Upcoming docs.rs changes

Sept. 18, 2019 · The Rust Infrastructure Team

On September 30th breaking changes will be deployed to the docs.rs build environment. docs.rs is a free service building and hosting documentation for all the crates published on crates.io. It's open source, maintained by the Rustdoc team and operated by the Infrastructure team.

What will change

Builds will be executed inside the rustops/crates-build-env Docker image. That image contains a lot of system dependencies installed to ensure we can build as many crates as possible. It's already used by Crater, and we added all the dependencies previously installed in the legacy build environment.

To ensure we can continue operating the service in the future and to increase its reliability we also improved the sandbox the builds are executed in, adding new limits:

  • Each platform will now have 15 minutes to build its dependencies and documentation.
  • 3 GB of RAM will be available for the build.
  • Network access will be disabled (crates.io dependencies will still be fetched).
  • Only the target/ directory will be writable, and it will be purged after each build.

Finally, docs.rs will now use the latest nightly available when building crates, instead of using a manually updated pinned version of nightly.

How to prepare for the changes

To test if your crate builds inside the new environment you can download the Docker image locally and execute a shell inside it:

docker pull rustops/crates-build-env
docker run --rm --memory 3221225472 -it rustops/crates-build-env bash

Once you're in a shell you can install rustup (it's not installed by default in the image), install Rust nightly, clone your crate's repository and then build the documentation:

cargo fetch
time cargo doc --no-deps

To aid your testing these commands will limit the available RAM to 3 GB and show the total execution time of cargo doc, but network access will not be blocked as you'll need to fetch dependencies.

If your project needs a system dependency missing in the build environment, please open an issue on the Docker image's repository and we'll consider adding it.

If your crate fails to build because it took more than 15 minutes to generate its docs or it uses more than 3 GB of RAM please open an issue and we will consider reasonable limit increases for your crate. We will not enable network access for your crate though: you'll need to change your crate not to require any external resource at build time.

We recommend using Cargo features to remove the parts of the code causing build failures, enabling those features with docs.rs metadata.


The new build environment is based on Rustwide, the library powering Crater. It was extracted from the Crater codebase, and created both by the Crater contributors and the Rustwide contributors.

The implementation work on the docs.rs side was done by Pietro Albini and Onur Aslan, with QuietMisdreavus and Mark Rousskov reviewing the changes.