Let’s say you have a bunch of custom package variants or personal packages that you think would make little sense to contribute to the Guix project, but would like to have these packages transparently available to you at the command line. You would first write modules containing those package definitions (see Package Modules), maintain them in a Git repository, and then you and anyone else can use it as an additional channel to get packages from. Neat, no?
Warning: Before you, dear user, shout—“woow this is soooo coool!”—and publish your personal channel to the world, we would like to share a few words of caution:
- Before publishing a channel, please consider contributing your package definitions to Guix proper (see Contributing). Guix as a project is open to free software of all sorts, and packages in Guix proper are readily available to all Guix users and benefit from the project’s quality assurance process.
- When you maintain package definitions outside Guix, we, Guix developers, consider that the compatibility burden is on you. Remember that package modules and package definitions are just Scheme code that uses various programming interfaces (APIs). We want to remain free to change these APIs to keep improving Guix, possibly in ways that break your channel. We never change APIs gratuitously, but we will not commit to freezing APIs either.
- Corollary: if you’re using an external channel and that channel breaks, please report the issue to the channel authors, not to the Guix project.
You’ve been warned! Having said this, we believe external channels are a practical way to exert your freedom to augment Guix’ package collection and to share your improvements, which are basic tenets of free software. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to discuss this.
To create a channel, create a Git repository containing your own package
modules and make it available. The repository can contain anything, but a
useful channel will contain Guile modules that export packages. Once you
start using a channel, Guix will behave as if the root directory of that
channel’s Git repository has been added to the Guile load path (see Load
Paths in GNU Guile Reference Manual). For example, if your channel
contains a file at my-packages/my-tools.scm that defines a Guile
module, then the module will be available under the name
my-tools), and you will be able to use it like any other module
(see Modules in GNU Guile Reference Manual).
As a channel author, consider bundling authentication material with your channel so that users can authenticate it. See Channel Authentication, and Specifying Channel Authorizations, for info on how to do it.