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In the amazing nixos, it is possible to launch a lightweight container that will run a system whose configuration.nix file is different from the host configuration by using:

nixos-rebuild build-vm -I nixos-config=./configuration.nix

However, this command cannot work on operating systems where nixos is not installed, like debian + nixpkgs, because nixos-rebuild does not exists.

How can I still use build-vm in non-nixos systems?

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Thanks to clever and infinisil:

nix-build '<nixpkgs/nixos>' -A vm -I nixos-config=./configuration.nix
  • You can mark your answer as accepted since this is, well, the right answer – David Costa Oct 5 '19 at 10:06

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