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8.1.2 Package Transformation Options

Another set of command-line options supported by guix build and also guix package are package transformation options. These are options that make it possible to define package variants—for instance, packages built from different source code. This is a convenient way to create customized packages on the fly without having to type in the definitions of package variants (see Defining Packages).


Use source as the source of package, and version as its version number. source must be a file name or a URL, as for guix download (see Invoking guix download).

When package is omitted, it is taken to be the package name specified on the command line that matches the base of source—e.g., if source is /src/guile-2.0.10.tar.gz, the corresponding package is guile.

Likewise, when version is omitted, the version string is inferred from source; in the previous example, it is 2.0.10.

This option allows users to try out versions of packages other than the one provided by the distribution. The example below downloads ed-1.7.tar.gz from a GNU mirror and uses that as the source for the ed package:

guix build ed --with-source=mirror://gnu/ed/ed-1.7.tar.gz

As a developer, --with-source makes it easy to test release candidates:

guix build guile --with-source=../guile-

… or to build from a checkout in a pristine environment:

$ git clone git://
$ guix build guix --with-source=guix@1.0=./guix

Replace dependency on package by a dependency on replacement. package must be a package name, and replacement must be a package specification such as guile or guile@1.8.

For instance, the following command builds Guix, but replaces its dependency on the current stable version of Guile with a dependency on the legacy version of Guile, guile@2.0:

guix build --with-input=guile=guile@2.0 guix

This is a recursive, deep replacement. So in this example, both guix and its dependency guile-json (which also depends on guile) get rebuilt against guile@2.0.

This is implemented using the package-input-rewriting Scheme procedure (see package-input-rewriting).


This is similar to --with-input but with an important difference: instead of rebuilding the whole dependency chain, replacement is built and then grafted onto the binaries that were initially referring to package. See Security Updates, for more information on grafts.

For example, the command below grafts version 3.5.4 of GnuTLS onto Wget and all its dependencies, replacing references to the version of GnuTLS they currently refer to:

guix build --with-graft=gnutls=gnutls@3.5.4 wget

This has the advantage of being much faster than rebuilding everything. But there is a caveat: it works if and only if package and replacement are strictly compatible—for example, if they provide a library, the application binary interface (ABI) of those libraries must be compatible. If replacement is somehow incompatible with package, then the resulting package may be unusable. Use with care!


Build package from the latest commit of the master branch of the Git repository at url. Git sub-modules of the repository are fetched, recursively.

For example, the following command builds the NumPy Python library against the latest commit of the master branch of Python itself:

guix build python-numpy \

This option can also be combined with --with-branch or --with-commit (see below).

Obviously, since it uses the latest commit of the given branch, the result of such a command varies over time. Nevertheless it is a convenient way to rebuild entire software stacks against the latest commit of one or more packages. This is particularly useful in the context of continuous integration (CI).

Checkouts are kept in a cache under ~/.cache/guix/checkouts to speed up consecutive accesses to the same repository. You may want to clean it up once in a while to save disk space.


Build package from the latest commit of branch. If the source field of package is an origin with the git-fetch method (see origin Reference) or a git-checkout object, the repository URL is taken from that source. Otherwise you have to use --with-git-url to specify the URL of the Git repository.

For instance, the following command builds guile-sqlite3 from the latest commit of its master branch, and then builds guix (which depends on it) and cuirass (which depends on guix) against this specific guile-sqlite3 build:

guix build --with-branch=guile-sqlite3=master cuirass

This is similar to --with-branch, except that it builds from commit rather than the tip of a branch. commit must be a valid Git commit SHA1 identifier or a tag.

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