Announcing Brioche!

Published on

By Kyle Lacy

I’m super excited to announce the first public release of Brioche! Brioche is a brand new package manager and build tool that builds on top of the best ideas of other package managers, like Nix, Homebrew, and Cargo. It’s designed to be flexible and easy to use, and it leverages TypeScript for fancy typechecking and autocompletions in your build scripts.

I’d consider this release a Technical Preview. Currently, it’s limited to x86-64 Linux only, there’s only a small number of packages, and there are still some outstanding issues, including pretty bad performance issues and bugs in the Language Server Protocol implementation. Brioche isn’t really at the point I’d recommend folks use it for Serious Business™ yet… but, everything is working, and I’m finally at the point where I’m ready to get some more eyes on the project.

If you’ve heard of Tangram before, Brioche might looks pretty familiar because Brioche heavily borrows ideas from it too. There’s a bit of a history there, which I touch on below.

…Anyway, without further ado, here’s a fairly simple Brioche project file:

// project.bri
// Import dependencies
import * as std from "std";
import { cargoBuild } from "rust";
// This will get built by default
export default function app() {
// Build a Rust project with Cargo
return cargoBuild({
// Import Cargo files to build
crate: Brioche.glob("src", "Cargo.*"),
// Define the path of the default binary to run
runnable: "bin/hello",
// Define an extra export that builds a container
export function container() {
// Wrap the Rust build into an OCI container image
return std.ociContainerImage({
recipe: app(),

The Brioche.glob line imports files from disk next to the project.bri file, so this particular script is meant to live alongside an existing Rust project. Besides that, hopefully it’s pretty self-explanatory what’s going on. A few things you can do with this:

If you want to check out some more examples or if you want to give Brioche a spin yourself, take a look at the documentation. If you want to see the currently available packages (or just want to explore some real-world Brioche code), check out the brioche-packages repo.

Why write another package manager?

There are lots of tools that cover some or all of the use-cases I had in mind for Brioche: Nix, Bazel, Earthly, Homebrew, asdf, direnv, devenv, tea, and too many more to list. So why spend the time building something new?

Well, first off, it’s fun! Brioche has been one of my favorite projects to work on. Rust and TypeScript are my two favorite languages to write, and I love the fairly low-level nature of working with compiler toolchains (even if dealing with autotools is endlessly frustrating…)

Second, Nix. A long long time ago (circa 2016), I daily drove NixOS and even briefly maintained a package in the Nixpkgs repo. I was really sold on Nix’s ideas, but I eventually abandoned it because I ended up feeling pretty frustrated when using it. I learned Nix-the-language pretty in-depth, but it never really felt intuitive to me. Derivations always felt weirdly rigid. I didn’t like that the Nixpkgs repo as a whole is versioned as one unit instead of individual packages. I didn’t like how much work I had to put in to get stuff that just works out-of-the-box everywhere else to work on NixOS: I felt like my tools work working against me instead of for me.

2016 was 8 years ago now, and I know the Nix ecosystem has evolved a lot since then. I know Flakes are supposed to be a game changer, there are lots more packages and resources for using Nix, and the core tooling has certainly been improved a lot since then. But it was this experience that planted the idea for Brioche in my head, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that, starting from scratch, I could design something less quirky than Nix while keeping its best features.

What’s in store for Brioche

In the short term, there’s lots of things I want to get done: improve performance (I have a lot of ideas here), add more packages, make it easier to do more exotic builds, get Brioche working on more platforms, etc.

In the long term, I want Brioche to be the best way to manage your software projects. I end up finding myself mixing and matching lots of tools in weird ways: I’ve had projects that mix Rust and TypeScript, Rust and ffmpeg, Rust and Swift, Rust and the Windows API, Rust and Godot, Rust and SDL2, etc. (did I mention I like Rust?)

My dream is that I could use Brioche for all of these projects. I want to make a project and have all of its external dependencies tracked in a lockfile. I want to run one command that takes care of building, seeding my test databases, checking formatting, then starting a server in watch mode with my database running alongside. I want to use the same build configuration locally, for a container image, and for CI builds. And I want it to work without virtualization whether I’m using Windows on my desktop, macOS on my laptop, or Linux on the server (and Linux on the desktop when I can finally run all the games I want through Proton)

On the Nix community

The Nix community has recently been going through Something. My decision to build Brioche was in no way a reaction to the recent fallout around Nix. I still have a ton of respect for Nix as a community, and I’m genuinely rooting for them to establish a solid governance model that puts the community first so Nix-the-project can thrive.

On Tangram

Tangram is another package manager that has a lot of overlap with Brioche: it’s heavily Nix-inspired, it uses TypeScript for build scripts, it’s written in Rust, and generally Brioche build scripts look pretty similar to Tangram build scripts. At the time of writing, Tangram hasn’t yet been released, but it’s due to release very soon.

The similarities between Tangram and Brioche aren’t a coincidence: I worked for Tangram, Inc. starting in October 2022 to April 2023, when I was fired (I felt this was an unfair decision, but I’m not here to tell that story). I had been working on Brioche before my time there, and I decided to resume it some time after I was no longer employed by Tangram.

On reflection, I felt there were some parts of Tangram’s design that would work well for the goals I had for Brioche, and some that didn’t align with my goals1, so I simply incorporated what I learned at Tangram into the current iteration of Brioche. I think it’s fair to say that Brioche is, ethically, a fork of Tangram, even though haven’t used any code from Tangram directly (although I am still using some prebuilt static Busybox/Dash/env binaries that Tangram built/published). This is also why the Brioche license includes a copyright notice from Tangram. Brioche was work-in-progress well before my time at Tangram, Inc. but I wanted to acknowledge that Tangram was the source for several design decisions I made in Brioche.


  1. In an earlier version of this post, I felt I worded my feelings about Tangram’s design decisions poorly. I had said that I thought there were elements of Tangram’s design that didn’t work as well, but I should’ve clarified that I meant in the context of my goals for Brioche specifically. I’ve tweaked some sections where I talked about Tangram, and my apologies for anyone that walked away with a different impression on Tangram after reading the first version of this article.