Torvalds Talks: The Effect of Rust on the Linux Kernel

DateMay 2, 2024

Explore the world of open-source programming with Linux creator Linus Torvalds as he discusses his opinions on the Rust programming language in this exclusive interview. Find out how Rust might affect the Linux kernel and the direction that software development is taking.

Over the past few kernel releases, there has been significant talk about integrating Rust into the kernel. The progress has been relatively steady but quiet. The initial infrastructure was merged last year and has grown since then, but no part of the kernel relies heavily on Rust yet.

For me, Rust is about not stagnating as developers or as a kernel. It’s about trying new things and not becoming too comfortable with the status quo. After working on the kernel for 32 years, I’m always on the lookout for new ways to innovate because it’s easy to get stuck in a rut.

While Rust hasn’t emerged as the next big thing yet, I believe we will start seeing drivers and even significant subsystems integrating it over the next year. It will take years before it becomes a core part of the kernel, but it is shaping up to be one of the foundational technologies.

I’ve been reading Rust code a bit to understand it better, and so I can make informed decisions about what should be included in the kernel. However, managing Rust code is not my expertise, so I won’t be the one overseeing it. My role now is more of a technical lead; I don’t manage people, but I do manage code by merging other people’s contributions.

With each kernel release, thousands of people contribute code, and roughly half of them only send in one patch. The other half keep coming back, driving the kernel forward. Rust will eventually become one of those key technologies that our community of contributors will help shape and improve over time.

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