Safe FFI Wrapper

Rust has great support for calling functions through a foreign function interface (FFI). We will use this to build a safe wrapper for the libc functions you would use from C to read the names of files in a directory.

You will want to consult the manual pages:

You will also want to browse the std::ffi module. There you find a number of string types which you need for the exercise:

str and StringUTF-8Text processing in Rust
CStr and CStringNUL-terminatedCommunicating with C functions
OsStr and OsStringOS-specificCommunicating with the OS

You will convert between all these types:

  • &str to CString: you need to allocate space for a trailing \0 character,
  • CString to *const i8: you need a pointer to call C functions,
  • *const i8 to &CStr: you need something which can find the trailing \0 character,
  • &CStr to &[u8]: a slice of bytes is the universal interface for “some unknown data”,
  • &[u8] to &OsStr: &OsStr is a step towards OsString, use OsStrExt to create it,
  • &OsStr to OsString: you need to clone the data in &OsStr to be able to return it and call readdir again.

The Nomicon also has a very useful chapter about FFI.

Copy the code below to and fill in the missing functions and methods:

// TODO: remove this when you're done with your implementation.
#![allow(unused_imports, unused_variables, dead_code)]

mod ffi {
    use std::os::raw::{c_char, c_int};
    #[cfg(not(target_os = "macos"))]
    use std::os::raw::{c_long, c_uchar, c_ulong, c_ushort};

    // Opaque type. See
    pub struct DIR {
        _data: [u8; 0],
        _marker: core::marker::PhantomData<(*mut u8, core::marker::PhantomPinned)>,

    // Layout according to the Linux man page for readdir(3), where ino_t and
    // off_t are resolved according to the definitions in
    // /usr/include/x86_64-linux-gnu/{sys/types.h, bits/typesizes.h}.
    #[cfg(not(target_os = "macos"))]
    pub struct dirent {
        pub d_ino: c_ulong,
        pub d_off: c_long,
        pub d_reclen: c_ushort,
        pub d_type: c_uchar,
        pub d_name: [c_char; 256],

    // Layout according to the macOS man page for dir(5).
    #[cfg(all(target_os = "macos"))]
    pub struct dirent {
        pub d_fileno: u64,
        pub d_seekoff: u64,
        pub d_reclen: u16,
        pub d_namlen: u16,
        pub d_type: u8,
        pub d_name: [c_char; 1024],

    extern "C" {
        pub fn opendir(s: *const c_char) -> *mut DIR;

        #[cfg(not(all(target_os = "macos", target_arch = "x86_64")))]
        pub fn readdir(s: *mut DIR) -> *const dirent;

        // See and the section on
        // _DARWIN_FEATURE_64_BIT_INODE in the macOS man page for stat(2).
        // "Platforms that existed before these updates were available" refers
        // to macOS (as opposed to iOS / wearOS / etc.) on Intel and PowerPC.
        #[cfg(all(target_os = "macos", target_arch = "x86_64"))]
        #[link_name = "readdir$INODE64"]
        pub fn readdir(s: *mut DIR) -> *const dirent;

        pub fn closedir(s: *mut DIR) -> c_int;

use std::ffi::{CStr, CString, OsStr, OsString};
use std::os::unix::ffi::OsStrExt;

struct DirectoryIterator {
    path: CString,
    dir: *mut ffi::DIR,

impl DirectoryIterator {
    fn new(path: &str) -> Result<DirectoryIterator, String> {
        // Call opendir and return a Ok value if that worked,
        // otherwise return Err with a message.

impl Iterator for DirectoryIterator {
    type Item = OsString;
    fn next(&mut self) -> Option<OsString> {
        // Keep calling readdir until we get a NULL pointer back.

impl Drop for DirectoryIterator {
    fn drop(&mut self) {
        // Call closedir as needed.

fn main() -> Result<(), String> {
    let iter = DirectoryIterator::new(".")?;
    println!("files: {:#?}", iter.collect::<Vec<_>>());