Nerves requires a number of programs on your system to work. These include Erlang, Elixir, and a few other tools for packaging your programs into firmware images. Nerves is actively used on MacOS and various Linux distributions. For Windows users, some people have had success with Linux in VM and the Windows 10 Bash Shell. If you are experiencing issues with any of the tooling, it is important to reference this list to ensure that your system is fully configured to run the Nerves tooling.


The easiest installation route on MacOS is to use Homebrew. Just run the following:

$ brew update
$ brew install erlang
$ brew install elixir
$ brew install fwup squashfs coreutils

Now skip to the instructions for all platforms below.


We’ve found quite a bit of variation between Linux distributions. Nerves requires Erlang versions >= 19.0 and Elixir versions >= 1.2.4. If you need to install Erlang, see the prebuilt versions and guides provided by Erlang Solutions For Elixir, please reference the Elixir Installation Page.

Next install the fwup utility. Nerves uses fwup to create, distribute, and install firmware images of your programs. You can install fwup using the instructions found on the Installation Page. Installing the prebuilt .deb or .rpm files is recommended.

The ssh-askpass package is also required on Linux so that the mix firmware.burn step will be able to use sudo to gain the required permission to write directly to an SD card:

$ sudo apt-get install ssh-askpass

Finally, install squashfs-tools using your distribution’s package manager. For example:

$ sudo apt-get install squashfs-tools

Now continue to the instructions for all platforms below.

All platforms

It is important to update the versions of hex and rebar used by Elixir. This is critical even if you didn’t need to install Elixir:

$ mix local.hex
$ mix local.rebar

If you have your own version of rebar in the path, be sure that it is up to date.

You can now add the nerves_bootstrap archive to your mix environment. This archive allows Nerves to bootstrap the Mix environment, ensuring that your code is properly compiled using the right cross-compiler for the target. The nerves_bootstrap archive also includes a new project generator, which you can use to create new Nerves projects. To install the nerves_bootstrap archive:

$ mix archive.install

If the archive fails to install properly using this command, you can download the archive directly and then do:

$ mix archive.install /path/to/nerves_bootstrap.ez