nix and guix for Gentoo in 2023

May 19, 2023

Another year has passed since I shared anything related to ::nix-guix Gentoo overlay.

As usual the overlay still ships latest nix-2.15.0 and guix-1.4.0 packages.

Overlay location changes

The overlay installation procedure changed slightly and does not rely on layman or eselect repository anymore.

If you are an existing user of layman setup then please consider removing and re-syncing already created overlay. It should be a matter of running something like:

# edit /etc/portage/repos.conf/nix-guix.conf
# rm -rfv /var/db/repos/nix-guix
# emerge --sync

Otherwise you are risking using stale overlay mirrored by Gentoo infrastructure at It has a few build problems like missing gcc-13 fixes. They typical symptom of using stale overlay is rapidcheck build failure:

/var/tmp/portage/dev-cpp/rapidcheck-0_pre20230113/work/rapidcheck-0_pre20230113/include/rapidcheck/detail/Utility.h:87:8: error: 'uint64_t' does not name a type
   87 | inline uint64_t avalanche(uint64_t x) {
      |        ^~~~~~~~
/var/tmp/portage/dev-cpp/rapidcheck-0_pre20230113/work/rapidcheck-0_pre20230113/include/rapidcheck/detail/Utility.h:6:1: note: 'uint64_t' is defined in header '<cstdint>'; did you forget to '#include <cstdint>'?
    5 | #include <limits>
  +++ |+#include <cstdint>
    6 |

It was fixed a while ago in the overlay. Make sure you have the correct sync URL that points:

I hope that the fact of use of stale URL by emerge --sync will be fixed in Or at least sync errors will be exposed to users in a more intuitive form. Removing stale broken mirrors would be another option.

Other changes

We had 5 overlay contributors over the past year:

Artemis Everfree
Huang Rui
Maciej Barć
Sergei Trofimovich

People delivered various fixes and improvements:

One of the items above had unusually large source of bugs.

Gentoo recently added clang-based set of experimental profiles:

$ eselect profile list | grep clang
  [26]  default/linux/amd64/17.1/clang (exp)
  [27]  default/linux/amd64/17.1/systemd/clang (exp)
  [28]  default/linux/amd64/17.1/systemd/clang/merged-usr (exp) *
  [33]  default/linux/amd64/17.0/musl/clang (exp)

Of course being experimental does not stop users from trying to use the profiles for all sorts of use cases. I found out about the profiles from a bug report where nix failed to build on one of them.

missing ‘long double’ helpers in runtime libraries

The symptom was a link failure around obscure functions like __unordtf2:

ld.lld: error: undefined symbol: __unordtf2
>>> referenced by printf_fphex.o:(__printf_fphex) in archive /usr/lib/gcc/x86_64-pc-linux-gnu/12/../../../../lib64/libc.a
>>> referenced by printf_fphex.o:(__printf_fphex) in archive /usr/lib/gcc/x86_64-pc-linux-gnu/12/../../../../lib64/libc.a
>>> referenced by printf_fp.o:(__printf_fp_l) in archive /usr/lib/gcc/x86_64-pc-linux-gnu/12/../../../../lib64/libc.a

This kind of errors only ever happens when you mix the code compiled with gcc and clang. gcc sometimes emits helper functions that it expects to satisfy with libgcc.a. Those symbols are usually related to handling of non-standard types like long double. But otherwise could be anything that is worth sharing by the code generator.

It would not normally be a problem. But glibc provides printf() function that supports any type that compiler tries to throw at it. And even that is not a problem: as long as building and linking is done by the same toolchain (like for then compiler driver provides all the needed libraries.

The problem happens when compiler and linker are different implementations. One of such cases is static linking: currently glibc is built with gcc even on clang profiles in Gentoo. But the vast majority of ::gentoo is built with clang including static busybox.

As a result static linking is effectively broken on clang profiles today.

One of the fixes would be to switch glibc to be built with clang just like the rest of packages (I believe glibc upstream does support clang nowadays). Another workaround would be to disable support of those non-standard types at least in static glibc. Yet another one would be to implement gcc-specific library calls in clang runtime so both could be interchangeable. That would be the best fix if clang strives to generate output binary-compatible with gcc output.

So far none of the above is implemented in Gentoo. tracks the problem.

Thus to make nix work I had to work around in statically built busybox instance used by nix-daemon for initial build environments.

I took the path of supplying (unusable) stubs for missing symbols as:

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>

/* Not a real implementation.
 * Just a few stubs for llvm-libunwind to be complete enough for
 * busybox to be able to link against libc.a's printf().

static void die(const char * func)
    fprintf(stderr, "%s not implemented.", func);
    fprintf(stderr, "Please report at\n");

int __unordtf2 (long double a, long double b) { die(__func__); }
int __letf2 (long double a, long double b) { die(__func__); }
long double __multf3 (long double a, long double b) { die(__func__); }
long double __addtf3 (long double a, long double b) { die(__func__); }

Using this file as part of linkage process converts missing symbols from link-time to run-time failures. busybox does not really use these symbols thus it should be a safe hack.

That fixed nix build on clang-based profiles.

guix and llvm-strip

Having set up clang-based Gentoo chroot to explore the problem above I ran the test for all the ::nix-guix packages. And sure enough guix failed to build as well. Except that this time the failure was a lot more obscure:

# emerge -1 guix
bytevector-u8-ref: Argument 2 out of range: 185581

Something very low-level broke in guile or it’s libraries.

I ignored the failure for a few months until I looked up if others encountered the same error. And indeed someone did! They solved it by disabling stripping of guile. It was a great hint: rebuilding all of dev-scheme/* with FEATURES="-splitdebug nostrip" repaired guix for me as well.

guile uses ELF format to store it’s compiled bytecode in /usr/lib/guile/:

$ file /usr/lib64/guile/3.0/ccache/rnrs.go
  ELF 64-bit LSB shared object,
  no machine,
  version 1 (embedded),
  dynamically linked,
  with debug_info,
  not stripped

The caveat is that it’s a “no machine” ELF file as it has no native code. As a result an attempt to strip these files can break their internal structure if not done right. binutils-strip does not break the files (probably by luck?). llvm-strip is not as lucky.

The workaround was to sprinkle around the change below all over the dev-scheme*/* and guix:

# add to dev-scheme/guile-zlib
src_install() {

       # Workaround llvm-strip problem of mangling guile ELF debug
       # sections:
       dostrip -x "/usr/$(get_libdir)/guile"

It inhibits stripping of *.go files. Ideally one should not run strip on object files not compatible to the default strip target.

Or guile could have encoded enough information for llvm-strip to keep files working. Something to explore in future.

Disabling *.go stripping was enough to get guix running on clang-based profiles.

Parting words

nix and guix can still be used in Gentoo to play with these fancy package managers. With static linkage and stripping workarounds those can be used in more environments now.

Have fun!