• August 1, 2021

Exclusive: Google Funds Linux Kernel Development in Rust

 Exclusive: Google Funds Linux Kernel Development in Rust

“Google said Thursday it’s funding a project to increase Linux security by writing parts of the operating system’s core in the Rust programming language, a modernization effort that could bolster the security of the internet and smartphones,” reports CNET:

If the project succeeds, it’ll be possible to add new elements written in Rust into the heart of Linux, called the kernel. Such a change would mark a major technological and cultural shift for an open-source software project that’s become foundational to Google’s Android and Chrome operating systems as well as vast swaths of the internet. Miguel Ojeda, who’s written software used by the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator and worked on programming language security, is being contracted to write software in Rust for the Linux kernel. Google is paying for the contract, which is being extended through the Internet Security Research Group, a nonprofit that’s also made it easier to secure website communications through the Let’s Encrypt effort.

Adding Rust modules to the Linux kernel would improve security by closing some avenues for hackers can use to attack phones, computers or servers. Since it was launched in 1991, Linux has been written solely in the powerful but old C programming language. The language was developed in 1972 and is more vulnerable to hacks than contemporary programming languages…

Google credits the Linux community programmers who began the Rust for Linux project. “The community had already done and continues to do great work toward adding Rust support to the Linux kernel build system,” Google said in a blog post

[Rust] has been the most loved programming language for five years running in Stack Overflow’s annual developer survey. “Rust represents the best alternative to C and C++ currently available,” Microsoft’s security team concluded in 2019. The team said Rust would have prevented memory problems at fault in 70% of its significant security issues. And because Rust’s checks happen while software is being built, the safety doesn’t come at the expense of performance when the software is running.

The goal of the Linux on Rust project isn’t to replace all of Linux’s C code but rather to improve selective and new parts.

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