The Rust Foundation gets ready to Rumbul (we're sure new CEO has never, ever heard that joke before)

And while we're here, a quick look at why the language is taking off


The Rust Foundation – the US non-profit behind the programming language since Mozilla let the team go – has picked a new CEO: Rebecca Rumbul, formerly director of research and engagement at digital democracy charity mySociety, and before that the Privacy Collective.

Dr Rumbul's appointment at the relatively new foundation reflects the growing importance of the Rust language – which can be seen from the foundation's list of members. Facebook is using it, as is Google, Microsoft, various Linux kernel developers, and Linux lappy vendor System76. There are even a couple of Rust-based OSes, Redox and Theseus.

One reason is of course speed – Rust is consistently one of the fastest languages, right after C and C++. But so are Ada and Fortran, which excite very few people these days. Arguably Rust's most significant rival in recent years is Google's Go language: last year, it was the language most developers said they wanted to learn next.

So let's compare them. Both are curly bracket languages, with C-like syntax that makes them unintimidating for C programmers. Both are designed to be memory-safe. Both compile direct to native code. Both are designed to be simpler, cleaner replacements for C++.

So much for the similarities; now to how they differ. Go was designed to compile fast, to be relatively simple, and be a good fit for large teams. It has strong support on concurrency with goroutines and channels, but weaker error handling – and it does memory management for you, using garbage collection.

In contrast, Rust is a more complex, flexible language, with concurrency support and a steeper learning curve, and eschews garbage collection for RAII (Resource Acquisition Is Initialization), sometimes called Scope-Bound Resource Management.

To summarise, you can tell a lot about what they're good for by where they came from: Go was built by a giant provider of web services and Rust by a web-browser company. Go's strength is arguably web services being built by DevOps teams, whereas Rust is for lone coders and small teams, building standalone applications. Since the latter is the heartland of Linux and FOSS, you're likely to hear more about it. Since Mozilla cut it off, it's good to know that Rust now has a new strong and well-funded backer. ®

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