Go build

last modified June 14, 2022

In this article, we show how to build executables with go build tool in Golang.

Golang comes with the go tool, which manages Go source code. It has several commands including doc, build, test, and run.

The go build command compiles the packages named by the import paths, along with their dependencies into an executable. It it does not install the executable.

usage: go build [-o output] [build flags] [packages]

This is the syntax of the command.

Go build example

Next we build a simple Go code example.

$ mkdir simple
$ cd simple

We create and enter the project directory.

$ go mod init com.zetcode/simple

We create a new module with go mod init command. It produces a go.mod file.

package main

import (

func main() {

    go_ver := runtime.Version()
    os_ver := runtime.GOOS
    arch := runtime.GOARCH


The program prints the Go version, OS name and architecture.

$ go run main.go
go run main.go

The go run command compiles and runs the Go program, but it does not build any executable.

$ go build
$ ls
go.mod  main.go  simple

An executable is built with go build command.

$ ./simple

We run the binary file.

$ file simple 
simple: ELF 64-bit LSB executable, x86-64, version 1 (SYSV) ...

We examine the program with the file tool.

$ go build -o bin/simple
$ tree
├── bin
│   └── simple
├── go.mod
├── main.go
└── simple

With the -o option, we can output the binary file into a specific directory.

module com.zetcode/first

go 1.18

To change the default executable name, we update the last part of the module name.

$ go build
$ ./first

We build and run the program under a different name.

The build process is consists of two steps: compilation and linking. We show these two steps with the go tool command.

$ go tool compile main.go

We compile the program. A main.o file is produced.

$ file main.o 
main.o: current ar archive
$ ar t main.o 

It is an intermediary archive file.

$ go tool link -o simple main.o

With go tool link, we produce the final executable.

Next, we build the program on Windows. The process is very similar.

$ mkdir simple
$ cd simple
$ go mod init com.zetcode/simple
go: creating new go.mod: module com.zetcode/simple

We create a project directory and then a Go module. We use the same main.go source file.

$ go build
$ ls
go.mod  main.go  simple.exe

We build the program. On Windows, the executable has the .exe suffix.

$ simple.exe

We run the program.

$ file simple.exe
simple.exe: PE32+ executable (console) x86-64 (stripped to external PDB), for MS Windows

We examine the program with the file command.

In this tutorial, we have worked with the go build command.

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