Programming FAQ

When writing or interacting with Solana programs, there are common questions or challenges that often come up. Below are resources to help answer these questions. If not addressed here, the Solana #developers Discord channel is a great resource.


Cross-program invocations allow programs to invoke other programs directly but the depth is constrained currently to 1.


Programs are constrained to run quickly, and to facilitate this, the program's call stack is limited to max depth. If this error is encountered, then the program itself or its dependent crate packages have exceeded the max stack depth.

Computational constraints

To prevent a program from abusing computation resources, a cap is enforced during execution. The following operations incur a cost:

  • Executing BPF instructions
  • Calling system calls (logging, creating program addresses, ...)
  • Cross-program invocations incur a base cost and the cost of the program invoked.

Float Rust types

Programs support a limited subset of Rust's float operations, though they are highly discouraged due to the overhead involved. If a program attempts to use a float operation that is not supported, the runtime will report an unresolved symbol error. Be sure to include integration tests against a local cluster to ensure the operation is supported.

Heap size

Programs have access to a heap either directly in C or via the Rust alloc APIs. To facilitate fast allocations, a simple 32KB bump heap is utilized. The heap does not support free or realloc so use it wisely.


This program error can happen for a lot of reasons. Usually, it's caused by passing an account to the program that the program is not expecting, either in the wrong position in the instruction or an account not compatible with the instruction being executed.

An implementation of a program might also cause this error when performing a cross-program instruction and forgetting to provide the account for the program that you are calling.


This program error can occur while trying to deserialize the instruction, check that the structure passed in matches exactly the instruction. There may be some padding between fields. If the program implements the Rust Pack trait then try packing and unpacking the instruction type T to determine the exact encoding the program expects:


Some instructions require the account to be a signer; this error is returned if an account expected to be signed is not.

An implementation of a program might also cause this error when performing a cross-program invocation that requires a signed program address, but the passed signer seeds passed to invoke_signed don't match the signer seeds used to create the program address (create_program_address).

rand dependency causes compilation failure

Programs are constrained to run deterministically, so random numbers are not available. Sometimes a program may depend on a crate that depends itself on rand even if the program does not use any of the random number functionality. If a program depends on rand, the compilation will fail because there is no get-random support for Solana. The error will typically look like this:

error: target is not supported, for more information see:
--> /Users/jack/.cargo/registry/src/
257 | / compile_error!("\
258 | | target is not supported, for more information see: \
259 | |\
260 | | ");
| |___________^

To work around this dependency issue, add the following dependency to the program's Cargo.toml:

getrandom = { version = "0.1.14", features = ["dummy"] }

Rust restrictions

There are some Rust limitations since programs run in a resource-constrained, single-threaded environment, and must be deterministic:

  • No access to
    • std::fs
    • std::net
    • std::os
    • std::future
    • std::net
    • std::process
    • std::sync
    • std::task
    • std::thread
    • std::time
  • Limited access to:
    • std::os
    • rand or any crates that depend on it
  • Bincode is extremely computationally expensive in both cycles and call depth and should be avoided
  • String formatting should be avoided since it is also computational expensive
  • No support for println!, print!, the Solana SDK helpers in src/ should be used instead

Stack size

Solana programs compile down to Berkley Packet Filter instructions, which use stack frames instead of a variable stack pointer. Each stack frame is limited to 4KB. If a program violates that stack frame size, the compiler will report the overrun as a warning. The reason a warning is reported rather than an error is because some dependent crates may include functionality that violates the stack frame restrictions even if the program doesn't use that functionality. If the program violates the stack size at runtime, an AccessViolation error will be reported.