John Mercier

[A software developer interested in java, groovy, and nixos]


obnam is a backup program I have used used in the past to backup my gentoo system. Now that I am using nixos I would like to setup backups for a number of reasons:

  1. I am on satalite internet so building the nix store, and downloading files from dropbox again could cost a lot of time.

  2. there are still a lot of files that are not in the nixstore.

Setting up obnam on nixos starts with installing it. This is done by adding obnam to the systemPackages.

environment.systemPackages = with pkgs; [

The next part is setting up the configuration. obnam search for a config in the following order.


Nixos is able to create an etc file from it’s configuration with the environment.etc attribute. To create /etc/obnam.conf add this code to configuration.nix.

environment.etc."obnam.conf" = {
  enable = true;
  text = ''
    repository = /data/obnam/all
    client-name = n1
    log = /data/obnam/all.log
    root = /
    one-file-system = yes
    exclude = /data

At this point (once nixos-rebuild switch is run) obnam can be run manually as root. It would be nice if backups were run daily though. This can be setup with fcron.

services.fcron = {
  enable = true;
  allow = [ "john" ];
  systab = ''
    @ 1d obnam backup

The above code will install fcron and setup a job to run obnam once a day. Since systemd is used on nixos it would be better to use a timer instead of fcron. This can be done by removing services.fcron and adding a systemd service and timer for obnam. = {
  description = "Perform system backup";
  script = "${pkgs.obnam}/bin/obnam backup";

systemd.timers.obnam = {
  description = "run obnam every day";
  wantedBy = [ "" ];
  timerConfig = {
    OnCalendar = "daily";
    Persistent = true;

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