GNU Guix 1.4.0 released
We are pleased to announce the release of GNU Guix version 1.4.0!
The release comes with ISO-9660 installation images, a virtual machine
image, and with tarballs to install the package manager on top of your
GNU/Linux distro, either from source or from binaries—check out the
download page. Guix users can
update by running
It’s been 18 months since the previous
That’s a lot of time, reflecting both the fact that, as a rolling
release, users continuously get new features and update by running
guix pull; but let’s face it, it also shows an area where we could and
should collectively improve our processes. During that time, Guix
received about 29,000 commits by 453 people, which includes important
new features as we’ll see; the project also changed
structured cooperation as
celebrated its ten-year
Illustration by Luis Felipe, published under CC-BY-SA 4.0.
This post provides highlights for all the hard work that went into this release—and yes, these are probably the longest release notes in Guix’s history, so make yourself comfortable, relax, and enjoy.
Bonus! Here’s a chiptune (by Trevor Lentz, under CC-BY-SA 3.0) our illustrator Luis Felipe recommends that you listen to before going further.
Improved software environment management
One area where Guix shines is the management of software
guix environment command was designed for that
but it suffered from a clumsy interface. It is now superseded by
though we are committed to keeping
guix environment until at least May
guix shell is a tool that’s interesting to developers, but
it’s also a useful tool when you’re willing to try out software without
committing it to your profile with
guix install. Let’s say you want
to play SuperTuxKart but would rather not
have it in your profile because, hey, it’s a professional laptop; here’s
how you would launch it, fetching it first if necessary:
guix shell supertuxkart -- supertuxkart
In addition to providing a simpler interface,
guix shell significantly
improves performance through caching. It also simplifies developer
workflows by automatically recognizing
files present in a directory: drop one of these in your project and
other developers can get started hacking just by running
without arguments. Speaking of which:
--export-manifest will get you
started by “converting” command-line arguments into a manifest. Read
guix shell in the
guix shell innovation is optional emulation of the
filesystem hierarchy standard (FHS). The
locations for different file categories—
/bin for essential command
/lib for libraries, and so on. Guix with its
does not adhere to the FHS, which prevents users from running programs
that assume FHS adherence. The new
-F) flag of
guix shell, combined with
-C), instructs it to create
a container environment that follows the FHS. This is best illustrated
with this example, where the
ls command of the
appears right under
/bin, as if we were on an FHS system like Debian:
$ guix shell -CF coreutils -- /bin/ls -1p /
Another big new feature is Guix Home. In a nutshell, Home brings
the declarative nature of Guix System to your home environment: it
lets you declare all the aspects of your home environments—“dot files”,
services, and packages—and can instantiate that environment, in your
$HOME or in a
If you’re already maintaining your dot files under version control, or if you would like to keep things under control so you don’t have to spend days or weeks configuring again next time you switch laptops, this is the tool you need. Check out this excellent introduction that David Wilson gave at the Ten Years celebration, and read more about Guix Home in the manual.
give users fine control over the way packages are built. The new
--tune option enables tuning of packages for a specific CPU
micro-architecture; this enables the use of the newest
single-instruction multiple-data (SIMD)
such as AVX-512 on recent AMD/Intel CPUs, which can make a significant
difference for some workloads such as linear algebra computations.
Since the 1.3.0 release, the project started maintaining an
https://bordeaux.guix.gnu.org. It’s independent from the build
ci.guix.gnu.org (donated and hosted by the Max Delbrück Center
for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, Germany), which has two benefits: it
lets us challenge substitutes produced by each
and it provides redundancy should one of these two build farms go down.
Guix is now configured by default to fetch substitutes from any of these
two build farms. In addition, a
bug was fixed, ensuring that Guix
gracefully switches to another substitute provider when one goes down.
Those who’ve come to enjoy declarative deployment of entire fleets of
machines will probably like the new
--execute option of
The distribution itself has seen lots of changes. First, the Guix System installer received a number of bug fixes and it now includes a new mechanism that allows users to automatically report useful debugging information in case of a crash. This will help developers address bugs that occur with unusual configurations.
Application startup has been reduced thanks to a new
per-application dynamic linker
that drastically reduces the number of
open calls due to
shared library lookup (we’re glad it
Guix System is now using version 0.9 of the
GNU Shepherd, which addresses
shortcomings, improves logging, and adds features such as systemd-style
service activation and inetd-style service startup. Speaking of
services, the new
guix system edit
provides an additional way for users to inspect services, completing
guix system search and
guix system extension-graph.
There are 15 new system services to choose from, including Jami, Samba, fail2ban, and Gitile, to name a few.
A new interface is available to declare swap space in operating system configurations. This interface is more expressive and more flexible than what was available before.
Similarly, the interface to declare static networking
has been overhauled. On GNU/Linux, it lets you do roughly the same as
ip command, only in a declarative fashion and with static checks
to prevent you from deploying obviously broken configurations.
More than 5,300 packages were added for a total of almost 22,000 packages, making Guix one of the top-ten biggest distros according to Repology. Among the many noteworthy package upgrades and addition, GNOME 42 is now available. KDE is not there yet but tens of KDE packages have been added so we’re getting closer; Qt 6 is also available. The distribution also comes with GCC 12.2.0, GNU libc 2.33, Xfce 4.16, Linux-libre 6.0.10, LibreOffice 188.8.131.52, and Emacs 28.2 (with just-in-time compilation support!).
In other news, motivated by the fact that Python 2 officially reached
“end of life” in 2020, more than 500 Python 2 packages were
removed—those whose name starts with
python2-. This includes “big
python2-scipy. Those who still need
these have two options: using
to jump to an older commit that contains the packages they need, or
using the Guix-Past
channel to build some of those old packages in today’s
environments—scientific computing is one area where this may come in
On top of that, the Web site features a new package
browser—at last! Among other things,
the package browse provides stable package URLs like
lists additional noteworthy changes and bug fixes you may be
As with past releases, we have worked on documentation to make Guix more approachable. “How-to” kind of sections have been written or improved, such as:
- “Writing Manifests”
- “Replicating Guix”
- “Using TeX and LaTeX”
- “System Troubleshooting Tips”
- “Foreign Architectures”
- “Using Guix Interactively”
The Cookbook likewise keeps receiving how-to entries, check it out!
The Guix reference manual is fully translated into French and German; 70% is available in Spanish, and there are preliminary translations in Russian, Chinese, and other languages. Guix itself is fully translated in French, with almost complete translations in Brazilian Portuguese, German, Slovak, and Spanish, and partial translations in almost twenty other languages. Check out the manual on how to help or this guided tour by translator in chief Julien Lepiller!
Supporting long-term reproducibility
A salient feature of Guix is its support for reproducible software deployment. There are several aspects to that, one of which is being able to retrieve source code from the Software Heritage archive. While Guix was already able to fetch the source code of packages from Software Heritage as a fallback, with version 1.4.0 the source code of Guix channels is automatically fetched from Software Heritage if its original URL has become unreachable.
In addition, Guix is now able to retrieve and restore source code
tarballs such as
tar.gz files. Software Heritage archives the
contents of tarballs, but not tarball themselves. This created an
impedance mismatch for Guix, where the majority of package
refer to tarballs and expect to be able to verify the content hash of
the tarball itself. To bridge this gap, Timothy Sample developed
Disarchive, a tool that
can (1) extract tarball metadata, and (2) assemble
previously-extracted metadata and actual files to reconstruct a tarball,
as shown in the diagram below.
The Guix project has set up a continuous
integration job to build a
Disarchive database, which is available at
disarchive.gnu.org. The database
includes metadata for all the tarballs packages refer to. When a source
code tarball disappears, Guix now transparently retrieves tarball
metadata from Disarchive database, fetches file contents from Software
Heritage, and reconstructs the original tarball. As of the
“Preservation of Guix Report”
published in January 2022, almost 75% of the
.tar.gz files packages
refer to are now fully archived with Disarchive and Software Heritage.
guix lint -c archival PKG will tell you about the archival
You can read more in the annual report of
This is a significant step forward to provide, for the first time, a tool that can redeploy past software environments while maintaining the connection between source code and binaries.
Application bundles and system images
to create “application bundles”—standalone application images—has
guix pack -f deb creates a standalone
that can be installed on Debian and derivative distros; the new
--symlink flag makes it create symlinks within the image.
At the system level, the new
guix system image
supersedes previously existing
guix system sub-commands, providing a
single entry point to build images of all types: raw disk images, QCOW2
virtual machine images, ISO9660 CD/DVD images, Docker images, and even
images for Microsoft’s Windows Subsystem for Linux
comes with a high-level
that lets you declare the type of image you want: the storage format,
partitions, and of course the operating system for that image. To
facilitate its use, predefined image types are provided:
$ guix system image --list-image-types
The available image types are:
That includes for example an image type for the Pine64 machines and for the GNU/Hurd operating system. For example, this is how you’d create an QCOW2 virtual machine image suitable for QEMU:
guix system image -t qcow2 my-operating-system.scm
my-operating-system.scm contains an operating system
Likewise, here’s how you’d create, on your x86_64 machine, an image for your Pine64 board, ready to be transferred to an SD card or similar storage device that the board will boot from:
guix system image -t pine64-raw my-operating-system.scm
pine64-raw image type specifies that software in the image is
actually cross-compiled to
aarch64-linux-gnu—that is, GNU/Linux on
an AArch64 CPU, with the appropriate U-Boot
its bootloader. Sky’s the limit!
Nicer packaging experience
A significant change that packagers will immediately notice is package simplification, introduced shortly after 1.3.0. The most visible effect is that package definitions now look clearer:
(inputs (list pkg-config guile-3.0))) ;👍
… instead of the old baroque style with “input labels”:
(inputs `(("pkg-config" ,pkg-config) ;👎
can automatically convert from the “old” style to the “new” style of
package inputs. It can also reformat whole Scheme files following the
stylistic canons du jour, which is particularly handy when getting
started with the language.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg: the new
makes package input manipulation easier and clearer, and one can use
for instance in package phases. Read our earlier
more info. On top of that, the new field sanitizer mechanism is used
to validate some fields; for instance, the
license field is now
type-checked and the Texinfo syntax of
validated, all without any run-time overhead in common cases. We hope
these changes will make it easier to get started with packaging.
guix build command has new flags,
--list-targets, to list supported system types (which may be
--system) and cross-compilation target triplets (for use
--target). Under the hood, the new
(guix platform) module lets
developers define “platforms”—a combination of CPU architecture and
operating system—in an abstract way, unifying various bits of
information previously scattered around.
In addition, packagers can now mark as
packages that would benefit from CPU micro-architecture
optimizations, enabled with
Python packaging has seen important changes. First, the
package now honors the
GUIX_PYTHONPATH environment variable rather
PYTHONPATH. That ensures that Python won’t unwillingly pick up
packages not provided by Guix. Second, the new
implements PEP 517. It complements
python-build-system, and both may eventually be merged
What’s great with packaging is when it comes for free. The
gained support for several upstream package repositories:
(extensions of the Minetest game),
elm (the Elm programming language),
egg (for CHICKEN Scheme), and
hexpm (for Erlang and Elixir
packages). Existing importers have seen various improvements. The
to automatically update package definitions has a new
There are several ways to get started using Guix:
The installation script lets you quickly install Guix on top of another GNU/Linux distribution.
The Guix System virtual machine image can be used with QEMU and is a simple way to discover Guix System without touching your system.
You can install Guix System as a standalone distribution. The installer will guide you through the initial configuration steps.
To review all the installation options at your disposal, consult the download page and don't hesitate to get in touch with us.
About GNU Guix
GNU Guix is a transactional package manager and an advanced distribution of the GNU system that respects user freedom. Guix can be used on top of any system running the Hurd or the Linux kernel, or it can be used as a standalone operating system distribution for i686, x86_64, ARMv7, AArch64, and POWER9 machines.
In addition to standard package management features, Guix supports transactional upgrades and roll-backs, unprivileged package management, per-user profiles, and garbage collection. When used as a standalone GNU/Linux distribution, Guix offers a declarative, stateless approach to operating system configuration management. Guix is highly customizable and hackable through Guile programming interfaces and extensions to the Scheme language.
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