from the anti-accident? dept.
The Internet Security Research Group (ISRG)—parent organization of the better-known Let's Encrypt project—has provided prominent developer Miguel Ojeda with a one-year contract to work on Rust in Linux and other security efforts on a full-time basis.
As we covered in March, Rust is a low-level programming language offering most of the flexibility and performance of C—the language used for kernels in Unix and Unix-like operating systems since the 1970s—in a safer way.
Efforts to make Rust a viable language for Linux kernel development began at the 2020 Linux Plumbers conference, with acceptance for the idea coming from Linus Torvalds himself. Torvalds specifically requested Rust compiler availability in the default kernel build environment to support such efforts—not to replace the entire source code of the Linux kernel with Rust-developed equivalents, but to make it possible for new development to work properly.
Using Rust for new code in the kernel—which might mean new hardware drivers or even replacement of GNU Coreutils—potentially decreases the number of bugs lurking in the kernel. Rust simply won't allow a developer to leak memory or create the potential for buffer overflows—significant sources of performance and security issues in complex C-language code.
There's a new operating system that wants to do away with the old mistakes and cruft in other operating systems. It's called Redox OS and is available on GitHub. It's aimed at creating an alternative OS that is able to run almost all Linux executables with only minimal modifications. It features a pure ecosystem using the Rust programming language which they hope will improve correctness and security over other OSes. They are not afraid to prioritize correctness over compatibility. The philosophy being that "Redox isn't afraid of dropping the bad parts of POSIX while preserving modest Linux API compatibility."
Redox levels harsh criticisms at other OSes, saying "...we will not replicate the mistakes made by others. This is probably the most important tenet of Redox. In the past, bad design choices were made by Linux, Unix, BSD, HURD, and so on. We all make mistakes, that's no secret, but there is no reason to repeat others' mistakes." Not stopping there, the Redox documentation contains blunt critiques of Plan 9, the GPL, and other mainstays.
Redox OS seems to be supported on the i386 and x86_64 platforms. The aims are microkernel design, implementation in Rust language, optional GUI — Orbital, newlib for C programs, MIT license, drivers in userspace, common Unix commands included, and plans for ZFS.
They want to do away with syscalls that stay around forever and drivers for hardware that, for a long time, simply isn't possible to buy any more. They also provide a codebase that doesn't require you to navigate around 25 million lines of code like Linux.
Perhaps the mathematically proven L4 microkernel is something to consider over the monolithic kernel approach where any single driver can wreck the system? One aspect to look out for is if they map the graphic cards into user space.
Kernel developers appear to be eager to debate the merits of potentially allowing Rust code within the Linux kernel. Linus Torvalds himself has made some initial remarks on the topic ahead of the Linux Plumbers 2020 conference where the matter will be discussed at length.
[...] Linus Torvalds chimed in though with his own opinion on the matter. Linus commented that he would like it to be effectively enabled by default to ensure there is widespread testing and not any isolated usage where developers then may do "crazy" things. He isn't calling for Rust to be a requirement for the kernel but rather if the Rust compiler is detected on the system, Kconfig would enable the Rust support and go ahead in building any hypothetical Rust kernel code in order to see it's properly built at least.
According to a mailing list post spotted by Phoronix, Linux creator Linus Torvalds has shared his strong views on the AVX-512 instruction set. The discussion arose as a result of recent news that Intel's upcoming Alder Lake processors reportedly lack support for AVX-512.
Torvalds' advice to Intel is to focus on things that matter instead of wasting resources on new instruction sets, like AVX-512, that he feels aren't beneficial outside the HPC market.
Rust's core team and Mozilla are announcing plans to create a Rust foundation with the hopes of establishing this legal entity by year's end. The trademarks and related assets of Rust, Cargo, and Crates.io will belong to this foundation. Work is well underway on establishing this foundation with originally coming to the idea of possibly creating an independent Rust foundation last year, now pushed along by the recent Mozilla layoffs and the global pandemic. This should allow the Rust community more safety rather than being reliant upon a sole organization (Mozilla) and help foster growth and open up new possibilities.