Rust in Action

Systems programming concepts and techniques

Rust in Action is a book for programmers to learn the Rust programming language by working through projects from systems programming.

In this book, you will build a database, an operating system kernel, a CPU emulator and much more.

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“Holy shit, this is a good book.”
Luc van Donersgoed
Lead Solution Software Engineer at PostNL

“This book is worth triple its money!”

Geert Van Laethem

“TL;DR: go buy it”

“Rust in Action from @timClicks is a fantastic experience. One of the best books I have read.”

Rust in Action is a must read for an in-depth understanding of how things work under the hood.”

“Just finished chapter 5 of Rust In Action and I’m loving it! The CHIP-8 emulator genuinely invoked joy. Applied examples like this really bring the language to life.”
James Green
Data Engineering and Infrastructure at ThoughtWorks

“I am quite eager to get the book because [...] it's without a doubt one of the best I have ever read.” u/asmx85

“Rust in Action is probably the most practical and engaging intro to Rust that's out there.” Andrew Meredith

“This is simply the best programming language book I have read in a very long time, and possibly ever.” Johan Liseborn

“Yeah, I can vouch for this. It's really good! Especially the examples used. I'm amazed about the amount of thought that has gone in to them.” u/cfsamson

“A very organic approach to learning a language. McNamara has a natural flow and talks to the reader like a pal. Truly enjoyable.” ★★★★★
Anonymous, verified review

“The contents are greatly explained. As systems programming is a very technical subject, it is very important to understand how it really works in detail – and the author shows it in a very smart and approachable way. ” ★★★★★
Anonymous, verified review

“What I most like about [Rust in Action] is that the examples are complex enough to teach you to solve real world problems.”
Matthew Rudy Jacobs

“Bought the book after a bit of struggle with the “default” Rust book, very happy with that decision. Enjoying the author’s style and the level of details provided.” ★★★★★ Anonymous, verified review
“If you've been interested in Rust at all, you will probably want this book.” @billblum
“If you want a more code-driven / hands-down approach, you can also take a look at Rust in Action.” u/WellMakeItSomehow
“[Rust in Action] is a great introduction to both Rust and several system programming core concepts that are explained in such a clear, concise and fun way. I really really enjoyed it.” Simone Margaritelli

A wonderful introduction to Rust and systems programming.” ★★★★★ Anonymous review verified by

“What really makes this book stand out is that it teaches systems programming using Rust. Pretty much every other resource out there geared towards people interested in doing systems programming in Rust assumes the reader has already learned a lot on the subject of systems programming using C or C++.”
Michael Hamel

“I just bought Rust in Action a couple weeks ago (after having gone up to chapter 11 in the No Starch book). It's definitely good to have both.”
Mark Wilbur
“If you find [the "Book"] a bit hard to follow [Rust in Action] is a little lighter but still provides a great rust foundation and is very hands on.”
“Got myself a copy of @timClicks’s Rust in Action. It includes a bunch of small projects which seems like the best way to progress after learning the basics of #rustlang”
“It’s worth every penny. I was skeptical, but the book is pretty good. In my opinion it’s one of the best books about Rust.”

“Rust in Action from @timClicks is a fantastic experience. One of the best books and text, I read.”

Rust in Action is really, really good.”

In comparison, Rust in Action makes other books appear sedentary.”

Very impressed by the approach taken by @timClicks approach to explaining Rust; this is top quality technical writing. And, IMHO a brilliant pedagogical approach to learning programming.”
Matthew White

About the book

Rust in Action is a book for programmers who want to explore the world of the Rust programming language. It's intended for people who may have exhausted the free material on the web, but who still want to learn more.

Rust in Action is different from other material on Rust programming because it also teaches you about computer architecture and systems programming along the way. You'll be able to learn more about how a CPU works, how computers keep time, what pointers are and how your network card and keyboard tell the CPU that they have input ready to read.

It’s actually unique from the point of view of systems programming books too - as almost every example works on Windows!

Some of the book's projects

Readers work through dozens of examples scattered through the book. The larger projects include:

  • a CPU emulator (chapter 5)
  • a database (chapter 7)
  • a DNS hostname resolver (chapter 8)
  • a fully functional NTP client (chapter 9)
  • an OS kernel (chapter 11)
  • your own format for representing numbers (chapter 5)

In this book, you will write more than command-line utilities. You'll exposed to developing graphical and network-connected programs as well.

Read a free sample

Use the liveBook platform (!/book/rust-in-action/) to read the book online.

About the author

Tim McNamara is a senior software architect at TCDI from Wellington, New Zealand. He uses Rust to build data processing pipelines and generative art. He is an expert in natural language processing and data engineering.

You are welcome to contact Tim via Twitter, LinkedIn and by email to He hosts a YouTube channel with Rust and hosts live coding sessions on Twitch. His academic profile is available via ORCID and Google Scholar. His digital footprint also includes a presence on GitHub and his own website.

Use the discount code slmcnamara when buying direct from the publisher for a 42% discount.