Lua vs Rust: What are the differences?
What is Lua? Powerful, fast, lightweight, embeddable scripting language. Lua combines simple procedural syntax with powerful data description constructs based on associative arrays and extensible semantics. Lua is dynamically typed, runs by interpreting bytecode for a register-based virtual machine, and has automatic memory management with incremental garbage collection, making it ideal for configuration, scripting, and rapid prototyping.
What is 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.
Lua and Rust can be primarily classified as "Languages" tools.
"Fast learning curve" is the primary reason why developers consider Lua over the competitors, whereas "Guaranteed memory safety" was stated as the key factor in picking Rust.
Lua and Rust are both open source tools. Rust with 37.3K GitHub stars and 5.85K forks on GitHub appears to be more popular than Lua with 1.26K GitHub stars and 436 GitHub forks.
Dropbox, Sentry, and Roundscope Ukraine Labs are some of the popular companies that use Rust, whereas Lua is used by Shopify, Close, and Thumbtack. Rust has a broader approval, being mentioned in 39 company stacks & 105 developers stacks; compared to Lua, which is listed in 55 company stacks and 23 developer stacks.
What is Lua?
What is Rust?
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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.
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).
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.
At Kong while building an internal tool, we struggled to route metrics to Prometheus and logs to Logstash without incurring too much latency in our metrics collection.
We replaced nginx with OpenResty on the edge of our tool which allowed us to use the lua-nginx-module to run Lua code that captures metrics and records telemetry data during every request’s log phase. Our code then pushes the metrics to a local aggregator process (written in Go) which in turn exposes them in Prometheus Exposition Format for consumption by Prometheus. This solution reduced the number of components we needed to maintain and is fast thanks to NGINX and LuaJIT.
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.
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.
used lua as gameplay glue while at insomniac. one my favorite wins was integrating table support. it took walking the source code in a debugger to figure it out, still remember being at work at 3am when i got it working finally. (no google back then to make such things simple.)
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.
We use Lua as our primary scripting language for third party developers - it's fast, the runtime can be quite small and fits into everywhere it needs to go - from mobile to web.
Lua is used as the programming language for all extensions and the main business logic.