Skip to main content
  1. Posts/
  2. Go/

Continuous Integration with GoReleaser

··1996 words·10 mins·

This document summarises how I set-up GoReleaser Continuous Integration/Deployment (CI/CD) for my Go (Programming Language) projects, such that I have a portable configuration for compilation, packaging and releasing settings. This is especially useful for projects that ship a software package with several files and need a portable way to define how it should be built/packaged based on operating system, processor architecture and environment (development, testing or production).

Pre-requisites #

Software #

  • go command-line interface for the Go programming language
  • git version control system
  • goreleaser command-line interface
  • docker container build system
  • syft Software Bill of Materials generator

Online Accounts #

Global Hooks #

GoReleaser supports a list of commands that should be run in order before every other task in the build process. I use this feature to automatically generate user manuals and command completion scripts for most of my projects with a command-line interface.

# yaml-language-server: $schema=
project_name: {{.ProjectName}}
    - make completion manual

The Makefile used to define the commands to generate the shell completion scripts and user manuals is listed below. The Cobra library for Go is used to set-up the CLI and the shell completion generation, and Mango is used to generate a user manual from the object-oriented definitions of the commands.

.PHONY: completion manual

# assuming the current module has a main function that calls Cobra
	go run . completion bash > cocainate.bash
	go run . completion fish >
	go run . completion zsh > cocainate.zsh
	go run . completion powershell > cocainate.ps1

# assuming a manual command (that prints the user manual page) exists
	# test with `go run . manual | man -l -`
	go run . manual > cocainate.1

Builds #

The Go compiler supports defining compilation parameters such as:

  • Root-level package, which is usually where the main function is.
  • Oerating system (via the GOOS environment variable) and processor architecture (via the GOARCH environment variable) for compilation target.
  • Linker toggles (via -ldflags in the go build command), which I mainly use to set the constants that store the program’s version and commit hash, such the correct values are set for each build.

Depending on the complexity of the build process, it might be easier to define these parameters in a .goreleaser.yml file than writing a less maintainable shell script. The portability of GoReleaser really shines when its its templating system used, which makes it easier to grab relevant metadata variables during the build process.

# yaml-language-server: $schema=
  - id: linux
      - linux
      - amd64
      - arm64
      - riscv64
      - "-X '{{.ProjectName}}/commands.Version={{.Version}}'"
      - "-X '{{.ProjectName}}/commands.Hash={{.FullCommit}}'" 
      # variables defined in the main package don't require their module + package path as a prefix
      - "-X 'main.Production={{.Version}}'"
  - id: mac
    # a specific sub-directory for your .go files can be specified
    dir: cli
    # a specific sub-directory for your main Go package can specified
    main: ./cli
      - darwin
      - amd64
      - arm64

Archive Packages #

After the builds are complete, each of them can be referenced to be packaged differently. In the following example, Linux and macOS builds are to packaged as a gzip archive (due to its availability in these environment), along with command completion scripts for command-line shells that usually ship with these environments. On the other hand, Windows doesn’t normally ship the same archive format compatibility, which is why it is packaged using zip, along a PowerShell completion script. I also like to define the template for the archive, such that it includes the project name, package version, operating system and processor architecture. For better clarity for macOS users, I like to utilise the name template for the package in order to substitute the substring darwin (the name of macOS’s kernel) with mac.

# yaml-language-server: $schema=
  - id: unix
    - linux
    - mac
    name_template: >-
      {{- .ProjectName}}_
      {{- .Version}}_
      {{- if eq .Os "darwin"}}mac{{else}}
        {{- .Os}}
      {{- end}}_
      {{- .Arch}}      
      - "{{.ProjectName}}.*sh"
      - "{{.ProjectName}}.1"
  - id: windows
      - windows
      - goos: windows
        format: zip
    name_template: "{{.ProjectName}}_{{.Version}}_{{.Os}}_{{.Arch}}"
      - "{{.ProjectName}}.ps1"

Linux Packages #

GoReleaser also integrate its in-house Linux packager directly into the .goreleaser.yml configuration file. This can be used to produce native packages for Alpine-based, Debian-based, RHEL-based and Arch-based Linux distributions from a Go binary. For maximum utility, additional files (and where they should be installed) and dependencies can also be defined.

# yaml-language-server: $schema=
  - vendor: AppleGamer22
    maintainer: Omri Bornstein <>
    license: GPL-3.0
    description: a description
    file_name_template: "{{.ProjectName}}_{{.Version}}_{{.Os}}_{{.Arch}}"
      - linux
      # if the distribution names a dependency's package differently, an additional separate nfpms entry would be required
      - dbus
      - apk
      - deb
      - rpm
      - archlinux
      - src: "{{.ProjectName}}.1"
        dst: /usr/share/man/man1/{{.ProjectName}}.1
          mode: 0644
      - src: "{{.ProjectName}}.bash"
        dst: /usr/share/bash-completion/completions/{{.ProjectName}}
          mode: 0644
      - src: "{{.ProjectName}}.fish"
        dst: /usr/share/fish/completions/{{.ProjectName}}.fish
          mode: 0644
      - src: "{{.ProjectName}}.zsh"
        dst: /usr/share/zsh/site-functions/_{{.ProjectName}}
          mode: 0644

Checksums #

In order to help users verify (cryptographically) the integrity of the software they just downloaded, a checksum file can be made to have the SHA-256 hash value of selected files. In this example I just left most settings as their default, and added the completion scripts and user manual as extra files to be reflected in the checksum.

# yaml-language-server: $schema=
    - glob: "{{.ProjectName}}.*sh"
    - glob: "{{.ProjectName}}.*1"

Changelog #

If you find it tedious to manually write a changelog for your latest release by reading all of the relevant code commits (and their already-written description and metadata), and compiling a detailed changelog, GoReleaser has got you covered. Assuming the commit messages are well-formatted and descriptive, GoReleaser can compile a neat changelog for you, with commits sorted into groups, and accompanying metadata for each commit. It’s worth taking in mind that this won’t work as well for unformatted existing commits, and that in order for GoReleaser to sort your future commit messages into groups, they should have a consistent format.

The grouping rules for the changelog are defined by regular expression patterns for the commit messages, such that certain commits are included or excluded from the changelog. I like to define these rules based on a keyword prefix, such as feat: for feature commits or fix: for bug fixes.

# yaml-language-server: $schema=
  use: github
    - '^docs:'
    - '^test:'
    - '^chore:'
    - typo
    - Merge pull request
    - Merge remote-tracking branch
    - Merge branch
    - go mod tidy
    - title: 'New Features'
      regexp: "^.*feat[(\\w)]*:+.*$"
      order: 0
    - title: 'Bug fixes'
      regexp: "^.*fix[(\\w)]*:+.*$"
      order: 10
    - title: Other work
      order: 999

Release #

When GoReleaser is run with a current and tagged commit, it can upload the files it generated in the build and archive process to a various distribution platforms such as GitHub and GitLab.

GitHub #

As far as I have been able to check in the documentation, the GitHub username and repository names cannot be used with the above-mentioned templating system, which means these parameters should be declared explicitly. The following configuration also creates a new GitHub Discussions thread after the release has been successfully published to GitHub.

# yaml-language-server: $schema=
  # no templates available
    owner: AppleGamer22
    name: cocainate
  discussion_category_name: General
  prerelease: auto
  footer: |
    ## Installation
    ### Arch Linux Distributions
    * [`yay`](
    yay -S {{.ProjectName}}-bin
    * [`paru`](
    paru -S {{.ProjectName}}-bin
    ### macOS
    * [Homebrew Tap]({{.ProjectName}}):
    brew install AppleGamer22/tap/{{.ProjectName}}

Arch User Repository #

The AUR is repository with a wide range of installation scripts that are not available in the official Arch Linux distribution through the official package manager. After releasing to GitHub or GitLab, your custom installation script can be uploaded to the AUR, thus allowing Arch Linux user of yay or paru to get your software more easily.

# yaml-language-server: $schema=
    # no templates available
  - homepage:
    description: description
    license: GPL3
      - Omri Bornstein <>
      - Omri Bornstein <>
    private_key: "{{.Env.AUR_SSH_PRIVATE_KEY}}"
    # no templates available
    git_url: ssh://
      - dbus
      - bash
      - fish
      - zsh
    # no templates available
    package: |-
      install -Dm755 cocainate "${pkgdir}/usr/bin/cocainate"
      install -Dm644 cocainate.1 "${pkgdir}/usr/share/man/man1/cocainate.1"
      install -Dm644 cocainate.bash "${pkgdir}/usr/share/bash-completion/completions/cocainate"
      install -Dm644 "${pkgdir}/usr/share/fish/vendor_completions.d/"
      install -Dm644 cocainate.zsh "${pkgdir}/usr/share/zsh/site-functions/_cocainate"      
      name: Omri Bornstein

Homebrew Tap #

Homebrew is a popular package repository among macOS users, which allows the additions of third-party repositories, colloquially known as Taps. Similarly to the AUR, tap repositories host installation scripts that the brew CLI can understand. After releasing to GitHub or GitLab, your custom installation script can be uploaded to your tab repository on GitHub.

# yaml-language-server: $schema=
  - tap:
      owner: AppleGamer22
      name: homebrew-tap
      token: "{{.Env.TAP_GITHUB_TOKEN}}"
    download_strategy: CurlDownloadStrategy
      name: Omri Bornstein
    description: description
    license: GPL-3.0
    install: |
      bin.install "cocainate"
      man1.install "cocainate.1"
      bash_completion.install "cocainate.bash" => "cocainate"
      fish_completion.install ""
      zsh_completion.install "cocainate.zsh" => "_cocainate"      

Container Images #

A lot of projects written in Go are meant to run as a server with corresponding TCP or UDP port(s), and the standard for packaging such software is the Open Container Initiative (OCI). If you have never heard of this standard, you might have heard of Docker, which is the first implementation of this standard’s specification. Configuring GoReleaser to build/publish OCI-compliant container images allows easier multi-registry publishing, multi-platform builds, and injecting environment variables to linker flags.

# yaml-language-server: $schema=
  - use: buildx
      # Docker Hub
      - "{{.ProjectName}}:{{.Version}}"
      - "{{.ProjectName}}:latest"
      # GitHub Container Registry
      - "{{.ProjectName}}:{{.Version}}"
      - "{{.ProjectName}}:latest"
      - "--pull"
      - "--platform=linux/amd64,linux/arm64"
      - "--label=org.opencontainers.image.created={{.Date}}"
      - "--label=org.opencontainers.image.title={{.ProjectName}}"
      - "--label=org.opencontainers.image.revision={{.FullCommit}}"
      - "--label=org.opencontainers.image.version={{.Version}}"
      # imitating linker flags
      - "--build-arg VERSION={{.Version}}"
      - "--build-arg HASH={{.FullCommit}}"
      - templates
      - assets

Software Bill of Materials #

In order to allow easier automated security analysis by third-parties, GoReleaser can create a Software Bill of Materials (SBoM) for other people to analyse and potentially find issues your software’s dependencies more easily. In the following example, a separate SBoM for each package binary (and the source code) is made, and uploaded to your preferred publishing channel.

syft is required as a dependency of GoReleaser for this feature to work.

# yaml-language-server: $schema=
  - artifacts: source
  - artifacts: package
  - artifacts: archive
  - artifacts: binary

Debugging #

Since debugging continuos integration configurations purely by running your CI workflow repeatedly is very exhausting, the goreleaser CLI is available to be run on your preferred environment. In addition, most of this commands can be easily integrated into an existing Makefile-based workflow.

  • goreleaser check is useful for validating your configuration’s syntax.
  • goreleaser build is useful for building the binaries for later inspection.
  • goreleaser release is used to build, package and release the artifacts.
    • The --skip-publish flag is useful for inspecting the packages without publishing.
    • The --snapshot flag is useful for ignoring the version tag.
    • The --clean flag is useful for cleaning-up the filesystem after publishing the artifacts.

Continuous Integration #

Since GoReleaser is published as a CLI, its highly-programmable nature allows easy integration into custom automated workflows.

GitHub Actions #

I use GoReleaser GitHub Actions integration to build, package and release my open-source projects automatically after a stable semantic version git tag is pushed to GitHub. The above-mentioned access tokens are injected into the appropriate workflow steps as workflow secrets.

# yaml-language-server: $schema=
name: Release
      - 'v*'
      - '!*alpha*'
      - '!*beta*'
      - '!*rc*'
  contents: write
  packages: write
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
      - name: Pull Source Code
        uses: actions/checkout@v3
          fetch-depth: 0
      - name: Fetch All Tags
        run: git fetch --force --tags
      - name: Set-up Go
        uses: actions/setup-go@v3
          go-version: stable
      - name: Set-up QEMU
        uses: docker/setup-qemu-action@v2.1.0
      - name: Set-up Docker BuildX
        uses: docker/setup-buildx-action@v2.4.1
      - name: Sign-in to Docker Container Registry
        uses: docker/login-action@v2
          username: ${{secrets.DOCKER_USERNAME}}
          password: ${{secrets.DOCKER_TOKEN}}
      - name: Set-up Syft
        uses: anchore/sbom-action/download-syft@v0.13.3
      - name: Build, Package & Distribute
        uses: goreleaser/goreleaser-action@v4
          version: latest
          args: release --clean
          GITHUB_TOKEN: ${{secrets.GITHUB_TOKEN}}
          TAP_GITHUB_TOKEN: ${{secrets.TAP_GITHUB_TOKEN}}