Rust in Action
Tim McNamara
  • MEAP began July 2017
  • Publication in Spring 2021 (estimated)
  • ISBN 9781617294556
  • 400 pages (estimated)
  • printed in black & white

The definitive guide to Rust, the next generation language for systems programming.

William E. Wheeler

Rust in Action introduces the Rust programming language by exploring numerous systems programming concepts and techniques. You'll be learning Rust by delving into how computers work under the hood. You'll find yourself playing with persistent storage, memory, networking and even tinkering with CPU instructions. The book takes you through using Rust to extend other applications and teaches you tricks to write blindingly fast code. You'll also discover parallel and concurrent programming. Filled to the brim with real-life use-cases and scenarios, you'll go beyond the Rust syntax and see what Rust has to offer in real-world use cases.

About the Technology

Rust is a new systems programming language that gives you the low-level power of C with the elegance and ease of languages like Ruby and Python. Rust is thread safe, enabling "fearless concurrency". Threads are guaranteed not to overwrite each others' data, but it doesn't impose a garbage collector on you, keeping runtime performance predictable. It incorporates features from functional programming such as higher-order functions that allow for compact, readable programs. Rust is perfect for developers who want to fearlessly explore systems programming with a more ergonomic, less intimidating alternative to C or C++.
Table of Contents detailed table of contents

1 Introducing Rust

1.1 How is Rust used?

1.2 What is it like to advocate for Rust at work?

1.3 Installing Rust

1.4 A taste of the language

1.4.1 Cheating your way to "Hello, world!"

1.4.2 Your First Rust Program

1.5 Downloading the book’s source code

1.6 What does Rust look and feel like?

1.7 What is Rust?

1.7.1 Goal of Rust: safety

1.7.2 Goal of Rust: productivity

1.7.3 Goal of Rust: control

1.8 Rust’s Big Features

1.8.1 Performance

1.8.2 Concurrency

1.8.3 Memory Efficiency

1.9 Downsides of Rust

1.9.1 Cyclic data structures

1.9.2 Compile times

1.9.3 Strictness

1.9.4 Size of the Language

1.9.5 Hype

1.10 Where does Rust fit best?

1.10.1 Command-line utilities

1.10.2 Data Processing

1.10.3 Extending an Application

1.10.4 Resource-constrained environments, such as micro-controllers

1.10.5 Server-size applications

1.10.6 Desktop applications

1.10.7 Desktop

1.10.8 Mobile

1.10.9 Web

1.10.10 Systems Programming

1.11 Rust’s hidden feature: its community

1.12 Rust phrase book

1.13 Summary

Part 1: What Makes Rust Distinctive?

2 Language Foundations

2.1 Create a running program

2.1.1 Compiling single files

2.1.2 Compiling larger projects

2.2 A glance at Rust’s syntax

2.2.1 Defining and calling functions

2.3 Numbers

2.3.1 Integers and decimal (floating point) numbers

2.3.2 Integers with base 2, base 8 and base 16 notation

2.3.3 Comparing numbers

2.3.4 Rational, complex numbers and other numeric types

2.4 Iteration

2.4.1 Creating iterators that support for loops

2.5 Flow control

2.5.1 for: the central pillar of iteration

2.5.2 continue: Skipping the rest of the current iteration

2.5.3 while: Looping until a condition changes its state

2.5.4 loop: The basis for Rust’s looping constructs

2.5.5 break: Aborting a loop

2.5.6 if, if else, and else: Condition testing

2.5.7 match: type-aware pattern matching

2.6 Defining functions

2.7 Project: Rendering the Mandelbrot set

2.8 Advanced function definitions

2.8.1 Explicit lifetime annotations

2.8.2 Generic Functions

2.9 Creating grep-lite

2.10 Making lists of things with arrays, slices and vectors

2.10.1 Arrays

2.10.2 Slices

2.10.3 Vectors

2.11 Including Third Party Code

2.11.1 Adding Support for Regular Expressions

2.11.2 Generating Crates' Documentation Locally

2.11.3 Managing Rust toolchains with rustup

2.12 Supporting Command Line Arguments

2.13 Reading From Files

2.14 Reading from STDIN

2.15 Summary

3 Compound Data Types

3.1 Using plain functions to experiment with an API

3.2 Modelling files with struct

3.3 Adding Methods to a struct with impl

3.3.1 Simplifying object creation by implementing a new() method

3.4 Returning errors

3.4.1 Modifying a known global variable

3.4.2 Making use of the Result return type

3.5 Defining and making use of enum

3.5.1 Using an enum to manage internal state

3.6 Defining Common Behavior with Traits

3.6.1 Creating a Read trait

3.6.2 Implementing Display for your own types

3.7 Exposing your types to the world

3.7.1 Protecting private data

3.8 Creating In-line Documentation

3.8.1 Using rustdoc to Render Docs For a Single Source File

3.8.2 Using cargo to Render Docs for a Crate and its Dependencies

3.9 Summary

4 Lifetimes, Ownership and Borrowing

4.1 “Implementing” a Mock CubeSat Ground Station

4.1.1 Encountering our first lifetime issue

4.1.2 Special behavior of primitive types

4.2 Guide to the figures in this chapter

4.3 What is an Owner? Does it Have any Responsibilities?

4.4 How Ownership Moves

4.5 Resolving Ownership Issues

4.5.1 Use references where full ownership is not required

4.5.2 Use Fewer Long-Lived Values

4.5.3 Duplicate the value

4.5.4 Wrap Data Within Specialty Types

4.6 Summary

Part 2: Demystifying Systems Programming

5 Data in Depth

5.1 Bit Patterns and Types

5.2 Life of an integer

5.2.1 Understanding Endianness

5.3 Decimal Numbers

5.3.1 About Floating Point

5.3.2 Looking inside an f32

5.3.3 About the Sign Bit

5.3.4 About the Exponent

5.3.5 About the Mantissa

5.3.6 Representing decimal numbers in a single byte with a fixed-point number format

5.4 Generating f32 values between 0 and 1 from random bytes

5.5 Implementing a CPU in Software to Establish that Functions are also Data

5.5.1 CPU 1: “the Adder”

5.5.2 First working emulator

5.5.3 CPU 2: the Multiplier

5.5.4 CPU 3: Adding functions

5.5.5 CPU 4: Adding the rest

5.6 Summary

6 Memory

6.1 Pointers

6.2 Exploring Rust’s reference and pointer types

6.2.1 Raw pointers in Rust

6.2.2 Rust’s pointer ecosystem

6.2.3 Smart pointer building blocks

6.3 Providing programs with memory for their data

6.3.1 The stack

6.3.2 The heap

6.3.3 What is dynamic memory allocation?

6.4 Virtual Memory

6.4.1 Background

6.4.2 Step 1: Having a Process Scan Its Own Memory

6.4.3 Translating virtual addresses to physical addresses

6.4.4 Step 2: Working with the operating system to scan an address space

6.4.5 Step 3: reading and writing bytes to processes' memory

6.5 Wrap up

7 Files & Storage

7.1 What is a file format?

7.2 Creating your own file formats for data storage with serde

7.2.1 Writing data to disk with serde & the bincode format

7.3 Implementing a hexdump Clone

7.4 File operations in Rust

7.4.1 Opening a file in Rust and controlling its file mode

7.4.2 Interacting with the file system in a type-safe manner with std::fs::Path

7.5 Implementing a key-value store with a log-structured, append-only storage architecture

7.5.1 The key-value model

7.5.2 Introducing actionkv v0.1: an in-memory key-value store with a command line interface

7.6 actionkv v0.1 front-end code

7.6.1 Tailoring what is compiled with conditional compilation

7.7 Understanding the core of actionkv: the libactionkv crate

7.7.1 Initializing the ActionKV struct

7.7.2 Processing an individual record

7.7.3 Writing multi-byte binary data to disk in a guaranteed byte order

7.7.4 Validating I/O errors with checksums

7.7.5 Inserting a new key-value pair into an existing database

7.7.6 libactionkv full code listing

7.7.7 Working with keys and values with HashMap and BTreeMap

7.7.8 Creating a HashMap and populating it with values

7.7.9 Retrieving values from HashMap and BTreeMap

7.7.10 How to decide between HashMap and BTreeMap

7.7.11 Adding database index to action_kv v0.2

7.8 Summary

8 Networking

8.1 Just enough HTTP

8.2 Generating an HTTP GET request with reqwest

8.3 Trait Objects

8.4 TCP

8.4.1 What is a “port number”?

8.4.2 Converting a hostname to an IP address

8.5 Ergonomic Error Handling for Libraries

8.5.1 Issue: unable to return multiple error types

8.5.2 Wrapping downstream errors by defining our own error type

8.5.3 Cheat with unwrap() and expect()

8.6 MAC addresses

8.6.1 Generating MAC addresses

8.7 Implementing state machines with Rust’s enums

8.8 Raw TCP

8.9 Creating a virtual networking device

8.10 “Raw” HTTP

8.11 Wrapping Up

9 Time and Time Keeping

9.1 Background

9.2 Sources of Time

9.3 Definitions

9.4 Encoding Time

9.5 clock v0.1.0: Teaching an application how to tell the time

9.6 clock v0.1.1: Formatting timestamps to comply with ISO 8601 and email standards

9.6.1 Refactoring the clock v0.1.0 code to support wider architecture

9.6.2 Formatting the time as a UNIX timestamp or a formatted string according to ISO 8601, RFC 2822, and RFC 3339

9.6.3 Providing a full command-line interface

9.6.4 The full clock v0.1.1 code listing

9.7 clock v0.1.2: Setting the time

9.7.1 Common behavior

9.7.2 Setting the time in operating systems that use libc

9.7.3 Setting the time on MS Windows

9.7.4 clock v0.1.2 Full code listing

9.8 Improving error handling

9.9 clock v0.1.3 Resolving differences between clocks with the Network Time Protocol (NTP)

9.9.1 Sending NTP requests and interpreting responses

9.9.2 Adjusting the local time as a result of the server’s response

9.9.3 Converting between time representations that use different precisions and epochs

9.9.4 clock v0.1.3 full code listing

9.10 Summary

10 Processes, Threads and Containers

10.1 Anonymous Functions

10.2 Spawning Threads

10.2.1 What does it mean to "join" threads?

10.2.2 Creating more threads takes almost no time at all

10.2.3 Effect of spawning many threads

10.2.4 Shared variable

10.3 Closures (||{}) vs functions and methods (fn)

10.4 Procedurally generated avatars from a multi-threaded parser and code generator

10.4.1 How to run render-hex and its intended output

10.4.2 Single-threaded render-hex overview

10.4.3 Spawning a thread per logical task

10.4.4 Using a thread pool and task queue

10.5 Concurrency and task virtualization

10.5.1 Threads

10.5.2 What is a context switch?

10.5.3 Processes

10.5.4 Web Assembly

10.5.5 Containers

10.5.6 Why use an operating system at all?

10.6 What you have learned

11 Kernel

11.1 A fledgling operating system (FledgeOS)

11.1.1 Setting up a development environment for developing an operating system kernel

11.1.2 fledgeos project structure

11.1.3 A minimal operating system kernel

11.1.4 Panic handling

11.1.5 Writing to the screen with VGA-compatible text mode

11.1.6 _start(), the "main()" function for FledgeOS

11.1.7 Being power conscious by interacting with the CPU directly

11.1.8 Handling exceptions properly, almost

11.2 Nice output

11.2.1 Controlling the in-memory representation of enums

11.2.2 Why use enums?

11.2.3 Creating a type that can “print” to the VGA frame buffer

11.2.4 Printing to the screen

11.2.5 Full code listing of FledgeOS with printing enabled

11.3 Implementing a panic handler that reports the error to the user

11.3.1 Re-implementing panic() by making use of core::fmt::Write

11.3.2 Implementing core::fmt::Write

11.3.3 Full code listing for FledgeOS with user-friendly panic handling

11.4 Summing Up

12 Signals, Interrupts and Exceptions

12.2 Avoiding writing code by relying on the default signal handling behavior

12.2.1 Using SIGSTOP and SIGCONT to suspend and resume a program’s operation

12.2.2 Listing all signals supported by the operating system

12.3 Handling signals with custom actions

12.3.1 Global variables in Rust

12.3.2 Using a global variable to indicate that shutdown has been initiated

12.4 Sending application-defined signals

12.4.1 Understanding function pointers and their syntax

12.5 Ignoring signals

12.6 Shutting down from deeply nested call stacks

12.6.1 Setting up intrinsics in a program

12.6.2 Casting a pointer to another type

12.6.3 Listing 12 14 in other operating systems via Docker

12.6.4 Compiling the code

12.7 A note on applying these techniques to platforms without signals

12.8 Revising exceptions

12.9 Summary

What's inside

  • Portability with Rust
  • Concurrent and parallel programming
  • Sharing resources with locks or atomic operations
  • Avoiding programming with global state
  • Message passing inside your applications
  • Memory management and garbage collection

About the reader

Readers need intermediate programming skills and familiarity with general computer science concepts, the command line, and networking.

About the author

Tim McNamara is an experienced programmer with a deep interest in natural language processing, text mining, and wider forms of machine learning and artificial intelligence. He is very active in open source communities including the New Zealand Open Source Society.

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