Setting up your Plutus development environment

This guide will cover setting up the environment for writing and compiling Plutus scripts. It does not include any of the development components such as the PAB. The guide is written for the Ubuntu OS but uses Nix (as favoured by IOG) so it should be easily replicated on other systems.

To set up a Plutus environment, we need a cabal.project file that will specify the dependencies required to develop Plutus scripts. It is important to note that both the plutus and plutus-apps repositories are constantly under development with new releases. Combined with releases of cardano-node and cardano-wallet, this may cause various complications with regard to compatibility between the components.

Therefore, we will use the following repository as a reference, which seems to be a stable and reasonably up-to-date way to get started: Besides providing us with the cabal.project template, it also contains various Plutus scripts which serve as a good reference when learning.

In particular, the cabal.project file specifies a commit in the plutus-apps repository along with its compatible versions of dependencies such as cardano-node and cardano-wallet that we can use to build our nix-shell and start writing and compiling Plutus scripts.

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to get started:

substituters =
trusted-public-keys = loony-tools:pr9m4BkM/5/eSTZlkQyRt57Jz7OMBxNSUiMC4FkcNfk=
extra-experimental-features = nix-command flakes
  • After editing the Nix configuration file nix.conf, we need to restart the Nix daemon to apply the changes. We can send a SIGKILL signal to trigger a restart:

sudo pkill nix-daemon
git clone
git clone
  • Find the plutus-apps commit hash from its plutus-scripts/cabal.project file

  • Checkout to the specified commit inside plutus-apps, e.g.:

cd plutus-apps
git checkout 65ddfa5d467ed64f8709d7db9faf96151942da82
  • Enter a nix-shell from inside the plutus-apps repository: nix-shell (for verbose output nix-shell -vvv). With verbose output, we should see some cache references in the output if we correctly configured the cache config, e.g.:

finished download of ''; curl status = 0, HTTP status = 200, body = 44600355 bytes
  • Now that we are inside a Nix shell created from the plutus-apps repo, navigate back to plutus-scripts directory where cabal.project is located and run cabal update:

cabal update
  • We should now be able to run cabal build - this will compile all the script examples from the plutus-scripts repository which means your development environment works - you can compile Plutus scripts!

cabal build
  • We should also be able to use cabal repl which gives you an interactive GHCi REPL in which you can use PlutusTx.

cabal repl

Before that, we will go over the project files cabal.project and plutus-scripts.cabal.

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