Use fly.io to deploy your rust app


May 24, 22 / 963 words / in Tutorial


Fly.io is an Saas platform that let users to deploy their apps via docker image or buildpacks. It’s perfectly suitable for small and medium-sized apps for the generous free tier and easy-to-use cli. In this article, I will show how to deploy a rust app with fly.io.

First, we need a rust app

We will start with a simple http server that runs on and respond with 200 Hello, world! and 204 NO CONTENT upon receiving a GET / and GET /health request, respectively.

First run cargo new to create a new project:

├── Cargo.toml
└── src
    └── main.rs

Then add some dependencies:

# Cargo.toml

name    = "rust-demo-server"
version = "0.1.0"
edition = "2021"

axum  = "0.5.6"
tokio = { version = "1.18.2", features = ["macros", "rt-multi-thread"] }

# Defining bin here to make multi stage docker build work
name = "rust-demo-server"
path = "src/main.rs"

And the code:

// main.rs

use axum::{http::StatusCode, routing::get, Router};

async fn main() {
    let app = Router::new()
        .route("/", get(|| async { "Hello, world!" }))
        .route("/health", get(|| async { StatusCode::NO_CONTENT }));


Now run it locally with cargo run and test with xh:

➜ xh :8080
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-Length: 13
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8
Date: Tue, 24 May 2022 10:28:04 GMT

Hello, world!

xh is a cli tool written in Rust to do http requests. If you ever used httpie before, it will be familiar to you. I choose xh because httpie is written in Python which is much, much slower.

Voilà! Now we have a simple http server, with Rust!

Start our journey with fly.io

It’s time to introduce flyctl, which is the official CLI used to interact with fly.io API. It’s feature rich, and very easy to use. I hope all cloud platforms have something similar! You can install flyctl by following the tutorial on their document and login.

Now initialize the project:

➜ flyctl launch
Creating app in [:REDACTED:]/rust-demo-server
Scanning source code
Could not find a Dockerfile, nor detect a runtime or framework from source code. Continuing with a blank app.
? App Name (leave blank to use an auto-generated name): rust-demo-server
Automatically selected personal organization: [:REDACTED:]
? Select region: sin (Singapore)
Created app rust-demo-server in organization personal
Wrote config file fly.toml

Now your project tree should be something looks like:

├── Cargo.lock
├── Cargo.toml
├── fly.toml # This is the config file
├── src
│   └── main.rs
└── target
    └── debug

fly.toml is the configuration file for fly.io. We can declare our service in it. In this case, we say that our app will be listening on 8080 port, and have a http_checks endpoint at /health. By declaring two ports section, we can process both http and https requests while fly.io will handle dirty works like certification and tls termination. If you want to behave differently depend on protocol, like redirecting all http to https, an X-Forwarded-Proto header is provided. For more info, see the reference.

# fly.toml

# ...

internal_port = 8080
protocol      = "tcp"

handlers = ["http"]
port     = 80

handlers = ["tls", "http"]
port     = 443

path            = "/health"
method          = "get"
timeout         = "2000"
interval        = "10000"
protocol        = "http"
grace_period    = "5s"
tls_skip_verify = false

Let docker be the bedrock

Like I just said, fly.io supports docker and buildpacks. Due the lack of support for rust from buildpacks [1], we will use Dockerfile to deploy. Building the image can be very slow when it comes to Rust, which is already been criticized as “having a slow build process”. Fortunately, docker can speed up the build process by caching most of the dependencies by using multi-stage.

FROM rust:slim-buster AS builder

COPY Cargo.lock .
COPY Cargo.toml .
RUN mkdir .cargo
# This is the trick to speed up the building process.
RUN cargo vendor > .cargo/config

COPY . .
RUN cargo build --release

# Use any runner as you want
# But beware that some images have old glibc which makes rust unhappy
FROM fedora:34 AS runner
COPY --from=builder /prod/target/release/rust-demo-server /bin

Now deploy with a single command and make yourself a good cup of coffee (yeah it’s gonna take a while):

➜ flyctl deploy
==> Verifying app config
--> Verified app config
==> Building image
Waiting for remote builder fly-builder-bitter-shadow-9435... ⢿
Remote builder fly-builder-bitter-shadow-9435 ready
==> Creating build context
--> Creating build context done
==> Building image with Docker
--> docker host: 20.10.12 linux x86_64
[+] Building 19.1s (0/1)
[+] Building 102.1s (15/15) FINISHED
 => [internal] load remote build context                                                            0.0s
 => copy /context /                                                                                 1.2s
 => [internal] load metadata for docker.io/library/fedora:34                                        2.7s
 => [internal] load metadata for docker.io/library/rust:slim-buster                                 4.7s
 => CACHED [runner 1/2] FROM docker.io/library/fedora:34@sha256:321dbc444dfeda328a85dc3c31545a65c1  0.0s
 => [builder 1/8] FROM docker.io/library/rust:slim-buster@sha256:93239770c3aa78048abafb5a15a48f2b  15.2s
 => => resolve docker.io/library/rust:slim-buster@sha256:93239770c3aa78048abafb5a15a48f2bbd7f8d9cb  0.0s
 => => sha256:93239770c3aa78048abafb5a15a48f2bbd7f8d9cb1eb54dad8cb30cf874cb416 984B / 984B          0.0s
 => => sha256:7651edbf826fcdde4106f21b91c69dded564eded4a0c10a54a85c02af279a0e3 742B / 742B          0.0s
 => => sha256:dc122e2d6d24555b65aa2fe8ed7bb2ff6adb40a94b330bf1ae63e04b9ca04554 4.85kB / 4.85kB      0.0s
 => => sha256:c32ce6654453d35d0b3dde45d195adeee586ffba0a683006ee06748c077c01fa 27.14MB / 27.14MB    1.1s
 => => sha256:7fe5746b0c0ab280da4d0b8cebd7139bbb1df33ca3fdfb7b403d33d06c55ddf 196.45MB / 196.45MB  11.9s
 => => extracting sha256:c32ce6654453d35d0b3dde45d195adeee586ffba0a683006ee06748c077c01fa           0.7s
 => => extracting sha256:7fe5746b0c0ab280da4d0b8cebd7139bbb1df33ca3fdfb7b403d33d06c55ddf6           3.2s
 => [builder 2/8] WORKDIR /prod                                                                     0.1s
 => [builder 3/8] COPY Cargo.lock .                                                                 0.0s
 => [builder 4/8] COPY Cargo.toml .                                                                 0.0s
 => [builder 5/8] RUN mkdir .cargo                                                                  0.2s
 => [builder 6/8] RUN cargo vendor > .cargo/config                                                 53.6s
 => [builder 7/8] COPY . .                                                                          0.5s
 => [builder 8/8] RUN cargo build --release                                                        26.2s
 => [runner 2/2] COPY --from=builder /prod/target/release/rust-demo-server /bin                     0.0s
 => exporting to image                                                                              0.0s
 => => exporting layers                                                                             0.0s
 => => writing image sha256:2ca526fa6dc9a454eeb7f0923f4aace75607985a7175e101831444b32a143723        0.0s
 => => naming to registry.fly.io/rust-demo-server:deployment-1653402912                             0.0s
--> Building image done
==> Pushing image to fly
The push refers to repository [registry.fly.io/rust-demo-server]
cf91ede3b588: Pushed
0d8ddbb4ec8b: Mounted from mail-list-rss
deployment-1653402912: digest: sha256:7de2e964dbef7448f23c0656c9f019f885b062aa2b27520396ed5fbe046566ca size: 740
--> Pushing image done
image: registry.fly.io/rust-demo-server:deployment-1653402912
image size: 183 MB
==> Creating release
--> release v2 created

--> You can detach the terminal anytime without stopping the deployment
==> Monitoring deployment

v0 is being deployed

You can choose either building the image on your machine or with builders provided by fly.io. The trick is to use --local-only or --remote-only flag with flyctl deploy.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully deployed your first image onto fly.io! We can verify this by requesting YOUR_APP_NAME.fly.dev.

➜ xh rust-demo-server.fly.dev
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8
Date: Tue, 24 May 2022 14:39:55 GMT
Server: Fly/ccc539245 (2022-05-20)
Transfer-Encoding: chunked
Via: 1.1 fly.io

Hello, world!


  1. Actually there is third party buildpack for rust, but it’s old and not intended to be used in platforms other than heroku, so we will focus on docker for now. ↩︎