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13.3.1 Essential Home Services

There are a few essential home services defined in (gnu home services), they are mostly for internal use and are required to build a home environment, but some of them will be useful for the end user.

Variable: home-environment-variables-service-type

The service of this type will be instantiated by every home environment automatically by default, there is no need to define it, but someone may want to extend it with a list of pairs to set some environment variables.

(list ("ENV_VAR1" . "value1")
      ("ENV_VAR2" . "value2"))

The easiest way to extend a service type, without defining a new service type is to use the simple-service helper from (gnu services).

(simple-service 'some-useful-env-vars-service
		home-environment-variables-service-type
		`(("LESSHISTFILE" . "$XDG_CACHE_HOME/.lesshst")
                  ("SHELL" . ,(file-append zsh "/bin/zsh"))
                  ("USELESS_VAR" . #f)
                  ("_JAVA_AWT_WM_NONREPARENTING" . #t)
                  ("LITERAL_VALUE" . ,(literal-string "${abc}"))))

If you include such a service in you home environment definition, it will add the following content to the setup-environment script (which is expected to be sourced by the login shell):

export LESSHISTFILE="$XDG_CACHE_HOME/.lesshst"
export SHELL="/gnu/store/2hsg15n644f0glrcbkb1kqknmmqdar03-zsh-5.8/bin/zsh"
export _JAVA_AWT_WM_NONREPARENTING
export LITERAL_VALUE='${abc}'

Notice that literal-string above lets us declare that a value is to be interpreted as a literal string, meaning that “special characters” such as the dollar sign will not be interpreted by the shell.

Note: Make sure that module (gnu packages shells) is imported with use-modules or any other way, this namespace contains the definition of the zsh package, which is used in the example above.

The association list (see Association Lists in The GNU Guile Reference manual) is a data structure containing key-value pairs, for home-environment-variables-service-type the key is always a string, the value can be a string, string-valued gexp (see G-Expressions), file-like object (see file-like object) or boolean. For gexps, the variable will be set to the value of the gexp; for file-like objects, it will be set to the path of the file in the store (see The Store); for #t, it will export the variable without any value; and for #f, it will omit variable.

Variable: home-profile-service-type

The service of this type will be instantiated by every home environment automatically, there is no need to define it, but you may want to extend it with a list of packages if you want to install additional packages into your profile. Other services, which need to make some programs available to the user will also extend this service type.

The extension value is just a list of packages:

(list htop vim emacs)

The same approach as simple-service (see simple-service) for home-environment-variables-service-type can be used here, too. Make sure that modules containing the specified packages are imported with use-modules. To find a package or information about its module use guix search (see Invoking guix package). Alternatively, specification->package can be used to get the package record from a string without importing its related module.

There are few more essential services, but users are not expected to extend them.

Variable: home-service-type

The root of home services DAG, it generates a folder, which later will be symlinked to ~/.guix-home, it contains configurations, profile with binaries and libraries, and some necessary scripts to glue things together.

Variable: home-run-on-first-login-service-type

The service of this type generates a Guile script, which is expected to be executed by the login shell. It is only executed if the special flag file inside XDG_RUNTIME_DIR hasn’t been created, this prevents redundant executions of the script if multiple login shells are spawned.

It can be extended with a gexp. However, to autostart an application, users should not use this service, in most cases it’s better to extend home-shepherd-service-type with a Shepherd service (see Shepherd Services), or extend the shell’s startup file with the required command using the appropriate service type.

Variable: home-files-service-type

The service of this type allows to specify a list of files, which will go to ~/.guix-home/files, usually this directory contains configuration files (to be more precise it contains symlinks to files in /gnu/store), which should be placed in $XDG_CONFIG_DIR or in rare cases in $HOME. It accepts extension values in the following format:

`((".sway/config" ,sway-file-like-object)
  (".tmux.conf" ,(local-file "./tmux.conf")))

Each nested list contains two values: a subdirectory and file-like object. After building a home environment ~/.guix-home/files will be populated with appropriate content and all nested directories will be created accordingly, however, those files won’t go any further until some other service will do it. By default a home-symlink-manager-service-type, which creates necessary symlinks in home folder to files from ~/.guix-home/files and backs up already existing, but clashing configs and other things, is a part of essential home services (enabled by default), but it’s possible to use alternative services to implement more advanced use cases like read-only home. Feel free to experiment and share your results.

It is often the case that Guix Home users already have a setup for versioning their user configuration files (also known as dot files) in a single directory, and some way of automatically deploy changes to their user home.

The home-dotfiles-service-type from (gnu home services dotfiles) is designed to ease the way into using Guix Home for this kind of users, allowing them to point the service to their dotfiles directory, which must follow the layout suggested by GNU Stow, and have their dotfiles automatically deployed to their user home, without migrating them to Guix native configurations.

The dotfiles directory layout is expected to be structured as follows. Please keep in mind that it is advisable to keep your dotfiles directories under version control, for example in the same repository where you’d track your Guix Home configuration.

~$ tree -a ./dotfiles/
dotfiles/
├── git
│   └── .gitconfig
├── gpg
│   └── .gnupg
│       ├── gpg-agent.conf
│       └── gpg.conf
├── guile
│   └── .guile
├── guix
│   └── .config
│       └── guix
│           └── channels.scm
├── nix
│   ├── .config
│   │   └── nixpkgs
│   │       └── config.nix
│   └── .nix-channels
├── tmux
│   └── .tmux.conf
└── vim
    └── .vimrc

13 directories, 10 files

For an informal specification please refer to the Stow manual (see Introduction). A suitable configuration would then be:

(home-environment
  ;; …
  (services
    (service home-dotfiles-service-type
             (home-dotfiles-configuration
               (directories (list "./dotfiles"))))))

The expected home directory state would then be:

.
├── .config
│   ├── guix
│   │   └── channels.scm
│   └── nixpkgs
│       └── config.nix
├── .gitconfig
├── .gnupg
│   ├── gpg-agent.conf
│   └── gpg.conf
├── .guile
├── .nix-channels
├── .tmux.conf
└── .vimrc
Variable: home-dotfiles-service-type

Return a service which is very similiar to home-files-service-type (and actually extends it), but designed to ease the way into using Guix Home for users that already track their dotfiles under some kind of version control. This service allows users to point Guix Home to their dotfiles directory and have their files automatically deployed to their home directory just like Stow would, without migrating all of their dotfiles to Guix native configurations.

Data Type: home-dotfiles-configuration

Available home-dotfiles-configuration fields are:

source-directory (default: (current-source-directory))

The path where dotfile directories are resolved. By default dotfile directories are resolved relative the source location where home-dotfiles-configuration appears.

directories (type: list-of-strings)

The list of dotfiles directories where home-dotfiles-service-type will look for application dotfiles.

exclude (default: '(".*~" ".*\\.swp" "\\.git" "\\.gitignore"))

The list of file patterns home-dotfiles-service-type will exclude while visiting each one of the directories.

Variable: home-xdg-configuration-files-service-type

The service is very similar to home-files-service-type (and actually extends it), but used for defining files, which will go to ~/.guix-home/files/.config, which will be symlinked to $XDG_CONFIG_DIR by home-symlink-manager-service-type (for example) during activation. It accepts extension values in the following format:

`(("sway/config" ,sway-file-like-object)
  ;; -> ~/.guix-home/files/.config/sway/config
  ;; -> $XDG_CONFIG_DIR/sway/config (by symlink-manager)
  ("tmux/tmux.conf" ,(local-file "./tmux.conf")))
Variable: home-activation-service-type

The service of this type generates a guile script, which runs on every guix home reconfigure invocation or any other action, which leads to the activation of the home environment.

The service of this type generates a guile script, which will be executed during activation of home environment, and do a few following steps:

  1. Reads the content of files/ directory of current and pending home environments.
  2. Cleans up all symlinks created by symlink-manager on previous activation. Also, sub-directories, which become empty also will be cleaned up.
  3. Creates new symlinks the following way: It looks files/ directory (usually defined with home-files-service-type, home-xdg-configuration-files-service-type and maybe some others), takes the files from files/.config/ subdirectory and put respective links in XDG_CONFIG_DIR. For example symlink for files/.config/sway/config will end up in $XDG_CONFIG_DIR/sway/config. The rest files in files/ outside of files/.config/ subdirectory will be treated slightly different: symlink will just go to $HOME. files/.some-program/config will end up in $HOME/.some-program/config.
  4. If some sub-directories are missing, they will be created.
  5. If there is a clashing files on the way, they will be backed up.

symlink-manager is a part of essential home services and is enabled and used by default.


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