Home-manager i3 xinit in non nixos distro

Hi there,

my company only allow us to use ubuntu, debian or archlinux so I can’t try nixos on my laptop.
Before making the case for it I want to test nix and home-manager properly.
In these days I created a nice basic home-manager config and I installed arch (super base) without installing any packages, except the one I needed like for instance nix or xorg etc

What options do I have to run i3 with all the right env and settings by using the one from nix?

this is my current config:


  home.packages = [

  xsession.windowManager.i3 = {
    enable = true;

    package = pkgs.i3;

    config = {


Right now I tried:

  • to use .xsession provided by the home-manager and I got “can’t open display”
Environment variable $DISPLAY not set, ignoring.
Environment variable $SSH_AUTH_SOCK not set, ignoring.
Environment variable $XAUTHORITY not set, ignoring.
/nix/store/8yr7g35af354a0160fxfmnj0nqq8hl3s-xrdb-1.2.2/bin/xrdb: Can't open display ''
i3: Cannot open display
  • to use gdm provided by arch and running via xorg and not xwayland and use the .xsession, it’s just go back to the login (same issue that you can read ^)

  • to use the archlinux xorg server by just running startx $(command -v i3), it kind work but obv it’s ugly and I can see a lot of issues in the log, like missing font or similar.

is there anyone that have this setup (complete home-manager in a non nixos distro)? do you have any examples?