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My experience installing Guix system

From: divoplade
Subject: My experience installing Guix system
Date: Fri, 04 Sep 2020 09:40:18 +0200
User-agent: Evolution 3.34.2

Hello Guix,

By following the official instructions for installing guix, I have read
that you might be interested in how someone would manage to install it
by hand. So this is what I will do here.

My situation is I have two computers: one I intend as a server, and one
I use as a desktop. I wanted to try installing guix on the desktop
before going ahead and installing it for my server. I was very
interested in the guile sexps and gexps for defining services, and the
fact that I would not forget which services I had installed, which ones
were expected to run and how they were configured, having an obvious
root of the system definition -- /etc/config.scm. I don't have a lot of
time for the management of the system, and guix has as built-in
basically every service I wanted, so my guess is I need to try. Plus,
despite my computer system requiring dirty firmware, I consider the
issue of software freedom of great importance.

I had tried it some time ago, but now I realize that both my systems
need special firmware in order to even boot the installer. Retrying now
with added firmware, even if I managed to load the installer, it would
choke on existing partitions that are neither crypt devices, ext4 file
systems or fat32 file systems. So I had to do an automatic partitioning
scheme before trying a manual one.

This was enough for the installer-plus-firmware to generate the system
config file, but it crashed right before actually generating the
system. And of course, I needed to add firmware to the generated
system, so I would need to run guix pull before guix init anyways.

The next step was installing regular debian on the partition I intended
for /home, then installing the guix package manager on top of it,
mounting the other partitions (/boot/efi and the / crypt device), and
running guix system init from within debian. I commented out the file
system for /home in the guix definition before that, so everything in
guix was installed into one partition.

Then, I booted into guix, erased the debian system, used the partition
as a crypt device for /home, rebooted, and everything worked.

There is just one caveat: I have 2 encrypted partitions, and the boot
sequence asks me passwords 3 times:
- 1 to mount / in order to load the kernel (this one is done with US
- 2 to mount / with the loaded kernel (using the right keyboard
- 3 to mount /home.

There might be a way to configure the early decrypting of / to use the
right keyboard configuration, but I just added the LUKS key twice: once
with my normal keyboard layout, and once with the US keyboard layout.

In the mean time I am in the process of doing basically the same steps
for my server, except now I have a template for the system config so I
don't need to run the installer anymore.

Anyway, that was my story. It was a little messy, but in the end it
appears to work well.

Best regards,


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