Using Rust with GitHub Actions - A Comprehensive Guide

Using Rust with GitHub Actions - A Comprehensive Guide

If you're looking for reliable tools to automate your Rust projects and enhance productivity, integrating Rust with GitHub Actions is an excellent decision. GitHub Actions facilitates Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Deployment (CD), enabling Rust developers to automate build, test, and deployment tasks.

In this guide, we will explore the integration of the Rust language with GitHub Actions, providing detailed procedures for setting up Rust projects on GitHub Actions.

What is Rust?

Rust is a modern, efficient system programming language that is gradually gaining traction due to its memory safety, zero-cost abstractions, and protection from program crashes. Thus, it is among the most loved programming languages, as it eliminates common programming errors without requiring a garbage collector.

What are GitHub Actions?

GitHub Actions, a CI/CD solution from GitHub, allows developers to automate their software development workflows directly within their GitHub repository. It executes tasks (actions) triggered by specific events such as pushing to a repository, creating a pull request, or on a scheduled basis.

How to Set Up Rust projects on GitHub Actions?

Setting up Rust projects on GitHub Actions requires creating specific files in the GitHub repository to define the automated tasks. Here is how to set this up:

  1. Create a workflow file

    Navigate to your GitHub repo and select the "Actions" tab. Click on "New workflow", then "set up a workflow yourself". This process creates a new .yml file under .github/workflows in your repo.

  2. Define your workflow

    Use this basic template for a Rust project:

    name: Rust
    on: [push, pull_request]
        runs-on: ubuntu-latest
        - uses: actions/checkout@v2
        - name: Run cargo build
          run: cargo build --verbose

How to Automate Testing of Rust Projects?

We can automate unit tests of Rust projects using the cargo test command. Modify your workflow file with this command in a new step:

- name: Run tests
  run: cargo test --verbose

cargo test will run all binary and library tests. The --verbose flag emits additional diagnostics to help debug failed tests.

How to Optimize Rust Workflows?

Several possibilities to optimize Rust workflows exists. Here are some useful tips:

  1. Cargo cache: By caching dependencies, you can significantly reduce build time.

  2. Matrix testing: This feature allows running tests against different versions of Rust or different operating systems.

  3. Minimizing rebuilds: Rust has incremental compilation. So, making a small change to your code results in a part of your project being rebuilt, saving time.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Issues might occur while integrating Rust with GitHub Actions. We've compiled common problems and their solutions:

  1. Error Message: error: cannot find -lssl or -lcrypto

    Solution: Install SSL development libraries using the command:

    sudo apt-get install libssl-dev
  2. Error Message: error: could not compile <package-name>

    Solution: This error might result from a failed cargo build. Check if the dependencies are correct and up to date, then try to run cargo build locally.


Integrating Rust with GitHub Actions offers enhanced automation, enabling developers to concentrate on code while the platform manages CI/CD. This guide should provide the essentials required to get started with Rust projects on GitHub Actions. Combining this with Rust's efficiency, type system, and low memory footprint provides a robust infrastructure for scaling projects.

However, like any technology, troubleshooting potential issues is a necessary skill. This knowledge will be valuable to developers as they employ Rust with GitHub Actions to enhance their workflows.