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Want to get rid of Ruby RVM and/or have a controlled Python environment? These documents tell you how. The Guix solution is simple and at the same time robust.

Unlike apt, rpm, modules, Brew and Docker, GNU Guix allows you deploy software in a reproducible way and have full control over the dependency graph. You can run multiple versions of the same software (say Ruby 1.8.7, 2.1.1 and 2.3.0) with their fixated dependencies and no interference.

The software graph is getting increasingly complex over time. GNU Guix is the one solution that can handle that complexity. Rather than going for ad hoc solutions, such as Docker and Brew, we champion using the right tool for the job.

alt text

Dependency graph for python2-virtualenv. Notice perl5 is required because of openssl.

Useful Guix commands

This is a list of useful Guix commands. The quick path to installation is using the binary tarball.

Add the guix PATH

export PATH=./guix-profile/bin:$PATH

Start the daemon (normally as root)

guix-daemon --build-users-group=guixbuild

Update guix itself

guix package -i guix

List all recommended environment settings

guix package --search-paths

List all python packages (that contain the word 'python')

guix package -A python

Install a version of python using a profile

guix package -p ~/opt/python-2.7.11 -i python@2.7.11

Now you can run this specific version of Python with

~/opt/python-2.7.11/bin/python -V

Such profiles can be shared with other users on the system!

Show the contents of a package

guix package --show=python2-virtualenv

Install Python2 with virtualenv (yes, you can do that)

guix package -i python2-virtualenv

which installs the binary distribution. If you want to build from source do

guix package -i python2-virtualenv --no-substitutes

and if you want to keep the build directories (so to visit them and see what is happening, especially on error)

guix package -i python2-virtualenv --no-substitutes -K

Find all dependencies

guix gc --references /gnu/store/b896978pyr8bfw5bbqv1d7w24163xpxg-python2-virtualenv-13.1.2

Plot a graph of dependencies

guix package -i graphviz
guix graph --type=references python2-virtualenv |dot -Gsize="10,10" -Gratio=0.7 -Tsvg -Nfontsize=48 > dag.svg

Rendering the figure above.

Validate the contents of the store against the database (there is also an option for repair)

guix gc --verify

List all unused paths (i.e., no longer symlinked) and after remove them

guix gc --list-dead
guix gc --collect-garbage

Spawns a shell or container (similar to Docker) where all declared inputs are available and all environment variables are set

guix environment --{pure,container} pkg

Other information

This repository contains Pjotr's notes on working with GNU Guix. I have gathered install and 'bootstrapping' Guix, hacking Guix packages with Guile and the philosophy of creating a Ruby environment and getting rid of RVM, bundler, virtualenv and the like.

You may want to also read Ricardo's article about Guix on compute clusters and Malcolm's guide.


Pjotr Prins