I already wrote about using Eclipse for Rust development but after trying Visual Studio Code (VSCode) I think it is slightly better than the Eclipse integration:

  • when the cursor is at a variable the same variable is highlighted elsewhere.
  • tooltip popups when hovering over variables, functions, methods.
  • better native support for Git and Markdown files

Syntax highlighting, autocompletion, Ctrl + Click on functions and auto-formatting of course also work in VSCode as you would expect from an IDE.

Installing Rust on Ubuntu

First make sure you have a Rust toolchain environment set up:

curl https://sh.rustup.rs -sSf | sh

(the usual security warning: make sure to trust your sources before you execute random scripts from the internet.)

source $HOME/.cargo/env
cargo install racer
cargo install rustfmt
rustup component add rust-src

Installing VSCode and extensions

Download the Deb package from code.visualstudio.com and install it with the Ubuntu software center or dpkg. You should now have a launcher for vscode and the code command to start the IDE.

Next install the following extensions:

The Rust extension has experimental support for Rust Language Server, but it does not work reliably yet. That's why you have to enable the racer legacy mode in the VSCode settings.

Go to File -> Preferences -> Settings and the editor will open your settings JSON file. Here are some very useful settings you should use:

    "editor.formatOnSave": true,
    "editor.rulers": [
    "files.trimTrailingWhitespace": true,
    "rust.actionOnSave": "check",
    "rust.forceLegacyMode": true,
    "workbench.iconTheme": "vscode-icons"


Although VSCode has a sparse user interface (Back/Forward buttons are missing for example when navigating through code) it is a decent IDE for Rust development. It offers freely configurable keyboard shortcuts and a comprehensible settings editor. The Rust extension is a bit better than the one for Eclipse IDE.