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Troubleshoot Rust issues

If compiling the Substrate node template fails, the problem is most likely to be caused by how Rust is configured in your development environment. This section suggests how you can diagnose and fix configuration issues.

Check your current configuration

To see information about the Rust toolchain that you are currently using, run the following command:

rustup show

This command displays output similar to the following Ubuntu example:

Default host: x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu
rustup home:  /home/user/.rustup

installed toolchains

stable-x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu (default)

installed targets for active toolchain


active toolchain

stable-x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu (default)
rustc 1.50.0 (cb75ad5db 2021-02-10)

In this example, the default toolchain is from the stable release channel for Linux running on x8664 architecture. The sample output also indicates that the `nightly-x8664-unknown-linux-gnu` toolchain is installed and there are two targets installed:

  • x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu the native Rust target for Linux.
  • wasm32-unknown-unknown the WebAssembly target.

This environment also has the nightly-2020-10-06-x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu toolchain installed, but this toolchain is only used if explicitly specified as a command-line option. For an example of specifying a specific toolchain as a command line option, see Specify a nightly version.

Use the nightly release channel for WebAssembly

Substrate uses WebAssembly (Wasm) to produce a portable blockchain runtime. You must configure the Rust compiler to use nightly builds to allow you to compile Substrate runtime code to the Wasm target.

Update the toolchain

In general, you should always use the latest versions of Rust stable and nightly builds because changes in Substrate often depend on upstream changes in the Rust nightly compiler build. To ensure your Rust compiler is always up to date, you should run the following commands:

rustup update
rustup update nightly
rustup target add wasm32-unknown-unknown --toolchain nightly

Running rustup update updates both the nightly and stable toolchains to use the most recent release. If you are unable to compile the WebAssembly target after updating the nightly toolchain, you can roll back to an earlier version of the toolchain and specify that version as a command-line option. For more information about getting an earlier version of the nightly toolchain and specifying the version to use as a command-line option,downgrade the toolchain.

Use a specific nightly toolchain

If you want to guarantee that your build works on your computer as you update Rust and other dependencies, you should use a specific Rust nightly toolchain that you know to be compatible with the version of Substrate you are using. How you identify and communicate the specific nightly toolchain version to use for a project can vary. For example, Polkadot publishes this information in its release notes.

After you identify the specific nightly toolchain version to use, you can install it in your development environment by running a command similar to the following:

rustup install nightly-<yyyy-MM-dd>

For example:

rustup install nightly-2022-02-16

After you install a specific version of the nightly toolchain, configure the WebAssembly target to use it by running a command similar to the following:

rustup target add wasm32-unknown-unknown --toolchain nightly-<yyyy-MM-dd>

For example:

rustup target add wasm32-unknown-unknown --toolchain nightly-2022-02-16

Specify the toolchain in an environment variable

You can set the WASM_BUILD_TOOLCHAIN environment variable to specify the version of the nightly toolchain to use for compiling WebAssembly.For example:

WASM_BUILD_TOOLCHAIN=nightly-<yyyy-MM-dd> cargo build --release

This command builds the runtime using the specified nightly toolchain. The rest of project is compiled using the default toolchain, that is, the latest version of the stable toolchain that you have installed.

Downgrade the nightly toolchain

If your computer is configured to use the latest Rust nightly toolchain and you want to downgrade to a specific nightly version,you must first uninstall the latest nightly toolchain. For example, you can remove the latest nightly toolchain, then use a specific version of the nightly toolchain by running commands similar to the following:

rustup uninstall nightly
rustup install nightly-<yyyy-MM-dd>
rustup target add wasm32-unknown-unknown --toolchain nightly-<yyyy-MM-dd>

Ensure PATH is set correctly

If after installing Rust the commands don't seem to work, showing errors such as command not found: rustup, make sure it your PATH is configured correctly.

Currently, the rustup installer installs by default to the bash profile (on mac). If you are using another shell, make sure to add this line to your profile (e.g. .zshrc):

source "$HOME/.cargo/env"

Installing cmake or protobuf for M1 macOS users

Currently, there are issues compiling the Substrate node when using the packages that are pre-installed on macOS computers with the M1 chip.

error: failed to run custom build command for prost-build v0.10.4

If you see this error, there are two solutions.

  • Install cmake by running the following command:
brew install cmake
  • Install the correct pre-compiled protoc by running the following set of commands:
git clone https://github.com/protocolbuffers/protobuf.git
cd protobuf

brew install autoconf
brew install automake
brew install Libtool

autoreconf -i
make check
sudo make install

export PATH=/opt/usr/local/bin:$PATH