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NixOS is a purely functional (declarative) Linux distribution started as a research project in 2003. Over the intervening years, it has seen considerable buy in by advanced Linux users and companies interested in pushing the envelope (the same sorts of individuals you typically see pushing the computer languges envelope), and it has silently grown to become one of the biggest heavyweight hitters in the world of Linux distributions.

The site tracks packages offerings and versions of all the common, and many uncommon, Linux distributions. At 53,079 packages, of which 80.7% are the newest version, NixOS has both one of the largest sets of packages (second only to Arch Linux's 56,568) and the most up-to-date (second to none). For comparison Ubuntu has 31,180 packages, of which 63.9% are the latest version, and Fedora has 22,291 packages, of which 42.7% are the latest version.

In this talk I am going to walk you through getting started with NixOS, covering both installing it on your machine and using it. Although not well know to many users, SHARCNET has made the NixOS package collection available, on both our legacy systems and our newer Graham system, for many years now. So this will also indirectly serve as an example of how to take advantage of this (see for more details).