Brussels / 31 January & 1 February 2015


The Emacs of Distros

How GNU Guix Seeks to Empower Users

What's with Emacs? Its design makes user freedom more practical by putting all the mechanics at the user's fingertips. This talk will explore how GNU Guix and its distribution seek to empower users in a similar way.

The very design of Emacs empowers users: the whole documentation and source is at their fingertips, ready to be debugged or changed for immediate effect. Free software made practical!

What about following that Emacs meme for a complete distro? That's what the GNU Guix project has been trying to answer. The project has been developing a package manager and associated GNU/Linux distribution over the last two years. By using a general-purpose implementation language, Scheme, and by specializing it to offer high-level abstractions, Guix and the Guix System Distribution (GNU GSD) empower users by blurring the distinction between packagers and users, and by offering a uniform, hackable framework.

This talk gives an update of GNU Guix, and gives insight into how its design and implementation attempt to enhance software freedom.

We will see how users can fiddle with these foundations without having to cross barriers imposed by complex C systems and the historical baggage of a flurry of loosely integrated scripts and tools of varying languages. The talk will also demo features that set Guix apart from many other tools: supports transactional upgrades, rollback, per-user installations, reproducible operating system declarations, and more.


Ludovic Court├Ęs