So we have “derivations”, which represent a sequence of build actions to
be performed to produce an item in the store (veja Derivações). These
build actions are performed when asking the daemon to actually build the
derivations; they are run by the daemon in a container (veja Invocando
It should come as no surprise that we like to write these build actions in
Scheme. When we do that, we end up with two strata of Scheme
“host code”—code that defines packages, talks to the daemon, etc.—and
the “build code”—code that actually performs build actions, such as
making directories, invoking
make, and so on (veja Build Phases).
To describe a derivation and its build actions, one typically needs to embed
build code inside host code. It boils down to manipulating build code as
data, and the homoiconicity of Scheme—code has a direct representation as
data—comes in handy for that. But we need more than the normal
quasiquote mechanism in Scheme to construct build expressions.
(guix gexp) module implements G-expressions, a form of
S-expressions adapted to build expressions. G-expressions, or gexps,
consist essentially of three syntactic forms:
ungexp-splicing (or simply:
#$@), which are comparable to
unquote-splicing, respectively (veja
quasiquote em GNU Guile Reference Manual). However, there are
This mechanism is not limited to package and derivation objects:
compilers able to “lower” other high-level objects to derivations or
files in the store can be defined, such that these objects can also be
inserted into gexps. For example, a useful type of high-level objects that
can be inserted in a gexp is “file-like objects”, which make it easy to
add files to the store and to refer to them in derivations and such (see
To illustrate the idea, here is an example of a gexp:
(define build-exp #~(begin (mkdir #$output) (chdir #$output) (symlink (string-append #$coreutils "/bin/ls") "list-files")))
This gexp can be passed to
gexp->derivation; we obtain a derivation
that builds a directory containing exactly one symlink to
(gexp->derivation "the-thing" build-exp)
As one would expect, the
is substituted to the reference to the coreutils package in the actual
build code, and coreutils is automatically made an input to the
#$output (equivalent to
output)) is replaced by a string containing the directory name of the
output of the derivation.
In a cross-compilation context, it is useful to distinguish between
references to the native build of a package—that can run on the
host—versus references to cross builds of a package. To that end, the
#+ plays the same role as
#$, but is a reference to a native
(gexp->derivation "vi" #~(begin (mkdir #$output) (mkdir (string-append #$output "/bin")) (system* (string-append #+coreutils "/bin/ln") "-s" (string-append #$emacs "/bin/emacs") (string-append #$output "/bin/vi"))) #:target "aarch64-linux-gnu")
In the example above, the native build of coreutils is used, so that
ln can actually run on the host; but then the cross-compiled build
of emacs is referenced.
Another gexp feature is imported modules: sometimes you want to be
able to use certain Guile modules from the “host environment” in the gexp,
so those modules should be imported in the “build environment”. The
with-imported-modules form allows you to express that:
(let ((build (with-imported-modules '((guix build utils)) #~(begin (use-modules (guix build utils)) (mkdir-p (string-append #$output "/bin")))))) (gexp->derivation "empty-dir" #~(begin #$build (display "success!\n") #t)))
In this example, the
(guix build utils) module is automatically
pulled into the isolated build environment of our gexp, such that
(use-modules (guix build utils)) works as expected.
Usually you want the closure of the module to be imported—i.e., the
module itself and all the modules it depends on—rather than just the
module; failing to do that, attempts to use the module will fail because of
missing dependent modules. The
computes the closure of a module by looking at its source file headers,
which comes in handy in this case:
(use-modules (guix modules)) ;for 'source-module-closure' (with-imported-modules (source-module-closure '((guix build utils) (gnu build image))) (gexp->derivation "something-with-vms" #~(begin (use-modules (guix build utils) (gnu build image)) …)))
In the same vein, sometimes you want to import not just pure-Scheme modules,
but also “extensions” such as Guile bindings to C libraries or other
“full-blown” packages. Say you need the
available on the build side, here’s how you would do it:
(use-modules (gnu packages guile)) ;for 'guile-json' (with-extensions (list guile-json) (gexp->derivation "something-with-json" #~(begin (use-modules (json)) …)))
The syntactic form to construct gexps is summarized below.
Return a G-expression containing exp. exp may contain one or more of the following forms:
Introduce a reference to obj. obj may have one of the supported
types, for example a package or a derivation, in which case the
ungexp form is replaced by its output file name—e.g.,
If obj is a list, it is traversed and references to supported objects are substituted similarly.
If obj is another gexp, its contents are inserted and its dependencies are added to those of the containing gexp.
If obj is another kind of object, it is inserted as is.
(ungexp obj saída)
This is like the form above, but referring explicitly to the output of obj—this is useful when obj produces multiple outputs (veja Pacotes com múltiplas saídas).
(ungexp-native obj output)
ungexp, but produces a reference to the native build
of obj when used in a cross compilation context.
(ungexp output [saída])
Insert a reference to derivation output output, or to the main output when output is omitted.
This only makes sense for gexps passed to
Like the above, but splices the contents of lst inside the containing list.
Like the above, but refers to native builds of the objects listed in lst.
G-expressions created by
#~ are run-time objects of
gexp? type (see below).
Mark the gexps defined in body… as requiring modules in their execution environment.
Each item in modules can be the name of a module, such as
build utils), or it can be a module name, followed by an arrow, followed by
a file-like object:
`((guix build utils) (guix gcrypt) ((guix config) => ,(scheme-file "config.scm" #~(define-module …))))
In the example above, the first two modules are taken from the search path, and the last one is created from the given file-like object.
This form has lexical scope: it has an effect on the gexps directly defined in body…, but not on those defined, say, in procedures called from body….
Mark the gexps defined in body… as requiring extensions in
their build and execution environment. extensions is typically a list
of package objects such as those defined in the
(gnu packages guile)
Concretely, the packages listed in extensions are added to the load path while compiling imported modules in body…; they are also added to the load path of the gexp returned by body….
#t if obj is a G-expression.
G-expressions are meant to be written to disk, either as code building some derivation, or as plain files in the store. The monadic procedures below allow you to do that (veja A mônada do armazém, for more information about monads).
[#:hash-algo #f] [#:recursive? #f] [#:env-vars ’()] [#:modules ’()] [#:module-path
%load-path] [#:effective-version "2.2"] [#:references-graphs #f] [#:allowed-references #f] [#:disallowed-references #f] [#:leaked-env-vars #f] [#:script-name
(string-append name "-builder")] [#:deprecation-warnings #f] [#:local-build? #f] [#:substitutable? #t] [#:properties ’()]
[#:guile-for-build #f] Return a derivation name that runs exp (a
gexp) with guile-for-build (a derivation) on system; exp
is stored in a file called script-name. When target is true, it
is used as the cross-compilation target triplet for packages referred to by
modules is deprecated in favor of
meaning is to make modules available in the evaluation context of
exp; modules is a list of names of Guile modules searched in
module-path to be copied in the store, compiled, and made available in
the load path during the execution of exp—e.g.,
utils) (guix build gnu-build-system)).
effective-version determines the string to use when adding extensions
of exp (see
with-extensions) to the search path—e.g.,
graft? determines whether packages referred to by exp should be grafted when applicable.
When references-graphs is true, it must be a list of tuples of one of the following forms:
(file-name package) (file-name package output) (file-name derivation) (file-name derivation output) (file-name store-item)
The right-hand-side of each element of references-graphs is automatically made an input of the build process of exp. In the build environment, each file-name contains the reference graph of the corresponding item, in a simple text format.
allowed-references must be either
#f or a list of output names
and packages. In the latter case, the list denotes store items that the
result is allowed to refer to. Any reference to another store item will
lead to a build error. Similarly for disallowed-references, which can
list items that must not be referenced by the outputs.
deprecation-warnings determines whether to show deprecation warnings
while compiling modules. It can be
The other arguments are as for
derivation (veja Derivações).
scheme-file procedures below return
file-like objects. That is, when unquoted in a G-expression, these
objects lead to a file in the store. Consider this G-expression:
#~(system* #$(file-append glibc "/sbin/nscd") "-f" #$(local-file "/tmp/my-nscd.conf"))
The effect here is to “intern” /tmp/my-nscd.conf by copying it to
the store. Once expanded, for instance via
G-expression refers to that copy under /gnu/store; thus, modifying or
removing the file in /tmp does not have any effect on what the
plain-file can be used similarly; it differs in
that the file content is directly passed as a string.
Return an object representing local file file to add to the store; this object can be used in a gexp. If file is a literal string denoting a relative file name, it is looked up relative to the source file where it appears; if file is not a literal string, it is looked up relative to the current working directory at run time. file will be added to the store under name–by default the base name of file.
When recursive? is true, the contents of file are added recursively; if file designates a flat file and recursive? is true, its contents are added, and its permission bits are kept.
When recursive? is true, call
stat) for each directory entry, where file is the entry’s
absolute file name and stat is the result of
entries for which select? does not return true.
This is the declarative counterpart of the
Return an object representing a text file called name with the given content (a string or a bytevector) to be added to the store.
This is the declarative counterpart of
Return an object representing the store item name, a file or directory
computed by gexp. When local-build? is true (the default), the
derivation is built locally. options is a list of additional
arguments to pass to
This is the declarative counterpart of
(%current-system)] [#:target #f] Return an executable script name that runs exp using guile, with exp’s imported modules in its search path. Look up exp’s modules in module-path.
The example below builds a script that simply invokes the
(use-modules (guix gexp) (gnu packages base)) (gexp->script "list-files" #~(execl #$(file-append coreutils "/bin/ls") "ls"))
When “running” it through the store (veja
run-with-store), we obtain a derivation that produces an executable
file /gnu/store/…-list-files along these lines:
#!/gnu/store/…-guile-2.0.11/bin/guile -ds !# (execl "/gnu/store/…-coreutils-8.22"/bin/ls" "ls")
Return an object representing the executable store item name that runs gexp. guile is the Guile package used to execute that script. Imported modules of gexp are looked up in module-path.
This is the declarative counterpart of
(default-guile)] Return a derivation that builds a file name containing exp. When splice? is true, exp is considered to be a list of expressions that will be spliced in the resulting file.
When set-load-path? is true, emit code in the resulting file to set
%load-compiled-path to honor exp’s
imported modules. Look up exp’s modules in module-path.
The resulting file holds references to all the dependencies of exp or a subset thereof.
Return an object representing the Scheme file name that contains exp.
This is the declarative counterpart of
Return as a monadic value a derivation that builds a text file containing all of text. text may list, in addition to strings, objects of any type that can be used in a gexp: packages, derivations, local file objects, etc. The resulting store file holds references to all these.
This variant should be preferred over
text-file anytime the file to
create will reference items from the store. This is typically the case when
building a configuration file that embeds store file names, like this:
(define (profile.sh) ;; Return the name of a shell script in the store that ;; initializes the 'PATH' environment variable. (text-file* "profile.sh" "export PATH=" coreutils "/bin:" grep "/bin:" sed "/bin\n"))
In this example, the resulting /gnu/store/…-profile.sh file will reference coreutils, grep, and sed, thereby preventing them from being garbage-collected during its lifetime.
Return an object representing store file name containing text. text is a sequence of strings and file-like objects, as in:
(mixed-text-file "profile" "export PATH=" coreutils "/bin:" grep "/bin")
This is the declarative counterpart of
<computed-file> that builds a directory containing all of
files. Each item in files must be a two-element list where the
first element is the file name to use in the new directory, and the second
element is a gexp denoting the target file. Here’s an example:
(file-union "etc" `(("hosts" ,(plain-file "hosts" "127.0.0.1 localhost")) ("bashrc" ,(plain-file "bashrc" "alias ls='ls --color=auto'"))))
This yields an
etc directory containing these two files.
Return a directory that is the union of things, where things is a list of file-like objects denoting directories. For example:
(directory-union "guile+emacs" (list guile emacs))
yields a directory that is the union of the
Return a file-like object that expands to the concatenation of obj and suffix, where obj is a lowerable object and each suffix is a string.
As an example, consider this gexp:
(gexp->script "run-uname" #~(system* #$(file-append coreutils "/bin/uname")))
The same effect could be achieved with:
(gexp->script "run-uname" #~(system* (string-append #$coreutils "/bin/uname")))
There is one difference though: in the
file-append case, the
resulting script contains the absolute file name as a string, whereas in the
second case, the resulting script contains a
expression to construct the file name at run time.
Bind system to the currently targeted system—e.g.,
In the second case, additionally bind target to the current
cross-compilation target—a GNU triplet such as
#f if we are not cross-compiling.
let-system is useful in the occasional case where the object spliced
into the gexp depends on the target system, as in this example:
#~(system* #+(let-system system (cond ((string-prefix? "armhf-" system) (file-append qemu "/bin/qemu-system-arm")) ((string-prefix? "x86_64-" system) (file-append qemu "/bin/qemu-system-x86_64")) (else (error "dunno!")))) "-net" "user" #$image)
This macro is similar to the
parameterize form for dynamically-bound
parameters (veja Parameters em GNU Guile Reference Manual).
The key difference is that it takes effect when the file-like object
returned by exp is lowered to a derivation or store item.
A typical use of
with-parameters is to force the system in effect for
a given object:
(with-parameters ((%current-system "i686-linux")) coreutils)
The example above returns an object that corresponds to the i686 build of
Coreutils, regardless of the current value of
Of course, in addition to gexps embedded in “host” code, there are also
modules containing build tools. To make it clear that they are meant to be
used in the build stratum, these modules are kept in the
…) name space.
Internally, high-level objects are lowered, using their compiler, to
either derivations or store items. For instance, lowering a package yields
a derivation, and lowering a
plain-file yields a store item. This is
achieved using the
lower-object monadic procedure.
%store-monadthe derivation or
store item corresponding to obj for system, cross-compiling for
target if target is true. obj must be an object that has
an associated gexp compiler, such as a
Sometimes, it may be useful to convert a G-exp into a S-exp. For example,
some linters (veja Invocando
guix lint) peek into the build phases of a
package to detect potential problems. This conversion can be achieved with
this procedure. However, some information can be lost in the process. More
specifically, lowerable objects will be silently replaced with some
arbitrary object – currently the list
(*approximate*), but this may
The term stratum in this context was coined by Manuel Serrano et al. in the context of their work on Hop. Oleg Kiselyov, who has written insightful essays and code on this topic, refers to this kind of code generation as staging.