Raspberry Pi Bare Bones Rust

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This page or section refers to its readers or editors using I, my, we or us. It should be edited to be in an encyclopedic tone.

WAIT! Have you read Getting Started, Beginner Mistakes, and some of the related OS theory?

Difficulty level
Difficulty 3.png

In this tutorial we will directly follow Raspberry Pi Bare Bones to accomplish the same task using Rust, instead of C.



The following instructions assume you have all the tools to, and successfully followed Raspberry Pi Bare Bones and ran your kernel in QEMU. It also assumes you are familiar with Rust and Cargo.

We will use rustup to manage Rust.


In the C tutorial, you created a reference to a symbol "kernel_main" in boot.S.

	// Call kernel_main
	ldr r3, =kernel_main

At the end of that tutorial, the compiled kernel.c object file kernel.o provided a definition for this symbol using its function "kernel_main" to the linker when creating kernel.elf.

We will create a Rust library (.rlib) which defines the symbol kernel_main instead.


For brevity we will assume our environment has no Rust installation.

 curl https://sh.rustup.rs -sSf | sh

This installs rustup, which will manage the Rust compiler and Cargo.

 rustup component add rust-src

We will need to recompile some of the Rust language later, so we need this component.

 cargo install xargo

We will use xargo to build our project, which works just like a drop-in replacement for Cargo. xargo automatically handles the significant task of compiling and linking in components of the Rust language we will need (such as libcore.rs) for our target.

xargo new kernel
cd kernel
rustup override set nightly

This creates our crate and tells rustup to use the nightly Rust toolchain for it. We will need features of Rust that are not available in stable.

In this directory create a file called arm-none-eabihf.json with this content:

    "llvm-target": "arm-none-eabihf",
    "target-endian": "little",
    "target-pointer-width": "32",
    "target-c-int-width": "32",
    "os": "none",
    "env": "eabi",
    "vendor": "unknown",
    "arch": "arm",
    "linker-flavor": "gcc",
    "linker": "arm-none-eabi-gcc",
    "data-layout": "e-m:e-p:32:32-i64:64-v128:64:128-a:0:32-n32-S64",
    "executables": true,
    "relocation-model": "static",
    "no-compiler-rt": true

Rust uses LLVM as a backend, which expects this kind of specification file for non-standard (has no triple) compilation targets. Filling out the values of this is beyond the scope of this tutorial; more information can be found in rust-cross which covers cross compiling Rust in detail.

In your Cargo.toml, add

panic = "abort"

This tells rustc not to compile in stack unwinding. This allows recovery from panics, but when a kernel panics there is nothing to make a recovery attempt.

Edit src/lib.rs to contain


pub extern fn kernel_main() {}
We can build our rlib with a definition of kernel_main now:
 xargo build --target arm-none-eabihf

Now, revisit the command which built kernel.elf in the C tutorial, but instead of kernel.o, provide the libkernel.rlib xargo just built in the target directory.

arm-none-eabi-gcc -T linker.ld -o myos.elf -ffreestanding -O2 -nostdlib boot.o path/to/libkernel.rlib

This is it! You've built Rust code for bare metal arm that will run on the Raspberry Pi!


The C tutorial used the UART to say hello. The code below accomplishes the same in Rust. It does not configure the UART like the C code does because QEMU's raspi2 machine has a default state that will work. To work on real hardware, take care to configure the UART to your use case. You can read about this in the bcm2835 manual. Put the following in src/lib.rs and rebuild your ELF:

#![feature(core_intrinsics, lang_items)]

use core::intrinsics::abort;
use core::intrinsics::volatile_load;
use core::intrinsics::volatile_store;
use core::panic::PanicInfo;

// raspi2 and raspi3 have peripheral base address 0x3F000000,
// but raspi1 has peripheral base address 0x20000000. Ensure
// you are using the correct peripheral address for your
// hardware.
const UART_DR: u32 = 0x3F201000;
const UART_FR: u32 = 0x3F201018;

fn mmio_write(reg: u32, val: u32) {
    unsafe { volatile_store(reg as *mut u32, val) }

fn mmio_read(reg: u32) -> u32 {
    unsafe { volatile_load(reg as *const u32) }

fn transmit_fifo_full() -> bool {
    mmio_read(UART_FR) & (1 << 5) > 0

fn receive_fifo_empty() -> bool {
    mmio_read(UART_FR) & (1 << 4) > 0

fn writec(c: u8) {
    while transmit_fifo_full() {}
    mmio_write(UART_DR, c as u32);

fn getc() -> u8 {
    while receive_fifo_empty() {}
    mmio_read(UART_DR) as u8

fn write(msg: &str) {
    for c in msg.chars() {
        writec(c as u8)

pub extern fn kernel_main() {
    write("Hello Rust Kernel world!");
    loop {

// These functions below provide definitions for symbols libcore
// expects which are not present on our bare metal target. You
// will not encounter linker errors until you use a part of
// libcore that references them, such as iterators in this program.
// In the future you may need to provide real implementations for
// these functions.

pub extern fn __aeabi_unwind_cpp_pr0() {}

#[lang = "eh_personality"]
pub extern fn eh_personality() {}

fn panic(_info: &PanicInfo) -> ! {
    unsafe { abort() }

pub extern fn _Unwind_Resume() { loop {} }

If you run this you will see your text printed out on the virtual serial port:

qemu-system-arm -M raspi2 -kernel myos.elf -serial stdio

External Resources

  1. Rust programming language
  2. rustup, Rust components manager
  3. rust-raspi3-tutorials rewrite of bzt's C tutorials in the Rust language
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