Best way to install and use julia on Nix/NixoS

Hi there,

I am a julia user new to Nix environment. And I am wondering what is the best way to install julia and use it under this platform. I see 3 ways :

  • using julia package from Nix pkgs;

  • using julia-bin package from Nix pkgs;

  • using the classic downloadable file of julia and using some FHS tools or other approach to use it under Nix.

I am wondering because julia’s packages from linux distributions have often bad reputation concerning julia (I experienced it), but with nix it is not possible to use it out of the box after download.

I don’t know if this topic is more suitable for here, a julia discourse, or nix/nixos one.

If you are on nixos-unstable, you can just install julia-bin to get the latest Julia (1.10.0 currently).

If you’re on a stable nixos release like 23.11, julia-bin is Julia 1.9, so you’ll want to use an overlay to get the newer Julia 1.10. Read the nixpkgs docs to learn about using overlays. This expression (copied from nixpkgs a while ago) provides Julia 1.10. When the next Julia release comes out you can (hopefully) just bump the version = line and specify the new sha256.

# Copied from nixpkgs.
{ autoPatchelfHook, fetchurl, lib, stdenv }:

  skip_tests = [
    # Test flaky on ofborg

    # Test flaky because of our RPATH patching
  ] ++ lib.optionals stdenv.isDarwin [
    # Test flaky on ofborg
    # Test requires pbcopy
    # Test requires network access
  ] ++ lib.optionals (stdenv.isDarwin && stdenv.isx86_64) [
    # Test Failed at $out/share/julia/stdlib/v1.8/LinearAlgebra/test/blas.jl:702
    # Test Failed at $out/share/julia/test/misc.jl:724
stdenv.mkDerivation rec {
  pname = "julia-bin";
  version = "1.10.0";

  src = {
    x86_64-linux = fetchurl {
      url = "${lib.versions.majorMinor version}/julia-${version}-linux-x86_64.tar.gz";
      sha256 = "sha256-pymCB/cvKyeyqxzjkqbqN6+9H77g8fjRkLBU3KuoeP4=";
    aarch64-linux = fetchurl {
      url = "${lib.versions.majorMinor version}/julia-${version}-linux-aarch64.tar.gz";
      sha256 = "541d0c5a9378f8d2fc384bb8595fc6ffe20d61054629a6e314fb2f8dfe2f2ade";
    x86_64-darwin = fetchurl {
      url = "${lib.versions.majorMinor version}/julia-${version}-mac64.tar.gz";
      sha256 = "67eec264f6afc9e9bf72c0f62c84d91c2ebdfaed6a0aa11606e3c983d278b441";
    aarch64-darwin = fetchurl {
      url = "${lib.versions.majorMinor version}/julia-${version}-macaarch64.tar.gz";
      sha256 = "67542975e86102eec95bc4bb7c30c5d8c7ea9f9a0b388f0e10f546945363b01a";
  }.${stdenv.hostPlatform.system} or (throw "Unsupported system: ${stdenv.hostPlatform.system}");

  postPatch = ''
    # Julia fails to pick up our Certification Authority root certificates, but
    # it provides its own so we can simply disable the test. Patching in the
    # dynamic path to ours require us to rebuild the Julia system image.
    substituteInPlace share/julia/stdlib/v${lib.versions.majorMinor version}/NetworkOptions/test/runtests.jl \
      --replace '@test ca_roots_path() != bundled_ca_roots()' \
        '@test_skip ca_roots_path() != bundled_ca_roots()'

  nativeBuildInputs = lib.optionals stdenv.isLinux [

  installPhase = ''
    runHook preInstall
    cp -r . $out
    runHook postInstall

  # Breaks backtraces, etc.
  dontStrip = true;

  doInstallCheck = false;
  doCheck = false;

  preInstallCheck = ''
    # Some tests require read/write access to $HOME.
    export HOME="$TMPDIR"
  installCheckPhase = ''
    runHook preInstallCheck
    # Command lifted from `test/Makefile`.
    $out/bin/julia \
      --check-bounds=yes \
      --startup-file=no \
      --depwarn=error \
      $out/share/julia/test/runtests.jl \
      --skip internet_required ${toString skip_tests}
    runHook postInstallCheck

  meta = {
    description = "High-level, high-performance, dynamic language for technical computing";
    homepage = "";
    # Bundled and linked with various GPL code, although Julia itself is MIT.
    license = lib.licenses.gpl2Plus;
    maintainers = with lib.maintainers; [ raskin nickcao wegank ];
    platforms = [ "x86_64-linux" "aarch64-linux" "x86_64-darwin" "aarch64-darwin" ];
    mainProgram = "julia";

Ok. So basically what you say is that julia-bin is ok but need an overlay just to get the latest version ?

Why not just using the unstable.julia-bin package in a stable nix ?

I know it is not recommended but using 1.9 does not disturb me. I am not bleeding edge in my use of julia.

If you have unstable nixpkgs, then sure, you can use unstable.julia-bin to get the latest Julia release.

I would say that Julia 1.10 is worth it even if you aren’t using any new features. 1.10 has package loading (e.g. time for using X) roughly 2x faster than 1.9.


Ok noted. Thanks !