Installing parinfer-rust for Neovim on NixOS

Update Sun 19 Jul 2020 04:24:39 PM CEST

Actually you can just drop pkgs.parinfer-rust into your (Neo)Vim plugins list like so

    programs.neovim.configure = {
      customRC = builtins.readFile ./init.vim;

      packages.n = {
        start = [ pkgs.parinfer-rust ];

        opt = [ ];

This will install the plugin and run the postInstall hook. The only problem is that it doesn’t install the docs, nor build the helptags. I should create an issue for that. In the meantime I’ll stick with my custom installation method.


There’s a very nice Rust library, parinfer-rust, which implements the pretty well known Parinfer editing mode for Lisp languages, but in Rust. The library also comes with a (Neo)Vim plugin, which I wanted to install with buildVimPluginFrom2Nix.

At first I tried installing the plugin like any other:

  (pkgs.vimUtils.buildVimPluginFrom2Nix rec {
    pname = "parinfer";
    version = "latest";
    src = sources.parinfer;

sources comes from niv and points at the GitHub repository of the Rust library. This will install the plugin just fine, but it will crash upon opening a Clojure file. The problem is that the Neovim plugin can’t find the shared .so file.

dlerror = "/nix/store/jp6y6fma2lvdr73q37jji7yp53hyqi42-vimplugin-parinfer-latest/share/vim-plugins/parinfer-latest/target/release/ cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory"

The installation instructions in the README do mention running cargo build as some sort of post installation hook. But since this is NixOS I definitely do not want to run an imperative command everytime I install this plugin. After all, parinfer-rust itself is already in Nixpkgs and therefore has a working derivation. I should be able to make the Neovim plugin aware of the build output of that derivation so that they share the .so file.

Luckily the derivation for parinfer-rust contains about 90% of an answer already. In its post install hook it replaces some strings inside the Neovim plugin. And it uses placeholder for that, which I had never heard of (I’m not a Nix expert, in case you didn’t notice). But even without looking at the documentation, it’s somewhat intuitive that this is doing exactly what I needed to do as well: rewrite a path inside the vimscript plugin code so it points at the Nix store. Specifically, at the parinfer-rust build output.

Armed with this knowledge it was pretty easy to port this hook to my Neovim configuration. I’m doing exactly the same thing except I don’t need the placeholder anymore. I can just refer to the stringified derivation (~ output path in Nix store) directly. This also has the advantage that the version of the plugin and of the shared library should be the same. Both come from the same pkgs package set after all.

  (pkgs.vimUtils.buildVimPluginFrom2Nix rec {
    pname = "parinfer";
    version = "latest";
    postInstall = ''
      mkdir -p $rtpPath/plugin
      sed "s,let s:libdir = .*,let s:libdir = '${pkgs.parinfer-rust}/lib'," \
        plugin/parinfer.vim >$rtpPath/plugin/parinfer.vim
    src = sources.parinfer;

This might sound a bit ridiculous to someone more experienced in all things Nix, but this made me feel super accomplished for some reason 🚀

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