Rust plugin

The Rust plugin can be used for Rust projects that use the Cargo build system.


In addition to the common plugin and sources keywords, this plugin provides the following plugin-specific keywords:


Type: string Default: stable

Used to select which Rust channel or version to use. It can be one of “stable”, “beta”, “nightly” or a version number. If you want to use a specific nightly version, use this format: "nightly-YYYY-MM-DD". If you don’t want this plugin to install Rust toolchain for you, you can put "none" for this option.


Type: list of strings

Features used to build optional dependencies. This is equivalent to the --features option in Cargo.


This option does not override any default features specified by the project itself.

If you want to override the default features, please see the rust-no-default-features option below.


Type: boolean Default: false

If this option is set to true, the default features specified by the project will be ignored.

You can then use the rust-features keyword to specify any features you wish to override.


Type: list of strings Default: .

The path to the package root (that contains the Cargo.toml file). This is equivalent to the --manifest-path option in Cargo.


Type: boolean Default: false

Whether to use global LTO. This option may significantly impact the build performance but reducing the final binary size and improve the runtime performance. This will forcibly enable LTO for all the crates you specified, regardless of whether the projects have the LTO option enabled in the Cargo.toml file.

This is equivalent to the lto = "fat" option in the Cargo.toml file.

If you want better runtime performance, see the Performance tuning section below.

Environment variables

This plugin sets the PATH environment variable so the Rust compiler is accessible in the build environment.

Some environment variables may also influence the Rust compiler or Cargo build tool. For more information, see Cargo documentation for the details.


By default this plugin uses Rust toolchain binaries from the Rust upstream. If this is not desired, you can set rust-deps: ["rustc", "cargo"] and rust-channel: "none" in the part definition to override the default behaviour.

Performance tuning


Keep in mind that due to individual differences between different projects, some of the optimisations may not work as expected or even incur performance penalties. YMMV.

Some programs may even behave differently or crash if aggressive optimisations are used.

Many Rust programs boast their performance over similar programs implemented in other programming languages. To get even better performance, you might want to follow the tips below.

  • Use the rust-use-global-lto option to enable LTO support. This is suitable for most projects. However, analyzing the whole program during the build time requires more memory and CPU time.

  • Specify codegen-units=1 in Cargo.toml to reduce LLVM parallelism. This may sound counter-intuitive, but reducing code generator threads could improve the quality of generated machine code. This option will also reduce the build time performance since the code generator uses only one thread per translation unit.

  • Disable incremental=true in Cargo.toml to improve inter-procedural optimisations. Many projects may have already done this for the release profile. You should check if that is the case for your project.

  • (Advanced) Perform cross-language LTO. This requires installing the correct version of LLVM/Clang and setting the right environment variables. You must know which LLVM version of your selected Rust toolchain is using. For example, Rust 1.71 uses LLVM 16 because you can see it bundles a file in the lib directory. In this case, you want to install clang-16 and lld-16 from the Ubuntu archive.

    • You will need to set these environment variables for Clang:
          plugin: rust
          source: .
            - clang-16
            - lld-16
            - CC: clang-16
            - CXX: clang++-16
            - CFLAGS: -flto=fat
            - CXXFLAGS: -flto=fat
            - RUSTFLAGS: "-Cembed-bitcode=yes -Clinker-plugin-lto -Clinker=clang-16 -Clink-arg=-flto -Clink-arg=-fuse-ld=lld"
      For some projects that manipulate the object files during the build, you may also need:
      export NM=llvm-nm-16
      export AR=llvm-ar-16
      export RANLIB=llvm-ranlib-16

      You can refer to the rustc documentation for more information on the meaning of those options.

    • You will need significantly more memory and CPU time for large projects to build and link. For instance, Firefox under full LTO requires about 62 GiB of memory to pass the linking phase.