Installing Nix

On Your Laptop

The installation procedure can be found on Nix’s front page. In most scenarios, running this single command as normal user should install Nix.

sh <(curl -L --daemon


If the installation fails with a error: cloning builder process: Operation not permitted message, your kernel probably prevents the Nix installer to use Nix’s sandboxing facilities. In short, by default, Nix isolate builds in chroot-like environments to make sure they cannot access undeclared (out-of-Nix) dependencies. For example, a build script that links against /usr/lib/ would fail.

A first workaround is to disable Nix’s sandboxing mechanism. This is done by configuring /etc/nix/nix.conf as follows (should be run as root).

mkdir -p /nix /etc/nix
chmod a+rwx /nix
echo 'sandbox = false' > /etc/nix/nix.conf

An alternative and better solution is to configure your kernel so that sandboxing can work. This is usually not required as Nix’s sandboxing should work with default kernel options, but some distributions disable certain features — e.g., Debian disables user namespaces. Here is a Debian-specific workaround to enable user namespaces (should be run as root).

echo 1 > /proc/sys/kernel/unprivileged_userns_clone

On Grid‘5000

First, connect to a Grid‘5000 frontend (refer to Grid‘5000 Getting Started if needed).

Then, create a job thanks to oarsub — here, a 3-hour length job to match the tutorial duration.

oarsub -I -l "walltime=3:00:00"

You should now be inside your job and able to install Nix as explained in On Your Laptop. The following script installs Nix.

sh <(curl -L --daemon

Final Steps

Nix has been installed but it is not accessible on your environment yet, which means you cannot access Nix binaries such as nix-shell and nix-env. The simplest way to achieve this is to start a new shell session, for example by calling bash if you use Bash or zsh if you use Zsh.

You can check your installation by calling one of the nix commands. Running nix-build --version should for instance output nix-build (Nix) 2.9.2.

Some of the commands used in this tutorial use the nix binary, which is a quite recent program not enabled by default. You can enable the nix command (and the flakes features that goes with it) by enabling experimental features in your Nix configuration file.

echo 'experimental-features = nix-command flakes' >> /etc/nix/nix.conf


If you want this configuration to persist over different Grid‘5000 jobs, you can set this configuration option in the ${HOME}/.config/nix/nix.conf file instead.

Uninstalling Nix

This is straightforward, as all Nix packages are in the Nix store.

  1. Delete the Nix store (and misc. Nix-related files) as root: rm -rf /nix/
  2. (Delete the Nix configuration file as root: rm -rf /etc/nix)
  3. Delete your user links as normal user: rm -rf ~/.nix-channels ~/.nix-defexpr ~/.nix-profile