So I (re)installed NixOS on my old Notebook yesterday and today. Besides some small problems it worked like a charm. Read about it here.
Why did I reinstall?
Well, the old setup was fine. Besides one thing: I hadn’t my configuration repository on the device. You may think, well, where is the problem? Just install git and clone it from the other machines, right? The point is, I like to keep my configuration parts private and only share snippets of it if someone asks. Also because there are passwords in it and so on. You know what I mean.
That’s why I need disc encryption when I want to clone my configuration repository on a device. So I had to reinstall the device because it had no disc encryption. No problem, as nixos is awesome!
The process of reinstalling
Well, it was really simple: Boot the USB stick, format the drive with
and create encrypted volumes with
cryptsetup, then mount them and create
file systems with
mkfs. Then mount these and do a
nixos-install - smooth
After that, I edited the
configuration.nix file which was created by
nixos-install, so had vim and git available when rebooting - also smooth as
But then, I did the big mistake.
I was a bit tired yesterday, so apologies here. But I actually did
Of course, it worked for the first step. I then logged in with this user,
configuration.nix file to have the user as well, rebuild the
system and rebooted. The user still existed, but the packages were not
available. I had already cloned my configuration repository onto the encrypted
drive and linked it from the
/etc/nixos/configuration.nix path, but the
packages were not available to the user.
The solution I found this morning was rather simple: I had two boot loader configurations in my configuration files, as my workstation machine boots via gummiboot for UEFI but the old notebook had to use grub. Two bootloader definitions are not that good - the bootloader didn’t get any updates, so I always rebooted into the same generation, resulting in a way to old environment, where the packages were not available.
I fixed this one and also removed everything which was related to the user I
had created. I did a
nixos-rebuild switch. The user got created, the
bootloader got its update.
So, overall, you can reproduce by:
- Don’t be tired when installing a OS
in this order.
And you have everything available. It is SO awesome. I just logged into the machine over SSH and did some things. It was SO easy, because I didn’t need to reinstall all my stuff, I already had it available and it worked. That’s pure awesomeness to me (pun intended)!