Actually I can just use a real host, assuming this will be easy to uninstall. Make sure /nix is readable by user. It cannot be a symlink. $ curl https://nixos.org/nix/install | sh Is it possible to install multi-user nix on Debian? https://gist.github.com/joepie91/043a51a7b70be5f50f1d Though it feels as if I should stick to some base Debian install for anything that is a server, and use nix only for setting up a build environment.