#no-std #nt #windows #list-entry #single-list-entry

no-std nt-list

Compatible, type-safe, and idiomatic Rust implementations of Windows NT Linked Lists

2 unstable releases

Uses new Rust 2021

0.2.0 Oct 27, 2022
0.1.0 Jul 28, 2022

#48 in Windows APIs




crates.io docs.rs license: MIT OR Apache-2.0

by Colin Finck <colin@reactos.org>

Provides compatible, type-safe, and idiomatic Rust implementations of the Windows NT Linked Lists, known as LIST_ENTRY and SINGLE_LIST_ENTRY.

In Action

Debugging a Rust application in WinDbg and using the !list extension to traverse a doubly linked list. A testament to the compatibility between nt-list and LIST_ENTRY.


Singly and doubly linked lists of this format are fundamental data structures widely used in Windows itself and in drivers written for Windows. In the case of a doubly linked list, Windows defines a LIST_ENTRY structure with forward and backward pointers to other LIST_ENTRY structures. LIST_ENTRY is then embedded into your own element structure. Check the relevant Microsoft documentation for more details on linked lists in Windows.

This design exhibits several properties that differ from textbook linked list implementations:

  • A single element can be part of multiple lists (by having multiple LIST_ENTRY fields).
  • YOU are responsible for pushing only elements of the same type to a list. Without any type safety, the C/C++ compiler cannot prevent you from adding differently typed elements to the same list.
  • Links point to the LIST_ENTRY field of an element and not to the element itself. YOU need to retrieve the corresponding element structure using CONTAINING_RECORD, and YOU are responsible for all parameters passed to that macro.

The nt-list crate introduces type safety for these lists, taking away some responsibility from the user and moving it to the compiler. Additionally, it offers an idiomatic Rust interface similar to that of LinkedList and Vec.


Creating a linked list with nt-list boils down to these three steps:

  1. You define an empty enum to identify your list (for type safety when pushing elements), and derive either NtList (doubly linked list) or NtSingleList (singly linked list).
  2. You define your element structure, declare an entry as #[boxed] if desired, and derive NtListElement.
  3. You call new of the respective list implementation with the element structure and empty enum as type parameters.

All of this taken together looks like:

enum MyList {}

#[derive(Default, NtListElement)]
struct MyElement {
    entry: NtSingleListEntry<Self, MyList>,
    value: i32,

fn test() {
    let mut list = NtBoxingSingleListHead::<MyElement, MyList>::new();

    list.push_back(MyElement {
        value: 42,

    for element in list.iter() {
        println!("{}", element.value);

Check the module-level documentation of list for a doubly linked list example.

no_std support

The crate is no_std-compatible and therefore usable from firmware-level code up to user-mode applications.

To support heap allocations in NtBoxingListHead and NtBoxingSingleListHead, the crate depends on the alloc library. If you want to use the crate in a pure no_std environment without heap allocations, include it with default-features = false to disable the default alloc feature.


This crate is licensed under either of

at your option.

Unless you explicitly state otherwise, any contribution intentionally submitted for inclusion in the work by you, as defined in the Apache-2.0 license, shall be dual licensed as above, without any additional terms or conditions.


~16K SLoC