Table of Contents

As I mentioned in another story, I wrote a simple Rust app to handle the posting of a simple contact form from this blog. If you're looking for a simple set of instructions, check the conclusion - but be aware that you might need to read the rest of the post to understand why these things are needed.

Writing the app itself wasn't too hard, and I managed to get it working with only minor issues (the biggest issue was noticing that I only had my IP address from my previous ISP whitelisted with Mailgun!)

However, when it came time to deploy it, I ran into some major issues:

  • I was deploying to PWS, because I work for Pivotal and have a small amount of free credit to use on the platform.
  • PWS is a hosted version of Pivotal Application Service (PAS)
  • PAS runs all applications on a Linux container (by default - there is Windows support, but I'm not interested in that)
  • PAS builds and supports the container itself - I can't install any deb files on it, for example.
  • This means that I need to build a statically-linked binary
  • I'm doing development on macOS, so I need to cross-compile. If possible, I want to be able to do everything on macOS directly - I don't want to have to boot a Linux VM just to "cross-compile", for example.

So what do I do? Well, there has been a bit written about cross-compiling Rust here and here, for example, so let's give that a go!

Notes

This was initially done with the dependency line actix-web = { version="0.7", features=["ssl"] }, which will be important later on. Note that it's not the same feature that I use in my other post, for reasons that should become apparant.

Target

We have a choice between x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu and x86_64-unknown-linux-musl.

The former is the GNU compiler, targeting the GNU C library, glibc, and only supports (AFAIK) dynamic linking – I'm unsure if this a fundamental limition of how glibc is compiled/designed, or if it's a licencing issue (or similar). In any event, because of our deployment requirements, we need to build a statically-linked binary, for which we should be using x86_64-unknown-linux-musl – this uses the MUSL libc, which was designed from the ground up to be (a) compatible with  glibc, and (b) to support static linking.

So the first thing we need to do is install our target

rustup target add x86_64-unknown-linux-musl

Compiling

First Attempt

OK, now that we've chosen and installed our target, let's run the build against that target with cargo build --release --target=x86_64-unknown-linux-musl

error: failed to run custom build command for `backtrace-sys v0.1.24`
process didn't exit successfully: `/Users/ipsi/workspace/mailgun-contact-form/target/release/build/backtrace-sys-12a3dac99ded15c9/build-script-build` (exit code: 101)
--- stdout
TARGET = Some("x86_64-unknown-linux-musl")
OPT_LEVEL = Some("3")
HOST = Some("x86_64-apple-darwin")
CC_x86_64-unknown-linux-musl = None
CC_x86_64_unknown_linux_musl = None
TARGET_CC = None
CC = None
CROSS_COMPILE = None
CFLAGS_x86_64-unknown-linux-musl = None
CFLAGS_x86_64_unknown_linux_musl = None
TARGET_CFLAGS = None
CFLAGS = None
DEBUG = Some("false")
running: "musl-gcc" "-O3" "-ffunction-sections" "-fdata-sections" "-fPIC" "-m64" "-static" "-I" "src/libbacktrace" "-I" "/Users/ipsi/workspace/mailgun-contact-form/target/x86_64-unknown-linux-musl/release/build/backtrace-sys-4d856653fde87a65/out" "-fvisibility=hidden" "-DBACKTRACE_ELF_SIZE=64" "-DBACKTRACE_SUPPORTED=1" "-DBACKTRACE_USES_MALLOC=1" "-DBACKTRACE_SUPPORTS_THREADS=0" "-DBACKTRACE_SUPPORTS_DATA=0" "-DHAVE_DL_ITERATE_PHDR=1" "-D_GNU_SOURCE=1" "-D_LARGE_FILES=1" "-Dbacktrace_full=__rbt_backtrace_full" "-Dbacktrace_dwarf_add=__rbt_backtrace_dwarf_add" "-Dbacktrace_initialize=__rbt_backtrace_initialize" "-Dbacktrace_pcinfo=__rbt_backtrace_pcinfo" "-Dbacktrace_syminfo=__rbt_backtrace_syminfo" "-Dbacktrace_get_view=__rbt_backtrace_get_view" "-Dbacktrace_release_view=__rbt_backtrace_release_view" "-Dbacktrace_alloc=__rbt_backtrace_alloc" "-Dbacktrace_free=__rbt_backtrace_free" "-Dbacktrace_vector_finish=__rbt_backtrace_vector_finish" "-Dbacktrace_vector_grow=__rbt_backtrace_vector_grow" "-Dbacktrace_vector_release=__rbt_backtrace_vector_release" "-Dbacktrace_close=__rbt_backtrace_close" "-Dbacktrace_open=__rbt_backtrace_open" "-Dbacktrace_print=__rbt_backtrace_print" "-Dbacktrace_simple=__rbt_backtrace_simple" "-Dbacktrace_qsort=__rbt_backtrace_qsort" "-Dbacktrace_create_state=__rbt_backtrace_create_state" "-Dbacktrace_uncompress_zdebug=__rbt_backtrace_uncompress_zdebug" "-o" "/Users/ipsi/workspace/mailgun-contact-form/target/x86_64-unknown-linux-musl/release/build/backtrace-sys-4d856653fde87a65/out/src/libbacktrace/alloc.o" "-c" "src/libbacktrace/alloc.c"

--- stderr
thread 'main' panicked at '

Internal error occurred: Failed to find tool. Is `musl-gcc` installed?

', /Users/ipsi/.cargo/registry/src/github.com-1ecc6299db9ec823/cc-1.0.25/src/lib.rs:2260:5
note: Run with `RUST_BACKTRACE=1` for a backtrace.

warning: build failed, waiting for other jobs to finish...
error: build failed

Um. Hmm. That looks bad. error: build failed definitely looks bad.

The primary issue here is towards the end of that output, and is the line

Internal error occurred: Failed to find tool. Is `musl-gcc` installed?

So what's happened is that it's looking for the binary musl-gcc, but it can't find it. Oh no!

When on macOS, you can sometimes just do brew install <missing_binary>, and everything will be OK. Let's try that

$ brew install musl-gcc
Error: No available formula with the name "musl-gcc"

OK, I guess not?

As it turns out, there is a a Homebrew tap available at filosottile/musl-cross/musl-cross - it's not available by default, as per this pull request, but it's simple enough to install

brew install filosottile/musl-cross/musl-cross

This provides us with a musl-gcc binary that runs on macOS and provides output for Linux - it's built from richfelker/musl-cross-make, which in turns builds (and patches) musl.

So we're good now - we have our musl-gcc command, right?

Well... no. In order to provide broad support for multiple targets, all the commands are prefixed with x86_64-linux-musl-, so it's actually x86_64-linux-musl-gcc, but that's OK - it's fairly easy to deal with.

Second Attempt

Having installed the command, let's try again!

error: failed to run custom build command for `backtrace-sys v0.1.24`
process didn't exit successfully: `/Users/ipsi/workspace/mailgun-contact-form/target/release/build/backtrace-sys-12a3dac99ded15c9/build-script-build` (exit code: 101)
--- stdout
TARGET = Some("x86_64-unknown-linux-musl")
OPT_LEVEL = Some("3")
HOST = Some("x86_64-apple-darwin")
CC_x86_64-unknown-linux-musl = None
CC_x86_64_unknown_linux_musl = None
TARGET_CC = None
CC = None
CROSS_COMPILE = None
CFLAGS_x86_64-unknown-linux-musl = None
CFLAGS_x86_64_unknown_linux_musl = None
TARGET_CFLAGS = None
CFLAGS = None
DEBUG = Some("false")
running: "musl-gcc" "-O3" "-ffunction-sections" "-fdata-sections" "-fPIC" "-m64" "-static" "-I" "src/libbacktrace" "-I" "/Users/ipsi/workspace/mailgun-contact-form/target/x86_64-unknown-linux-musl/release/build/backtrace-sys-4d856653fde87a65/out" "-fvisibility=hidden" "-DBACKTRACE_ELF_SIZE=64" "-DBACKTRACE_SUPPORTED=1" "-DBACKTRACE_USES_MALLOC=1" "-DBACKTRACE_SUPPORTS_THREADS=0" "-DBACKTRACE_SUPPORTS_DATA=0" "-DHAVE_DL_ITERATE_PHDR=1" "-D_GNU_SOURCE=1" "-D_LARGE_FILES=1" "-Dbacktrace_full=__rbt_backtrace_full" "-Dbacktrace_dwarf_add=__rbt_backtrace_dwarf_add" "-Dbacktrace_initialize=__rbt_backtrace_initialize" "-Dbacktrace_pcinfo=__rbt_backtrace_pcinfo" "-Dbacktrace_syminfo=__rbt_backtrace_syminfo" "-Dbacktrace_get_view=__rbt_backtrace_get_view" "-Dbacktrace_release_view=__rbt_backtrace_release_view" "-Dbacktrace_alloc=__rbt_backtrace_alloc" "-Dbacktrace_free=__rbt_backtrace_free" "-Dbacktrace_vector_finish=__rbt_backtrace_vector_finish" "-Dbacktrace_vector_grow=__rbt_backtrace_vector_grow" "-Dbacktrace_vector_release=__rbt_backtrace_vector_release" "-Dbacktrace_close=__rbt_backtrace_close" "-Dbacktrace_open=__rbt_backtrace_open" "-Dbacktrace_print=__rbt_backtrace_print" "-Dbacktrace_simple=__rbt_backtrace_simple" "-Dbacktrace_qsort=__rbt_backtrace_qsort" "-Dbacktrace_create_state=__rbt_backtrace_create_state" "-Dbacktrace_uncompress_zdebug=__rbt_backtrace_uncompress_zdebug" "-o" "/Users/ipsi/workspace/mailgun-contact-form/target/x86_64-unknown-linux-musl/release/build/backtrace-sys-4d856653fde87a65/out/src/libbacktrace/alloc.o" "-c" "src/libbacktrace/alloc.c"

--- stderr
thread 'main' panicked at '

Internal error occurred: Failed to find tool. Is `musl-gcc` installed?

', /Users/ipsi/.cargo/registry/src/github.com-1ecc6299db9ec823/cc-1.0.25/src/lib.rs:2260:5
note: Run with `RUST_BACKTRACE=1` for a backtrace.

warning: build failed, waiting for other jobs to finish...
error: build failed

Oops. That didn't work at all. It turns out that we need to tell Cargo (and Rust) about the compiler we've just installed.

Cargo Configuration

That's fairly simple - we just need to add a file .cargo/config to our project, with the following content

[target.x86_64-unknown-linux-musl]
linker = "x86_64-linux-musl-gcc"

Right! And now let's do that again!

...

It fails again, with the same output (well, actually, quite a lot more, but still - the original error is still there).

Here, we need to add CC_x86_64_unknown_linux_musl=x86_64-linux-musl-gcc when running Cargo, e.g.,

CC_x86_64_unknown_linux_musl="x86_64-linux-musl-gcc" cargo build --release --target=x86_64-unknown-linux-musl

I don't know why, or why this environment is used, who uses it, or where's it documented (please drop me a note if you know!)

OK, so let's try that again.

error: failed to run custom build command for `openssl-sys v0.9.39`
process didn't exit successfully: `/Users/ipsi/workspace/mailgun-contact-form/target/release/build/openssl-sys-a4f1f3adb43f2007/build-script-main` (exit code: 101)
--- stdout
cargo:rerun-if-env-changed=X86_64_UNKNOWN_LINUX_MUSL_OPENSSL_LIB_DIR
cargo:rerun-if-env-changed=OPENSSL_LIB_DIR
cargo:rerun-if-env-changed=X86_64_UNKNOWN_LINUX_MUSL_OPENSSL_INCLUDE_DIR
cargo:rerun-if-env-changed=OPENSSL_INCLUDE_DIR
cargo:rerun-if-env-changed=X86_64_UNKNOWN_LINUX_MUSL_OPENSSL_DIR
cargo:rerun-if-env-changed=OPENSSL_DIR
run pkg_config fail: "Cross compilation detected. Use PKG_CONFIG_ALLOW_CROSS=1 to override"

--- stderr
thread 'main' panicked at '

Could not find directory of OpenSSL installation, and this `-sys` crate cannot
proceed without this knowledge. If OpenSSL is installed and this crate had
trouble finding it,  you can set the `OPENSSL_DIR` environment variable for the
compilation process.

Make sure you also have the development packages of openssl installed.
For example, `libssl-dev` on Ubuntu or `openssl-devel` on Fedora.

If you're in a situation where you think the directory *should* be found
automatically, please open a bug at https://github.com/sfackler/rust-openssl
and include information about your system as well as this message.

    $HOST = x86_64-apple-darwin
    $TARGET = x86_64-unknown-linux-musl
    openssl-sys = 0.9.39

', /Users/ipsi/.cargo/registry/src/github.com-1ecc6299db9ec823/openssl-sys-0.9.39/build/main.rs:269:9
note: Run with `RUST_BACKTRACE=1` for a backtrace.

warning: build failed, waiting for other jobs to finish...
error: build failed

It still doesn't work, but at least we're progressing! Now it's complaining about OpenSSL (having successfully compiled the packages it was complaining about previously).

OpenSSL

This is where I hit an impenetrable wall.

All the other libraries I depend on appear to only require libc, and compile all the other code as part of their build. However, the openssl-sys crate assumes, by default, that OpenSSL has been installed somewhere, and it looks for the header files/etc, as you would expect it to do for a pre-compiled library.

However, I'm (a) running on macOS and (b) using MUSL, while any OpenSSL I'm likely to find will be compiled with GNU libc and dynamic linking. I will admit that I didn't go down this route, of compiling it on my own, partly because OpenSSL is... not trivial to compile.

The openssl crate does support compiling OpenSSL on my behalf, but that didn't work for me. Initially, I followed the docs, adding openssl = { version = "0.10", feature = ["vendored"] } to my cargo.toml , but that still results in openssl-sys being built, and I see a warning in the output of warning: unused manifest key: dependencies.openssl.feature.

Turns out that the docs are slightly wrong (it's fixed in master, but not in the released docs), and it should say openssl = { version = "0.10", features = ["vendored"] }features, not feature!

With that changed, it now attempts to compile OpenSSL, but fails with a ton of errors like

apps/version.o:version.c:(.text.version_main+0x301): more undefined references to `OpenSSL_version' follow
apps/version.o: In function `version_main':
version.c:(.text.version_main+0x321): undefined reference to `BN_options'
version.c:(.text.version_main+0x337): undefined reference to `RC4_options'
version.c:(.text.version_main+0x34d): undefined reference to `DES_options'
version.c:(.text.version_main+0x363): undefined reference to `IDEA_options'
version.c:(.text.version_main+0x379): undefined reference to `BF_options'
version.c:(.text.version_main+0x39e): undefined reference to `OpenSSL_version'
collect2: error: ld returned 1 exit status

Ultimately, my fix for this was to remove my dependency on OpenSSL entirely, replacing it with Rustls. This is done by setting a feature-flag on actix-web, like so

actix-web = { version="0.7", features=["rust-tls"] }

It's a lot newer than OpenSSL, and doesn't provide any support for TLS 1.1 and older, or any known-insecure algorithms. As a consequence, it's a lot simpler than OpenSSL, and is built purely in Rust, so doesn't require any magic to cross-compile.

I don't know if it's considered "production-ready" (there is some discussion about that here), but it certainly works for me. That said, PAS handles SSL termination for me, so I don't need to worry about inbound TLS support.

Conclusion

The ultimate point of this was to explore how I could cross-compile my application. It turns out that is very straightforward, unless you're using native code, or a dependency that uses native code, in which case you might have issues.

Making a Rust project compile to another platform requires

  1. Adding the target via rustuprustup target add x86_64-unknown-linux-musl
  2. Installing a compiler/linker/etc for your target – for macOS, we do this with brew install filosottile/musl-cross/musl-cross
  3. Tell cargo which binaries to use for cross-compilation – in this case, we just add
    [target.x86_64-unknown-linux-musl]
    linker = "x86_64-linux-musl-gcc"
    to our .cargo/config
  4. If using dependencies with native libraries, pass the correct compiler/linker to cargo via the CC_x86_64_unknown_linux_musl environment varible, or CC_x86_64_unknown_linux_musl=x86_64-linux-musl-gcc for us.
  5. Avoid OpenSSL! It seems like it's reasonably complex to compile into a statically-linked application, so if you can use Rustls (or Ring, the underlying crypto library), I'd recommend it!
    Note that this might be a feature flag on a dependency you use - check your dependency tree carefully!