Possible to impurely read $HOME in flakes by using ~/

The nix language supports using paths that start with ~/, which are relative to the user’s home directory. It looks like this is implemented by using the $HOME environment variable:

$ HOME=/tmp nix eval --expr '~/foo'

However, this functionality isn’t disabled when evaluating a flake, meaning that flakes can produce different results depending on what $HOME is set to at evaluation time.

I had a brief look through public flakes on github that might be affected by this (with the query path:flake.nix " ~/" in github code search), and I could only find one, kmein/niveum:

This is a very similar example to what led me to realise this fact in the first place – I was running sudo nixos-rebuild and was confused why something using a ~/-path wasn’t working as I expected, until I realised that probably it was evaluating to /root/... rather than /home/ash/....

A concrete example of this is the following flake.nix:

  description = "A very basic flake";
  outputs = { self, nixpkgs }: {
    devShells.x86_64-linux.default = nixpkgs.legacyPackages.x86_64-linux.mkShell {
      shellHook = ''
        echo my path is: ${toString ./.}
        echo your home directory is: ${toString ~/.}

If I run nix develop as two different users, the flake prints different home directories:

$ nix develop
my path is: /nix/store/c6c50m39qyfb94iix44352a8pj3yz22d-source
your home directory is: /home/ash
$ sudo nix develop
[sudo] password for ash:
my path is: /nix/store/c6c50m39qyfb94iix44352a8pj3yz22d-source
your home directory is: /root

This seems unideal. Since nix eval --expr 'builtins.getEnv "HOME"' produces the empty string unless --impure is used, I suspect it is also unintentional. I’m honestly not familiar enough with flakes to declare it a bug outright, though, which is why I’m posting about it here rather than filing an issue about it on the nix repo.


I’d report this to Issues · NixOS/nix · GitHub .

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Reported as Possible to impurely read $HOME in flakes by using `~`-paths · Issue #6684 · NixOS/nix · GitHub.

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