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Nix Recipe: Setup Postgresql

Nix recipe to setup postgres 12 with postgis in a cross platform virtual nix environment

This is a nix recipe for building and running postgresql-12 in a virtual nix environment.

Step 1: Create shell.nix

Create your project folder and save the following file as shell.nix

nixpkgs = import (builtins.fetchTarball https://github.com/NixOS/nixpkgs/archive/20.03.tar.gz) {
  overlays = [];
  config = {};

with nixpkgs;

stdenv.mkDerivation {
  name = "postgres-env";
  buildInputs = [];

  nativeBuildInputs = [

    # postgres-12 with postgis support
    (postgresql_12.withPackages (p: [ p.postgis ]))

  postgresConf =
    writeText "postgresql.conf"
        # Add Custom Settings
        log_min_messages = warning
        log_min_error_statement = error
        log_min_duration_statement = 100  # ms
        log_connections = on
        log_disconnections = on
        log_duration = on
        #log_line_prefix = '[] '
        log_timezone = 'UTC'
        log_statement = 'all'
        log_directory = 'pg_log'
        log_filename = 'postgresql-%Y-%m-%d_%H%M%S.log'
        logging_collector = on
        log_min_error_statement = error

  # ENV Variables
  LD_LIBRARY_PATH = "${geos}/lib:${gdal}/lib";
  PGDATA = "${toString ./.}/.pg";

  # Post Shell Hook
  shellHook = ''
    echo "Using ${postgresql_12.name}."

    # Setup: other env variables
    export PGHOST="$PGDATA"
    # Setup: DB
    [ ! -d $PGDATA ] && pg_ctl initdb -o "-U postgres" && cat "$postgresConf" >> $PGDATA/postgresql.conf
    pg_ctl -o "-p 5555 -k $PGDATA" start
    alias fin="pg_ctl stop && exit"
    alias pg="psql -p 5555 -U postgres"


  • Here, the nix packages are installed from 20.03 release.
  • Postgres is installed with PostGIS extension.
  • Above postgres server runs with local configuration specified in postgresConf variable, use this to modify/add config for postgres.
  • All data is stored in project folder’s .pg directory, configured by $PGDATA variable.
  • $PGHOST is configured to be same as $PGDATA.
  • geos and gdal libraries are also installed.

Step 2: Run nix shell

Run below command to build and start postgresql_12 in your virtual environment.

nix-shell --pure shell.nix


  • Postgres is running here on port: 5555, so it won’t conflict with other Postgres server, if running.
  • Running this command multiple times won’t start multiple postgres server, since it is controlled by the lock file: ./.pg/postmaster.pid
  • To exit the nix shell, run fin, this will stop the postgres server.