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2.3 Invoking guix-daemon

The guix-daemon program implements all the functionality to access the store. This includes launching build processes, running the garbage collector, querying the availability of a build result, etc. It is normally run as root like this:

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

This daemon can also be started following the systemd “socket activation” protocol (see make-systemd-constructor in The GNU Shepherd Manual).

For details on how to set it up, see Setting Up the Daemon.

By default, guix-daemon launches build processes under different UIDs, taken from the build group specified with --build-users-group. In addition, each build process is run in a chroot environment that only contains the subset of the store that the build process depends on, as specified by its derivation (see derivation), plus a set of specific system directories. By default, the latter contains /dev and /dev/pts. Furthermore, on GNU/Linux, the build environment is a container: in addition to having its own file system tree, it has a separate mount name space, its own PID name space, network name space, etc. This helps achieve reproducible builds (see Features).

When the daemon performs a build on behalf of the user, it creates a build directory under /tmp or under the directory specified by its TMPDIR environment variable. This directory is shared with the container for the duration of the build, though within the container, the build tree is always called /tmp/guix-build-name.drv-0.

The build directory is automatically deleted upon completion, unless the build failed and the client specified --keep-failed (see --keep-failed).

The daemon listens for connections and spawns one sub-process for each session started by a client (one of the guix sub-commands). The guix processes command allows you to get an overview of the activity on your system by viewing each of the active sessions and clients. See Invoking guix processes, for more information.

The following command-line options are supported:


Take users from group to run build processes (see build users).


Do not use substitutes for build products. That is, always build things locally instead of allowing downloads of pre-built binaries (see Substitutes).

When the daemon runs with --no-substitutes, clients can still explicitly enable substitution via the set-build-options remote procedure call (see The Store).


Consider urls the default whitespace-separated list of substitute source URLs. When this option is omitted, ‘’ is used.

This means that substitutes may be downloaded from urls, as long as they are signed by a trusted signature (see Substitutes).

See Getting Substitutes from Other Servers, for more information on how to configure the daemon to get substitutes from other servers.


Do not use offload builds to other machines (see Using the Offload Facility). That is, always build things locally instead of offloading builds to remote machines.


Cache build failures. By default, only successful builds are cached.

When this option is used, guix gc --list-failures can be used to query the set of store items marked as failed; guix gc --clear-failures removes store items from the set of cached failures. See Invoking guix gc.

-c n

Use n CPU cores to build each derivation; 0 means as many as available.

The default value is 0, but it may be overridden by clients, such as the --cores option of guix build (see Invoking guix build).

The effect is to define the NIX_BUILD_CORES environment variable in the build process, which can then use it to exploit internal parallelism—for instance, by running make -j$NIX_BUILD_CORES.

-M n

Allow at most n build jobs in parallel. The default value is 1. Setting it to 0 means that no builds will be performed locally; instead, the daemon will offload builds (see Using the Offload Facility), or simply fail.


When the build or substitution process remains silent for more than seconds, terminate it and report a build failure.

The default value is 3600 (one hour).

The value specified here can be overridden by clients (see --max-silent-time).


Likewise, when the build or substitution process lasts for more than seconds, terminate it and report a build failure.

The default value is 24 hours.

The value specified here can be overridden by clients (see --timeout).


Build each derivation n times in a row, and raise an error if consecutive build results are not bit-for-bit identical. Note that this setting can be overridden by clients such as guix build (see Invoking guix build).

When used in conjunction with --keep-failed, the differing output is kept in the store, under /gnu/store/…-check. This makes it easy to look for differences between the two results.


Produce debugging output.

This is useful to debug daemon start-up issues, but then it may be overridden by clients, for example the --verbosity option of guix build (see Invoking guix build).


Add dir to the build chroot.

Doing this may change the result of build processes—for instance if they use optional dependencies found in dir when it is available, and not otherwise. For that reason, it is not recommended to do so. Instead, make sure that each derivation declares all the inputs that it needs.


Disable chroot builds.

Using this option is not recommended since, again, it would allow build processes to gain access to undeclared dependencies. It is necessary, though, when guix-daemon is running under an unprivileged user account.


Compress build logs according to type, one of gzip, bzip2, or none.

Unless --lose-logs is used, all the build logs are kept in the localstatedir. To save space, the daemon automatically compresses them with gzip by default.


Whether to discover substitute servers on the local network using mDNS and DNS-SD.

This feature is still experimental. However, here are a few considerations.

  1. It might be faster/less expensive than fetching from remote servers;
  2. There are no security risks, only genuine substitutes will be used (see Substitute Authentication);
  3. An attacker advertising guix publish on your LAN cannot serve you malicious binaries, but they can learn what software you’re installing;
  4. Servers may serve substitute over HTTP, unencrypted, so anyone on the LAN can see what software you’re installing.

It is also possible to enable or disable substitute server discovery at run-time by running:

herd discover guix-daemon on
herd discover guix-daemon off

Disable automatic file “deduplication” in the store.

By default, files added to the store are automatically “deduplicated”: if a newly added file is identical to another one found in the store, the daemon makes the new file a hard link to the other file. This can noticeably reduce disk usage, at the expense of slightly increased input/output load at the end of a build process. This option disables this optimization.


Tell whether the garbage collector (GC) must keep outputs of live derivations.

When set to yes, the GC will keep the outputs of any live derivation available in the store—the .drv files. The default is no, meaning that derivation outputs are kept only if they are reachable from a GC root. See Invoking guix gc, for more on GC roots.


Tell whether the garbage collector (GC) must keep derivations corresponding to live outputs.

When set to yes, as is the case by default, the GC keeps derivations—i.e., .drv files—as long as at least one of their outputs is live. This allows users to keep track of the origins of items in their store. Setting it to no saves a bit of disk space.

In this way, setting --gc-keep-derivations to yes causes liveness to flow from outputs to derivations, and setting --gc-keep-outputs to yes causes liveness to flow from derivations to outputs. When both are set to yes, the effect is to keep all the build prerequisites (the sources, compiler, libraries, and other build-time tools) of live objects in the store, regardless of whether these prerequisites are reachable from a GC root. This is convenient for developers since it saves rebuilds or downloads.


On Linux-based systems, impersonate Linux 2.6. This means that the kernel’s uname system call will report 2.6 as the release number.

This might be helpful to build programs that (usually wrongfully) depend on the kernel version number.


Do not keep build logs. By default they are kept under localstatedir/guix/log.


Assume system as the current system type. By default it is the architecture/kernel pair found at configure time, such as x86_64-linux.


Listen for connections on endpoint. endpoint is interpreted as the file name of a Unix-domain socket if it starts with / (slash sign). Otherwise, endpoint is interpreted as a host name or host name and port to listen to. Here are a few examples:


Listen for connections on the /gnu/var/daemon Unix-domain socket, creating it if needed.


Listen for TCP connections on the network interface corresponding to localhost, on port 44146.


Listen for TCP connections on the network interface corresponding to, on port 1234.

This option can be repeated multiple times, in which case guix-daemon accepts connections on all the specified endpoints. Users can tell client commands what endpoint to connect to by setting the GUIX_DAEMON_SOCKET environment variable (see GUIX_DAEMON_SOCKET).

Note: The daemon protocol is unauthenticated and unencrypted. Using --listen=host is suitable on local networks, such as clusters, where only trusted nodes may connect to the build daemon. In other cases where remote access to the daemon is needed, we recommend using Unix-domain sockets along with SSH.

When --listen is omitted, guix-daemon listens for connections on the Unix-domain socket located at localstatedir/guix/daemon-socket/socket.

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