GCC Project To Frontend Rust Compilation Back On Track After A Hiatus

Posted on Sunday, Mar 5, 2023 by Chris Hayner

Featured in this episode of Chaos Lever

So. Rust, huh. The cool kid on the block that has taken C++ to task, especially around memory security. It has actually been around for a lot longer than I expected.

Rust is a compiled language, and is built using a program called rustc, which is a frontend to LLVM, which does the compiling. GCC is a compiler that probably everyone in systems administration has heard of and used, and has frontends for a large number of languages, from C to C++, to C++11, to probably other languages that don’t start with C. Cut me a break here I’m not a programmer.

Anyway, efforts had been underway as far back as 2014 to build a frontend for GCC to support Rust, but they were suspended due to the extremely fast-changing nature of the language at the time. TL;DR, the project has been revived and is making enormous progress. One thing that’s interesting about Rust is that it doesn’t have a spec- it just has a codebase. This is interesting, and very different from older languages.

It’s also irrelevant. Think back to all the ways vendors (cough) Microsoft (cough) simply added in their own features to languages anyway that totally ignored specs.

Anyway, Rust development is slowing and the language is greatly stabilized now, compared to 2014. The team working on the Rust GCC has a goal of making it feature and compilation compatible with rustc/LLVM, and has great confidence that they’re gonna get there.

It’s still definitely an alpha project, though… for now.