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Deprecation of 'go get' for installing executables

Overview

Starting in Go 1.17, installing executables with go get is deprecated. go install may be used instead.

In a future Go release, go get will no longer build packages; it will only be used to add, update, or remove dependencies in go.mod. Specifically, go get will act as if the -d flag were enabled.

What to use instead

To install an executable in the context of the current module, use go install, without a version suffix, as below. This applies version requirements and other directives from the go.mod file in the current directory or a parent directory.

go install example.com/cmd

To install an executable while ignoring the current module, use go install with a version suffix like @v1.2.3 or @latest, as below. When used with a version suffix, go install does not read or update the go.mod file in the current directory or a parent directory.

# Install a specific version.
go install example.com/cmd@v1.2.3

# Install the highest available version.
go install example.com/cmd@latest

In order to avoid ambiguity, when go install is used with a version suffix, all arguments must refer to main packages in the same module at the same version. If that module has a go.mod file, it must not contain directives like replace or exclude that would cause it to be interpreted differently if it were the main module.

See go install for details.

Why this is happening

Since modules were introduced, the go get command has been used both to update dependencies in go.mod and to install commands. This combination is frequently confusing and inconvenient: in most cases, developers want to update a dependency or install a command but not both at the same time.

Since Go 1.16, go install can install a command at a version specified on the command line while ignoring the go.mod file in the current directory (if one exists). go install should now be used to install commands in most cases.

go get’s ability to build and install commands is now deprecated, since that functionality is redundant with go install. Removing this functionality will make go get faster, since it won’t compile or link packages by default. go get also won’t report an error when updating a package that can’t be built for the current platform.

See proposal #40276 for the full discussion.