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What is Rust?

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The Rust programming language is an open-source language used for systems that emphasize parallelism, speed, and memory safety. Mozilla developed it in 2010 and saw its initial 1.0 release in 2015.

Rust has consistently been voted as the “most-lovedprogramming language” over the past four years in the Stack Overflow’s developer surveys. It presently has over 6,000 contributors, and its current stable release version is at 1.49. It is distributed under the MIT and Apache License (Version 2.0), with portions of the code encompassed by various BSD-like licenses.

Rust: The Early Years

The Rust programming language began as a small side project inside Mozilla to develop an alternative to the C/C++ programming language. Graydon Hore of Mozilla Research designed it with additional contributions from Brendan Eich, one of their JavaScript creators. Currently, Rust is used as part of the core language for many fundamental features of Firefox, the Gecko engine, and the Servo engine from Mozilla.

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Rust has recently secured a foundation of its own called the Rust Foundation. AWS, Google, Huawei, Microsoft, and Mozilla got together to launch this new project with a two-year commitment to investing a million dollars. The focal point of this foundation is to help Rust “develop services, programs, and events that will support the Rust project maintainers in building the best possible Rust.

Recently, the ISRG (Internet Security Research Group) decided to implement an Apache httpd module called mod_tls in Rust. This module will eventually replace the aging and insecure mod_ssl module that is written in C. 

How is Rust Different?

Rust is different from other languages because it was built from scratch to incorporate multiple design elements from other mature systems programming languages using the latest language design elements. It blends the intuitive syntax of a high-level language with a low-level machine language’s performance and control. It is designed to guarantee thread safety and prevent segmentation faults. 

How is Rust Used?

Currently, Rust is used to create a broad range of Internet of Things (IoT) applications, from operating systems, gamingengines, file systems, web browser components, and new simulation engines for virtual reality.

How Do I Install Rust?

Because Rust runs on multiple platforms, there are various installation methods. The preferred method of installation is via Rustup. Rustup is a tool that provides a consistent installation method across all platforms.

Linux

On Linux/Unix based systems, run this command in a terminal window.

curl https://sh.rustup.rs -sSf | sh 

It will download and execute a script called rustup-init.sh, which then downloads and installs the correct version of the rustup-init executable file for your system. 

Windows

On Windows, download and run the rustup‑init.exe file and then follow the onscreen prompts. You can also use other options like Scoop or Chocolatey to install Rust on Windows.

macOS

On macOS, enter the following command in a terminal window.

curl --proto '=https' --tlsv1.2 https://sh.rustup.rs -sSf | sh

This command downloads a script that starts the installation process using the Rustup tool to install Rust’s latest stable version. You may be prompted for a password during the install, which is normal. If the install is successful, the following output will appear in the terminal window. 

Rust is installed now. Great!

We will need a linker of some type. A linker (or a link editor) is a program that takes single or multiple object files (usually generated by an assembler or a compiler) and merges them into an executable, library file, or another type of "object" file. Most likely, a linker may already be installed on our system. But, if we try to compile a program and get an error indicating that a linker could not be executed, it implies that one is not installed on our system. If this is the case, we should install one manually.

When using the rustup-init command, we can interactively configure all the options via the command-line arguments. These arguments are passed through the shell script. Using the --help option in the rustup-init command displays all the arguments that rustup-init takes.

curl https://sh.rustup.rs -sSf | sh -s -- --help

If our preference is not to use the shell script, we can directly download the rustup-init script specific to our platform.

How Do I Use Rust?

To get started developing with Rust, we need to install an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) like the Visual Studio Code application with IntelliJ’s rust-analyzer. We should also install the open-source Rust plugin called IntelliJ Rust for the best results.

Pros & Cons of Using Rust

Pros

  • Rust contains a standardized compiler from the Rust developers. It comes with a built-in package manager and builder, a testing system, and a documentation generator.
  • It provides a safe memory management system that helps in avoiding segmentation errors.
  • Rust can easily use abstractions. This option makes for uncomplicated manual memory control.
  • The language offers suggestions and fixes for the most common compile errors. Plus, it identifies pattern errors clearly and concisely. 
  • Excellent compatibility with Linux, Windows, and Mac operating systems
  • Rust users can employ Cargo to compile Rust code. Cargo is the Rust package management system that can auto-generate documentation, run tests, and upload packages to a repository. It also downloads and installs multiple third-party packages with ease.
  • Part of the compiler responsible for ensuring that references do not outlive the data they refer to is the borrow checker. This module helps eliminate entire classes of bugs caused by unsafe memory usage.
  • Rust allows us to either store data “on the stack” or “on the heap.” Typically, programs can access two types of memory when it stores values: either the stack or the heap. The stack is very fast but is limited in size. Rust allocated memory here by default. The heap is slower but unlimited in size.It is explicitly allocated by the program.
  • After it compiles, Rust determines when memory is no longer needed, which allows for more efficient memory usage.
  • Because Rust directly interacts with the memory and hardware, it is an ideal language for embedded systems and bare-metal development. 
  • Rust can write extremely low machine-level code, making it ideal for working with microcontroller applications or OS kernels. Machine code is the language that is as close as possible to what the server’s CPU can run. 

Cons

  • Rust does not use classes or succession, which makes writing object-oriented code much harder.
  • The Rust language uses a strict compiler that checks all variables we use and every reference to all memory addresses. This allows for no mistakes t be made during compile time. 
  • Errors are normally common when compiling code. Due to Rust’s powerful type system, errors are eliminated or the code will not compile. Also, because it emphasizes a focus on memory safety, which is imposed at compile time.
  • Because Rust is statically-typed and requires 100% compliance to its conditions, prototyping methods can be challenging.
  • Rust is relatively new in development terms. Some libraries or functions may not be readily available.

Uninstalling Rust

Uninstalling Rust is easy. On a macOS or Linux, we need to run the uninstall script.

/usr/local/lib/rustlib/uninstall.sh

If we used the Windows installer, re-run the .msi installer, which will provide us with the uninstall option.

Documentation

Rust provides extensive online documentation, which includes an online reference guide simply titled Book. It also provides a Cookbook in the form of recipes used for solving everyday problems. Rust Forge is another supplementary documentation storage repository. Other widely used reference material includes Rust cheatsheets and crib notes. 

Community 

Beyond other positives, Rust has a vibrant, robust community. There are multiple avenues to assist with issues, including chat rooms on discord and the Rust user forum at rust-lang.org. The Rust subreddit is always open to answer questions and, of course, the questions and answers section and chat rooms on Stack Overflow.

As a side note, Ferris, the crab, is the unofficial mascot for Rust. Rust project examples can be reviewed and examined on GitHub.

The Community team at the Rust GitHub repository has information and further details about how the community team is organized. The RustBridge website contains info about hosting a local RustBridge event. Lastly, Rustlings is a project containing exercises designed for new users to read and write in Rust.

Conclusion

Rust is an excellent language for use when safety and security are needed. Its low-level machine language code is ideal for IoT applications, embedded systems, and bare-metal development. It is designed to guarantee thread safety and prevent segmentation faults. It is used to create a wide range of apps, from operating systems, gaming engines, and file systems, to web browser components and simulation engines for virtual reality. Overall, we recommend utilizing Rust for your processes or programs.

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About the Author: David Singer

I am a g33k, Linux blogger, developer, student, and former Tech Writer for Liquidweb.com. My passion for all things tech drives my hunt for all the coolz. I often need a vacation after I get back from vacation....

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