Profiles are a convenient shorthand for the definition of options in contrast to their declaration. They're built into the NixOS module system for a reason: to elegantly provide a clear separation of concerns.


Profiles are created with the rakeLeaves function which recursively collects .nix files from within a folder. The recursion stops at folders with a default.nix in them. You end up with an attribute set with leaves(paths to profiles) or nodes(attrsets leading to more nodes or leaves).

A profile is used for quick modularization of interelated bits.

  • For declaring module options, there's the modules directory.
  • This directory takes inspiration from upstream .

Nested profiles

Profiles can be nested in attribute sets due to the recursive nature of rakeLeaves. This can be useful to have a set of profiles created for a specific purpose. It is sometimes useful to have a common profile that has high level concerns related to all its sister profiles.



  imports = [ ./zsh ];
  # some generic development concerns ...


{  ... }:
  programs.zsh.enable = true;
  # zsh specific options ...

The examples above will end up with a profiles set like this:

  develop = {
    common = ./profiles/develop/common.nix;
    zsh = ./profiles/develop/zsh.nix;


Profiles are the most important concept in DevOS. They allow us to keep our Nix expressions self contained and modular. This way we can maximize reuse across hosts while minimizing boilerplate. Remember, anything machine specific belongs in your host files instead.