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Why Rust? by Jim Blandy

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Chapter 1. Why Rust?

Systems programming languages have come a long way in the 50 years since we started using high-level languages to write operating systems, but two thorny problems in particular have proven difficult to crack:

  • It’s difficult to write secure code. It’s common for security exploits to leverage bugs in the way C and C++ programs handle memory, and it has been so at least since the Morris virus, the first Internet virus to be carefully analyzed, took advantage of a buffer overflow bug to propagate itself from one machine to the next in 1988.

  • It’s very difficult to write multithreaded code, which is the only way to exploit the abilities of modern machines. Each new generation of hardware brings us, instead of faster processors, more of them; now even midrange mobile devices have multiple cores. Taking advantage of this entails writing multithreaded code, but even experienced programmers approach that task with caution: concurrency introduces broad new classes of bugs, and can make ordinary bugs much harder to reproduce.

These are the problems Rust was made to address.

Rust is a new systems programming language designed by Mozilla. Like C and C++, Rust gives the developer fine control over the use of memory, and maintains a close relationship between the primitive operations of the language and those of the machines it runs on, helping developers anticipate their code’s costs. Rust shares the ambitions Bjarne Stroustrup articulates for C‍++ in his paper “Abstraction ...

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