Google said on Thursday that they are funding a project to improve the security of Linux by writing the kernel part of the operating system in the Rust programming language.
The recently announced proposal to make the Rust programming language one of two main languages for the Linux kernel is getting a major boost. The main goal of the push to bring Rust to Linux is to wipe out an entire class of memory-related security bugs in the kernel.
Google’s investment in Rust will take the form of a contract for Miguel Ojeda, who’s worked on programming language security, to write software in Rust for the Linux kernel. The new contract gives Ojeda a full-time paycheck to continue memory safety work he was already doing on a part-time basis.
As you can guess, introducing a second language into the Linux kernel isn’t a light decision. Historically, the major Linux drivers that make up the kernel were written in C, which isn’t memory-safe, but Rust does.
If the project succeeds, it’ll be possible to add new elements written in Rust into the heart of Linux. Adding Rust modules to the Linux kernel could improve security for phones, computers and servers, because the Linux kernel is used in all the different Linux distributions, and it is also the core kernel for Android, ChromeOS, and many embedded systems.
Rust was developed by Mozilla, the developer of the Firefox browser, and is now managed by the independent Rust Foundation. It is an open-source systems programming language that focuses on speed, memory safety and parallelism. In addition, Rust has been Stack Overflow’s most loved language for five years in a row.