Rust Foundation Founded to Steward Popular Mozilla-born Language

The up-and-coming programming language, Rust, gained a kind of official status this week with the formation of the Rust Foundation, an independent non-profit steward of the open-source language and ecosystem.

Rust is an increasingly popular language that focuses on speed, safety, and concurrency. It began as a side project of the Mozilla Research group, Daniel Nazer, senior IP and product counsel at Mozilla, explained in a blog post: "Back in 2010, Graydon Hoare presented work on something he hoped would become a 'slightly less annoying' programming language that could deliver better memory safety and more concurrency. Within a few years, Rust had grown into a project with an independent governance structure and contributions from inside and outside Mozilla."

The Rust project announced the first stable release, Rust 1.0, in 2015. Since then, the language has grown in popularity with striking speed. Last year, Rust was voted the "most-loved" programming language by respondents to Stack Overflow's 2020 survey of 65,000 developers for the fifth year in a row.

The new Rust Foundation will have board representation from a wide set of stakeholders, Nazer said, "to help set a path to its own future." Other entities will be able to provide direct financial resources to Rust beyond in-kind contributions.

The Rust Foundation will not replace the existing community and technical governance for Rust, Nazer emphasized. It will be the organization that hosts Rust infrastructure, supports the community, and stewards the language "for the benefit of all users."

"[The establishment of the Foundation] marks a huge step in the growth of Rust on several axes," explained Ashley Williams, interim executive director of the Rust Foundation, and core team member, in the Foundation's first "Hello World" blog post, "not the least of which [is] a formal, financial commitment from a set of global industry leading companies, heralding Rust's arrival as an enterprise production-ready technology."

Among the more prominent founding members of the Rust Foundation is Microsoft. "We look forward to collaborating with the Rust community to continue improving the Rust language, providing tooling and library support, creating learning resources, and more," said Nell Shamrell-Harrington, principal software engineer at Microsoft and board director of the Rust Foundation, in a blog post.

"I first encountered Rust as an intriguing systems programming language," said Shamrell-Harrington, who is also the lead editor of This Week in Rust. "The moment I experienced its incredibly welcoming and supportive community, I knew I would stay. Any open source project—especially a language ecosystem—is only as strong as its community of users and contributors. The creation of the Rust Foundation ensures that Rust will remain driven by and for the global Rustacean community."

Mozilla has transferred all trademark and infrastructure assets, including the package registry, to the Rust Foundation.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].