While we wait for the next installer workgroup meeting

Today the Installer Workgroup met officially for the first time. I would like to thank everyone that took time out of their day to attend and share their experiences, opinions, and wishes for the Nix installer specifically, and for the Nix onboarding experience in general. I am very happy to see that there are so many of us that wish to improve the situation, and are willing (or already underway) to roll up their sleeves to make it happen.

@regnat was kind enough to take minutes, available here: Nix installer workgroup meeting #1 - HackMD

One thing that became clear during today’s workgroup meeting is that we have a lot to talk about. Too much for us to be able to fit it all into only an hour every couple weeks. There are several topics we ought to explore and discuss. Most of that can happen asynchronously, probably here on Discourse for everyone to see and participate if they wish.

I think it might be useful to have an “Installer” topic here under Development as well, but I don’t know who can make that happen.

Here’s a few things we ought to spend more time on, just as a sampler and conversation starter:

We briefly touched on the subject of distro-specific packages, their existence and varying quality, and what, if anything, we should or could do about them. One thing we didn’t mention, but which is probably obvious, is replacing nix distro packages with a packaged installer. rustup has been quite successful working in this fashion. The ultimate goal is for something useful to be easy to find for the average user, and distro packages are probably the first place they look without knowing any better.

I myself am mainly concerned about the Nix on Mac experience within this topic. I’ve onboarded several Mac-using friends recently, and they all hit snags during the installation process that took a while to work around; usually involving a dozen-step manual uninstallation followed by running the installer again with all our fingers crossed. I’ve been looking into how Homebrew does things in regards to UX. There’s much room for improvement here.

Testing is something we only touched upon as “wish we did more”, but we need to figure out specifics. We need a comprehensive test matrix that touches all target platforms and all supported installation configurations.

I would like to invite everyone to bring up any concerns, questions, or topics they would like to see addressed within the space of non-NixOS Nix installation. If you’d like to talk about specific bugs, please make sure your issue is reflected in the current installer issues (open a new one if you can’t find yours): Issues · NixOS/nix · GitHub

PS: I completely forgot to ask Ana for her contact details. If you’re reading this, could you please reach out to me on matrix at @chris:mkaito.net in order to discuss potential collaboration on the tool you’re working on?


If the installed could repeat a step, start later in the installation process or could check if a step is already done, a failing step wouldn’t require to redo everything after cleaning up all done steps.