Usage with Flakes


To quickly try Colmena out, use the following command to enter an ephemeral environment with the latest development version of colmena:

nix shell github:zhaofengli/colmena

To install Colmena to the user profile, use the following command:

nix-env -if

You can also add github:zhaofengli/colmena as an input in your Flake and add the colmena package to your devShell.

Unstable Binary Cache

A public binary cache is available at, courtesy of Cachix. This binary cache contains unstable versions of Colmena built by GitHub Actions.

Basic Configuration

Colmena reads the colmena output in your Flake.

Here is a short example:

  inputs = {
    nixpkgs.url = "github:NixOS/nixpkgs/nixos-unstable";
  outputs = { nixpkgs, ... }: {
    colmena = {
      meta = {
        nixpkgs = import nixpkgs {
          system = "x86_64-linux";
          overlays = [];

      host-a = { name, nodes, pkgs, ... }: {
        boot.isContainer = true;
        time.timeZone =;
      host-b = {
        deployment = {
          targetHost = "somehost.tld";
          targetPort = 1234;
          targetUser = "luser";
        boot.isContainer = true;
        time.timeZone = "America/Los_Angeles";

The full set of deployment options can be found here. You can also check out the example in the main tutorial for some inspiration.

Now you are ready to use Colmena! To build the configuration:

colmena build

To build and deploy to all nodes:

colmena apply

Next Steps

  • Head to the Features section to see what else Colmena can do.
  • Read more about options available in Colmena in the Reference section.