Thanks for the replies. I think I may not have been clear regarding my starting point.
As far as audio production with linux (Debian, for the most part) and FOSS per se, I’ve been at it for at least 20 years and it has been very satisfying. Matters are certainly much better now than when I started. It’s more specifically NixOS and jackdbus that are new to me and with which I’m struggling. I could retreat back to Debian and continue as I have.
I’ve used jack1 successfully for many of those years, though jack1 doesn’t cooperate well with pulseaudio. I’ve not found it terribly inconvenient to simply kill pulseaudio when I wanted to do more serious, jack-related things. Sometimes, I’d just remove it altogether if the machine was dedicated to audio production.
I’ve happily used Nix as a secondary PM for a few years now, but I only recently switched from Debian to NixOS. There are still some wrinkles I need to iron out, but I’ve been really excited with it so far and I don’t regret the swap. It seems the standard NixOS approach is to go with jack2/jackdbus and interop it with pulseaudio, which sounds like a great idea, in principle. Another advantage is that it’s a proper service and its config can be declared in configuration.nix, which I see as a big win.
However many jack clients are unable to connect to it for some reason. That’s why I’m considering abandoning that approach and trying to go back to jack1, which is familiar to me.
@stphrolland Muznix is very interesting, but it’s specifically about kernel configuration. I think it’ll come in handy when I’ve solved these more fundamental problems. But I saw your response before you edited it and I think your suggestion to try to contact those people is a good one. Clearly they’ll have worked through some of this.
@aanderse I agree that the reproducibility that NixOS brings is very attractive – that’s what I’m here for. Unfortunately, I may lose that if I switch to a non-service. I really need to try home manager, so things aren’t so imperative.