Is there a checkInputs?

Is there an analog to buildInputs for those utilities and components only needed for check phase?

I need to minimise the visibility of stuff during build, and there are pieces only needed by the tests.

yes, it’s checkInputs NixOS - Nixpkgs 21.05 manual


… but I believe it won’t help your aim of minimizing visibility during other phases. (in its current implementation)

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Indeed, for that a separate derivation is needed.