The Rust in Linux debate is over. The implementation has begun. In an email conversation, Linux's creator Linus Torvalds, told me, "Unless something odd happens, it [Rust] will make it into 6.1."
The Rust programming language entering the Linux kernel has been coming for some time. At the 2020 Linux Plumbers Conference, developers started considering using the Rust language for new Linux inline code. Google, which supports Rust for developing Android -- itself a Linux distro -- began pushing for Rust in the Linux kernel in April 2021.
As Wedson Almeida Filho of Google's Android Team said at the time, "We feel that Rust is now ready to join C as a practical language for implementing the kernel. It can help us reduce the number of potential bugs and security vulnerabilities in privileged code while playing nicely with the core kernel and preserving its performance characteristics."
It took a while to convince the top Linux kernel developers of this. There were concerns about non-standard Rust extensions being needed to get it to work in Linux. For instance, with the new Rust Linux NVMe driver, over 70 extensions needed to be made to Rust to get it working. But, Torvalds had told me in an earlier interview, "We've been using exceptions to standard C for decades."
This was still an issue at the invitation-only Linux Kernel Maintainers Summit. But, in the end, it was decided that Rust is well enough supported in the Clang -- the C language family compiler front end -- to move forward. Besides, as Torvalds had said earlier, "Clang does work, so merging Rust would probably help and not hurt the kernel."
[...] Now, Torvalds warns in this first release, Rust will "just have the core infrastructure (i.e. no serious use case yet)." But, still, this is a major first step for Rust and Linux.
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Mark Russinovich, the chief technology office (CTO) of Microsoft Azure, says developers should avoid using C or C++ programming languages in new projects and instead use Rust because of security and reliability concerns.
Rust, which hit version 1.0 in 2020 and was born at Mozilla, is now being used within the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), at Meta, at Amazon Web Services, at Microsoft for parts of Windows and Azure, in the Linux kernel, and in many other places.
Engineers value its "memory safety guarantees", which reduce the need to manually manage a program's memory and, in turn, cut the risk of memory-related security flaws burdening big projects written in "memory unsafe" C or C++, which includes Chrome, Android, the Linux kernel, and Windows.
Microsoft drove home this point in 2019 after revealing 70% of its patches in the past 12 years were fixes for memory safety bugs due largely to Windows being written mostly in C and C++. Google's Chrome team weighed in with its own findings in 2020, revealing that 70% of all serious security bugs in the Chrome codebase were memory management and safety bugs. It's written mostly in C++.
"Unless something odd happens, it [Rust] will make it into 6.1," wrote Torvalds, seemingly ending a long-running debate over Rust becoming a second language to C for the Linux kernel.