Simple application VMs (hypervisor-based sandbox) based on Nix package manager.
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Nix application VMs: security through virtualization

Simple application VMs (hypervisor-based sandbox) based on Nix package manager.

Uses one read-only /nix directory for all appvms. So creating a new appvm (but not first) is just about one minute.

Currently optimized for full screen usage (but remote-viewer has ability to resize window dynamically without change resolution).

appvm screenshot


$ sudo apt install golang virt-manager curl git
$ sudo usermod -a -G libvirt $USER

$ echo 'export GOPATH=$HOME/go' >> ~/.bash_profile
$ echo 'export PATH=$PATH:$GOPATH/bin' >> ~/.bash_profile
$ echo 'source ~/.bash_profile' >> ~/.bashrc
$ source ~/.bash_profile

You need to relogin if you install virt-manager (libvirt) first time.

Install Nix package manager

$ sudo mkdir -m 0755 /nix && sudo chown $USER /nix
$ curl | sh
$ . ~/.nix-profile/etc/profile.d/

Libvirt from user (required if you need access to shared files)

$ echo user = "\"$USER\"" | sudo tee -a /etc/libvirt/qemu.conf
$ sudo systemctl restart libvirtd

Install appvm tool

$ go get

Update appvm tool

$ go get -u

Generate resolution

By default uses 1920x1080. If you need to regenerate appvm/nix/monitor.nix:

$ $GOPATH/src/ 3840 2160 > $GOPATH/src/

Autodetection is a bash-spaghetti, so you need to check results. BTW it’s just a monitor section.

Run application

$ appvm start chromium --verbose
$ # ... long wait for first time, because we need to collect a lot of packages

You can customize local settings in $GOPATH/

Default hotkey to release cursor: ctrl+alt.

Shared directory

$ ls appvm/chromium

Close VM

$ appvm stop chromium

Automatic ballooning

Add this command:

$ appvm autoballoon

to crontab like that:

$ crontab -l
* * * * * /home/user/dev/go/bin/appvm autoballoon

App description

$ cat nix/chromium.nix
{pkgs, ...}:
  imports = [

  environment.systemPackages = [ pkgs.chromium ];
  services.xserver.displayManager.sessionCommands = "while [ 1 ]; do ${pkgs.chromium}/bin/chromium; done &";

For create new app you should add package name (search at and path to binary (typically same as package name).

Defined applications (pull requests are welcome!)

  • chromium
  • thunderbird
  • tdesktop
  • evince
  • libreoffice
  • wire
  • torbrowser