Searching packages

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There are multiple ways to search for a package name in nixpkgs.

Using website

There is a web service to search for

with channels
with flakes
  • easy to use
  • allows filters
  • requires Internet connection

Using the nix search command

While this command is still experimental, you can use it to search for a package. It may be slow the first time, but further runs will use cached results.

nix --extra-experimental-features "nix-command flakes" search nixpkgs firefox

Using the nix-env command

It's possible to search for a package using nix-env -qaP

  • works offline
  • it's very slow and requires a lot of memory

Using the nix repl environment

With the read–eval–print loop (REPL) of nix you can browse packages interactively.

Starting the nix repl

nix repl
Welcome to Nix 2.8.1. Type :? for help.


Loading the repository for nixpkgs

:load <nixpkgs>
Added 16519 variables.

Type the first letters of a package


Press Tab ↹ key for auto completion

Reverse search: searching which package provides a file

There is a third party program nix-index to find which package provides a given file. This is particularly useful when you are looking for a very specific file but you don't know which package installs it.