Well if NixOS people themselves have not just done this, it must be non-trivial. I think in my case, just to get something working, I’m going to build a chroot environment with something like Debian. I just need something for a two-week trip, where NixOS is my main system and I want everything on one laptop.
Thank you. I’ve installed anki-bin and it is working. I don’t really understand the -bin designation, since Anki is distributed as binaries anyway, but whatever.
In general, the various product forums have distinctive characters, and I’ve found the NixOS forums to be remarkably welcoming and cooperative. As Nix is such a radical and superior packaging system, I’d expect the forums to be rather judgemental of those like me who haven’t taken the time to learn it properly, but that isn’t the case.
Most of the software from Nixpkgs is compiled from source. In Nixpkgs, it is relatively rare to just distribute binaries from upstream. In fact, because of the filesystem organization of Nix/NixOS, upstream binaries will often not run correctly with Nix/NixOS, and need to be patched in various ways.
Some packages in Nixpkgs are named foobar-bin to signify they are not built from source, but are (modified) binaries from upstream.
There are a fraction of Nix/Nixpkgs users who are strongly against non-source-built packages.