Rustup 1.24.0 release incident report for 2021-04-27

Apr. 28, 2021 · Daniel Silverstone on behalf of the Rustup team

On 2021-04-27 at 15:09 UTC we released a new version of Rustup (1.24.0). At 15:23 UTC we received a report that we had introduced a regression in the part of the code which is responsible for proxying the rustfmt and cargo-fmt portions of Rust toolchains. At 15:27 UTC we had confirmed and identified the cause of the problem, and while we worked on a fix, we reverted the released Rustup to version 1.23.1 - an action completed by 15:56 UTC.

This means that for approximately 47 minutes, CI jobs which used the code formatting features of Rust toolchains may have had spurious failures, and users who upgraded will have had to revert to 1.23.1. The revert process is designed to be as easy as upgrading was, meaning that users should not have had lingering issues.

Root cause of the issue

In an effort to reduce confusion when downloaded copies of rustup-init.exeare renamed we merged a change which causes Rustup to report an error if an unknown name is used when invoking the binary.

Due to past complexities with rustfmt and cargo-fmt being binaries which tended to be distributed by cargo install rather than via rustup component add there is some intricate handling in Rustup's proxy management for those specific binaries. The fix for the above issue failed to include these corner case proxies in the check it undertook to ensure the caller hadn't used an unexpected binary name.

The 1.24.0 release had been staged at this point, however there was a problem with the low-memory installation pathways which required a fix, and at the time we incorrectly assessed that it was low-impact to rebase the release onto the new master branch which had not only the fix for the low-memory installation pathway but also the "refuse bad names" change for the above issue.

Subsequent testing of the release focussed almost entirely on the installation pathways, omitting to validate the proxy name verification code we had also acquired into the release. As a result, this regression slipped in.


The author of the validation PR correctly identified it as the root-cause of the regression, and the team discussed and decided that it was better to fix the problem properly than to simply revert the change out of the release.

The release team member who was helping with the release process began the revert to Rustup 1.23.1 while the fixes were developed. In addition an issue was filed around adding some tests around all the proxies (we currently test a subset which we believed to be representative). We subsequently staged a proposed 1.24.1 release to Rust's development stage and we have issued a call for beta testers to confirm that we have not introduced any other regressions.

Lessons learned

The big lesson here is that while we've taken similar notes away from past releases of Rustup and other tooling, we've not yet managed to set up a proper beta-testing process for Rustup. As such we will be making changes to the Rustup release process to codify testing phases with the wider community.

Long term changes to Rustup releases

In order to try and reduce the chance of this happening again, the release process will be updated to include a public beta-testing phase for any non- purely-bugfix release and we intend to look into the possibility of a "nightly" Rustup release for a small subset of platforms.

Finally we are hoping to work with the release team to do what we can to unify the Rustup release process with the well oiled Rust release process though, due to the historical differences in how Rustup has been released, this will likely be a long term effort.

Action items

  • #2739: Testing for proxying, including TOOLS and DUP_TOOLS
  • #2741: Release process should include explicit beta test period

And as mentioned above, longer term we shall look to see what unification we can do between releasing Rustup and how the Rust release train runs.