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24 January 2012, 15:02

Mozilla releases version 0.1 of the Rust language and compiler

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Mozilla has released the first public version of the compiler and development tools for the Rust language, which is described as "a safe, concurrent, practical language". According to the announcement, this first release is targeted at "early adopters and language enthusiasts" and has been described by the developers as "nifty, but it will still eat your laundry". Rust is a programming language and open source toolkit aimed at the development of client and server programs.

Although Rust's syntax visually resembles C and C++, it is structurally different. The language places an emphasis on security over performance and features memory safety precautions such as not permitting null or dangling pointers in code as they can often lead to exploitable program states. Rust also protects against buffer overflows by handling memory allocation for the programmer and is designed explicitly with concurrency in mind. According to the project's FAQ, Mozilla is using these features to create an experimental, parallelised browser architecture. Rust was designed by Graydon Hoare as a side-project from 2006 onwards, with Mozilla becoming involved later. It was first announced to the world in 2010.

With this first release, the Rust team is now actively inviting contributors to the project. On his blog, Hoare said: "You can write interesting programs and libraries in it now; we’d like to see adventurous people try to do so, and see how it goes". Hoare notes that known issues include incomplete documentation, below target performance, and the language and APIs are subject to change. The compiler and tools are available for both 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows, Mac OS X and Linux and are provided under the MIT licence. The release notes are available on github, download links can be found in the release announcement and the project's web site has a tutorial for interested developers.


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