Nix is a purely functional package manager that aims at solving old problems with a new approach, and NixOS is the distribution based on Nix. This is an overview of what happened in the development of NixOS and in its community this week. A lot of things happen in a lot of places and I might miss some, so if you want to make sure that something is mentionned in the next issue, send me an email!

Nix, the package manager

Nix gets its usual share of fixes, but nothing groundbreaking, it seems.

Nixpkgs, the package compilation

The last two weeks have been busy for nixpkgs. I only skipped a week, and have 4 times as much commits as usual to review. That is good news!

We have new versions of a lot of things, including a new kernel.

It is now possible to activate unfree packages based on a predicate, which makes it possible to cherry-pick unfree packages.

A stdenv update triggered a full rebuild. It included a gcc update, a pkgconfig update, and the merge of the grsecurity branch. Changes to stdenv are usually bundled together in order to reduce the number of rebuilds necessary.

Security updates trigger massive rebuilds, and Hydra only update a channel once the rebuild is over. Thus a security update can take a few days to reach your machine. However, if you need the update right now, you can replace runtime dependencies of the packages installed on your system. This is documented on the wiki.

The community

Fonts on linux have always been a thing to configure. A wiki page explains how to configure them in NixOS. As for me, I still haven't found the right configuration (those pesky Outlook emails still are ugly), but I'll keep searching!

Nix provides way to customize a package by changing parts of the derivation, but only the default expression is built by Hydra and has a binary package. The mailing list discuss on making Hydra build all the variants of a package.