Rust Package Management Tools: A Comparison

If you're reading this, chances are you're already familiar with the Rust programming language. One of the most exciting things about Rust is its growing ecosystem of packages and libraries. These packages are what make Rust so powerful and flexible, allowing developers to build everything from simple command-line tools to complex web applications.

But with so many packages available, managing them all can be a daunting task. That's where package managers come in. In this article, we'll be taking a look at some of the most popular Rust package management tools, and comparing their features and functionality.


Naturally, we'll start with the most popular package management tool for Rust: Cargo. Cargo is the default package manager that ships with Rust, and it's the go-to choice for most Rust developers.

One of the biggest advantages of Cargo is its ease-of-use. The Cargo command-line interface (CLI) is simple and intuitive, making it easy to manage packages and dependencies. Cargo also includes powerful build tools for compiling and testing your code, as well as a package publishing system for sharing your Rust projects with the world.

Another advantage of Cargo is its large and active community. Because Cargo is the default package manager for Rust, it has a massive user base and an extensive library of packages. This means that you can find just about any package you need on, the Rust package registry.

Overall, Cargo is an excellent package management tool for Rust, and it's hard to go wrong with it. But that being said, there are some other package managers that might be worth considering, depending on your specific needs.

While not strictly a package manager in and of itself, is the Rust package repository that's powered by Cargo. is the go-to destination for finding and sharing Rust packages. It's where Rust developers upload their packages for others to use, and it's where you'll go to find the packages you need for your projects.

One of the best things about is its ease-of-use. Finding and downloading packages is simple, thanks to its easy-to-navigate website and well-organized package listings. also has excellent search functionality, making it easy to find packages based on keywords or specific criteria.

Another advantage of is its extensive library of packages. Because Cargo and are so widely used in the Rust community, there are thousands of packages available for just about any purpose you can imagine. Whether you're looking for a simple utility library or a complex framework for web development, chances are you can find what you need on


Rustup is another popular Rust package management tool, but it serves a slightly different purpose than Cargo. While Cargo is primarily focused on managing packages and dependencies for individual projects, Rustup focuses on managing Rust toolchains for your entire system.

What does that mean, exactly? Well, Rustup lets you install and manage different versions of the Rust compiler and associated tools, so you can have multiple versions of Rust installed on your system at the same time. This is particularly useful if you're working on projects that require specific Rust versions or features.

But Rustup isn't just a tool for managing Rust toolchains. It also includes useful features like automatic update notifications and the ability to override Rust package versions for specific projects. This can be especially helpful if you need to manage multiple projects with conflicting dependencies.


Cargo-edit is a Cargo plugin that extends the basic functionality of Cargo. Specifically, it adds commands for managing project dependencies outside of the Cargo.toml file. This can be particularly useful if you're working on a complex project with a lot of dependencies or if you need to manage dependencies across multiple projects.

Some of the most useful features of Cargo-edit include the ability to search for packages on, add dependencies to your project, and remove dependencies that are no longer needed. Cargo-edit also allows you to manage dependencies from the command line, without having to manually edit the Cargo.toml file.

Overall, Cargo-edit is a powerful tool for managing project dependencies, and it can save you a lot of time and hassle when working on complex projects.


Cargo-watch is a Cargo plugin that automatically runs certain commands (like compiling or testing) when files in your project change. This can be a huge time-saver, especially when working on large projects with slow compile times.

One of the best things about Cargo-watch is its simplicity. You don't need to set up any complex build scripts or configuration files; simply install the plugin and run your command with the "cargo watch" prefix. Cargo-watch also includes options for customizing its behavior, so you can fine-tune it to your specific needs.


There's no shortage of package management tools available for Rust, and each has its strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately, the best choice depends on the specific needs of your project.

For most Rust developers, Cargo is the best choice for managing project dependencies and packages. Its ease-of-use and large community make it a powerful tool for getting things done.

However, there are other tools like Rustup, Cargo-edit, and Cargo-watch that can be helpful in specific situations. Rustup, for example, is great if you need to manage multiple Rust toolchains, while Cargo-edit can be helpful when working on complex projects with a lot of dependencies. And if you find yourself spending a lot of time waiting for your projects to compile, you might want to give Cargo-watch a try.

In the end, the important thing is to experiment and find the tools that work best for you. With so many options available, there's sure to be a package management tool that fits your specific needs. Happy coding!

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Written by AI researcher, Haskell Ruska, PhD ( Scientific Journal of AI 2023, Peer Reviewed