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Elixir vs Rust: What are the differences?

Elixir: Dynamic, functional language designed for building scalable and maintainable applications. Elixir leverages the Erlang VM, known for running low-latency, distributed and fault-tolerant systems, while also being successfully used in web development and the embedded software domain; Rust: A safe, concurrent, practical language. Rust is a systems programming language that combines strong compile-time correctness guarantees with fast performance. It improves upon the ideas of other systems languages like C++ by providing guaranteed memory safety (no crashes, no data races) and complete control over the lifecycle of memory.

Elixir and Rust can be categorized as "Languages" tools.

"Concurrency" is the primary reason why developers consider Elixir over the competitors, whereas "Guaranteed memory safety" was stated as the key factor in picking Rust.

Elixir and Rust are both open source tools. It seems that Rust with 37.3K GitHub stars and 5.85K forks on GitHub has more adoption than Elixir with 15.6K GitHub stars and 2.22K GitHub forks.

Poll Everywhere, NoRedInk, and Resultados Digitais are some of the popular companies that use Elixir, whereas Rust is used by Dropbox, Sentry, and Roundscope Ukraine Labs. Elixir has a broader approval, being mentioned in 177 company stacks & 190 developers stacks; compared to Rust, which is listed in 39 company stacks and 105 developer stacks.

What is Elixir?

Elixir leverages the Erlang VM, known for running low-latency, distributed and fault-tolerant systems, while also being successfully used in web development and the embedded software domain.

What is Rust?

Rust is a systems programming language that combines strong compile-time correctness guarantees with fast performance. It improves upon the ideas of other systems languages like C++ by providing guaranteed memory safety (no crashes, no data races) and complete control over the lifecycle of memory.
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What are some alternatives to Elixir and Rust?
Go
Go is expressive, concise, clean, and efficient. Its concurrency mechanisms make it easy to write programs that get the most out of multicore and networked machines, while its novel type system enables flexible and modular program construction. Go compiles quickly to machine code yet has the convenience of garbage collection and the power of run-time reflection. It's a fast, statically typed, compiled language that feels like a dynamically typed, interpreted language.
Erlang
Some of Erlang's uses are in telecoms, banking, e-commerce, computer telephony and instant messaging. Erlang's runtime system has built-in support for concurrency, distribution and fault tolerance. OTP is set of Erlang libraries and design principles providing middle-ware to develop these systems.
Clojure
Clojure is designed to be a general-purpose language, combining the approachability and interactive development of a scripting language with an efficient and robust infrastructure for multithreaded programming. Clojure is a compiled language - it compiles directly to JVM bytecode, yet remains completely dynamic. Clojure is a dialect of Lisp, and shares with Lisp the code-as-data philosophy and a powerful macro system.
Ruby
Ruby is a language of careful balance. Its creator, Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto, blended parts of his favorite languages (Perl, Smalltalk, Eiffel, Ada, and Lisp) to form a new language that balanced functional programming with imperative programming.
Haskell
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Decisions about Elixir and Rust
StackShare Editors
StackShare Editors
Rust
Rust
Lua
Lua

To handle its growing observability needs, Postmates created and open sourced Cernan, a telemetry and logging aggregation server. Ceran is built on Rust and Lua, and can ingest data from many sources and then push or exposes what it’s collected to many destinations, or “sinks.” It can also create or manipulate in-flight data with programmable Lua filters.

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StackShare Editors
StackShare Editors
Erlang
Erlang
Elixir
Elixir
Consul
Consul

Postmates built a tool called Bazaar that helps onboard new partners and handles several routine tasks, like nightly emails to merchants alerting them about items that are out of stock.

Since they ran Bazaar across multiple instances, the team needed to avoid sending multiple emails to their partners by obtaining lock across multiple hosts. To solve their challenge, they created and open sourced ConsulMutEx, and an Elixir module for acquiring and releasing locks with Consul and other backends.

It works with Consul’s KV store, as well as other backends, including ets, Erlang’s in-memory database.

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James Cunningham
James Cunningham
Operations Engineer at Sentry · | 18 upvotes · 43.1K views
atSentrySentry
Rust
Rust
Python
Python

Sentry's event processing pipeline, which is responsible for handling all of the ingested event data that makes it through to our offline task processing, is written primarily in Python.

For particularly intense code paths, like our source map processing pipeline, we have begun re-writing those bits in Rust. Rust’s lack of garbage collection makes it a particularly convenient language for embedding in Python. It allows us to easily build a Python extension where all memory is managed from the Python side (if the Python wrapper gets collected by the Python GC we clean up the Rust object as well).

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marcoalmeida
marcoalmeida
C
C
Go
Go
Rust
Rust
Python
Python

One important decision for delivering a platform independent solution with low memory footprint and minimal dependencies was the choice of the programming language. We considered a few from Python (there was already a reasonably large Python code base at Thumbtack), to Go (we were taking our first steps with it), and even Rust (too immature at the time).

We ended up writing it in C. It was easy to meet all requirements with only one external dependency for implementing the web server, clearly no challenges running it on any of the Linux distributions we were maintaining, and arguably the implementation with the smallest memory footprint given the choices above.

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Rust
Rust
C++
C++

Initially, I wrote my text adventure game in C++, but I later rewrote my project in Rust. It was an incredibly easier process to use Rust to create a faster, more robust, and bug-free project.

One difficulty with the C++ language is the lack of safety, helpful error messages, and useful abstractions when compared to languages like Rust. Rust would display a helpful error message at compile time, while C++ would often display "Segmentation fault (core dumped)" or wall of STL errors in the middle. While I would frequently push buggy code to my C++ repository, Rust enabled me to only even submit fully functional code.

Along with the actual language, Rust also included useful tools such as rustup and cargo to aid in building projects, IDE tooling, managing dependencies, and cross-compiling. This was a refreshing alternative to the difficult CMake and tools of the same nature.

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Sebastian Gębski
Sebastian Gębski
CTO at Shedul/Fresha · | 7 upvotes · 38.2K views
atFresha EngineeringFresha Engineering
AppSignal
AppSignal
Hex
Hex
Credo
Credo
Erlang
Erlang
Phoenix Framework
Phoenix Framework
Elixir
Elixir

Another major decision was to adopt Elixir and Phoenix Framework - the DX (Developer eXperience) is pretty similar to what we know from RoR, but this tech is running on the top of rock-solid Erlang platform which is powering planet-scale telecom solutions for 20+ years. So we're getting pretty much the best from both worlds: minimum friction & smart conventions that eliminate the excessive boilerplate AND highly concurrent EVM (Erlang's Virtual Machine) that makes all the scalability problems vanish. The transition was very smooth - none of Ruby developers we had decided to leave because of Elixir. What is more, we kept recruiting Ruby developers w/o any requirement regarding Elixir proficiency & we still were able to educate them internally in almost no time. Obviously Elixir comes with some more tools in the stack: Credo , Hex , AppSignal (required to properly monitor BEAM apps).

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Dan Larsen
Dan Larsen
CTO at FlowStack · | 7 upvotes · 24.7K views
atFlowStack ApSFlowStack ApS
C++
C++
C
C
Rust
Rust
Go
Go

At FlowStack we write most of our backend in Go. Go is a well thought out language, with all the right compromises for speedy development of speedy and robust software. It's tooling is part of what makes Go such a great language. Testing and benchmarking is built into the language, in a way that makes it easy to ensure correctness and high performance. In most cases you can get more performance out of Rust and C or C++, but getting everything right is more cumbersome.

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Interest over time
Reviews of Elixir and Rust
Review ofElixirElixir

i've give a try to Ruby, Crystal, Python and GO, and yeah, for web development i use Elixir-Phoenix, because idk why just amazing, my phoenix app is very stable (comparing to api that written in other language), Ruby is slow, Crystal has unstable API, GO, umm yeah, you need too complicated (i use golang for microservice)

How developers use Elixir and Rust
Avatar of Marc3842h
Marc3842h uses RustRust

Rust is used in Shirogane (https://github.com/Marc3842h/shirogane).

Shirogane is a osu! beatmap mirror built for shiro. We use Rust because of memory safe but still low level and high performance.

Avatar of Provide Booking
Provide Booking uses ElixirElixir

Huge boon to productivity when coupled with Phoenix. Moreover, it has made background jobs and all the unseen aspects of a business easily abstracted.

Avatar of Walter
Walter uses ElixirElixir

Knowledge collection, collation, and enrichment. Business logic.

Avatar of Ruben Timmerman
Ruben Timmerman uses ElixirElixir

For some internal tools like our email deliverability monitor

Avatar of Ryan Jennings
Ryan Jennings uses ElixirElixir

language used by phoenix framework

Avatar of olenderhub
olenderhub uses ElixirElixir

Elixir and Phoenix are awesome.

How much does Elixir cost?
How much does Rust cost?
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