Landing page is completely unclear for new users

I heard about NixOS before (but mostly forgotten about it), recently I encountered one more thread on Hacker News about problems with Snap on Ubuntu.

One of discussion threads was about Snap-free alternatives for Ubuntu and at this point I am sufficiently irritated with Snap to at least test some OS in VMs. With

If you want a paradigm shift, try NixOS + home-manager

I decided to try also NixOS, so I ended on and become confused.

Nix is a tool that takes a unique approach to package management and system configuration. Learn how to make reproducible, declarative and reliable systems.

Wait, so is it operating system or something that you install as a part of OS?

And is it describing part of OS (Nix vs NixOS)? Or maybe Nix and NixOS is the same thing? Is OS here standing for Operating System or something else?

Download Nix / NixOS points me to download package manager. So what I will do with it? Install in Lubuntu? Header is still about NixOS.

Then you can scroll down and NixOS still appears. It remains not described.

Lets go back to top, ignore “Donate”. “Explore” seems interesting, lets go to Explore Nix

“system administrators and other enthusiasts use Nix” - still nothing about NixOS. I want to replace Ubuntu so I need an operating system.

I remain confused. Maybe landing page should describe also NixOS as an operating system, if it is an operating system?

(that is based on the first reaction of a person new to this project with some limited interest to try it - not sure whether I was expected to understand what is going on but I definitely failed)


nix is a package manager, or as I prefer a framework for reproducible builds. It can be used on any Linux, WSL and MacOS.

“NixOS” is a Linux derivative (or an own OS, depending on the defintion of "Linux derivative) that uses nix to build itself as a giant “package” and replaces the last “package” and therefore falls into the category of “immutable Linuxes”. The “package database” backing this is nixpkgs which is considered biggest and freshest by the repology metrics.

nix is a fundamental building block of NixOS, and indeed the OS is for operating system. Often nix and nixos are used interchangeably in the community, though most parts of the community try to move away from it and use proper naming for the 3 parts, “nix” for the tool and language (some prefer to explicitely call the language “nix (expression) language” to avoid further confusion), “nixpkgs” for the package database, and “NixOS” for the linux derivative building on the former two.

You are supposed to scroll down here to the area about the Linux distribution. Then download the image you prefer.

Yeah, I believe you! As far as I remember, there have been discussions several time to also do a proper split into seperate websites, not sure what holds it back though :frowning: Personally I would welcome such a split.

I have to be honest. The documentation and the website have grewn historically and been maintained by people who already know what is going on. “New” folks have been far too little or had a personal guide who already knew everything. This way everything grew into a state that you can work with it if you know what you are doing already. This is a known problem and people are working on it (see ping below).

Pinging @fricklerhandwerk for the user story. Perhaps you can make use of the comments to improve the documentation about all of this in a way that it is clear early on the website?


@matkoniecz We’re very aware of these issues, and you’re not the only one having them:

Thanks for your feedback! More data points will help those involved prioritise what to work on: @bjth @lucperkins @garbas

@NobbZ, thanks for the inline clarification. We indeed discussed the question how to better present Nix, Nixpkgs, and NixOS as distinct but intertwined software projects: project domain name · Issue #287 · NixOS/ · GitHub

The reason it has not happened yet is simply lack of time. Redesigning the website to be what it is now already took a significant effort, which began in 2020. Also there are some seemingly trivial but intricate unaddressed prerequisites, such as deciding which domain names to use for what, since ownership is distributed across multiple people.

Nix is a community project, and everyone follows their own interests and priorities. There are only a handful of people getting paid by different companies to work on the various parts of the Nix ecosystem. No one can make anyone do something, and the process of gathering consensus and commitment to act on it is naturally slow.

Personally I’d love the group of people who are more focused on NixOS to maintain a separate website, ideally under, and I’m sure it will have strong community support, but so far no one has stepped up to create one.


Yeah, I guessed.

And new people rarely provide feedback - they may start contributing but typically at this point they do not remember or care about initial confusion.

I am not planning to start contributing to one more project via PRs, but wanted to record my confusion in case that someone wants to improve onboarding (and has time for that).


Though maybe replacing

Nix is a tool that takes a unique approach to package management and system configuration. Learn how to make reproducible, declarative and reliable systems.


Nix is a tool that takes a unique approach to package management and system configuration. Learn how to make reproducible, declarative and reliable systems.
NixOS is an operating system - Linux distribution using Nix as fundamental building block. As result it is <INSERT EXAMPLE FEATURES HERE>

in top banner would be a good first step?

(note that I was unable to list an example feature that NixOS has and differentiates it from other Linux distributions!)


Trying to understand here, but from the discussion above it seems that the main confusion is that nowhere on the website actually talks about NixOS? For various degrees of ‘newcomers’, they probably expect a something resembling Linux distribution and instead get a description of a CI/CD system and not-even-description of a system configuration tool.

If you are still trying to understand what Nix and NixOS are about and are willing to spend some time reading, I’d recommend checking out Haskell for all: Stop calling everything "Nix", specifically layers #2 through #4.

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Yes, exactly. In my case I am looking for Ubuntu replacement* for my main system and NixOS was mentioned as one of alternatives. And I wanted to check is it a good idea or is it as suitable for main system as TempleOS.

No idea whether my use case is typical/main/supported at all. But from landing page it seems that NixOS is not focus at all what is confusing given domain name.

I would expect at least basic info about strengths/weaknesses and is it advertised as ready for use as main system or is it academical curiosity or what.

*among my reasons for that is Snap-based proprietary story run by Canonical, apt-get showing ads, Lubuntu abandoning its performance focus and becoming generic distribution without focus

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