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doc: Document basic package definitions.

* doc/guix.texi (Programming Interface): Add introduction.
  (Defining Packages): Populate.
Ludovic Courtès 10 years ago
  1. 4
  2. 150


@ -19,8 +19,8 @@ Package recipes in Guix look like this:
(version "2.5")
(method http-fetch)
(uri (string-append ""
(method url-fetch)
(uri (string-append "mirror://gnu/nettle/nettle-"
version ".tar.gz"))


@ -274,6 +274,30 @@ its version string, and the source location of its definition.
@node Programming Interface
@chapter Programming Interface
GNU Guix provides several Scheme programming interfaces (APIs) to
define, build, and query packages. The first interface allows users to
write high-level package definitions. These definitions refer to
familiar packaging concepts, such as the name and version of a package,
its build system, and its dependencies. These definitions can then be
turned into concrete build actions.
Build actions are performed the Guix daemon, on behalf of users. In a
standard setup, the daemon has write access to the store---the
@file{/nix/store} directory---whereas users do not. The recommended
setup also has the daemon perform builds in chroots, under a specific
build users, to minimize interference with the rest of the system.
@cindex derivation
Lower-level APIs are available to interact with the daemon and the
store. To instruct the daemon to perform a build action, users actually
provide it with a @dfn{derivation}. A derivation is a low-level
representation of the build actions to be taken, and the environment in
which they should occur---derivations are to package definitions what
assembly is to C programs.
This chapter describes all these APIs in turn, starting from high-level
package definitions.
* Defining Packages:: Defining new packages.
* The Store:: Manipulating the package store.
@ -283,7 +307,131 @@ its version string, and the source location of its definition.
@node Defining Packages
@section Defining Packages
@code{(guix packages)} and @code{(guix build-system)}
The high-level interface to package definitions is implemented in the
@code{(guix packages)} and @code{(guix build-system)} modules. As an
example, the package definition, or @dfn{recipe}, for the GNU Hello
package looks like this:
(define hello
(name "hello")
(version "2.8")
(source (origin
(method url-fetch)
(uri (string-append "mirror://gnu/hello/hello-" version
(base32 "0wqd8sjmxfskrflaxywc7gqw7sfawrfvdxd9skxawzfgyy0pzdz6"))))
(build-system gnu-build-system)
(inputs `(("gawk" ,gawk)))
(synopsis "GNU Hello")
(description "Yeah...")
(home-page "")
(license "GPLv3+")))
@end example
Without being a Scheme expert, the reader may have guessed the meaning
of the various fields here. This expression binds variable @var{hello}
to a @code{<package>} object, which is essentially a record
(@pxref{SRFI-9, Scheme records,, guile, GNU Guile Reference Manual}).
This package object can be inspected using procedures found in the
@code{(guix packages)} module; for instance, @code{(package-name hello)}
There are a few points worth noting in the above package definition:
The @code{source} field of the package is an @code{<origin>} object.
Here, the @code{url-fetch} method from @code{(guix download)} is used,
meaning that the source is a file to be downloaded over FTP or HTTP.
The @code{mirror://gnu} prefix instructs @code{url-fetch} to use one of
the GNU mirrors defined in @code{(guix download)}.
The @code{sha256} field specifies the expected SHA256 hash of the file
being downloaded. It is mandatory, and allows Guix to check the
integrity of the file. The @code{(base32 @dots{})} form introduces the
base32 representation of the hash. A convenient way to obtain this
information is with the @code{guix-download} tool.
@cindex GNU Build System
The @code{build-system} field is set to @var{gnu-build-system}. The
@var{gnu-build-system} variable is defined in the @code{(guix
build-system gnu)} module, and is bound to a @code{<build-system>}
Naturally, @var{gnu-build-system} represents the familiar GNU Build
System, and variants thereof (@pxref{Configuration, configuration and
makefile conventions,, standards, GNU Coding Standards}). In a
nutshell, packages using the GNU Build System may be configured, build,
and installed with the usual @code{./configure && make && make check &&
make install} command sequence. This is what @var{gnu-build-system}
In addition, @var{gnu-build-system} ensures that the ``standard''
environment for GNU packages is available. This includes tools such as
GCC, Coreutils, Bash, Make, Diffutils, and Patch.
The @code{inputs} field specifies inputs to the build process---i.e.,
build-time or run-time dependencies of the package. Here, we define an
input called @code{"gawk"} whose value is that of the @var{gawk}
variable; @var{gawk} is itself bound to a @code{<package>} object.
Note that GCC, Coreutils, Bash, and other essential tools do not need to
be specified as inputs here. Instead, @var{gnu-build-system} takes care
of ensuring that they are present.
However, any other dependencies need to be specified in the
@code{inputs} field. Any dependency not specified here will simply be
unavailable to the build process, possibly leading to a build failure.
@end itemize
There are other fields that package definitions may provide. Of
particular interest is the @code{arguments} field. When specified, it
must be bound to a list of additional arguments to be passed to the
build system. For instance, the above definition could be augmented
with the following field initializer:
(arguments `(#:tests? #f
#:configure-flags '("--enable-silent-rules")))
@end example
These are keyword arguments (@pxref{Optional Arguments, keyword
arguments in Guile,, guile, GNU Guile Reference Manual}). They are
passed to @var{gnu-build-system}, which interprets them as meaning ``do
not run @code{make check}'', and ``run @file{configure} with the
@code{--enable-silent-rules} flag''.
Once a package definition is in place@footnote{Simple package
definitions like the one above may be automatically converted from the
Nixpkgs distribution using the @command{guix-import} command.}, the
package may actually be built using the @code{guix-build} command-line
tool (@pxref{Invoking guix-build}).
Behind the scenes, a derivation corresponding to the @code{<package>}
object is first computed by the @code{package-derivation} procedure.
That derivation is stored in a @code{.drv} file under @file{/nix/store}.
The build actions is prescribes may then be realized by using the
@code{build-derivations} procedure (@pxref{The Store}).
@deffn {Scheme Procedure} package-derivation @var{store} @var{package} [@var{system}]
Return the derivation of @var{package} for @var{system}. The result is
the file name of the derivation---i.e., a @code{.drv} file under
@var{package} must be a valid @code{<package>} object, and @var{system}
must be a string denoting the target system type---e.g.,
@code{"x86_64-linux"} for an x86_64 Linux-based GNU system. @var{store}
must be a connection to the daemon, which operates on the store
(@pxref{The Store}).
@end deffn
@node The Store
@section The Store