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13.1 Declaring the Home Environment

The home environment is configured by providing a home-environment declaration in a file that can be passed to the guix home command (see Invoking guix home). The easiest way to get started is by generating an initial configuration with guix home import:

guix home import ~/src/guix-config

The guix home import command reads some of the “dot files” such as ~/.bashrc found in your home directory and copies them to the given directory, ~/src/guix-config in this case; it also reads the contents of your profile, ~/.guix-profile, and, based on that, it populates ~/src/guix-config/home-configuration.scm with a Home configuration that resembles your current configuration.

A simple setup can include Bash and a custom text configuration, like in the example below. Don’t be afraid to declare home environment parts, which overlaps with your current dot files: before installing any configuration files, Guix Home will back up existing config files to a separate place in the home directory.

Note: It is highly recommended that you manage your shell or shells with Guix Home, because it will make sure that all the necessary scripts are sourced by the shell configuration file. Otherwise you will need to do it manually. (see Configuring the Shell).

(use-modules (gnu home)
             (gnu home services)
             (gnu home services shells)
             (gnu services)
             (gnu packages admin)
             (guix gexp))


(home-environment
 (packages (list htop))
 (services
  (list
   (service home-bash-service-type
            (home-bash-configuration
             (guix-defaults? #t)
             (bash-profile (list (plain-file "bash-profile" "\
export HISTFILE=$XDG_CACHE_HOME/.bash_history")))))

   (simple-service 'test-config
                   home-xdg-configuration-files-service-type
                   (list `("test.conf"
                           ,(plain-file "tmp-file.txt"
                                        "the content of
                                          ~/.config/test.conf")))))))

The packages field should be self-explanatory, it will install the list of packages into the user’s profile. The most important field is services, it contains a list of home services, which are the basic building blocks of a home environment.

There is no daemon (at least not necessarily) related to a home service, a home service is just an element that is used to declare part of home environment and extend other parts of it. The extension mechanism discussed in the previous chapter (see Defining Services) should not be confused with Shepherd services (see Shepherd Services). Using this extension mechanism and some Scheme code that glues things together gives the user the freedom to declare their own, very custom, home environments.

Once the configuration looks good, you can first test it in a throw-away “container”:

guix home container config.scm

The command above spawns a shell where your home environment is running. The shell runs in a container, meaning it’s isolated from the rest of the system, so it’s a good way to try out your configuration—you can see if configuration bits are missing or misbehaving, if daemons get started, and so on. Once you exit that shell, you’re back to the prompt of your original shell “in the real world”.

Once you have a configuration file that suits your needs, you can reconfigure your home by running:

guix home reconfigure config.scm

This “builds” your home environment and creates ~/.guix-home pointing to it. Voilà!

Note: Make sure the operating system has elogind, systemd, or a similar mechanism to create the XDG run-time directory and has the XDG_RUNTIME_DIR variable set. Failing that, the on-first-login script will not execute anything, and processes like user Shepherd and its descendants will not start.


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