Building Rustic

As Rustic is open source, anyone can build their own executable or fork the engine at any point in the development tree, to use it as a basis for their own chess engine. To be able to create the executable, you need a proper build environment.

Even though Rustic was developed on Windows, the GNU target is the default instead of MSVC. As a shell, MSYS2's BASH version was used with all the default Unix command-line tools available. Therefore it should be possible to build Rustic in any Unix-like environment for which Rust is available, and under MSYS2 in Windows.

Rustic has a Makefile available since Alpha 3.0.0, which creates all the executable versions for the operating system you are building on. At the end of the page some hints on alternatives are included.

Installing the environment

Under most Unix-like operating systems such as Linux, the build environment is already set up by default, especially if a BASH-compatible shell is being used. To build software in Unix-style, Windows needs MSYS2 installed. MacOS needs an updated version of Make.


First, download the Rust installer for Windows:

Rust installer page

Run through the installation. Make sure you select the GNU target as the default. This is the target used to develop and test Rustic.

Second, download and install MSYS2. Installing GCC and Clang is not strictly necessary, but if you are compiling Rustic yourself there's some chance you may want to build other chess engines as well. As most engines are written in C or C++, it's very useful to have GCC and Clang installed for compiling those engines.

Download the installer:
Run the setup.
Exit any console that may pop up after install.
Start the MSYS2 - MSYS terminal (for maintenance)
Right-click the title bar and select Options...
Set up the terminal preferences how you want them.
Run "pacman -Syu <enter>"
Close the terminal when asked.
Keep repeating the previous two steps until pacman says:
    "Nothing more to do".
Start MSYS2 - MinGW64 (for 64-bit compiles)
Run these commands to install GCC, Clang, and Make:
    pacman -S mingw64/mingw-w64-x86_64-gcc
    pacman -S mingw64/mingw-w64-x86_64-make
    ln -s /mingw64/bin/mingw32-make.exe /mingw64/bin/make.exe
Browse to the folder where you installed MSYS2.
    In my case: "C:\Programs\MSYS2"
Open "msys2_shell.cmd" in your favorite text editor. 
Uncomment the line: "set MSYS2_PATH_TYPE=inherit" and save.
Close and restart any MSYS2 shell that may have been open.

If you want to build a 32-bit version fo Rustic for some reason, you can follow the above steps, but for the "mingw32" shell instead of "mingw64". You'll obviously need to install the "mingw32", and 32-bit versions of the above packages, in the mingw32 MSYS2 shell.

Linux (and probably most other Unix-like systems)

Linux does not need a lot of setup. It is recommended you install the latest Rust-version from their website, as the ones in the distribution's repository can sometimes be several versions behind. You can find the installation instructions here:

In Linux the rest of the build requirements (Bash, make, strip) are already installed by default. You can test this using the following commands:

$ bash --version
$ make --version
$ strip --version

Install these if they aren't already. As there are so many Linux distributions, it is out of the scope of this page to describe the installation for these tools.


Just like Linux, MacOS doesn't need much setup because it is a Unix-like operating system. First, Install Rust for MacOS. MacOS has a version of GNU Make installed by default, but this version is too old to be used for Rustic's Makefile. It is recommended to install Homebrew, and then use this to install the latest GNU Make version as "gmake."

  1. Install Homebrew
  2. Install GNU Make
brew install make
  1. After installing GNU Make, check the version:
gmake --version

You can build Rustic by typing "gmake" and pressing Enter. If this doesn't work for some reason, check the "If make doesn't work" section below.

Compiling and building

If the build environment has been installed correctly, it should be easy to compile and build the engine. There are two ways of getting the source code onto your system: git and download/unzip.

It is beyond the scope of this page to fully describe how Git has to be installed and configured. There are many tutorials around the internet providing this information. If you are using Git, you can clone the engine in a directory on your system:

If you don't use Git, you can also download the code and unzip the archive. Go to Rustic's GitHub Page and switch to the branch or tag you want to compile. Then download the zip-file.

After you have the engine in a directory on your system, switch to that directory in a terminal. (Go to the root directory, not inside the /src directory.) Now you should be able to type "make (enter)" on Windows or Linux, or "gmake" on MacOS. If all goes well, the Makefile will create a ./bin/ directory, with the operating system as a subdirectory, and put all the binaries in there.

If "make" doesn't work

If "make" / "gmake" don't work for whatever reason, you can also compile and build the engine manually. This is the same for each operating system (except for a small difference with the "strip" command on MacOS.).

In the terminal (MSYS2 on Windows, Terminal on Linux and MacOS), first export the correct environment variable to make Rust compile the engine for your CPU. From fastest to slowest:

native:     export RUSTFLAGS = -C target-cpu=native
bmi2:       export RUSTFLAGS = -C target-cpu=haswell
popcnt:     export RUSTFLAGS = -C target-cpu=nehalem
old:        export RUSTFLAGS = -C target-cpu=core2
ancient:    export RUSTFLAGS = -C target-cpu=athlon64
generic:    don't export anything

Obviously you can test multiple versions to see which one runs the fastest on your system. There may be some that don't run at all. The BMI2 version will not run on a Core2Duo CPU, for example. The BMI2 version will run on AMD Zen2 CPU's, but the popcnt version will be faster.

Compile and build the engine:

cargo build --release

Strip symbols from the executable:


strip -s ./target/release/rustic.exe


strip -s ./target/release/rustic


strip ./target/release/rustic

Copy and paste the executable from the ./target/release directory to a different location, and give it an appropriate name, so you know what version you built. My recommendation is:


An example would be:


(In Linux or MacOS, you can leave the .exe extension out.) This naming convention is also Rustic's default when it's built by the Makefile.

On 32-bit versions

Because a (standard) chess board has 64 squares, the engine uses 64-bit integers for most of its calculations, especially for move generation. Even though Rustic can be built and run as a 32-bit engine, it will lose about half of its speed, and will be 50-70 Elo weaker. It is not recommended to use such a version for tournaments and matches. The only operating system where the 32-bit version is the default is Raspberry Pi OS, because this operating system is 32-bit. The 64-bit version of Raspberry Pi OS is still experimental at the time of writing.


On Windows, you can use the Rust MSVC target, but if you do, you will also need to install the C++ Build Tools, because this target needs the Microsoft Linker that comes with these tools. (Warning: the C++ build tools have a massive installation size.)

It is probably also possible to build Rustic on WSL2 (Windows Subsystem for Linux 2) and on Cygwin, by installing the respecitve versions of Rust and GNU tools there before either running "make" or "cargo build --release".

If built on Cygwin, the Rustic executable will depend on Cygwin1.dll. As this is an additional layer between the engine and operating system, this will lose some speed and thus playing strength.

I've not yet tried these ways of building the engine, so I have no data with regard to the performance or stability of these binaries. Cygwin will probably never be tried because of the dependency on Cygwin1.dll