#error #nix #errno #libc #error-handling


Printable system call errors for nix

3 releases

0.2.2 Jan 1, 2022
0.2.1 Jan 1, 2022
0.2.0 Dec 31, 2021
0.1.2 Dec 29, 2021
0.1.0 Oct 4, 2021

#453 in Rust patterns

40 downloads per month
Used in initd

MIT license

320 lines


Printable system call errors for nix. CURRENTLY IN DEVELOPMENT


precisej-printable-errno is a simple library that adds the possibility of attaching a printable error message to every [Errno]. It additionally lets you add an integer error code that can be used to exit the application.

The library is intended to be used by lower-level applications that intend to use nix's Rust-friendly bindings to libc system functions.

Note: precisej-printable-errno's authors have no relationship with the nix-rust maintainers.


Any system that nix supports should be supported by precisej-printable-errno. To use this library, add precisej-printable-errno = "$LIB_VERSION" (replacing $LIB_VERSION with the latest version available in crates.io).

Projects currently using precisej-printable-errno:

  • initd

If you are the author of another Rust project, are using the library, and would like to be mentioned here, please contact me.


When writing initd, I found that there wasn't a straightforward way to bubble up an exit code, and resorted to having a main() function call a function which would return an i32, and then call [std::process::exit] with the resulting error code. This was unergonomic and bypassed Rust's excellent Result handling. Therefore I decided to create special Error structs containing an error message and an exit code, and since I found it useful I decided to turn it into a library crate.

I didn't find out how to do anything similar with other libraries such as anyhow. If someone finds a better, equally lightweight alternative please contact me.

Why not Termination?

As of 2021-12-10, [std::process::Termination] is unstable and requires the termination_trait_lib feature, which can only be activated in nightly versions of Rust. Not all programs can make use of nightly (some, such as initd, deny the use of unstable features in its codebase), for which this crate exists.

Not all of this library's functionality can be replicated with [std::process::Termination], so this library can be of use even for users of nightly Rust, albeit somewhat awkwardly. Future versions of precisej-printable-errno will optionally include an implementation of [std::process::Termination] for [ExitError] as a non-default feature for interested nightly users.


/* use ... */

const PROGRAM_NAME: &'static str = "example-program";

pub fn main() {
    if let Err(e) = start() {

pub fn start() -> Result<(), ExitError<&'static str>> {
    let init_file = open("/sbin/init", OFlag::O_RDONLY, Mode::empty())
        .printable(PROGRAM_NAME, "unable to open /sbin/init")

    let mut buf = [0; 1024];
    read(init_file, &mut buf)
        .printable(PROGRAM_NAME, "unable to read first KB of /sbin/init")


    open("/path/to/nonexistent/file", OFlag::O_RDONLY, Mode::empty())
        .printable(PROGRAM_NAME, "unable to open /path/to/nonexistent/file")

    // That last call should have caused the process to exit with
    // code 3 and the following error message:
    // example-program: unable to open /path/to/nonexistent/file: No such file or directory


License: MIT


~30K SLoC