Linux Foundation: We'll host Mozilla's Rust programming language-based Servo web engine

Mozilla's Servo engine project is moving its infrastructure over to the Linux Foundation.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

The latest open-source project to be hosted on the Linux Foundation is Servo, the experimental web engine developed at cash-strapped Mozilla.

Servo was hatched in 2012 at Firefox-maker Mozilla, which recently made significant headcount reductions that mostly affected developers working on Servo.

Servo is written in the programming language Rust, giving it advantages in memory safety, speed and parallelism over other browser engines. 

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It has the potential to be an alternative to Google's Blink engine for Chrome and Chromium-based browsers, or WebKit, the open-source engine behind Apple's Safari browser. 

Servo offers components that other projects can use to bring web content to other applications with support for HTML, CSS, JavaScript, WebSockets, WebVR, and WebGL. Mozilla used it for part of its overhauled Quantum Firefox browser. 

Futurewei, Let's Encrypt, Mozilla, Samsung, and Three.js are among the organizations that are supporting Servo's move to be hosted by the Linux Foundation.

"The Linux Foundation's track record for hosting and supporting the world's most ubiquitous open-source technologies makes it the natural home for growing the Servo community and increasing its platform support," said Alan Jeffrey, technical chair of the Servo project.

"There's a lot of development work and opportunities for our Servo Technical Steering Committee to consider, and we know this cross-industry open-source collaboration model will enable us to accelerate the highest priorities for web developers." 

Mike Dolan, senior vice president, and general manager of projects at the Linux Foundation described Servo as "the most promising, modern, and open web engine" for building applications using web technologies. 

"That has a lot to do with the Rust programming language," he said. "We're excited to support and sustain this important work for decades to come." 

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Servo runs on Linux, macOS, and Windows. Samsung helped port it to Android phones, while there's also support for headsets like Oculus, Magic Leap, and Microsoft HoloLens.

Servo is more efficient than most web engines because it takes advantage of low-power multi-core CPUs thanks to Rust. 

The Linux Foundation noted that Rust and Servo evolved together during their early days. Servo was initially the largest Rust program other than the Rust compiler itself. Rust's memory-safety helps reduce Servo's attack surface for common security vulnerabilities such as buffer overflow flaws. 

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