NixCon 2019

It’s been a few years since I’ve been to a smaller conference and I made the right choice to visit NixCon 2019. It was held in a really nice coworking space called Impact Hub in Brno.

There were 2 tracks and about 180 people attending. Generally speaking, smaller conferences like this one will give you more information because people are more connected with each other. For example, the second day we had one track which wasn’t planned at all where people were just asking questions regarding Nix. So it was like a free consulting which is insane in terms of the value you get.

Before I attended NixCon my knowledge of Nix was very limited. I spent about 5 hours reading the docs and checking out the config files. So I just had an idea of how it works and how to use it. Attending Reading Nix expressions was a real game-changer for me (Youtube: link). I finally understand those nix config files. It basically covers Nix Manual but just the “important” parts. The parts you to need to know before you start playing with nix config files. I would highly recommend this talk for anyone new to Nix.

The second talk How and Why it Works (Youtube: link) just builds on top of what we learned with the previous talk (Reading Nix expressions). Graham Christensen explained what Derivations are and a few other important semi-advanced concepts like filesystem isolation. I don’t know how complicated derivations are for a newcomer but I understood the concept and the meaning behind them in this talk. So, if you are someone that has a hard time understanding what derivations are I would recommend this talk.

The last talk I want to mention is Nix-based development environments at Shopify by Burke Libbey (Youtube: link). In short, if you (or your company) are thinking about using Nix in your company for the development process you really need to see this talk. He talks about which tools they used and which problems they had. They solved several problems using Nix but they encountered new ones mainly because (he thinks) Nix is hard and they don’t have properly configured everything.

I would say the main lesson from his talk would be to hire a Nix consultant when you start using Nix in your development workflow, otherwise you will do ugly hacks and might encounter even harder problems.

Overall the NixCon 2019 was a very wonderful experience from which I learned a lot. I imagine I would get even more out of it if I would already have used Nix in my daily work.

All talks are available here: