Nix command/repl

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This article is about the nix repl subcommand.


nix repl is an interactive shell to explore the Nix language as well as configurations,options and packages in Nixpkgs. It supports tab-completion.


$ nix repl FLAGS... FILES...


  • --arg NAME EXPR argument to be passed to Nix functions
  • --argstr NAME STRING string-valued argument to be passed to Nix functions
  • --impure allow access to mutable paths and repositories
  • -I, --include PATH add a path to the list of locations used to look up <...> file names
  • --override-flake ORIGINAL-REF RESOLVED-REF override a flake registry value


If you run :? inside a repl instance, it will print out the available commands. A list is given below (as of version 2.5.1)

nix-repl> :?
The following commands are available:

  <expr>        Evaluate and print expression
  <x> = <expr>  Bind expression to variable
  :a <expr>     Add attributes from resulting set to scope
  :b <expr>     Build derivation
  :e <expr>     Open package or function in $EDITOR
  :i <expr>     Build derivation, then install result into current profile
  :l <path>     Load Nix expression and add it to scope
  :lf <ref>     Load Nix flake and add it to scope
  :p <expr>     Evaluate and print expression recursively
  :q            Exit nix-repl
  :r            Reload all files
  :s <expr>     Build dependencies of derivation, then start nix-shell
  :t <expr>     Describe result of evaluation
  :u <expr>     Build derivation, then start nix-shell
  :doc <expr>   Show documentation of a builtin function
  :log <expr>   Show logs for a derivation
# load nixos configuration from a nix file
$ nix repl --file '<nixpkgs/nixos>' -I nixos-config=./configuration.nix

$ nix repl '<nixpkgs>'
Added 8013 variables.
nix-repl> pkgs.<tab><tab>
Display all 8013 possibilities? (y or n)
# load your systems nixos configuration
nix-repl> :l <nixpkgs/nixos>
Added 5 variables.
nix-repl> config.<tab><tab>

# download/build package and open in a nix-shell
nix-repl> :u sl
[nix-shell:~]$ sl # choo choo...

See also