[DEPRECATED] A tool for managing multiple Rust installations
Latest commit 291082d Jun 9, 2016 @brson committed on GitHub Merge pull request #163 from durka/patch-4
rustup migration instructions


Note: multirust is not actively maintained. Migrate to rustup.rs (help).

Build Status

A simple tool for managing multiple installations of the Rust toolchain. It replaces the standard Rust toolchain with components that dynamically choose between alternate implementations based on context.


  • Manage multiple installations of the official Rust binaries.
  • Configure Rust toolchains per-directory.
  • Install and update from Rust release channels: nightly, beta, and stable.
  • Receive notifications of updates to release channels.
  • Install historical nightly toolchains from the official archives.
  • Install by specific stable version number.
  • Install additional stds for cross-compilation.
  • Install custom toolchains.
  • Isolate Cargo metadata per-installation.
  • Verify hashes of downloads.
  • Verify signatures (if GPG is available).
  • Resume partial downloads.
  • Requires only bash, curl and common unix utilities.
  • For Linux, OS X, and Windows (via MSYS2).

Quick installation

curl -sf https://raw.githubusercontent.com/brson/multirust/master/blastoff.sh | sh

This will build and install multirust, possibly prompting you for your password via sudo. It will then download and install the stable toolchain, configuring it as the default when executing rustc, rustdoc, and cargo.


curl -sf https://raw.githubusercontent.com/brson/multirust/master/blastoff.sh | sh -s -- --uninstall

Manual build, install and configure

A manual build and install allows one to tailor multirust to meet specific needs.

The basic template is:

git clone --recursive https://github.com/brson/multirust && cd multirust
git submodule update --init
./build.sh && sudo ./install.sh

Run sudo ./install.sh --uninstall to uninstall.

Run multirust default nightly to download and install the nightly compiler and package manager and configure it as the default.

As an example customization, to install underneath your home directory in e.g. ~/my_stuff/bin/multirust, you could use:

./build.sh && ./install.sh --prefix=~/my_stuff/

(In this scenario, ./install.sh --prefix=~/my_stuff/ --uninstall to uninstall.)

Run ./build.sh && ./install.sh --help to see a list of available options.


To install Rust, run multirust update <toolchain>. See multirust help update for details and to configure what this will install.

Overriding the compiler in specific directories:

mkdir beta-project && cd beta-project
multirust override beta

Now any time the toolchain is executed in the beta-project directory or any subdirectory thereof the compiler from the beta release channel will be used.

To pin to a specific nightly:

multirust override nightly-2014-12-18

Or a specific stable release:

multirust override 1.0.0

Information about the current override can be displayed with multirust show-override. The current override can be deleted by running multirust remove-override from the directory where the override was created.

Check for updates with multirust update nightly. All three release channels can be updated at once with multirust update.

multirust run will run an arbitrary command in an environment configured for a given toolchain, so e.g. multirust run beta cargo build will run the beta cargo, regardless of the current override. This can also be used to e.g. open a beta shell like multirust run beta bash.

Commands can be abbreviated by using a prefix of the intended command, for example multirust ru (run) or multirust s-o (show-override). In the case of an ambiguous prefix, it picks the first match using the order of commands shown in multirust help.

Toolchain specification

multirust supports several ways to indicate the toolchain: 'stable', 'beta' and 'nightly' all download from the corresponding release channel. When any of these toolchain specifiers are used multirust will periodically notify you of available updates. All three channels can be optionally appended with an archive date, as in 'nightly-2014-12-18', in which case the toolchain is downloaded from the archive for that date (if available). Any other specifier is considered an explicit Rust version number, as in '0.12.0', or a custom toolchain identifier, depending on context.


multirust can install additional standard libraries for cross-compilation targets. Once you have installed a toolchain, use the multirust list-available-targets command to show which targets can be added, and multirust add-target to add a target.

Custom toolchains

Custom toolchains - those not distributed by The Rust Project - may be installed from either custom-built installer or from a local directory containing a build of Rust.

To install from an existing Rust build use either the --copy-local or the --link-local flags to the update command. --copy-local will copy a build of Rust to multirust's private toolchain installation directory; --link-local will create a toolchain that is a symlink to a build of Rust, convenient for those who frequently build Rust themselves:

multirust update my-rust --link-local ~/dev/rust/build/x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu/stage2

A custom-built installer can be installed with multirust update <toolchain> --installer <installer-path-or-url>, e.g. multirust update my-rust --installer rust-1.0.0-dev-x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu.tar.gz. In this case the toolchain is installed via the specified installer and can then be activated with multirust default my-rust.

Since the main Rust build does not produce an installer that includes Cargo, it may be easier to install the individual rustc and cargo installers instead of trying to produce the combined installer through rust-packaging. For this reason the --installer flag takes a comma-separated list of installers, allowing custom rustc and cargo packages to be installed with e.g.

multirust update my-rust --installer rustc-1.0.0-dev-x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu.tar.gz,cargo-nightly-x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu.tar.gz

These three options can also be supplied to the default and override commands, in which case the toolchain is also activated after installation.

Implementation Details

multirust installs a script called multirustproxy as all the tools in the Rust toolchain: rustc, cargo, and rustdoc. This script consults multirust to decide which toolchain to invoke, and decides which tool to invoke based on the name it is called as.

multirustproxy automatically applies -C rpath to all rustc invocations so that the resulting binaries 'just work' when using dynamic linking, even though the toolchains live in various places.

It keeps Cargo's metadata isolated per toolchain via the CARGO_HOME environment variable.

multirust saves settings and toolchains per user in ~/.multirust. The directory is initialized when using the multirust command to set the default channel, or when setting an override or updating for first time. The name of this directory can be controlled with the MULTIRUST_HOME environment variable.

Can you trust Rust binaries?

Although multirust verifies signatures of its downloads if GPG is available, the question of whether you can 'trust' Rust depends on quite a few factors. Although I'm not prepared to give advice on this subject, here are some of the details around how the Rust project binaries are signed and verified. You can make your own judgments.

  • Rust binaries are produced on mostly cloud infrastructure to which several people have access.
  • They are signed automatically by a master bot that has access to a secret subkey of the Rust signing key.
  • They are uploaded to s3 using a secret key on that same bot.
  • The master bot is exposed to the Internet through an ssh tunnel via which it communicates with buildbot slaves.
  • Rust binaries are served over HTTPS.
  • The Rust public key is distributed as part of multirust.
  • Rust is self-hosting, bootstrapped off of a chain of binary snapshots that extends back for several years, which are presently served over HTTPS (but have not always been), and are not cryptographically signed.

When GPG successfully verifies a signature from the Rust signing key it will almost certainly emit a warning saying the key is untrusted:

gpg: Signature made Fri 09 Jan 2015 12:07:05 AM PST using RSA key ID 7B3B09DC
gpg: Good signature from "Rust Language (Tag and Release Signing Key) <rust-key@rust-lang.org>"
gpg: WARNING: This key is not certified with a trusted signature!
gpg:          There is no indication that the signature belongs to the owner.
Primary key fingerprint: 108F 6620 5EAE B0AA A8DD  5E1C 85AB 96E6 FA1B E5FE
     Subkey fingerprint: C134 66B7 E169 A085 1886  3216 5CB4 A934 7B3B 09DC

This is because the Rust signing key isn't known to be trusted by others in your 'web of trust'. It isn't strictly a problem, assuming that you trust the authors of multirust and the channel through which you installed it.

If you are so inclined you can import the Rust signing key, and if it happens to be in the same web of trust as your own trusted keys, then the warnings may go away:

gpg --keyserver hkp://keys.gnupg.net --recv-keys 7B3B09DC

At the present time the certificate chain for the Rust signing key is quite meager though so it's unlikely to help.


  • Installation of multirust over an existing installation of Rust or vice versa will cause brokenness. Uninstall the other first. ./install.sh will detect this and error. This should be fixable in the future.
  • The rustc, cargo and rustdoc commands should be symlinks to multirustproxy but are actually copies, a limitation of the installer.
  • Concurrent writing of multirust's metadata can possibly cause minor data loss in limited circumstances.
  • Paths with semicolons in their names will cause breakage when configured with overrides.
  • Other unusual characters in paths may break overrides.
  • Overrides at the filesystem root probably don't work.

Future work

  • Check for and install updates of multirust itself.
  • Windows support.
  • Allow creation of aliases like rustc-0.12.0 (needs cargo to obey RUSTC and RUSTDOC env vars).
  • GC unused toolchains.
  • Cache installers to avoid redownloads? Maybe only useful for testing.
  • override, show-override, remove-override could take an optional path.
  • Install without docs? Saves lots of space.
  • Teach multirust to uninstall itself.
  • Handle temp file cleanup more consistently - always cleaned up on error unless requested otherwise.
  • Use wget if curl isn't available?
  • Command to check for and show available updates explicitly.
  • Figure out what to do about command line completions for cargo, etc.
  • Tests for various paths with spaces in them.
  • Make blastoff script interactive: require confirmation to start and display a notice if gpg is not installed.
  • Add a way to disable signature verification.
  • There are probably ways to cause damage by trusting the user about what is and isn't a 'custom' toolchain.
  • Refactor multirustproxy to use 'multirust run'.


multirust is licensed under the same terms as the Rust compiler, now and forevermore.

Migrating to rustup

If you have multirust installed and you would like to migrate to rustup.rs, follow these steps (for Linux/Mac):

  1. First, uninstall Multirust using the instructions given above.
  2. Delete the folder ~/.multirust.
  3. If the file /usr/local/lib/rustlib/uninstall.sh still exists, the uninstallation was not successful. Run sudo /usr/local/lib/rustlib/uninstall.sh to complete it.
  4. Install rustup using the instructions at rustup.rs.