announce the release of GNU Guix version 1.0.0! The release comes with ISO-9660 installation images, a virtual machine image, and with tarballs to install the package manager on top of your GNU/Linux distro, either from source or from binaries. Guix users can update by running
GNU Guix version 1.0.0! GNU/Linux distro
One-point-oh always means a lot for free software releases. For Guix, 1.0 is the result of seven years of development, with code, packaging, and documentation contributions made by 260 people, translation work carried out by a dozen of people, and artwork and web site development by a couple of individuals, to name some of the activities that have been happening. During those years we published no less than 19 “0.x” releases.
The journey to 1.0
We took our time to get there, which is quite unusual in an era where free software moves so fast. Why did we take this much time? First, it takes time to build a community around a GNU/Linux distribution, and a distribution wouldn’t really exist without it. Second, we feel like we’re contributing an important piece to the GNU operating system, and that is surely intimidating and humbling.
Last, we’ve been building something new. Of course we stand on the shoulders of giants, and in particular Nix, which brought the functional software deployment paradigm that Guix implements. But developing Guix has been—and still is!—a challenge in many ways: it’s a programming language design challenge, an operating system design challenge, a challenge for security, reproducibility,bootstrapping, usability, and more. In other words, it’s been a long but insightful journey! 🙂
What GNU Guix can do for you
Presumably some of the readers are discovering Guix today, so let’s recap what Guix can do for you as a user. Guix is a complete toolbox for software deployment in general, which makes it different from most of the tools you may be familiar with.
This may sound a little abstract so let’s look at concrete use cases:
- As a user, Guix allows you to install applications and to keep them up-to-date: search for software with
guix search, install it with
guix install, and maintain it up-to-date by regularly running
guix upgrade. Guix follows a so-called “rolling release” model, so you can run
guix pullat any time to get the latest and greatest bits of free software.This certainly sounds familiar, but a distinguishing property here is dependability: Guix is transactional, meaning that you can at any time roll back to a previous “generation” of your package set with
guix package --roll-back, inspect differences with
guix package -l, and so on.Another useful property is reproducibility: Guix allows you to deploy the exact same software environment on different machines or at different points in time thanks to
guix pull.This, coupled with the fact that package management operations do not require root access, is invaluable notably in the context of high-performance computing (HPC) and reproducible science, which the Guix-HPC effort has been focusing on.
- As a developer, we hope you’ll enjoy
guix environment, which allows you to spawn one-off software environments. Suppose you’re a GIMP developer: running
guix environment gimpspawns a shell with everything you need to hack on GIMP—much quicker than manually installing its many dependencies.Developers often struggle to push their work to users so they get quick feedback. The
guix packprovides an easy way to create container images for use by Docker & co., or even standalone relocatable tarballs that anyone can run, regardless of the GNU/Linux distribution they use.Oh, and you may also like package transformation options, which allow you define package variants from the command line.
- As a system administrator—and actually, we’re all system administrators of sorts on our laptops!—, Guix’s declarative and unified approach to configuration management should be handy. It surely is a departure from what most people are used to, but it is so reassuring: one configuration file is enough to specify all the aspects of the system config—services, file systems, locale, accounts—all in the same language.That makes it surprisingly easy to deploy otherwise complex services such as applications that depend on Web services. For instance, setting up CGit or Zabbix is a one-liner, even though behind the scenes that involves setting up nginx, fcgiwrap, etc. We’d love to see to what extent this helps people self-host services—sort of similar to what FreedomBox and YunoHost have been focusing on.With
guix systemyou can instantiate a configuration on your machine, or in a virtual machine (VM) where you can test it, or in a container. You can also provision ISO images, VM images, or container images with a complete OS, from the same config, all with
The quick reference card shows the important commands. As you start diving deeper into Guix, you’ll discover that many aspects of the system are exposed using consistent Guile programming interfaces: package definitions, system services, the “init” system, and a whole bunch of system-level libraries. We believe that makes the system very hackable, and we hope you’ll find it as much fun to play with as we do.
So much for the overview!
What’s new since 0.16.0
For those who’ve been following along, a great many things have changed over the last 5 months since the 0.16.0 release—99 people contributed over 5,700 commits during that time! Here are the highlights:
- The ISO installation image now runs a cute text-mode graphical installer—big thanks to Mathieu Othacehe for writing it and to everyone who tested it and improved it! It is similar in spirit to the Debian installer. Whether you’re a die-hard GNU/Linux hacker or a novice user, you’ll certainly find that this makes system installation much less tedious than it was! The installer is fully translated to French, German, and Spanish.
- The new VM image better matches user expectations: whether you want to tinker with Guix System and see what it’s like, or whether you want to use it as a development environment, this VM image should be more directly useful.
- The user interface was improved: aliases for common operations such as
guix installare now available, diagnostics are now colorized, more operations show a progress bar, there’s a new
--verbosityoption recognized by all commands, and most commands are now “quiet” by default.
- There’s a new
--with-git-urlpackage transformation option, that goes with
- Guix now has a first-class, uniform mechanism to configure keyboard layout—a long overdue addition. Related to that, Xorg configuration has been streamlined with the new
- We introduced
guix pack -Ra while back: it creates tarballs containing relocatable application bundles that rely on user namespaces. Starting from 1.0,
guix pack -RR(like “reliably relocatable”?) generates relocatable binaries that fall back to PRoot on systems where user namespaces are not supported.
- More than 1,100 packages were added, leading to close to 10,000 packages, 2,104 packages were updated, and several system services were contributed.
- The manual has been fully translated to French, the German and Spanish translations are nearing completion, and work has begun on a Simplified Chinese translation. You can help translate the manual into your language by joining the Translation Project.
That’s a long list already, but you can find more details in the
One-point-oh is a major milestone, especially for those of us who’ve been on board for several years. But with the wealth of ideas we’ve been collecting, it’s definitely not the end of the road!
If you’re interested in “devops” and distributed deployment, you will certainly be happy to help in that area, those interested in OS development might want to make the Shepherd more flexible and snappy, furthering integration with Software Heritage will probably be #1 on the to-do list of scientists concerned with long-term reproducibility, programming language tinkerers may want to push G-expressions further, etc. Guix 1.0 is a tool that’s both serviceable for one’s day-to-day computer usage and a great playground for the tinkerers among us.
Whether you want to help on design, coding, maintenance, system administration, translation, testing, artwork, web services, funding, organizing a Guix install party… your contributions are welcome!
We’re humans—don’t hesitate to get in touch with us, and enjoy Guix 1.0!
About GNU Guix
GNU Guix is a transactional package manager and an advanced distribution of the GNU system that respects user freedom. Guix can be used on top of any system running the kernel Linux, or it can be used as a standalone operating system distribution for i686, x86_64, ARMv7, and AArch64 machines.
In addition to standard package management features, Guix supports transactional upgrades and roll-backs, unprivileged package management, per-user profiles, and garbage collection. When used as a standalone GNU/Linux distribution, Guix offers a declarative, stateless approach to operating system configuration management. Guix is highly customizable and hackable through Guileprogramming interfaces and extensions to the Scheme language.
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