Crate lab[][src]

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CSE 223B Labs

Welcome to CSE 223B. Below you’ll find some information on setting up an environment to complete the labs for the course. Instructions for each lab can be found at

Programming Language

You will write the labs in the Rust programming language. It is a community-developed language originally started at Mozilla. Rust is a low-level language which eschews any kind of managed runtime like you might find in Java, Python, or Go. Rust’s main selling point is it’s compile-time borrow checker that prevents invalid memory accesses at runtime.

Here is some key documentation on the Rust programming language:

You should be able to find a lot of documents about the Rust language on the web, especially from the official site. We highly recommend reading “The Book” and following parts of the Rustlings course.

Rust takes time to understand and has a steep learning curve. In the early stages of using the language, getting your program just to compile might take you 30 minutes or more. Do not underestimate the amount of time you will need to spend working on these assignments. Start early, read the book, and search on the web if you have problems compiling your program. Read the compiler error messages too. The Rust compiler has some of the most helpful error messages of all modern languages. If that doesn’t help, try reading the book again. Finally, if you still can’t figure out your issue ask for help on piazza or come to office hours if you truly feel stuck.


Install Rust

To get started with the Rust language, we recommend using the official rustup tool. This will install the latest stable Rust toolchain along with a number of programs useful for building applications with the language.


The most important tool you’ll need from the toolchain is cargo. cargo is a user-friendly wrapper around the rust compiler (rustc) and handles downloading, compiling, testing, formatting, checking, linting, documenting Rust code, and more.

Cargo looks for a manifest file, Cargo.toml in your current directory to figure out exactly which files it needs to build, test, or run. The file can define dependencies, build options, metadata and many other options. You shouldn’t need to modify any Cargo.toml files for these assignments.

Here are some of the most useful cargo commands

  • cargo build will compile your code with no optimization
    • cargo build --release compiles with optimizations (e.g. similar to gcc -O2)
    • all compilation output can be found in the ./target directory
  • cargo test runs all of the tests defined in the projects
    • cargo test --tests runs integration tests
    • cargo test -p <package> runs all of the tests in <package>
  • cargo fmt will format your code according to standard Rust formatting guidelines
  • cargo check looks for compilation errors in packages and dependencies. It basically performs compilation without the final step of code generation. It is faster than cargo build for checking if your code compiles.
  • cargo run can run binaries defined in Cargo.toml
    • cargo run --bin <bin-name> will run the <bin-name> binary
    • pass arguments to the binary with cargo run --bin <bin-name> -- <arg1> <arg2> ...

Rust also has a non-default code linting tool called Clippy. It can help point out simple optimizations and make your code more idiomatic. Clippy is entirely optional to use, but is immensely helpful in identifying use of anti-patterns in your code.

  • To install clippy: rustup component add clippy, then try running with cargo clippy
Basic Rust Concepts

It is difficult to cover all of Rust’s great (and not-so great) features. We recommend thoroughly reading through “The Book” or Rust By Example to learn the ins and outs of the language. Below we try to highlight some of the most important concepts you should understand.

  • Rust code is organized into crates and modules
    • a set of modules make up a crate.
  • Compile, run, and format code with cargo (build, run, fmt)
  • Once cargo is installed, view documentation for the crate and dependencies with cargo doc --open
  • In Rust, variables must be explicitly defined as mutable using the mut keyword.
  • References to variables in Rust can be owned or borrowed.
  • Vec<T> is the standard type used to represent a series of items, similar to C++. Array types ([T; usize]) are rarely used. Usually you should opt for a slice (&[T])
  • std::collection::HashMap or std::collections::BTreeMap can be used to store a set of key-value pairs.
  • The Result<T, E> is the standard return type used for functions which might return errors. When calling a function which returns a result, use the ? operator after the () to unwrap the result to type T
  • some built-in macros that you might find useful are unimplemented!(), todo!(), println!(), print!(), and format!().
  • you can write a loop using the loop keyword and run a function over an iterator with for x in a.iter()
  • values are returned from functions by simply omitting the trailing semicolon ; at the end of a statement.
  • Store items on the heap using the Box<T> type.
  • You can write interfaces in Rust using the trait keyword, and then implement a trait for a specific struct with impl <Trait> for <Struct> { ... }

The Tribbler Story

Some cowboy programmer wrote a simple online microblogging service called Tribbler and, leveraging the power of the Web, it becomes quite popular. However, the program runs in a single process on a single machine; it does not scale, cannot support many concurrent connections, and is vulnerable to machine crashes. Knowing that you are taking the distributed computing system course at UCSD, he asks you for help. You answered his call and are starting work on this project.

Your goal is to refactor Tribbler into a distributed system, making it more robust and scalable.

Getting Started

We will be using Github Classroom to distribute assignments and manage submissions. We will send out invitation links for each individual lab through Piazza/Canvas. Once you access these links, a GitHub repository containing Tribbler starter code will be created for you. It comes with necessary instructions on how to setup environment before you start, and submit your work when you are done.

Once you download your first lab (and before you start working on it), you can run the basic version of Tribbler. The Tribbler project is written in Rust. To get started, run these commands from the command line:

You can do some basic testing to see if the framework is in good shape:

$ cargo test -p tribbler

The basic Tribbler service should now be installed on the system from your home directory. Let’s give it a try:

$ cargo run --bin trib-front

The program should show the URL it is running under.

Open your browser and type in the address: http://<host-name>:<port>. For example, if you are using your local machine, and Tribbler is running on port 8080, then open http://localhost:8080. If you are using AWS EC2 machine, you can use its public DNS name as host name (make sure to allow traffic on this port to your instance). You should see a list of Tribbler users. You can view their tribs and login as them (with no authentication).

This is how Tribbler looks to users. It is a single web page that performs AJAX calls (a type of web-based RPC) to the back-end web server. The webserver then in turn calls the Tribbler logic functions and returns the results back to the Web page in the browser.

Source Code Organization

The source code in the trib package repository is organized as follows:

  • lab has the skeleton code for completing the class assignments
  • tribbler defines the common Tribbler interfaces and data structures.
  • tribbler::ref_impl is a reference monolithic implementation of the Server interface. All the server logic runs in one single process. It is not scalable and is vulnerable to machine crashes.
  • tribbler::storage contains an in-memory thread-safe implementation of the tribbler::storage::Storage interface. We will use this as the basic building block for our back-end storage system.
  • tribbler::addr provides helper functions that check if an address belongs to the machine that the program is running.
  • tribbler::addr::rand provides helper functions that generate a network address with a random port number.
  • tribbler::colon provides helper functions that escape and unescape colons in a string.
  • lab/tests provides several basic test cases for the interfaces.
  • cmd/src/trib_front.rs is the web-server launcher that you run.
  • cmd/src/kv_client.rs is a command line key-value RPC client for quick testing.
  • cmd/src/kv_server.rs runs a key-value service as an RPC server.
  • cmd/src/bins_client.rs is a bin storage service client.
  • cmd/src/bins_back.rs is a bin storage service back-end launcher.
  • cmd/src/bins_keep.rs is a bin storage service keeper launcher.
  • cmd/src/bins_mkcfg.rs generates a bin storage configuration file.
  • www/ contains the static files (html, css, js, etc.) for the web front-end.

Don’t be scared by the number of modules. Most of the modules are very small, and you don’t have to interact with all of them at once. All Rust language files under the tribbler directory are less than 2500 lines in total, so these packages aren’t huge and intimidating.

Throughout the entire lab, you do not need to (and should not) modify anything in the tribbler crate. If you feel that you have to change some code to complete your lab, please first discuss it with the TA. You are always welcome to read the code in the tribbler crate or read its documentation. If you find a bug and report it, you might get some bonus credit.

Your Job

Your job is to complete the implementation of the lab package.

It would be good practice for you to periodically commit your code into your git repo.

Lab Roadmap

  • Lab 1. Wrap the key-value storage service with RPC so that a remote client can store data remotely.
  • Lab 2. Reimplement the Tribbler service, splitting the current Tribbler logic into stateless scalable front-ends and scalable key-value store back-ends. The front-ends will call the back-ends via the RPC mechanism implemented in Lab 1. When this lab is done, you will have made both the front-end and the back-end scalable.
  • Lab 3. We make the back-ends fault-tolerent with replication and by using techniques like distributed hash tables. At the end of this lab, back-end servers can join, leave, or be killed, without affecting the service.

By the end of the labs, you will have an implementation of Tribbler that is scalable and fault-tolerant.


You can write your code on your own machine if you want to. See rustup language’s install page for more information on how to install in different environments

Visual Studio Code (VSCode) has SSH extensions to help with remote development and the rust-analyzer, Rusts’s community supported language server, which can make editing rust code easier. If you want to use a remote developement environment on AWS with rust-analyzer, you might need to upgrade to a larger instance type (e.g. a t3.medium) to accomodate the larger memory footprint of running rust-analyzer.

Unless noted by the TA or instructor, no dependencies should be added to Cargo.toml. If you feel you need to add an additional dependency to complete one of the lab assignments, consult with the instructor or TA.


If you feel comfortable with the lab setup, continue on to Lab 1.


Welcome to Lab 1! The goal of this lab is to implement a key-value storage service that is called via RPCs

Welcome to Lab 2! The goal of this lab is to use the RPC service we built in Lab 1 as the basis to impelement a scalable Tribbler infrastructure

Welcome to Lab 3! The goal of this lab is to take the bin storage that we implemented in Lab 2 and make it fault-tolerant.