Rustaceans’ dreams of Rust’s inclusion in the Linux kernel are one tiny, ever so slight step closer to becoming a reality, with this week’s “intentionally bare-bones” inclusion in Linux-next, the development branch of the Linux kernel. When last we looked, Rust was yet a mere twinkle in the eyes of those hoping to use the language in Linux kernel development, with Linux creator Linus Torvalds signaling his approval, and now that twinkle has brightened up just a bit more.
Curb your enthusiasm, however, as this remains a rather tentative first step of many necessary steps before Rust fully lands in the Linux kernel.
A rather brief post on LWN.net summarizes where we are rather succinctly:
“Followers of the linux-next integration tree may have noticed a significant addition: initial support for writing device drivers in the Rust language. There is some documentation in Documentation/rust, while the code itself is in the rust top-level directory. Appearance in linux-next generally implies readiness for the upcoming merge window, but it is not clear if that is the case here; this code has not seen a lot of wider review yet. It is, regardless, an important step toward the ability to write drivers in a safer language.”
Rust modules in the Linux Kernel.
The future is now. pic.twitter.com/IaM2gwSdV2
— Karthik Kumar Viswanathan (@_vkaku) March 18, 2021
Indeed, Miguel Ojeda, a software developer and maintainer of the Rust for Linux project writes that the proposed inclusion “does not mean we will make it into mainline, of course, but it is a nice step to make things as smooth as possible,” with some changes expected before any decision as to Rust’s inclusion are made.
For those of you less familiar with Rust, part of the appeal here comes with Rust’s memory safety features, especially in comparison to C, which the Linux kernel is currently coded in. Part of the problem, however, is that Rust is compiled based on LLVM, as opposed to GCC, and subsequently supports fewer architectures. This is a problem we’ve seen play out recently, as the Python cryptography library has replaced some old C code with Rust, leading to a situation where certain architectures will not be supported. Presently, the proposal to include Rust in the Linux kernel limits this issue by saying that Rust would be used, at least initially, for writing drivers that, as noted in another LWN.net article on the topic, “would never be used on the more obscure architectures anyway.”
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for further evidence of Rust’s utility in Linux development, look no further than Amazon Web Services‘ efforts with Bottlerocket, a Linux distribution for containers that is largely written in Rust.
This Week in Programming
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two computer engineers walk into a bar
one says, i’ll have a float
the other says, make mine a double
— tef (@tef_ebooks) March 14, 2021
- Google Wraps Up Season of Docs 2020, Opens Applications for 2021: Google’s Season of Docs, the program that pairs technical writers with open source projects to help create documentation, has wrapped up its long-running projects for 2020. The company writes that “15 technical writers successfully completed their long-running technical writing projects,” and notes that the effort spanned several months. Google also says that it is currently accepting organization applications for the 2021 program, and it’s looking like the Continuous Delivery Foundation (CDF) and some of its projects may be among those joining for the year ahead.
- Help Rust Envision Its Future Self: In its quest to become “one of the most popular choices for building distributed systems,” Rust’s Async Foundations Working Group is working to build a shared vision for Async Rust, and they’re looking for your help in creating a shared vision document for Async Rust. Their goal, they write, is to “engage the entire community in a collective act of the imagination: how can we make the end-to-end experience of using Async I/O not only a pragmatic choice, but a joyful one?” The document will tell the stories of a cast of characters, with each tied to a particular Rust value. Grace, for example, is a C++ programmer who likes the idea of Rust’s memory safety, and the document asks questions like what features does Grace most want, and what does she expect, given her story? If this sounds like something you’re into, check out the template for status quo stories, which has all the information you need to open a pull request, or head on over to the How To Vision page, which covers the whole vision document process in detail.
“Distinguished Engineers are just three raccoons in a trenchcoat like the rest of us” — @IanColdwater
— Stephen Augustus (he/him) (@stephenaugustus) March 18, 2021
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