#linter #mono

nightly app redpen-linter

Rust linter

3 releases (breaking)

0.3.0 Nov 9, 2023
0.2.0 Sep 1, 2023
0.1.0 Sep 1, 2023

45 downloads per month


2.5K SLoC

Red Pen ️❌🖊

redpen is a linter for Rust code.


The aim of this tool is to:

  • have its own custom sets of lints independent of clippy to allow for different defaults
  • work as a test bed for internal rustc API stabilization
  • act as a buffer between lints written for this tool and that internal API by providing its own API for compiler internals so that changing rustc API internals don't require regularly rewriting lints (this work has not yet been started)
  • be quick to compile as part of CI so that projects can write project specific lints

Implemented lints

Currently, only two lints have been written

  • a simple lint that operates as a "negative trait check", that complains if a type parameter of an annotated type is used with a specific type
  • a much more useful assertion that the annotated fn will not transitively call panic

Meaning of the name

The tool is named after the writing instrument a teacher would use to mark mistakes in your paper. rustc is a strict teacher. redpen is a very strict teacher.

Installation and usage

There are two ways of using this tool. If you are only interested in using existing lints, you can install through cargo with cargo +nightly-2023-11-01 install redpen-linter. After that you can invoke redpen as if you were invoking cargo check. You must ensure that the appropriate Rust 1.72 compiler is installed with rustup toolchain add nightly-2023-11-01, as redpen is tightly coupled with a specific compiler version's internal APIs. Additionally, you must also add the following to your Cargo.toml in the [dependencies] section:

cargo-redpen-shim = { version = "0.1", package = "redpen" }

This is necessary so that when running regular cargo commands, like cargo build, the custom linting annotations will be picked up as valid item attributes and not fail your build.

If you want to keep your own set of lints, then you'll have to keep your own working copy of the different redpen components.

Clone this repository and run cargo install:

export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=$(rustup run nightly-2023-11-01 bash -c "echo \$LD_LIBRARY_PATH")
git clone https://github.com/estebank/redpen.git
cd redpen
cargo install --path .

Note that redpen is pinned to a Rust version so it is likely that running cargo install --git will not work as it will not use the rust-toolchain file in the repository.

If you're adding new lints, you will also want to provide your own redpen proc-macro crate.

What it looks like

Given a src/main.rs with the following contents:

#[redpen::disallow(T = "Pineapple")]
struct Pizza<T>(T);

struct Pineapple;

type Alias = Pizza<Pineapple>;

impl Pineapple {
    fn foo(&self) {

fn bar() {
    let mut v = vec![1];

fn main() {
    let _ = Pizza(Pineapple);

Executing redpen will produce the following output:

$ redpen
   Compiling pizza v0.1.0 (/home/gh-estebank/pizza)
error: `bar` can panic
  --> src/main.rs:16:1
15 | #[redpen::dont_panic]
   | --------------------- the function can't panic due to this annotation
16 | fn bar() {
   | ^^^^^^^^ this function can panic
17 |     Pineapple.foo();
   |               --- panic can occur here
18 |     let mut v = vec![1];
19 |     v.swap_remove(0);
   |       ----------- panic can occur here
20 |     v[1];
   |     ---- panic can occur here
21 |     panic!("asdf");
   |     -------------- panic can occur here
   = note: `#[deny(redpen::dont_panic)]` on by default

error: type parameter `T` in `Pizza` can't be `Pineapple`
 --> src/main.rs:7:20
7 | type Alias = Pizza<Pineapple>;
  |                    ^^^^^^^^^
  = note: `#[deny(redpen::disallow)]` on by default

error: type parameter `T` in `Pizza` can't be `Pineapple`
  --> src/main.rs:26:13
26 |     let _ = Pizza(Pineapple);
   |             ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ this expression is of type `Pizza<Pineapple>`

    Finished dev [unoptimized + debuginfo] target(s) in 0.02s

How it works

This linter is implemented as a rustc_driver, effectively a different entry point to the regular rustc implementation. It links against the pre-built rustc_* components, so you're only compiling a very small amount of code, keeping its builds quite fast.

redpen_wrapper is a very small CLI tool that is meant to act as a passthrough between cargo and rustc. It is invoked through RUST_WRAPPER=redpen_wrapper cargo build. This allows us to use rustc to build a given crate, and only once this is done, execute redpen to execute the lints and collect metadata necessary for cross-crate analysis (like the panic!() reachability lint).

cargo-redpen is a small CLI that invokes cargo build with the appropriate environment variables. It executes:

export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=$(rustup run nightly-2023-11-01 bash -c "echo \$LD_LIBRARY_PATH")

RUSTC_WRAPPER=$PATH_TO/redpen_wrapper \
cargo +nightly-2023-11-01 build \
-Zbuild-std \
--target x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu # haven't tried in other platforms, experiment replacing this for your case

Ancestry notice

This linter was initially based of off the Rust-on-Linux linter klint, which in turn leverages the rustc codebase.


~41K SLoC