June 26, 2018

Do Golang Web Apps Dream of Docker Images?

Hello there! In my last blog post, I used a simple NodeJS application for testing Kuberentes Ingress. I was thinking that it can be useful to write a similar app in another backend programming language. As you can see from the title of this post I chose Golang, mostly because I really like its syntax. I’m going to deploy the app with docker, so this blog post will be useful for those of you who were wondering how to deploy a Golang web app with Docker.

Our Golang Application

It’s really simple. The goal is to show the hostname to the user. And here is the code:

package main

import (

func handler(w http.ResponseWriter, r *http.Request) {
    name, err := os.Hostname()
    if err != nil {
    fmt.Fprintf(w, "Hi there, my name is %s\n", name)

func main() {
    http.HandleFunc("/", handler)
    log.Fatal(http.ListenAndServe(":8080", nil))

The main function begins with a call to http.HandleFunc, which tells the http package to handle all requests to the web root "/" with handler.

It then calls http.ListenAndServe, specifying that it should listen on port 8080 on any interface ":8080".

ListenAndServe always returns an error, since it only returns when an unexpected error occurs. In order to log that error, we wrap the function call with log.Fatal.

The function handler is of the type http.HandlerFunc. It takes an http.ResponseWriter and an http.Request as its arguments.

An http.ResponseWriter value assembles the HTTP server’s response; by writing to it, we send data to the HTTP client.

An http.Request is a data structure that represents the client HTTP request.

Function os.Hostname() returns the hostname reported by the kernel.

Save this code as main.go and let’s compile it.


If you use Linux-based OS, run:

$ go build main.go

in case of MacOS:

$ go build GOOS=darwin main.go

and last, but not least - Windows:

$ go build GOOS=windows main.go

Now, let’s test it:

$ ./main &

$ curl
Hi there, my name is evalle.local

It Works! Now let’s prepare this app for the Docker Image.
We want to build the app statically (with all libraries included) so we don’t have to build anything inside of the image. In order to achieve this, we should run the command:

$ CGO_ENABLED=0 GOOS=linux go build -installsuffix cgo -o main .

It will disable cgo which gives us a static binary. We’re also setting the OS to Linux (again, if you build this app on Windows or on Mac machine (as I do) ). In the end, you should have a statically linked main binary in your working directory

$ ls
main main.go

$ file main
main: ELF 64-bit LSB executable, x86-64, version 1 (SYSV), statically linked, with debug_info, not stripped

Now we’re ready to add it to the Docker image.

Docker phase

Our Dockerfile should look like this:

FROM scratch
ADD main /
CMD ["/main"]

scratch is the empty Docker image. We ADD our main golang binary to the image and the start it as the default command (CMD). Save it as the Dockerfile in your working directory and let’s build it:

$ docker build -t evalle/gordon-golang:v0.1 .
Sending build context to Docker daemon  6.614MB
Step 1/3 : FROM scratch
Step 2/3 : ADD main /
 ---> 73c266a64776
Step 3/3 : CMD ["/main"]
 ---> Running in 6545a3d83824
Removing intermediate container 6545a3d83824
 ---> 684bcde76982
Successfully built 684bcde76982
Successfully tagged evalle/gordon-golang:v0.1

Now, let’s run the container from it:

$ docker run -d -p 8080:8080 evalle/gordon-golang:v0.1

And let’s test it:

$ curl
Hi there, my name is ca7ee636c1aa

It works! And as you can see it uses container ID as the hostname which is expected. Now you can use this docker image to play with Kubernetes Ingress instead of NodeJS app I’ve created. Also, you can use the same technique to build and deliver a more complex golang applications.

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