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GNU Guix for developers

Introduction

This document discusses GNU Guix as a developers environment. That is, if you want to use the latest version of your developers tools in your home directory and target solutions for other users. I use GNU Guix for writing software every day - and it is great.

GNU Guix has a number of things going for it:

  1. GNU Guix contains the latest versions of tools. Because it is a rolling distribution

  2. GNU Guix is predictable. It gives full control over the dependency graph.

  3. GNU Guix is reproducible. If a user also deploys your software with GNU Guix you get the same environment, all the way down to glibc.

  4. GNU Guix comes with great tooling. Because we are all developers!

Most importantly Guix provides isolation. That means that if you use different combinations of dependencies you can rely on the system to provide them. Examples are using different versions of interpreters/compilers and different versions of libraries. Simply create a profile for each combination.

Installing GNU Guix

A clean slate

An environment may contain 'impurities'. PATH and LD_LIBRARY_PATH are notorious examples. Let's make sure we have a sane environment

Search paths will suggest a Guix enviroment, e.g.

guix package --search-paths

renders

export PATH="/home/pjotr/.guix-profile/bin:/home/pjotr/.guix-profile/sbin"
export GUIX_LOCPATH="/home/pjotr/.guix-profile/lib/locale"
export C_INCLUDE_PATH="/home/pjotr/.guix-profile/include"
export CPLUS_INCLUDE_PATH="/home/pjotr/.guix-profile/include"
export LIBRARY_PATH="/home/pjotr/.guix-profile/lib"
export GUILE_LOAD_PATH="/home/pjotr/.guix-profile/share/guile/site/2.0"
export GUILE_LOAD_COMPILED_PATH="/home/pjotr/.guix-profile/share/guile/site/2.0"
export PYTHONPATH="/home/pjotr/.guix-profile/lib/python2.7/site-packages"
export R_LIBS_SITE="/home/pjotr/.guix-profile/site-library/"
export GUIX_GTK3_PATH="/home/pjotr/.guix-profile/lib/gtk-3.0"
export GI_TYPELIB_PATH="/home/pjotr/.guix-profile/lib/girepository-1.0"
export XDG_DATA_DIRS="/home/pjotr/.guix-profile/share"
export GIO_EXTRA_MODULES="/home/pjotr/.guix-profile/lib/gio/modules"
export PERL5LIB="/home/pjotr/.guix-profile/lib/perl5/site_perl"
export GEM_PATH="/home/pjotr/.guix-profile/lib/ruby/gems/2.3.0"

First we empty all setings

env -i /bin/bash --login --noprofile --norc

and now we pick and choose what we need. It may be just enough to set the path and a HOME directory

export HOME=/home/pjotr
export PATH="$HOME/.guix-profile/bin:$HOME/.guix-profile/sbin":$PATH

the library path needs to be set toward your build target. In the case of Guix

export LIBRARY_PATH=$HOME/.guix-profile/lib

In the case of your native distribution:

export LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu

and optionally set the TERM to something useful

export TERM=screen

Troubleshooting

ctr1.o problem

When you hit an error like

/home/pjotr/.guix-profile/bin/ld: cannot find crt1.o: No such file or directory

it means the installed linker can not find its files.

If are creating Guix linked binaries you should set LIBRARY_PATH to the Guix profile/lib.

If are creating locally linked binaries, use the local linker! Don't use the Guix ld.

ld is part of the Guix binutils package.

apt-get install gcc-multilib libc-dev