Local Deployment

For some machines, you may still want to stick with the manual nixos-rebuild-type of workflow. Colmena allows you to build and activate configurations on the host running Colmena itself, provided that:

  1. The node must be running NixOS.
  2. The node must have deployment.allowLocalDeployment set to true.
  3. The node's attribute name must match the hostname of the machine.

If you invoke apply-local with --sudo, Colmena will attempt to elevate privileges with sudo if it's not run as root. You may also find it helpful to set deployment.targetHost to null if you don't intend to deploy to the host via SSH.

As an example, the following hive.nix includes a node (laptop) that is meant to be only deployed with apply-local:

  meta = {
    nixpkgs = ./deps/nixpkgs-stable;

    # I'd like to use the unstable version of Nixpkgs on
    # my desktop machines.
    nodeNixpkgs = {
      laptop = ./deps/nixpkgs-unstable;

  # This attribute name must match the output of `hostname` on your machine
  laptop = { name, nodes, ... }: {
    networking.hostName = "laptop";

    deployment = {
      # Allow local deployment with `colmena apply-local`
      allowLocalDeployment = true;

      # Disable SSH deployment. This node will be skipped in a
      # normal`colmena apply`.
      targetHost = null;

    # ... Rest of configuration ...

  server-a = { pkgs, ... }: {
    # This node will use the default Nixpkgs checkout specified
    # in `meta.nixpkgs`.

    # ... Rest of configuration ...

On laptop, run colmena apply-local --sudo to activate the configuration.