Rust for Linux

Rust for Linux is the project adding support for the Rust language to the Linux kernel.

This website is intended as a hub of links, documentation and resources related to the project.

The project




Mailing list

The mailing list is primarily meant for patch submission and reviewing, as well as announcements and technical discussions on mainline development:

For general questions, please use the Zulip chat instead.

Zulip chat

For chat, we use Zulip.

Please feel free to use it for general questions, discussion, help, feedback, etc.

GitHub issue tracker

GitHub is used for issue reporting, tracking and discussion.

Please do not report security bugs in the GitHub issue tracker. Instead, please read the Security bugs page in the kernel documentation.


For other matters, please feel free to contact the maintainers via email.


The kernel development process

The Rust support is part of the Linux kernel, and thus contributing works the same way as for the latter. That implies, among other things:

  • A patch-based workflow is used.

  • Reviews take place in the different mailing lists of the kernel.

  • Contributions are signed under the Developer's Certificate of Origin.

To learn more about the kernel development process, please read the documentation under Documentation/process. In particular, please make sure to read submitting-patches.rst.

In addition, it may be a good idea to contribute a small cleanup or fix somewhere in the kernel (not necessarily to Rust code), in order to get accustomed to the patch-based workflow. From time to time we add "good first issues" to our GitHub issue tracker for that purpose.

Ways to contribute

There are many ways to contribute to the Rust support in the kernel:

  • Submitting changes, of course, whether it is new code or improvements to existing code. Please see the details below on this option.

  • Reviewing patches, especially if you have experience with unsafe Rust and have an eye to spot unsoundness issues or with Rust API design in general. Reviewers can get credited within commits messages via the Reviewed-by tag.

  • Testing patches. Like reviewing, running meaningful testing increases the confidence that the patch is OK. Testers can get credited within commits messages via the Tested-by tag.

  • Reporting issues you find. Reporters can get credited within commits messages via the Reported-by tag.

  • Suggesting improvements. Good ideas that end up being implemented can get credited within commit messages via the Suggested-by tag.

  • Helping others on Zulip. For instance, getting them started with the Rust support in the kernel.

The Rust subsystem

The Rust subsystem takes care of the core Rust abstractions as well as the general infrastructure for Rust in the kernel. It is a bit special in that it potentially intersects with every other subsystem in the kernel, especially in the beginning of the Rust support in the kernel.

For this reason, early on, there are a few extra notes to have in mind when contributing Rust code to the kernel.

Submitting changes to existing code

All patches containing Rust code should be sent to both the maintainers/reviewers/mailing lists of the relevant kernel subsystem they touch as well as the Rust one.

This applies even if the files that the patch modifies are all under rust/ (e.g. currently all abstractions live under rust/, but the plan is to change this in the future as Rust grows in the kernel) and the files are referenced by the MAINTAINERS entry of the relevant subsystem.

The goal with this procedure is that everybody interested in Rust can follow what is going on with Rust in the entire kernel in the early stages, to avoid duplicate work, and to make it easier for everybody to coordinate.

For instance, if a patch modifies rust/kernel/, then the patch should be sent to both "TIMEKEEPING" and "RUST".

Ideally, the maintainers of the particular subsystem will take the changes through their tree, instead of going through the Rust one.

Please make sure your code is properly documented, that the code compiles warning-free under CLIPPY=1, that the code documentation tests pass and that the code is formatted.

Submitting new abstractions and modules

For new abstractions and modules, and especially for those that require new kernel subsystems/maintainers to be involved, please follow the approach outlined here.

  • Kernel maintainers and developers interested in using Rust should take the lead in developing missing abstractions/modules for the subsystems they need.

  • Part of the work may be already done or in the process of being upstreamed, thus please first check the mailing list archive as well as the PRs submitted to GitHub. It is also a good idea to ask on our Zulip chat.

  • As early as possible, please get in touch with the maintainers of the relevant subsystem in order to make them aware of the work you are doing or planning to do. That way, they can give you input and feedback on the process. Please feel free to Cc the Rust maintainers too.

  • When you are getting closer to patch submission, please consider sending an RFC series first, especially if it is a major contribution, or if it is a long patch series, or if you require a lot of prerequisite patches (e.g. for abstractions of other subsystems) that are not yet upstreamed.

    The RFC can be based on top of a branch placed somewhere else that contains the prerequisite patches, so that the RFC patches themselves do not cover those, and therefore is focused on the parts that the maintainers will eventually review.

    This way, you can get early design feedback before the actual patch submission later, and the discussion is focused on the given subsystem (rather than the prerequisites).

  • In general, the kernel does not allow to integrate code without users, but exceptions can potentially be made for Rust code to simplify the upstreaming process early on. Please contact the Rust maintainers for help, especially if you find yourself with a lot of dependencies or patches for unrelated subsystems.


Currently we maintain the following branches.


rust-next is the branch that contains new Rust features to be submitted during the next merge window of the Linux kernel.

Changes to this branch land via patches sent to the mailing list.

It is part of linux-next.


rust-fixes is the branch that contains Rust fixes for the current cycle of the Linux kernel.

Changes to this branch land via patches sent to the mailing list.

It is part of linux-next.


rust was the original branch where development happened for two years before Rust support was merged into the kernel.

It contains most of the abstractions that the project worked on as a prototype/showcase. Some of those will eventually land upstream, others may be reworked with feedback from upstream, and a few may be dropped if unneeded.

The branch is now effectively frozen, and generally the only changes that are merged into it are intended to minimize the difference with respect to mainline. When the diff is small enough, the branch will be archived/removed. Until then, the branch is useful to see what is left to upstream, and for some downstream projects to base their work on top.

However, please feel free to submit new PRs for this branch. This is useful so that others are aware of what you are working on. Even if you cannot submit a PR, please consider telling us about it.

Changes to this branch land via GitHub PRs. GitHub Actions is used as a pre-merge CI, compiling the kernel and booting it under QEMU for different toolchains, architectures and configurations. It also checks that some tests passed (e.g. loading sample modules, KUnit tests...) as well as building the PR under Clippy, building the docs, checking rustfmt, etc. KernelCI tests it. Finally, in the past, the Ksquirrel bot checked the PRs sent to it.

Rust version policy

Supported versions

The kernel documents the minimal requirements to compile it. However, in the case of Rust, currently we only support a single stable version: newer versions are allowed for convenience (with a warning from the build system), but they may or may not work. Older versions are disallowed.

The reason is that we cannot guarantee newer Rust versions will work due to the unstable features in use. Removing the need for them is a priority in order to be able to eventually declare a minimum Rust version for the kernel.

Update policy

Before a minimum version can be declared

It remains to be decided how often the Rust version upgrades will land. Ideally we would track the latest Rust release, but it remains to be seen how other kernel developers feel about it.

On top of that, if the klint support is merged and starts to be routinely used, then we will also need to be mindful of its schedule.

After a minimum version is declared

If we follow a similar model to the GCC and LLVM support in the kernel (which is likely), then we will not track the latest Rust release (i.e. as a minimum), though how wide the window will be remains to be seen. It is possible we may start with a small window and then widen it, similar to what was originally decided for the LLVM support in the kernel.

Submitting upgrades

Please do not submit patches to upgrade the Rust version. If you want to discuss upgrading the Rust version in the kernel, then please contact us.


We are looking for feedback from Linux distributions, companies and other users and maintainers of downstream kernel releases.

In particular, it would be useful to know:

  • What versions/policy would work best your distribution/company.

  • If the kernel cannot satisfy exactly that (which is likely, given the current constraints), whether you would prefer to maintain a given compiler version for a while or to backport support from a newer version from mainline.

Unstable features


The kernel uses some Rust unstable features. These features can only be accessed by opting into them. They are typically used as a way to introduce new features into the language, library and toolchain to allow end users to experiment with them and provide feedback before committing to them.

"Unstable" in this context means the feature may change in future versions, i.e. backwards compatibility is not promised for those features. It does not necessarily imply that the features are broken.

When unstable features are deemed mature enough, they may get promoted into stable Rust. In other cases, they may get dropped altogether. Some features are internal to the compiler or perma-unstable.

Usage in the kernel

The unstable features used in the kernel are tracked at issue #2.

Removing the need for these is a priority in order to be able to eventually declare a minimum Rust version for the kernel.

Therefore, the set of unstable features used in the kernel needs to be carefully considered. Typically, for each of them, we need to consider:

  • Whether there is no other way around the issue they help with, or whether the alternative is considered to have bigger downsides than using the unstable feature.

  • Whether they would be required to build the kernel.

  • Whether stabilization is likely, whether they are internal to the compiler and whether they are used in the standard library.

  • Whether other features that are on the critical path will likely take longer to get stabilized anyway.

Moreover, most of the features are only allowed within the kernel crate, i.e. for abstractions. Elsewhere (e.g. drivers), only a minimal set is allowed (see the rust_allowed_features variable in scripts/

If you would like to use a new Rust unstable feature in the kernel, then please contact us.

Backporting and stable/LTS releases

The stable and longterm (LTS) kernel releases only receive fixes, and thus do not accept new features. Therefore, it is not possible to backport Rust support into those kernel releases. Moreover, there is a significant cost in maintaining a stable branch.

Having said that, we are aware that there is growing interest in backported Rust support for, at least, 5.15 and 6.1. There are several questions around the possibility of supporting an stable/LTS release on Rust for Linux's side:

  • Whether the support is best-effort or intended to be used in production, and the security and scheduling implications.

  • Whether all new abstractions, drivers and overall features appearing in mainline are backported, and whether those that require extra backports on the C side to support them should be included.

  • Whether the Rust version policy would be different than the one in mainline, e.g. whether the version would be fixed.

  • Whether to provide it as a rebasing branch (i.e. as a set of patches) on top of the stable/LTS ones or as an actual stable branch.

If your company, organization or team would be interested in such releases with backported Rust support, then please contact us.

Industry and academia support

“Google supports and contributes directly to the Rust for Linux project. Our Android team is evaluating a new Binder implementation and considering other drivers where Rust could be adopted.”

Google, 2021.

“Arm recognises the Rust value proposition and is actively working with the Rust community to improve Rust for Arm based systems. A good example is Arm’s RFC contribution to the Rust language which made Linux on 64-bit Arm systems a Tier-1 Rust supported platform.

Rustaceans at Arm are excited about the Rust for Linux initiative and look forward to assisting in this effort.”

Arm, 2021-06-29.

“Microsoft's Linux Systems Group is interested in contributing to getting Rust into Linux kernel. Hopefully we will be able to submit select Hyper-V drivers written in Rust in the coming months.”

Microsoft, 2021-06-29.

“There is interest in using Rust for kernel work that Red Hat is considering.”

Red Hat, 2021-07-08.

“Rust for Linux is a key step towards reducing security-critical kernel bugs, and on the path towards our ultimate goal of making Linux free of security-critical bugs. We are using Rust in our OS research, and adoption is easier with an existing Rust in the Linux kernel framework in place.”

— Thomas Anderson, University of Washington, 2022-06-23.

“We are convinced that Rust is changing the landscape of system programming by applying the research done on programming languages in the last decades. We wanted to see how the language was able to help us write code we are really comfortable with thanks to the extensive static checking.”

— Esteban Blanc, Arthur Cohen and Martin Schmidt, LSE (Systems Research Laboratory) at EPITA (École pour l'informatique et les techniques avancées), 2022-06-23.

“Being able to use Rust in the Linux kernel is an incredible milestone on the road to a more secure future for the Internet and everything else that depends heavily on Linux.”

ISRG's Prossimo Project, 2022-10-18.

If your company, organization, university or team is using or plans to use Rust for Linux and would like to release a statement, then please contact us. Thank you!


Internet Security Research Group (ISRG)

Internet Security Research Group (ISRG), through their Prossimo project, financially supports Miguel Ojeda and supported Gary Guo to work on Rust for Linux.

ISRG Logo Prossimo Logo

“Our mission is to reduce financial, technological, and educational barriers to secure communication over the Internet.”

“Prossimo is an Internet Security Research Group (ISRG) project. Its goal is to improve the Internet's security-sensitive software infrastructure by addressing memory safety issues in C and C++ code via the use of memory safe languages.”


Zulip sponsors free Zulip Cloud Standard hosting for Rust for Linux.

Zulip Logo

“Zulip is an open-source modern team chat app designed to keep both live and asynchronous conversations organized.”


klint is a tool that allows to introduce extra static analysis passes ("lints") in Rust kernel code, leveraging the Rust compiler as a library. One of the first lints available validates that Rust code follows the kernel locking rules by tracking the preemption count at compile-time.

The main developer and maintainer is Gary Guo.


pinned-init is a solution to The Safe Pinned Initialization Problem. It provides safe and fallible initialization of pinned structs using in-place constructors.

The main developer and maintainer is y86-dev.

The Safe Pinned Initialization Problem

Introduction to Pinning

In the kernel many data structures are not allowed to change address, since there exist external pointers to them that would then be invalidated. Since this could cause memory errors, Rust has to somehow guarantee that this cannot happen in safe code. Luckily there already exists the Pin<P> wrapper type for arbitrary pointer types P. For simplicity we will look at P = Box<T>. Box<T> is a smart pointer that owns a T (a generic parameter) allocated on the heap. When a Box<T> is dropped (destroyed) then it automatically frees the memory.

Pin<Box<T>> behaves similar to Box<T>, it is also a smart pointer and allows you to have immutable access to the fields and functions of T. You can also store it just as easily, since it also has the same size as Box<T>.

One important difference compared to just Box<T> is that Pin prevents mutable access to the underlying Box<T> and thus makes it impossible to move the pointee. So users are unable to call e.g. mem::swap. This is of course a heavy restriction, so there exist unsafe functions that allow modification and access to &mut T and so called pin-projections to access fields of T. However, when using these functions, it is the caller's responsibility to uphold the pinning guarantee.

This guarantee also includes that the object is droped before the memory is deallocated or repurposed. At first glance, this requirement seems strange. But after this example it will hopefully seem very natural. Let's imagine that we want to design a Rust version of list_head1:

fn main() {
/// # Invariants
/// `next` and `prev` always point to a valid `ListHead`.
struct ListHead {
    next: *mut ListHead,
    prev: *mut ListHead,

Then we need to ensure that as long as an element is in a list, it will stay alive, since it would cause a UAF (use after free) otherwise. A simple way to achieve this, is to remove it from the list, when it gets dropped:

fn main() {
impl Drop for ListHead {
    fn drop(&mut self) {
        let prev = self.prev;
        let next =;
        // SAFETY: By the invariant, these pointers are valid.
        unsafe {
            (*next).prev = prev;
            (*prev).next = next;

And this is the important bit, if we were to just deallocate/reuse the memory of a ListHead without dropping it first, by e.g. using ptr::write, then we are just begging for a UAF to happen.

Because the Box<T> smart pointer owns its memory, it cannot be used for a function which does not consume the value. For this reason the mutable reference &mut T is used. When dealing with Pin<Box<T>>, we cannot access &mut T. Instead we can access Pin<&mut T> which still upholds the pinning guarantee.

Adding Initialization into the mix

What does initialization have to do with pinning? In the first paragraph nothing suggested that there would be a connection. One important feature of Rust forces this connection. In Rust all values have to be initialized at all times. This is a problem for creating our ListHead the usual Rust way; a new() function that returns the object by value. Since we first need to know its address before we can initialize next and prev to point to itself.

Rust has a way around the "values are vaild at all times" problem: MaybeUninit<T> is a wrapper that explicitly allows uninitialized values. unsafe functions are then used to access the T once initialized. For our ListHead we could simply allocate a MaybeUninit<ListHead> and then write its address using raw pointers into next and prev. However, as already said above, in Rust the normal way of creating an object is to return it by value. We cannot do this for the ListHead, since that would move it and invalidate its pointers. The alternative of allocating it on the heap, i.e. returning a Pin<Box<ListHead>> also does not work, since this list should be part of a bigger struct.

This is the reason why Rust-for-Linux chose a two-function approach:

fn main() {
impl ListHead {
    /// Creates a new [`ListHead`].
    /// # Safety
    /// Before using this [`ListHead`] the caller has to call [`ListHead::init`].
    unsafe fn new() -> ListHead {
        ListHead {
            next: ptr::null_mut(),
            prev: ptr::null_mut(),

    /// Initializes this [`ListHead`].
    /// # Safety
    /// This function is only called once.
    unsafe fn init(self: Pin<&mut Self>) {
        // SAFETY: We do not move `self`.
        let this: &mut Self = unsafe { self.get_unchecked_mut() };
        let ptr: *mut ListHead = this;
        unsafe {
            (*ptr).prev = ptr;
            (*ptr).next = ptr;

This approach avoids having to allocate and lets the user decide the memory location of the ListHead. It also ensures that a ListHead will be pinned in memory, since the self type of init is Pin<&mut Self>. Both functions have to be marked unsafe, since the safety preconditions cannot be enforced by the compiler. We also have to use two functions, since after a call to new the caller will have to pin the value in memory prior to calling init.

The biggest problem with this approach is that it exclusively relies on the programmer to ensure safety. It is very easy to forget such an init call when you have a struct with multiple fields that require this treatment. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that this API propagates to all structs that contain a ListHead:

fn main() {
struct DoubleList {
    list_a: ListHead,
    list_b: ListHead,

impl DoubleList {
    /// # Safety
    /// Before using this [`DoubleList`] the caller has to call [`DoubleList::init`].
    unsafe fn new() -> ListHead {
        DoubleList {
            // SAFETY: We call `ListHead::init` in our own initializer.
            list_a: unsafe { ListHead::new() },
            // SAFETY: We call `ListHead::init` in our own initializer.
            list_b: unsafe { ListHead::new() },

    /// # Safety
    /// This function is only called once.
    unsafe fn init(self: Pin<&mut Self>) {
        // SAFETY: We structurally pin `list_a`.
        let list_a = unsafe { self.map_unchecked_mut(|s| &mut s.list_a) };
        // SAFETY: Our function is only called once.
        unsafe { ListHead::init(list_a) };
        // SAFETY: We structurally pin `list_b`.
        let list_b = unsafe { self.map_unchecked_mut(|s| &mut s.list_b) };
        // SAFETY: Our function is only called once.
        unsafe { ListHead::init(list_b) };

So not only the kernel crate developers have to cope with this API, but everyone who dares to have a Mutex<T> in their struct, or use a struct that transitively contains a Mutex<T>.

Pin Complications

The previous example also shows a different, but related issue: pin-projections. These are how we access the fields of pinned structs. And because one can break the pinning guarantee the map_unchecked_mut function has to be unsafe. The requirement for them is consistency, you are only allowed to either structurally pin a field, so you allow the access of Pin<&mut Struct> -> Pin<&mut Field>, or you do not structurally pin the field, i.e. allowing Pin<&mut Struct> -> &mut Field. As long as only one of those options is done, the pinning guarantee is upheld.

In userland Rust this problem is addressed by using the pin-project crate. This crate generates the pin-projections from the struct definition:

fn main() {
struct DoubleList {
    list_a: ListHead,
    list_b: ListHead,

Now both fields are structurally pinned and can be safely accessed.

This crate cannot be used in the kernel, since it relies on syn -- the de facto Rust code parsing library for proc-macros. The problem with including syn in the kernel is that it consists of over 50k lines of code.

There is also the pin-project-lite crate that achieves almost the same thing without a proc-macro. It has 5k lines of code and contains a very complex macro that would require further modification to serve this purpose, which would be hard to maintain.

These reasons ultimately resulted in not using any of the existing approaches. The problem of pin projections also prompted the creation of the field projection RFC.

If you now want to view how to use the API, then take a look at the extensive documentation.

Further Resources on Pinning


The example presented here, glosses over some very important details. The next and prev fields of the ListHead struct should actually be placed in Cell<T>s to allow modification through &ListHead, since we cannot have multiple &mut ListHeads at the same time. And we need to have multiple when iterating through a list. Also, ListHead should contain a PhantomPinned field to ensure it cannot be unpinned.


Ksquirrel was a GitHub bot that helped newcomers to the kernel get accustomed to the kernel requirements for submissions (e.g. checking that commit messages were properly signed and formatted). It was also useful as a double-check for maintainers that they did not forget to check those requirements.

We may bring it back for mailing list submissions!

NVMe Driver

The Rust NVMe driver is an effort to implement a PCI NVMe driver in safe Rust for use in the Linux Kernel. The purpose of the driver is to provide a vehicle for development of safe Rust abstractions and to prove feasibility of Rust as an implementation language for high performance device drivers.

The Linux Rust NVMe driver lives here. Please be aware that the nvme branch is force pushed without notice. The Rust NVMe driver was originally authored by Wedson Almeida Filho and is now maintained by Andreas Hindborg (Samsung).

The driver is not currently suitable for general use.



Performance evaluation as of January 2023.


  • Dell PowerEdge R6525
  • 1 CPU socket populated - EPYC 7313, 16 cores
  • 128 GB DRAM
  • 3x P5800x 16GT/s x4 7.88 GB/s (PCIe 4)
  • Debian bullseye (linux 5.19.0+)


iops relative


For 4 KiB block size, the Rust NVMe driver performs similar to the C driver. For this configuration the target drive is bandwidth limited.

For 512 B block size, the C driver outperforms the Rust driver by up to 6%. In this configuration the drive is not bandwidth limited, but the benchmark becomes compute limited. The Rust driver has a higher overhead and thus performs worse.

Planned Work Items

  • Remove all unsafe code from the driver
  • Support device removal
  • Verify functionality by executing blktests and xfstests in CI
  • Add sys-fs nodes to allow use of nvme-cli with Rust NVMe driver
  • Support more kernel configurations by deferring initialization to a task queue
  • Improve performance of Rust NVMe driver


Please contact Andreas Hindborg through Zulip.