Image for post on-community-in-nix
Apr 26, 2024 by Eelco Dolstra

On community in Nix

Dear members of the Nix Community,

When I created the Nix project as part of my PhD thesis research in 2003, I could never have imagined the enthusiasm that people would have for it, the energetic community that would grow around it, and the myriad of amazing new things that people would use it to help bring to life. I am immeasurably pleased and proud of where the project stands today and extremely optimistic for its longevity and utility as a critical component of the software delivery pipeline for an ever-growing number of developers, teams and businesses.

I co-created and assumed leadership of the NixOS Foundation in 2015 out of a sense of duty to further facilitate the rapid growth of the project and the community. The Foundation had modest goals: it is intended to provide continuity for critical assets like the binary cache, and to provide legal and financial support to events like NixCon. It was not intended to “run” the Nix/NixOS community, which has done an admirable job in managing itself without top-down control. I am glad that I helped to establish the Foundation, and that it continues to serve the practical purposes that it should. That said, my participation in the much-needed administrative work that the body does is not my passion and I would be happy to step away from it at some point in the future.

In July 2022, I co-founded Determinate Systems, a company that will accelerate innovation and adoption of Nix by simplifying its use and helping users get predictably great results with it. The company, its mission, and my place in its continued development are my focus and passion and are the vehicles through which I am committed to continuing to contribute to the development of Nix and the realization of its goals.

In recent months, and more intensely in recent days, a number of issues have been broached by a small group within the community regarding the governance of the project, the foundation, and the community itself. The ongoing debate on these issues has been divisive to the community and deleterious to our collective goals. I would like to provide clarification regarding a number of misperceptions that have been brought to light as a result of the collective discussion.

First, I have had very little involvement in Nixpkgs and NixOS in recent years, having ceded their stewardship to other community members some time ago, and have no more influence over their direction than any other dedicated contributor. Second, I am just one member of the five-member Nix team and hold no more formal authority than the others in determining the direction of the team. Third, I have not been a member of the RFC Steering Committee since new members were elected in January 2024. Fourth, the NixOS Foundation in no way controls or governs the Nix community, which has, since its inception, demonstrated its ability to self-govern very well.

With regard to the most focal issue raised in recent discussions, that of who should or shouldn’t be allowed to sponsor or participate in NixCon, I feel that the chief aim of the Nix project is to give developers the tools they need to do better work, faster. I strongly believe that we should not exclude any company from contributing to, participating in, or utilizing the Nix project in any way.

The nature of open source software is such that anyone, working for any company or none, can contribute to and benefit from the work being done by the broader community. That companies create products and technologies that some approve of and others disapprove of is a simple fact of life. It is my opinion that it is not for us, as open source software developers, to decide whose views are valid and whose are not, and to allow or disallow project or conference participation as a result. We should welcome all contributions that help the project grow and thrive. This is a view that I have and will always hold, regardless of my company’s involvement in the project.

Regarding alleged conflicts of interest, I want to be very clear. My role, participation, and focus on the good work being done at Determinate Systems have been public knowledge since the company’s inception. The assertion that Determinate Systems “owns” Nix or seeks to exert outsized influence over the project, the community, or the foundation is patently false: I am the only member of the Nix team who works for Determinate Systems.

Last, I must express my deep disappointment and disbelief at the accusation of excluding people from minority or marginalized backgrounds. As someone who highly values diversity and inclusion, this accusation is not only unfounded but also insulting. Throughout my career, I have consistently supported work towards creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all individuals, regardless of their background. I continue to support initiatives to ensure that everyone feels valued and appreciated, and I have actively encouraged opportunities to amplify the voices of those who have been historically marginalized.

I remain committed to creating a community where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued, and I will not let unfounded accusations detract from this important work. I encourage everyone reading this who feels that they have not been heard or feels displaced to join the Determinate Systems community as we continue working to make Nix as easy to use and as impactful as possible. Our code of conduct is available here, and you can join our Discord at

In closing, I want to thank everyone in the Nix community for their hard work and dedication to the project. I have nothing but respect, admiration, and deep appreciation for all of you and the commitment and progress that you have made. I am excited to see what the future holds for Nix, and I am committed to continuing to do my part to help it grow and thrive.


Eelco Dolstra.

Avatar for Eelco Dolstra
Written by Eelco Dolstra

Eelco started the Nix project as a PhD student at Utrecht University. He serves as president of the NixOS Foundation and is a member of the Nix team.