Rust - First Steps

I was interested in Rust quite a while but never found spare time to experiment with it. Also, recently I found - an OS with Rust based microkernel. I always thought that it would be nice to customize the OS kernel. But Linux being a monolithic kernel and written in C sounds like a lot of work to do any changes. So, in order to play with Redox I have to know some Rust :)

Hello World

As usual the very first code I wrote was a hello world application:

fn main() {
    println!("Hello world");

This reminds me a lot of C: main entry point is called main, double quoted strings and semicolon after the statement.


In Rust variables are immutable (const in C++) by default:

let n: u8 = 8;
n = 9; // results in error

Mutable variables are marked explicitly:

let mut n: u8 = 8;
n = 9;

Rust uses static typing system but you don't necessarily have to specify the variable type:

let n = 8;

Compiler infers the variable type just like C++ and Swift does.


String operations are very common in every language. So good string support can make developer's life a lot easier.

Rust has two string types: &str and String. String handles UTF-8 I was suprised to see that symbol indexing does not work with String:

let s: String = "sample string".to_string();
println!("{}", s[1]) // results in compilation error

And this makes sense: it's not so easy to index UTF-8 strings, because each symbol has a variable length of bytes. Thus accessing UTF-8 string character at position x has O(n) complexity. Usually, when we are indexing an array we expect O(1) operation. So we're better off accessing characters explicitly:

"hello".to_string().chars().nth(1).unwrap() // returns 'e'

Rust has a bytes literal identical to Python

b"binary data"


Rust function definitions remind me of Swift ones or Python type hints.

fn sum(a: i64, b: i64) -> i64 {
    return a + b;

In Rust almost everything is an expression. Just like in Ruby. So return statement might be omitted:

fn sum(a: i64, b: i64) -> i64 {
    a + b

Lambda functions are called closures in Rust. Their syntax reminds me of Ruby:

for n in [1, 2, 3].iter().map(|n| n + 1) {
    println!("{}", n); // prints 2, 3, 4


Rust has optional types <>_ which represent variables that might not have any value. They seem similar to Swift's optionals:

fn div(a: f64, b: f64) -> Option<f64> {
    if b == 0.0 {
    } else {
        Some(a / b)

println!("{}", div(10.0, 2.0).unwrap());

Also, in case of None I can specify default value:

println!("{}", div(10.0, 0.0).unwrap_or(0.0));

Dependency Manager

Rust has a dependency manager, Cargo, which is also a build system. First of all, this is super cool, because C and C++ doesn't have a widely adopted dependency manager. Except a couple attempts to implement one:

Also, C and C++ have so many build systems that it's easy to get lost:

And recently I just found out that Google is building another one - Bazel. Which they are using to build Tensorflow...

From time to time I see those used actively, not just listed in Wikipedia.

I like the Zen of Python:

There should be one-- and preferably only one --obvious way to do it.

And regarding build tools in C, C++ world, this is not the case :/ So although I used Cargo only for two days, I loved the way it works.


rustc - initially implemented in OCaml, later rewritten in Rust itself. It has some nice features that caught my eye. It has plugin system:, which allows us to extend the compilers behavior like manipulate the AST, etc.

Another feature I find really attractive is attributes. They allow to annotate/label definitions. E.g. there is an attribute that labels function as a test:

fn it_works() {
    assert!(2 * 2 == 4);

Then cargo finds those labelled functions and execute them simply running:

$ cargo test

Also, attributes can be used to select which code to compile for specific platform. Compare:

#[cfg(target_os = "linux")]
fn do_stuff() {
    println!("You are running linux!")

#[cfg(target_os = "windows")]
fn do_stuff() {
    println!("You are running windows!")

with C++ implementation:

#ifdef __linux
void do_stuff() {
    std::cout << "Your are running linux!\n";
#elif _WIN32
void do_stuff() {
    std::cout << "Your are running windows!\n";