Run Rust lints from dynamic libraries

cargo install cargo-dylint dylint-link

Dylint is a Rust linting tool, similar to Clippy. But whereas Clippy runs a predetermined, static set of lints, Dylint runs lints from user-specified, dynamic libraries. Thus, Dylint allows developers to maintain their own personal lint collections.


Documentation is also available on how Dylint works.

Quick start

Running Dylint

The next two steps install Dylint and run all of this repository’s general-purpose, example lints on a workspace:

  1. Install cargo-dylint and dylint-link:

    cargo install cargo-dylint dylint-link
  2. Run cargo-dylint:

    cargo dylint --git https://github.com/trailofbits/dylint --pattern examples/general

In the above example, the libraries are found via the command line. If you plan to run Dylint regularly, then consider using workspace metadata. For additional ways of finding libraries, see How Dylint works.

Writing lints

You can start writing your own Dylint library by running cargo dylint new new_lint_name. Doing so will produce a loadable library right out of the box. You can verify this as follows:

cargo dylint new new_lint_name
cd new_lint_name
cargo build
cargo dylint list --path .

All you have to do is implement the LateLintPass trait and accommodate the symbols asking to be filled in.

Helpful resources for writing lints appear below.


Workspace metadata

A workspace can name the libraries it should be linted with in its Cargo.toml or dylint.toml file. Specifically, either file can contain a TOML list under workspace.metadata.dylint.libraries. Each list entry must have the form of a Cargo git or path dependency, with the following differences:

Dylint downloads and builds each entry, similar to how Cargo downloads and builds a dependency. The resulting target/release directories are searched for files with names of the form that Dylint recognizes (see Library requirements under How Dylint works).

As an example, if you include the following in your workspace’s Cargo.toml or dylint.toml file and run cargo dylint --all, Dylint will run all of this repository’s example general-purpose lints, as well as the example restriction lint try_io_result.

libraries = [
    { git = "https://github.com/trailofbits/dylint", pattern = "examples/general" },
    { git = "https://github.com/trailofbits/dylint", pattern = "examples/restriction/try_io_result" },

Configurable libraries

Libraries can be configured by including a dylint.toml file in a linted workspace’s root directory. The file should encode a toml table whose keys are library names. A library determines how its value in the table (if any) is interpreted.

As an example, a dylint.toml file with the following contents sets the non_local_effect_before_error_return library’s work_limit configuration to 1_000_000:

work_limit = 1_000_000

For instructions on creating a configurable library, see the dylint_linting documentation.

Conditional compilation

For each library that Dylint uses to check a crate, Dylint passes the following to the Rust compiler:


You can use this feature to allow a lint when Dylint is used, but also avoid an “unknown lint” warning when Dylint is not used. Specifically, you can do the following:

#[cfg_attr(dylint_lib = "LIBRARY_NAME", allow(LINT_NAME))]

Note that LIBRARY_NAME and LINT_NAME may be the same. For an example involving non_thread_safe_call_in_test, see dylint/src/lib.rs in this repository.

Also note that the just described approach does not work for pre-expansion lints. The only known workaround for pre-expansion lints is allow the compiler’s built-in unknown_lints lint. Specifically, you can do the following:


For an example involving abs_home_path, see internal/src/examples.rs in this repository.

VS Code integration

Dylint results can be viewed in VS Code using rust-analyzer. To do so, add the following to your VS Code settings.json file:

    "rust-analyzer.checkOnSave.overrideCommand": [

If you want to use rust-analyzer inside a lint library, you need to add the following to your VS Code settings.json file:

    "rust-analyzer.rustc.source": "discover",

And add the following to the library’s Cargo.toml file:

rustc_private = true


The following utilities can be helpful for writing Dylint libraries:


Helpful resources for writing lints include the following:

MSRV policy

A bump of the Dylint library’s MSRV will be accompanied by a bump of at least Dylint’s minor version.

Put another way, we strive to preserve Dylint’s MSRV when releasing bug fixes, and to change it only when releasing new features.

Test coverage