Poll: Who do you think are the target audience for nixos?

The poll is unofficial and arised in a discussion form NixOS is the best linux back-end ever designed. But it can't become mainstream without a front-end
Please read that thread before voting.
The question is should nixos enter mainstream? i.e. used by majority of people who are not tech savvy.

  • Nixos should become user-friendly for non-technical users
  • Nixos should become beginner-friendly for intermediate-level Linux users
  • I like where it is at and don’t mind/care if it changes and becomes more user-friendly if it doesn’t force anything on me
  • It should remain for advanced users, but there could be a separate beginner-friendly Nixos distro (for eg. snowflakeos)
  • It should remain for advanced users, without focus on non-technical users
  • None of the above (other, leave a comment)

0 voters

Please vote based on your perspective. We can discuss the implications of the poll results later.

not relevant to poll

I haven’t encountered many polls on this forum, so I apologize if polls are not a respected way to gauge the general sentiment.
And once again this poll is unofficial, let’s keep it civil, and if you strongly think one way or another to the point where you start getting confrontational please don’t participate in the discussion for your own mental health.

I selected a few options, but what I really want is:

  • NixOS should be targeted at users who can* contribute back to NixOS, whatever level of ‘advancedness‘ that corresponds to. If we can make contributing require less ‘advancedness’, even better.

[*] ‘Can’ means eventually, not on day one! Practice with configuring NixOS teaches some of the relevant skills.


I don’t know if NixOS can be categorised either as an OS for “advanced” or “beginner” users, whatever that means. It solves a specific problem, which is building reproducible environments from a unified configuration system; If you deeply care about that, then NixOS is for you, whatever “level” you are. However, if you’re a non-technical user, chances are you don’t care about this at all.

In any case, NixOS has many problems that make a bad user experience even for people that are active contributors, so before trying to improve the experience for non-technical people I would focus on the former first.


if you’re a non-technical user, chances are you don’t care about this at all.

I can’t argue with this point but I wish the idea of a reproducible system backed by git with rollbacks and all the other niceties nix brings can be the default for everyone.

Lots of concepts baked into one tool and require hours long explainations to fully get the grasp of but it could be explained to normal users as “every time you install, update or uninstall something it will create a restore point, so it can never break theoritically, you can always go back, just have to clean up once in a while, can also enable auto clean up and be done with it”

before trying to improve the experience for non-technical people I would focus on the former first

I fully agree.

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For really non-technical users, nixos works relatively well already. They need someone to help setting it up in the first place for any distribution and will need a reliable system that does fully autonomous updates and maintenance. For software they need you can just enable flatpaks. Somehow similar to silverblue, maybe that would also be a better fit overall…
The point I wanted to make is that non-technical users might have a different set of requirements than expected at first glance…


The thing is, it in fact solves many more problems than just building reproducible build environments. Saying that it’s the only problem that it solves, undersells it greatly.


As I see it Nixos has three main problems:

  • Flakes. It looks like it will never be beginner friendly and effort should be made to make it mainstream. I look forward to real improvement in flakes. i understand only about half of Nixos users don’t use flakes.
  • Space used in the nix store. It needs real management tools to remove the effort IMO wasted time running the garbage collector, etc. And appears to be a regular topic in this space. I need something to tell me the space in the store is fully optimized or rather when its not.
  • There are GUI’s out there to manage installing/removing packages and they should be brought into Nixos. Yes I heard the argument package managers don’t work and need huge effort. But this just maybe the one thing that sends Nixos in to orbit. If have a non Nixos machine and when the package manager doesn’t work, which is often rather than not, I simply hit the command line. People will find a way :grinning:

I think we should treat NixOS (the operating system) as a metadistro.
This metadistro is naturally for advanced users.

On the other hand, we should promote SnowflakeOS for all the eyecandy user friendliness.

As I have said in other threads, we can and should delegate user friendliness to another project. Many projects were born this way.


I agree. While initially I liked the idea of simply bettering the NixOS experience for newbies, I prefer leaving it up to another distro better.

As far as the popularity of NixOS goes (stemming from the original thread this poll was made from), this could still, in turn, help NixOS like in other cases (Debian-Ubuntu or Arch-Manjaro).

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The only way that Nixos can be popularized is if there was an LLM exclusive to the OS. I don’t see how “my Grandad” (to evoke a stereotypical non-technical user) would get around rebuild errors. And even then it would be challenging.

Great documentation is the way forward; Nixos needs to walk before it can run


I agree with this perspective 100%.

The value in NixOS is not something a non-technical user is likely to care about. Whether you are advanced or intermediate is fairly irrelevant to the conversation. That is just a measure of where you are with your learning process.

If you wanted a version of NixOS that was built for non-technical users you could certainly build that. Just create a core built on NixOS and then let people install applications interactively via Flatpak, Nix, Brew, or whatever else. But that probably wouldn’t be something that most current NixOS users would want.


#comedy Is this a joke?

Yes- it was totally a joke on that Mastodon chain and your LLM comment reminded me of it. Maybe I can tell the future… :grinning:

On a serious note though, I agree with you. NixOS is good enough that an LLM or even something much much much more simple that provides some guidance on what errors mean or how to correct them would be very useful. I’m not a programmer and I manage a bunch of personal & family machines on a flake. Something that could help guide me on setting up packages or services with different options would probably take me to the next level.

Also, I just discovered mynixos.com today, but couldn’t figure out how to use it… was attempting to see if I could add FreshRSS as a service to my flake, or get the concept of building it with the tool. But maybe it is user error (me).

lol. Oh ok, I am actually really scared of saying something extremely stupid, but when you get to my age, you lose your inhibitions also.

If you run nix language with the lsp (I use helix) you get suggestions. Would be cool to get some kind of build aid.

MyNixos gives you the configuration parameters, both for main config and home config. So say you are trying to configure starship, (kitty, alacritty, whatever).
Type ‘starship’ in and you will see what your config options are, for home or main respectively. So you could type in ‘home-manager starship’, if you wanted to set it up in Home Manager. Then you get your options. [ programs.starship.enable boolean]

so programs.starship.enable = true;

etc. Then go to Github and search ‘nixos starship’ and you will see how other people have configured starship. I have just mixed and matched myself.

I think LibrePhoenix has a video on options. You can do a certain amount with modularity also. Here’s my very basic config, where you can see the modularity in the flake, and how you can run different things on different machines with shared and individual packages.

Gaditone/Central_Nixos - Codeberg.org

lol thanks. Those are some interesting items to ponder on.

I tend to understand the concept, like your starship example, but when implementing I often think differently than whoever created the code and run into some unusual errors. But we’ll see. I like your idea of starting with MyNixos or even search.nixos.org and viewing the options, followed by looking up real life examples on github. I learned a new technique today.

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One week, 100 voters. A good time to close the poll.
The discussion can be continued of course.

I haven’t posted the poll anywhere outside this discourse to gather votes only from those who frequent it. Thanks for participating.