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VMblog Expert Interview: Ron Efroni Updates on flox, Providing Collaboration and Control Over Development Lifecycle


flox is a first-of-its-kind environment manager, think of it as Nix for simplicity and scale. They seamlessly create new polyglot developer environments, and make everything reproducible from package management to builds.  To learn more about them, the problems that they solve, and explore how they are different from Nix, VMblog reached out to and spoke with Ron Efroni, co-founder & CEO, flox.

VMblog: Congratulations on your recent Series A funding. By way of introduction, can you let our readers know what flox does?

Ron Efroni:  Thank you! We created flox to give developers better collaboration and control over their development lifecycle, including isolated developer environments, packaging tools, and release management. This means you can develop, build, and share your code with one tool, and ship it anywhere.

flox enables organizations to adopt and implement Nix at scale by providing omni-platform developer, test and production environments defined (and managed) as code. With flox it is easy to share environments and packages across teams, machines, individuals and organizations while integrating into existing workflows.

flox enables repeatable and consistent environments to support the different phases of building and running software applications. Users can publish new packages to the organizational catalogs, allowing environments to consume packages in a consistent and reliable manner for others to use.

VMblog: What problem does flox solve? Who should use flox?

Efroni:  On first approach, flox solves the need to create isolated environments on a machine, so you can have different versions of the same program, in separate environments, without fear of breaking your system or existing projects. It also enables people to share these environments as code, so you can "pull" my environment from my github, for example, and have the exact same bits I'm using. This reduces friction and force-multiplies collaboration between developers and across codebases.

flox also provides tools to package projects for any stack and release them to the world by leveraging the full power of Nix. If you're frustrated with the hours spent on development tooling, on making sure your colleagues have the same tools as you, and the litany of things that get in the way from building, flox is for you.

VMblog: Why use flox rather than just Nix? What's the difference between them?

Efroni:  We designed flox to be the "happy path" to Nix as it streamlines its usage and allows non-Nix experts to gain the benefits of the power of Nix in a clean and intuitive solution. Our super-secret mission is for developers to realize the power of Nix and grow into it via flox eventually becoming Nix pros themselves. Nix is an incredible tool that allows patterns that are simply not possible with existing tooling. While powerful, Nix is hard to learn and maintain over time.

In addition, enterprises are eager to leverage what Nix offers, and so we designed the platform with the ability to control and govern the management of software packages and environments at an enterprise level. flox also provides access to the flox Catalog, which provides access to packages derived from multiple versions of Nixpkgs over time, protecting against failing builds and package deletion over time.

We created flox so everyone can enjoy the powers of Nix, and then take those powers wherever they want.

VMblog: How does flox differentiate from the competition?

Efroni:  Many teams are trying to "solve" developer environments, and we believe we have a strong offering in this space. We differentiate mainly in that we believe Nix is the right path to build on, but perhaps more importantly, we believe that we shouldn't lock in developers to a particular set of tools. So we built flox with a kind of "choose your own adventure" toolbox. Devs might just use our developer environments, or maybe they will learn to package their projects better with Nix, or maybe even take on their whole lifecycle from dev to production, and still be able to ship their projects into a Docker container, or whatever their preferred platform might be. Nix helps us cater to the variety of styles and infrastructure our users ask for.

VMblog: What's next for flox? What can we expect to see in 2023?

Efroni:  We're excited to engage with developers and companies in a more public fashion. Expect continuous improvements and features in the CLI, and initial rollout of our enterprise platform as we focus on delivering tools for developers.

Published Tuesday, February 07, 2023 10:01 AM by David Marshall
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