Suggestions for future NixOS Releases

I’ve finally spared some time today to give NixOS a try.
I’ve been using Linux for more than 20 years, currently at an upper intermediate user level, I guess (with no specialized IT skills, other than some preliminary shell scripting experience).
In the last several years, I think I’ve finally decided that Debian Testing with KDE Plasma is my thing.
NixOS attracted my attention due to its well-known new and unique features, but I’ve kept postponing it because I thought it was too early - at least for me, who prefers doing things the GUI way, although don’t mind using the terminal from time to time especially when it’s a timesaver.
This was confirmed when I tried the latest stable release of NixOS (23.11) on a test machine today.
So, I’ve decided to check how things are going until I find it’s finally time for migration to NixOS, but for now, I just want to provide some feedback in the hope that I might help developers to further improve this very promising distro:

  1. It was not easy to write the ISO image. Balena Etcher couldn’t even read it. I couldn’t write it even with the dd command, but luckily dropping it to my Ventoy USB stick worked. Somebody said it might be due to USB 3 backward compatibility issues while using a mix of USB 2 and 3 with the port and the removable device in question, but maybe it can be overcome with an improved ISO image build, I don’t know.

  2. The grub menu doesn’t include a live session like other distros, but actually, the first “Installer” option does launch a live session (KDE Plasma 5 in my case) although it automatically starts the installation script. So, it seems the grub menu could be improved.

  3. Automatically starting the installation script fails with the error message that there’s no Internet connection, I guess because a wired connection is assumed. However, I think most users will need to choose a WiFi network and enter their password first.

  4. It’s good to have a very minimal set of apps and packages in the ISO image, but I would suggest (a) replacing Elisa with Dragon Player to let the users check if the system is ready for different audio and video formats, if they wish, (b) preferring KDE Partition Manager instead of GParted, (c) keeping KWrite only, and leaving Kate for the users to install if they wish, and finally (d) removing KDE’s non-existent Discover software center from the panel (and any other place).

  5. I think an important oversight is the lack of the ntfs3g package in the default installation, which made the system unable to mount a USB HDD disk, although it was possible to mount it during the live session.

  6. As for the initial state of the NixOS system’s pivotal file “configuration.nix”, I think it would be better to include the package “firefox” under the “environment.systemPackages” rather than the regular user only, maybe together with several others. More importantly, it might be a good idea to include a rich set of configuration options here, probably most of them commented out so that users can manage the system configuration more easily. For example, which packages might be installed, and which options should be used to have a Plymouth theme instead of terminal output…

  7. I think, most important of all, NixOS urgently needs a graphical package/software manager as well as a system configuration manager for broader adoption in addition to advanced Linux users.

Despite all this, I’m very hopeful that NixOS can be my regular operating system in not so distant future. I’m very glad that I could migrate my current KDE Plasma configuration (which is heavily customized with 3 panels, a number of widgets, dozens of custom service menu items, scripts, etc.) by simply copying them to my home partition/directory. Even my zsh custom configuration worked only with a warning: “Could not find ‘/usr/bin/zsh’, starting ‘/run/current-system/sw/bin/zsh’ instead…” Although it could perhaps be easier with some more symlinks in the system, it seems a future migration will not require too much effort.

Thanks to all…


More info to get to the bottom of this would be nice. I’ve never experienced this, or in fact seen dd unable to write something (or do you mean it failed to boot after writing with dd?), this sounds more like your hardware might be broken than an issue with the NixOS image.

Would be cool to see at least your dmesg and journalctl output after an attempt with etcher.

NixOS has not focused on such an initiative, kind of like Arch. We also have a splinter “distro” that’s attempting this, much like Arch has a variety of them. Input from users like you is probably very welcome:


It seems there’s a problem in my BalenaEtcher because I’ve just noticed that the new version of AppImage fails to read any iso file. As for the dd command, I think the problem was with reading it - either failing to boot or install. Probably there was some technical problem that isn’t worth elaborating further since the iso image does work with Ventoy.

Thank you very much for drawing my attention to SnowFlakesOS, which I didn’t know. I’ll look forward to trying its first release then.