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System programming in Rust: beyond safety

the morning paper

System programming in Rust: beyond safety Balasubramanian et al., HotOS’17

Balasubramanian et al. want us to switch all of our systems programming over to Rust. This paper sets out the case.

Despite many advances in programming languages, clean-slate operating systems, hypervisors, key-value stores, web servers, network and storage frameworks are still developed in C, a programming language that is in many ways closer to assembly than to a modern high-level language. Today, the price of running unsafe code is high… Why are we still using C?

About 2/3 of the 2017 CVEs relating to the Linux kernel can be attributed to the use of an unsafe language, and pervasive use of pointer aliasing, pointer arithmetic and unsafe type casts defeat the use of software verification tools.

So why are we still using C? Because safe languages have overheads that are too high for many use cases argue the authors. (And…

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