Searchable Reference Materials

Finding any info on nix feels really hard. Is there just a giant reference somewhere were I can use to find out about functions and stuff the manual feels lacking for when you have real issues


It is rough, especially when you’re trying to find your sea legs.

A little more detail may draw out better answers…

  • Which manual(s) are you already looking at?
  • When you say you’d like a giant searchable reference, do you mean a single large document to find within, or something more like a search engine?
  • Can you give an example or two of something you’re looking for where you found the manual lacking?

Not the original poster, but also a new user to Nix and finding it incredibly difficult to find anything. In my specific case, how do I go about finding function definitions with descriptions of parameters and return values for the functions in pkgs? For example, pkgs.mkShell or more specific ones like pkgs.buildGoModule. There’s also a whole pkgs.lib subsection which I see a lot of random stuff coming out of.

To use other tools as an example - Ansible has copious amounts of documentation for each function, what parameters it takes, what it returns, and often usage examples. I also recently learned Terraform which has extensive documentation on the HCL language as well as great API documentation for basically every provider. I can’t seem to find anything similar for Nix which is really concerning to me.


Mainly the nix & nixos and some time nix pills if i geting really lost.
Im just looking for something i can grep/Ctrl+F and get helpfull information
well I often get help in the unoffical discord, I had some issues with some games conflicting after wraping them, and any way I ended up geting help but they metioned setPriority but i have not been able to find anything about this flag??option??argument?? and what I has to Deviations/Pkgs.

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Both of those tools are developed by commercial entities so it is not surprising that they would have better documentation.

If you are looking for a more detailed documentation, your best option is the source code. So I suggest cloning the Nixpkgs repository locally and use a grep-like tool to search on it. Like

❯ rg "setPrio = "
50:  setPrio = priority: addMetaAttrs { inherit priority; };

❯ rg "addMetaAttrs = "
15:  addMetaAttrs = newAttrs: drv:

❯ sed -n -e 15,25p lib/meta.nix
  addMetaAttrs = newAttrs: drv:
    drv // { meta = (drv.meta or {}) // newAttrs; };

I’m not trying to unfairly compare Nix to these products - I understand they are both commercially supported. I was more just trying to use a well-known example for what I was looking for. It appears that wiki is the authoritative source for function descriptions?

A more comparable example would probably be modern languages self-documenting capabilities; take for example a recent Rust crate I wrote. I was hoping Nix might have something similar where I can browse the code in a documented format so I can better understand what exists in the standard library and how it’s used.

Here is another example for Consul written in Go using the built-in documentation feature. This provides what the OP is looking for I think - a way to ctrl + f and find your way around the code in a documented manner.


I thank you, source code is the best documentation, but navigation becomes problem real fast. I just find nav-ing around really difficult.