Contributing to Nix

In an effort to help and Nix adoption I wanted to focus more on the overal UX surrounding Currently the installation (using nix profile install) was a bit lacking in terms of UX, so I attempted to fix some of the existing submitted issues against Nix regarding error messaging when using the command. This would be the first PR in possibly a series of PRs to improve the UX of nix profile and other problems related to UX.

I haven’t worked with C++ in a while, but got something working that I think might be good enough for review.

The problem I run into is that I don’t know what to do after submitting the PR. Reviewers are automatically assigned, but I know the reviewers are pretty busy with their work and other PRs on Nix. I couldn’t find, so I was not 100% sure what the process should be. I also know that the Nix core team has started only a couple of months ago (:partying_face:), so I should be patient, but I also don’t want PRs to get lost and eventually forgotten. Especially when I want to look in follow-up UX PRs: I don’t want to start on new PRs if my current PR isn’t up-to-par quality-wise.

What is the process and what can I do to help PRs get merged? (not just mine, but in general)

My PR for reference: Improve error on conflict for nix profile install by bobvanderlinden · Pull Request #7788 · NixOS/nix · GitHub


Hey, thanks for taking the time to write down the problem. Yes, there is a severe lack of an obvious entry point to contributing. One of the Nix team’s goals is to ease the process of becoming a contributor, so I’ll make sure to prioritise issues and pull requests on that topic.

The best we currently have is the team’s own handbook which documents how we work, but this is obviously not the same and not enough. Ideally you’d make a PR that creates and in it answers all the questions you had to the best of your knowledge and leaves them explicitly open otherwise – you know best what you need as a contributor – referencing the hacking guide and the maintainer handbook if needed. That will land on the team’s project board for review quickly. The second-best would be opening a documentation issue that outlines the exact problems and open questions you had. The third-best would be waiting for me or someone else to get around to that, but I’m currently fully booked with tying together loose ends.


Thanks for the suggestion. I have created Add by bobvanderlinden · Pull Request #7968 · NixOS/nix · GitHub to add to the Nix repository.

Also thanks to all the people who helped me with my earlier pull request. Especially @Ericson2314 who shepherd the PR into shape. It has since been merged :+1:.