Should we give a name to nix on non NixOS?

I’m assuming that by suggesting it, he is comfortable with donating the name.


Yes, I’m comfortable with that

1 Like

Won’t this create lots of confusion with Nickel?

1 Like

Some people have been using NixEL since 2016: Proposal: give a dedicated name to Nix Expression Language · Issue #835 · NixOS/nix · GitHub

And when I was originally introduced to Nix that person told me Nixel was the language, which made sense to me: Why Nix? - Rafael Alvarez

Indeed, when Nickel gets introduced officially (if that even happens, we don’t know) it will invalidate all existing documentation referring to Nix/Nixel/Nixlang or any other option we pick. But that possibility shouldn’t prevent us from improving what we have today


Heh, sorry about that, I never read usernames…


I like that… that’s pretty cool. It gets my vote…

Nixel drives the pixels!!!

i like nixel; and we can still keep the extension file.nix. not sure about the seo, but i personally don’t mind it

now we just need Nixie Pixel to do a vid on it

1 Like

I agree. The point is in a world with Nickel, TOML Flakes, etc. etc., we need to be able to tell these things apart.

Nixel is a fine name in isolation, but Nickel I think precludes us choosing it, sorry.

It feels like things are the opposite now in that NixOS is assumed default. I have also historically had more issues with Nix standalone because I think NixOS gets more attention and is more in our control.

I see everyone talking about Nickel about to replace Nix language, but yet I see no PR in Nix related to Nickel and no RFC. What’s going on here? :thinking:


@Solene I know of no concrete plans, but if one were to implement a very similar languages with a bunch of cool new features (e.g. gradual types), it would be a damn shame if it didn’t grow a compatibility mode and replace it entirely! Right?!

1 Like

Some context is here Figure out an adoption plan · Issue #93 · tweag/nickel · GitHub

Would it be a good change to have Nickel replacing the Nix language?

Maybe this should rather be discussed in some other topic, e.g. Nickel: the Nix (language) spin-off - #4 by yannham.

I was going to type my opinions about Nickel vs Nix, but that would IMO derail the conversation.


I come late but I think X-OS is not a great name for an OS, plus nix is starting to get established as a tool that is orthogonal to NixOS. Would it make sense to change the name of NixOS to something completely different? As it stands now it sounds like the only special thing about nix OS is that it is an OS built with Nix. I’m sure there’s much more than that.

1 Like

That’s the defining property NixOS. Everything else emerges naturally from that. For example the fact that NixOS is not just a Linux distribution, but a framework to make Linux distributions.


My $0.02 on this topic:

  1. Many people outside our bubble assume NixOS and everything connected to it is a Linux distribution just like Debian, Arch, Fedora and the like. So, distribution of packages + operating system in one.
    The new name for “Nix on non-NixOS” should shatter that assumption. “Package manager” won’t get us there: While standalone PMs do exist, the vast majority are language-specific PMs. Nearly all other PMs that carry OS packages and are directly connected to a Linux distro only work for that specific Linux distro (and close relatives).
    Unless you’re already in the know, it’s very easy to assume Nix only exists inside NixOS.
  2. The new short name for the Nix expression language is a separate discussion and probably best held in an RFC that requires all “official” mentions of it to be changed to the new name.
    Personal opinioin: “Nixlang” is too similar to “Nix” and will not be used widely enough to be relevant. People will just leave it out for beverity because “everyone knows they referred to the language”.
    “Nixel” OTOH sounds very different and is a semi-acronym of the “proper” name. I really like that.
    I don’t think it’ll collide with Nickel. It’s just one consonant that’s different but that doesn’t mean it’s distinct to us humans. I wouldn’t confuse a weird non-dictionary word like Nixel with a “real” word like Nickel. It’s distinct in sound and reading.

My feelings on names run wild.
I’ll let some roam into this conversation.

I feel like a distinct term improves discoverability.

When I started learning Nix a couple years ago I would query in search engines but often be frustrated because I could not find what I needed. Part of this comes from GNU/Linux content where authors say “*nix” to refer to Unix or Linux. At GNU/Linux meetups I’ve also heard people say “Unixes” or “Linuxes” which can add to the confusion.

I love the metaphor of “nix” meaning nothing in Dutch. What short words might continue that tradition but offer improved discoverability?

Nixel is clever! For me, it lacks metaphor. It feels less real. Though I could make the same argument for nix. Alas!

I also think we run into a should we change a widely used thing naming problem: would renaming such a primitive provide enough benefit?

Chesterton’s fence inspires that thinking.


The English language just failed me. “a should we change a widely used thing naming problem” should be one word. I hear German excels in that!


The lack of unofficial documentation (blogs, QA sites, forums etc.) was a major hurdle when I was starting out. The situation has likely improved since 2019 but making things easier to google is still very valuable w.r.t. easing the learning curve IMO.

With all due respect, I don’t think Eelco et al employed second order thinking when coming up with a name that literally means “nothing” :wink:

Weitverbreitetesachennamensänderungsnotwendigkeitsproblem. You’re welcome.


As per today’s doc team meeting, a decision has been made on how to name the Nix language, looks like:

For my regard, the Docs Team’s decision would be authoritative enough to finally have a legitimate decision.

Edit: 2022-08-25 Documentation team meeting notes #8