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Installing a Specific Package Version

This document explains how to use devbox search and devbox add to install a specific package version in your Devbox project. It also explains how to pin a particular major or minor version for the package in your project.

The Nixpkgs Repository and the Devbox Search Index

Devbox installs packages using the Nix Package Manager. Nix maintains over 80,000 build definitions in a Github repo at NixOS/nixpkgs. Maintainers add new packages and remove outdated packages by committing changes to this repo.

Because the repository changes frequently, and new releases of Nixpkgs infrequently keep older packages, installing older package versions with Nix can take effort. Devbox simplifies this by maintaining a search index that maps package names and version numbers to their latest available commit in the Nixpkgs repository. Devbox users can select packages by providing the package name and version without looking up a Nixpkg commit.

Pinning a Package Version

Searching for Available Packages

You can look up the available versions of a package by running devbox search <package_name>. For example, to see the available versions of nodejs, you can run devbox search nodejs:

$ devbox search nodejs

Found 2+ results for "nodejs":

* nodejs (20.5.1, 20.5.0, 20.4.0, 20.3.1, 20.3.0, 20.2.0, 20.1.0, 20.0.0, 19.9.0, 19.8.1)
* nodejs-slim (20.5.1, 20.5.0, 20.4.0, 20.3.1, 20.3.0, 20.2.0, 20.1.0, 20.0.0, 19.9.0, 19.8.1)

Warning: Showing top 10 results and truncated versions. Use --show-all to show all.

Specifying Package Versions

If you do not include a version string, Devbox will default to using the latest available version of the package in our Nixpkg index. This is the same as adding <pkg>@<latest> to your devbox.json.

For example, to use the latest version of ripgrep, run devbox add ripgrep, devbox add ripgrep@latest, or add ripgrep@latest to your devbox.json package list.

To add a specific version of a package, write <package_name>@<version>. For example, to pin the nodejs package to version 20.1.0, you can run devbox add nodejs@20.1.0 or add nodejs@20.1.0 to the packages list in your devbox.json:

"packages": [

For packages that use semver, you can pin a range of versions for your project. For example, if you pin nodejs@20, it will install the latest minor and patch version of nodejs >=20.0.0. You can update to the newest package version that matches your criteria by running devbox update.

Whenever you run devbox update, packages will be updated to their newest versions that matches your criteria. This means

  • Packages with the latest tag will be updated to the latest version available in our index.
  • Packages with a version range will be updated to the newest versions possible under that range

When you run a command that installs your packages (like devbox shell or devbox install), Devbox will generate a devbox.lock file that contains the exact version and commit hash for your packages. You should check this file into source control to ensure that other developers will get the same environment.

Manually Pinning a Nixpkg Commit for a Package

If you want to use a specific Nixpkg revision for a package, you can use a github:nixos/nixpkgs/<commit_sha>#<pkg> Flake reference. The example below shows how to install the hello package from a specific Nixpkg commit:

"packages" : [

Using multiple nixpkg commits may install duplicate packages and cause Nix Store bloat, so use this option sparingly.