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NixBSD: This Project Mixes FreeBSD and NixOS in One!

Wait, what? Two good things in one? What do you mean? Take a look here.

The awesomeness of open source never disappoints! Many from the community have teamed up to create something that will appeal to the BSD and Nix aficionados out there.

A new project called NixBSD has shown up that aims to combine the goodness of FreeBSD with the utilitarian nature of NixOS.

It is not an official collaborative project between NixOS and FreeBSD.

For those unfamiliar, FreeBSD is a Unix-like operating system based on BSD that supports a wide variety of hardware configurations, and is preferred by many who like a hands-on approach.

Whereas, NixOS is an immutable Linux distribution based on the Nix package manager that features a highly modular approach to carrying out important tasks related to the operating system.

For a more detailed look into NixOS, I highly suggest you take a look at our NixOS tutorial series. Now, let's move on to see what the NixBSD project is all about.

NixBSD: What to Expect?

For starters, NixBSD is what its developers call “a reproducible and declarable BSD, based on NixOS”, it will let users take advantage of all the benefits that the Nix package manager has to offer.

So, things like atomic upgrades/rollback, absence of dependency conflict issues, multi-user package management, etc. are now a possibility on BSD 😲

The developers also add that:

Although theoretically much of this work could be copied to build other BSDs, all work thus far has been focused on building a FreeBSD distribution.

If we go by the above, this project opens the door for other BSDs to implement Nix, and that is a great thing! 😃

At the time of writing, the NixBSD project has three main repos:

  • nix, which is the fork of the Nix package management system with modifications that allow it to run with FreeBSD.
  • nixpkgs, the fork of Nix Packages that works with FreeBSD, it provides access to over 80,000 packages that can be installed using Nix.
  • NixBSD, the main repository that acts as a stage for building variants of NixOS with the FreeBSD kernel.

All in all, this undertaking looks very promising, but, you will have to wait a bit for a proper distro release.

Want to check it out?

In its current form, NixBSD is in its very early stages of development, and cannot be considered for production or even general use.

But, if you really want to try it out, or help by contributing to it, give its GitHub repo a visit.

You should find a very bare-bones setup with instructions on how to build it on a virtual machine on Linux. There's also a small section about how to contribute to the code of NixBSD.

Suggested Read 📖

Getting Started With NixOS Linux
A tutorial series to help you get familiar with the immutable NixOS Linux distribution.

💬 It will be interesting to see how this progresses. Did you expect such a project to come out?

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