Replacing Rust-Written with GNU Coreutils is progressing, some binaries are now faster

Along with the broader industry trend of transitioning security-sensitive code to memory-safe languages ​​like Rust, there has been an effort to write a Rust-based replacement for GNU Coreutils. For almost a year, Rust Coreutils has been able to run a basic Debian system, while more recently they have increased their level of GNU Coreutils compatibility and in some cases even surpass the upstream project.

GNU Coreutils provides some of the common and important command line tools on Linux systems and other platforms. GNU Core utilities include commonly used commands such as cat, ls, rm, chmod, mkdir, wc, whoami, and dozens more. Sylvestre Ledru and other developers worked on a Rust-based Coreutils to dump C code and instead use this modern programming language that prides itself on security and memory safety.

uutils/coreutils is Rust’s replacement for C-based GNU Coreutils.

Ledru today released an update to Rust Coreutils, which recently saw its v0.0.12 release. There are now dozens of contributors each month contributing over 400 patches to this effort.

Not only should the Rust Coreutils be more secure, but for some binaries they now see “significantly” better performance than the GNU package for commands like head, cut, and other common commands. They remain on the challenge of bridging the compatibility gap of these utilities with upstream GNU commands. One of their only remaining binaries to implement is Style.

Along with their optimizations and compatibility work, the devs are also going to see how to make Debian and Ubuntu easily default to Rust Coreutils without requiring any funky hacks/configurations.

More details on the current status of Rust Coreutils via Sylvestre Ledru’s blog. The project code is hosted on GitHub.

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