NixOS Containers

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Native NixOS containers

It is possible to configure native systemd-nspawn containers, which are running NixOS and are configured and managed by NixOS using the containers directive.


The following example creates a container called nextcloud running the web application Nextcloud. It will start automatically at boot and has its private network subnet.

networking.nat = {
  enable = true;
  internalInterfaces = ["ve-+"];
  externalInterface = "ens3";
  # Lazy IPv6 connectivity for the container
  enableIPv6 = true;

containers.nextcloud = {
  autoStart = true;                
  privateNetwork = true;           
  hostAddress = "";
  localAddress = "";
  hostAddress6 = "fc00::1";
  localAddress6 = "fc00::2";
  config = { config, pkgs, ... }: {

    services.nextcloud = {                     
      enable = true;                   
      package = pkgs.nextcloud24;
      hostName = "localhost";
      config.adminpassFile = "${pkgs.writeText "adminpass" "test123"}"; # DON'T DO THIS IN PRODUCTION - the password file will be world-readable in the Nix Store!

    system.stateVersion = "22.05";

    networking.firewall = {
      enable = true;
      allowedTCPPorts = [ 80 ];

    # Manually configure nameserver. Using resolved inside the container seems to fail
    # currently
    environment.etc."resolv.conf".text = "nameserver";


In order to reach the web application on the host system, we have to open Firewall port 80 and also configure NAT through networking.nat. The web service of the container will be available at


Checking the status of the container

# systemctl status container@nextcloud

Login into the container

# nixos-container root-login nextcloud

Start or stop a container

# nixos-container start nextcloud
# nixos-container stop nextcloud

Destroy a container including its file system

# nixos-container destroy nextcloud

Further informations are available in the NixOS Manual, NixOS manual.


Configuring nameservers for containers is currently broken. Therefore in some cases internet connectivity can be broken inside the containers. A temporary workaround is to manually write the /etc/nixos/resolv.conf file like this:

containers.nextcloud.config = { config, pkgs, ... }: {
  environment.etc."resolv.conf".text = "nameserver";

Declarative docker containers

Example config:

 { config, pkgs, ... }:
   config.virtualisation.oci-containers.containers = {
     hackagecompare = {
       image = "chrissound/hackagecomparestats-webserver:latest";
       ports = [""];
       volumes = [
       cmd = [


I have changed the host's channel and some services are no longer functional


  • Lost data in PostgreSQL database
  • MySQL has changed its path, where it creates the database


If you did not have a system.stateVersion option set inside your declarative container configuration, it will use the default one for the channel. Your data might be safe, if you did nothing meanwhile. Add the missing system.stateVersion to your container, rebuild, and possibly stop/start the container.

See also