I am one month into testing out Nix. I moved my linux desktop to NixOS and am trying to use Nix on my M1 Air instead of brew. This post will discuss what is going well and whats not working one month into this test.

NixOS Desktop

Using NixOS as my daily driver linux machine is going great. I spent 5 years on arch before moving to NixOS and so far am happy with the change. It’s great to be able to look at a single config file (/etc/nixos/configuration.nix) and understand the state of my entire desktop. I am even able to manage my Gnome extensions here. I really didn’t like that after 6-12 months of using Arch I would loose track of what was installed and why, especially for deep dependencies.

The snapshot feature is also great and has recovered my desktop after an issue with my ZFS configuration prevented the box from booting.


The nix-shell command has been amazing for testing out new applications. I love being able to install something in a temporary shell without cluttering my actual installing. This pairs nicely with dir-env so I can have development dependencies for python and node isolation to a project folder. For example for this hugo blog I have these two files, and then as soon as I enter the project directory all my tools are ready to go:


{ pkgs ? import <nixpkgs> {} }:

pkgs.mkShell {

  buildInputs = [



use nix

Nix as a brew replacement

Since NixOs was going to well I wanted to see how far I could push nix on my M1 Air. I wanted to test out nix-shell as well as nix-darwin:

Overall the experience has not been as smooth as on Linux. The primary issue is many packages are not prebuilt for aarch64-darwin, and fail when they build from source. This means I cannot drop brew yet. Some packages that I have only been able to install via brew include:

  • flameshot
  • libreoffice
  • vlc
  • tmux (available for aarch64-darwin but doesn’t work)
  • darktable

Nix-shell with direnv is working well on the M1 at least.

Next Steps

Now that I am more familiar with the Nix ecosystem I want to learn the following in the next month:

  • What does it take to make a package available for aarch64-darwin?
  • What are flakes and why should I use them?
  • How to I package a project for nix from scratch (Flameshot may be a good candidate)