How do I find a package in


In the last couple of days, I wanted to look at the source for both vim and for awscli2 in unstable. But how do I find them in the massive tree that is nixpkgs/pkgs at nixos-unstable · NixOS/nixpkgs · GitHub? Searching in github for e.g. vim does not yield useful results for me.

To do that, I went to, which prompted me to download downloaded NixOS-nixpkgs-24.05-pre-77301-g6c0b7a92.tar.gz. After unpacking that:

me@machine:~/Downloads/NixOS-nixpkgs-6c0b7a9/pkgs» find . -name vim -o -name awscli2

The human in me knows to use ./applications/editors/vim and disregard ./test/vim.

But what is the canonical way to find the source directory for a given random package? (Which I assume could be different in e.g. 23.11 and unstable)

Usually I follow the Source link from NixOS Search:


I do these often enough that it was worth setting up a search keyword in Firefox:

np →

Super! Simple and works. I like it.

you can also use nix search nixpkgs foo, where nixpkgs in this case is an alias from the registry, but can be any kind of flake reference so if you want specifically to search in the *unstable^, you can do:

nix search github:NixOS/nixpkgs/nixos-unstable foo

nixos-unstable is the name of the branch in the nixpkgs repo.

Thanks, @azazel75 for your suggestion. A cli suggestion would be even better. I’m not seeing nix search providing a link to the source, though. This finds vim, but doesn’t show me ./applications/editors/vim:

$ nix search github:NixOS/nixpkgs/nixos-unstable#vim        
* legacyPackages.x86_64-linux.vim (9.1.0377)
  The most popular clone of the VI editor

(Your suggestion finds every package that mentions vim which is very noisy:

$ nix search github:NixOS/nixpkgs/nixos-unstable vim | wc -l


One can find the file that contains a particular derivation by accessing the meta.position attribute:

$ nix eval nixpkgs#vim.meta.position
2 Likes is also good. nixpkgs + options + home-manager things. this was most fast one.


this count has a x3 amount of lines anyway, I admit that’s may be too much. The text to search is really a regexp so you can do searches like:

nix search github:NixOS/nixpkgs/nixos-unstable '^vim.{0,2}$'
* legacyPackages.x86_64-linux.vim (9.1.0377)
  The most popular clone of the VI editor

* legacyPackages.x86_64-linux.vimb (3.6.0)
  A Vim-like browser

* legacyPackages.x86_64-linux.vimb-unwrapped (3.6.0)
  A Vim-like browser

* legacyPackages.x86_64-linux.vimer (0.2.0)
  A convenience wrapper for gvim/mvim --remote(-tab)-silent to open files in an existing instance of GVim or MacVim. 

* legacyPackages.x86_64-linux.vimpc (0.09.2)
  A vi/vim inspired client for the Music Player Daemon (mpd)

although I find the result a bit strange…

1 Like