Farid Zakaria's Blog

on Farid Zakaria's Blog

On-demand linked libraries for Nix

This is a write up of some discussion ongoing with some folks on the #nix-community IRC chat primarily being driven by Mic92.

Nixpkgs maintains the highest rating on Repology for having the most packages & which are up to date. Unfortunately even with the current ecosystem of packages, there will always be gaps, and for beginners in NixOS a common question is:

“I’ve download a binary and would like to run it on NixOS”

Take a look at this graph https://repology.org/repositories/graphs

repology graph

Can we do better & streamline running non-Nix software? 🤔

This was some of the questions posed by some Nix contributors and I wanted to capture the ideas put forward for others.

Debugging a JNR-FFI bug in Nix

This is a write-up of an issue I discovered when using more advanced features of Java within a Nix environment. Please refer to the GitHub issue #103493 to see any ongoing process

I have been onboarding several engineers to doing their development workflow using Nix; promising all the benefits of hermeticity & reproducibility. The biggest challenge is making sure that onboarding continues to be seemless.

Therefore it’s 🚨 all hands on deck when someone has encountered a SIGSEGV; especially since the environment is within the JVM.

# A fatal error has been detected by the Java Runtime Environment:
#  SIGSEGV (0xb) at pc=0x0000000000000680, pid=3229039, tid=0x00007ff8c5834640
# JRE version: OpenJDK Runtime Environment (8.0_265) (build 1.8.0_265-ga)
# Java VM: OpenJDK 64-Bit Server VM (25.265-bga mixed mode linux-amd64 compressed oops)
# Problematic frame:
# C  0x0000000000000680

Isolation using Java's ClassLoader

This is a small write-up of one I sent to my team to help disseminate some knowledge regarding Java’s ClassLoader mechanism.

A codebase I’m working on uses Java ClassLoader to help load multiple JDBC drivers with their complete dependencies.

Typically, using Maven or Gradle, a project would have to pin to common dependencies due to the diamond dependency problem at the cost of potential unforeseen bugs due to drift in versions.

Can we do better? Let’s dig into ClassLoaders.

Nix parallelism & Import From Derivation

I recently submitted a pull-request #101096 for nixpkgs to include new functionality to list all files recursively within a directory.

One of the feedback from @grahamc & @roberth was that function may cause Nix evaluation to stall.

It was not clear why and even more confusing is the name given to this gotcha; Import From Derivation.

Import From Derivation (IFD) is where during a single Nix evaluation, the Nix expression:

  1. creates a derivation which will build a Nix expression
  2. imports that expression
  3. uses the results of the evaluation of the expression.

Let’s dig into this problem and how it’s caused.

nix-copy-closure your nix-shell

This is a synopsis of https://github.com/NixOS/nix/issues/1985. I recommend reading it for additional detail. Many thanks to contributors on the issue like Infinisil for adding context.

Someone reached out to me over e-mail to discuss my previous post on caching your nix-shell.

“What I wish to do is to copy a particular development environment (nix-shell) from A to B, so that I could run nix-shell on server B. Server B is only accessible through SSH and does not have Internet access.”

VPNs continued

This is part 2 of a post regarding VPNs. Please see here for part 1.

In the previous post, we discussed the basics of setting up a virtual private network; the goal of which was bridging two distinct private subnets.

This gave us the alluring property of treating separate networks as they were colocated and can be accessed easily. However most people are first introduced into VPNs for other features such as: anonymity, secrecy & privacy.

A common example may be to tunnel traffic through a host in another country to disguise the origin. For instance, maybe you are in Canada but want to browse the American Netflix catalog.

How can we extend lametun to do this?

I’ll present a few alternatives. The main goal however will to forward all traffic, including ones destined for the Internet, through the tunnel.

VPNs from first principles

If you enjoy the from first principles theme, consider reading the one on containers.

Networking can seem like voodoo; many of us take for granted how data transmits from one computer to the next. Recently, wireguard, has attracted a lot of publicity for it’s inclusion into the Linux kernel & for it’s stated goal of making setting up VPNs simpler.

Behind all the magic, is a very simple premise. Let’s shed some of the complexity and break it down to first principles.

Tailscale is magic; even more so with NixOS

Our adventure into NixOS continues; this time let’s look into how we can harden our NixOS machines by putting them within a VPN. We will be using tailscale to setup our VPN.

Restricting your machines; especially SSH for servers; behind a VPN is a great way to add a layer of security without having to mess with various checklists like making sure password based logins are disabled.

NixOS; what's in a rebuild? Continued.

This is part 2 of a series on nixos-rebuild. You can read part 1 here.

We previously broke down that one of the first tasks done by nixos-rebuild is to build the system attribute.

What happens next for switch ? Let’s go back to the source.

NixOS; what's in a rebuild?

I have been using Nix but mainly through home-manager on my Debian system; finally I made the plunge into running NixOS on an AWS server for my side-projects.

There’s a lot of information on how to configure & setup an already created NixOS machine but not much advice for workflows, best practices & multiple machines.

Here I’ll document what I found useful and pulling back the veil on some of the NixOS tooling.

Feel free to check my Nix repository for home-manager & NixOS https://github.com/fzakaria/nix-home