Libraries and APIs

This page will cover the context of the libraries and APIs on Redox.


  • API - The interface of the library source code (the programs use the API to obtain the library functions).
  • ABI - The interface between the program binary and the system services (normally the system call interface).


The Redox crates follow the SemVer model from Cargo ofr version numbers (except redox_syscall), you can read more about it below:


This section covers the versioning system of Redox and important components.

  • Redox OS - x.y.z

x is ABI version, y is API updates with backward compatibility and z is fixes with backward compatiblity.

  • libredox - Currently it don't follow the SemVer model but will in the future.

  • redox_syscall - x.y.z

x is the ABI version (it will remain 0 for a while), y is the API updates and z is fixes (no backward compatibility).

Providing a Stable ABI

The implementation of a stable ABI is important to avoid frequent recompilation when an operating system is under heavy development, thus improving the development speed.

A stable ABI typically reduces development speed for the ABI provider (because it needs to uphold backward compatibility), whereas it improves development speed for the ABI user. Because relibc will be smaller than the rest of Redox, this is a good tradeoff, and improves development speed in general

It also offer backward compatibility for binaries compiled with old API versions.

Currently, only libredox will have a stable ABI, relibc will be unstable only as long as it's under heavy development and redox_syscall will remain unstable even after the 1.0 version of Redox.

Our final goal is to keep the Redox ABI stable in all 1.x versions, if an ABI break happens, the next versions will be 2.x

A program compiled with an old API version will continue to work with a new API version, in most cases statically linked library updates or program updates will require recompilation, while in others a new ABI version will add performance and security improvements that would recommend a recompilation of the program.


Redox uses different mechanisms, compared to Linux, to implement system capabilities.


relibc is an implementation of the C Standard Library (libc) in Rust.

relibc knows if it's compiled for Linux or Redox ahead-of-time, if the target is Redox, relibc calls functions in libredox, the goal is to organize platform-specific functionality into clean modules.

The current dynamic linking support is under development, thus relibc is statically linked, once it's working, the programs will access relibc using dynamic linking, thus the functions used by the program will be linked during runtime (executable launch).

This will allow Redox to evolve and improve relibc without requiring programs to be recompiled after each source code change in most cases, if the dynamic linker can't resolve the references of the program binary, a recompilation is required.

Since Redox and Linux executables look so similar and can accidentally be executed on the other platform, it checks that it's running on the same platform it was compiled for, at runtime.

(C/C++ programs and libraries will use this library)


libredox is a system library for Redox components and Rust programs/libraries, it will allow Rust programs to limit their need to use C-style APIs (the relibc API and ABI).

It's both a crate (calling the ABI functions) and an ABI, the ABI is provided from relibc while the crate (library) is a wrapper above the libredox ABI.

(Redox components, Rust programs and libraries will use this library)

An ongoing migration from redox_syscall to libredox is in progress, you can follow the current status on this link.

You can see Rust crates using it on this link.


redox_syscall is a system call wrapper with a Rust API for low-level components and libraries.

(redox_syscall should not be used directly by programs, use libredox instead)

Code Porting

Rust std crate

Most Rust programs include the std crate, In addition to implementing standard Rust abstractions, this crate provides a safe Rust interface to system functionality in libc, which it invokes via a FFI to libc.

std has mechanisms to enable operating system variants of certain parts of the library, the file sys/ selects the appropriate variant to include, programs use the std:: prefix to call this crate.

To ensure portability of programs, Redox supports the Rust std crate, for Redox, std::sys refers to std::sys::unix.

Redox-specific code can be found on this repository.

For most functionality, Redox uses #[cfg(unix)] and sys/unix.

Some Redox-specific functionality is enabled by #[cfg(target_os = "redox")].

Compiling for Redox

The Redox toolchain automatically links programs with relibc in place of the libc you would find on Linux.

Porting Method

You can use #[cfg(unix)] and #[cfg(target_os = "redox")] to guard platform specific code.