Go 1.16 Release Notes

Introduction to Go 1.16

The latest Go release, version 1.16, arrives six months after Go 1.15. Most of its changes are in the implementation of the toolchain, runtime, and libraries. As always, the release maintains the Go 1 promise of compatibility. We expect almost all Go programs to continue to compile and run as before.

Changes to the language

There are no changes to the language.


Darwin and iOS

Go 1.16 adds support of 64-bit ARM architecture on macOS (also known as Apple Silicon) with GOOS=darwin, GOARCH=arm64. Like the darwin/amd64 port, the darwin/arm64 port supports cgo, internal and external linking, c-archive, c-shared, and pie build modes, and the race detector.

The iOS port, which was previously darwin/arm64, has been renamed to ios/arm64. GOOS=ios implies the darwin build tag, just as GOOS=android implies the linux build tag. This change should be transparent to anyone using gomobile to build iOS apps.

The introduction of GOOS=ios means that file names like x_ios.go will now only be built for GOOS=ios; see go help buildconstraint for details. Existing packages that use file names of this form will have to rename the files.

Go 1.16 adds an ios/amd64 port, which targets the iOS simulator running on AMD64-based macOS. Previously this was unofficially supported through darwin/amd64 with the ios build tag set. See also misc/ios/README for details about how to build programs for iOS and iOS simulator.

Go 1.16 is the last release that will run on macOS 10.12 Sierra. Go 1.17 will require macOS 10.13 High Sierra or later.


Go now supports the 64-bit ARM architecture on NetBSD (the netbsd/arm64 port).


Go now supports the MIPS64 architecture on OpenBSD (the openbsd/mips64 port). This port does not yet support cgo.

On the 64-bit x86 and 64-bit ARM architectures on OpenBSD (the openbsd/amd64 and openbsd/arm64 ports), system calls are now made through libc, instead of directly using the SYSCALL/SVC instruction. This ensures forward-compatibility with future versions of OpenBSD. In particular, OpenBSD 6.9 onwards will require system calls to be made through libc for non-static Go binaries.


As announced in the Go 1.15 release notes, Go 1.16 drops support for x87 mode compilation (GO386=387). Support for non-SSE2 processors is now available using soft float mode (GO386=softfloat). Users running on non-SSE2 processors should replace GO386=387 with GO386=softfloat.


The linux/riscv64 port now supports cgo and -buildmode=pie. This release also includes performance optimizations and code generation improvements for RISC-V.


Go command


Module-aware mode is enabled by default, regardless of whether a go.mod file is present in the current working directory or a parent directory. More precisely, the GO111MODULE environment variable now defaults to on. To switch to the previous behavior, set GO111MODULE to auto.

Build commands like go build and go test no longer modify go.mod and go.sum by default. Instead, they report an error if a module requirement or checksum needs to be added or updated (as if the -mod=readonly flag were used). Module requirements and sums may be adjusted with go mod tidy or go get.

go install now accepts arguments with version suffixes (for example, go install example.com/cmd@v1.0.0). This causes go install to build and install packages in module-aware mode, ignoring the go.mod file in the current directory or any parent directory, if there is one. This is useful for installing executables without affecting the dependencies of the main module.

go install, with or without a version suffix (as described above), is now the recommended way to build and install packages in module mode. go get should be used with the -d flag to adjust the current module’s dependencies without building packages, and use of go get to build and install packages is deprecated. In a future release, the -d flag will always be enabled.

retract directives may now be used in a go.mod file to indicate that certain published versions of the module should not be used by other modules. A module author may retract a version after a severe problem is discovered or if the version was published unintentionally.

The go mod vendor and go mod tidy subcommands now accept the -e flag, which instructs them to proceed despite errors in resolving missing packages.

The go command now ignores requirements on module versions excluded by exclude directives in the main module. Previously, the go command used the next version higher than an excluded version, but that version could change over time, resulting in non-reproducible builds.

In module mode, the go command now disallows import paths that include non-ASCII characters or path elements with a leading dot character (.). Module paths with these characters were already disallowed (see Module paths and versions), so this change affects only paths within module subdirectories.

Embedding Files

The go command now supports including static files and file trees as part of the final executable, using the new //go:embed directive. See the documentation for the new embed package for details.

go test

When using go test, a test that calls os.Exit(0) during execution of a test function will now be considered to fail. This will help catch cases in which a test calls code that calls os.Exit(0) and thereby stops running all future tests. If a TestMain function calls os.Exit(0) that is still considered to be a passing test.

go test reports an error when the -c or -i flags are used together with unknown flags. Normally, unknown flags are passed to tests, but when -c or -i are used, tests are not run.

go get

The go get -insecure flag is deprecated and will be removed in a future version. This flag permits fetching from repositories and resolving custom domains using insecure schemes such as HTTP, and also bypasses module sum validation using the checksum database. To permit the use of insecure schemes, use the GOINSECURE environment variable instead. To bypass module sum validation, use GOPRIVATE or GONOSUMDB. See go help environment for details.

go get example.com/mod@patch now requires that some version of example.com/mod already be required by the main module. (However, go get -u=patch continues to patch even newly-added dependencies.)

GOVCS environment variable

GOVCS is a new environment variable that limits which version control tools the go command may use to download source code. This mitigates security issues with tools that are typically used in trusted, authenticated environments. By default, git and hg may be used to download code from any repository. svn, bzr, and fossil may only be used to download code from repositories with module paths or package paths matching patterns in the GOPRIVATE environment variable. See go help vcs for details.

The all pattern

When the main module’s go.mod file declares go 1.16 or higher, the all package pattern now matches only those packages that are transitively imported by a package or test found in the main module. (Packages imported by tests of packages imported by the main module are no longer included.) This is the same set of packages retained by go mod vendor since Go 1.11.

The -toolexec build flag

When the -toolexec build flag is specified to use a program when invoking toolchain programs like compile or asm, the environment variable TOOLEXEC_IMPORTPATH is now set to the import path of the package being built.

The -i build flag

The -i flag accepted by go build, go install, and go test is now deprecated. The -i flag instructs the go command to install packages imported by packages named on the command line. Since the build cache was introduced in Go 1.10, the -i flag no longer has a significant effect on build times, and it causes errors when the install directory is not writable.

The list command

When the -export flag is specified, the BuildID field is now set to the build ID of the compiled package. This is equivalent to running go tool buildid on go list -exported -f {{.Export}}, but without the extra step.

The -overlay flag

The -overlay flag specifies a JSON configuration file containing a set of file path replacements. The -overlay flag may be used with all build commands and go mod subcommands. It is primarily intended to be used by editor tooling such as gopls to understand the effects of unsaved changes to source files. The config file maps actual file paths to replacement file paths and the go command and its builds will run as if the actual file paths exist with the contents given by the replacement file paths, or don’t exist if the replacement file paths are empty.


The cgo tool will no longer try to translate C struct bitfields into Go struct fields, even if their size can be represented in Go. The order in which C bitfields appear in memory is implementation dependent, so in some cases the cgo tool produced results that were silently incorrect.


New warning for invalid testing.T use in goroutines

The vet tool now warns about invalid calls to the testing.T method Fatal from within a goroutine created during the test. This also warns on calls to Fatalf, FailNow, and Skip{,f,Now} methods on testing.T tests or testing.B benchmarks.

Calls to these methods stop the execution of the created goroutine and not the Test* or Benchmark* function. So these are required to be called by the goroutine running the test or benchmark function. For example:

func TestFoo(t *testing.T) {
    go func() {
        if condition() {
            t.Fatal("oops") // This exits the inner func instead of TestFoo.

Code calling t.Fatal (or a similar method) from a created goroutine should be rewritten to signal the test failure using t.Error and exit the goroutine early using an alternative method, such as using a return statement. The previous example could be rewritten as:

func TestFoo(t *testing.T) {
    go func() {
        if condition() {

New warning for frame pointer

The vet tool now warns about amd64 assembly that clobbers the BP register (the frame pointer) without saving and restoring it, contrary to the calling convention. Code that doesn’t preserve the BP register must be modified to either not use BP at all or preserve BP by saving and restoring it. An easy way to preserve BP is to set the frame size to a nonzero value, which causes the generated prologue and epilogue to preserve the BP register for you. See CL 248260 for example fixes.

New warning for asn1.Unmarshal

The vet tool now warns about incorrectly passing a non-pointer or nil argument to asn1.Unmarshal. This is like the existing checks for encoding/json.Unmarshal and encoding/xml.Unmarshal.


The new runtime/metrics package introduces a stable interface for reading implementation-defined metrics from the Go runtime. It supersedes existing functions like runtime.ReadMemStats and debug.GCStats and is significantly more general and efficient. See the package documentation for more details.

Setting the GODEBUG environment variable to inittrace=1 now causes the runtime to emit a single line to standard error for each package init, summarizing its execution time and memory allocation. This trace can be used to find bottlenecks or regressions in Go startup performance. The GODEBUG documentation describes the format.

On Linux, the runtime now defaults to releasing memory to the operating system promptly (using MADV_DONTNEED), rather than lazily when the operating system is under memory pressure (using MADV_FREE). This means process-level memory statistics like RSS will more accurately reflect the amount of physical memory being used by Go processes. Systems that are currently using GODEBUG=madvdontneed=1 to improve memory monitoring behavior no longer need to set this environment variable.

Go 1.16 fixes a discrepancy between the race detector and the Go memory model. The race detector now more precisely follows the channel synchronization rules of the memory model. As a result, the detector may now report races it previously missed.


The compiler can now inline functions with non-labeled for loops, method values, and type switches. The inliner can also detect more indirect calls where inlining is possible.


This release includes additional improvements to the Go linker, reducing linker resource usage (both time and memory) and improving code robustness/maintainability. These changes form the second half of a two-release project to modernize the Go linker.

The linker changes in 1.16 extend the 1.15 improvements to all supported architecture/OS combinations (the 1.15 performance improvements were primarily focused on ELF-based OSes and amd64 architectures). For a representative set of large Go programs, linking is 20-25% faster than 1.15 and requires 5-15% less memory on average for linux/amd64, with larger improvements for other architectures and OSes. Most binaries are also smaller as a result of more aggressive symbol pruning.

On Windows, go build -buildmode=c-shared now generates Windows ASLR DLLs by default. ASLR can be disabled with --ldflags=-aslr=false.

Core library

Embedded Files

The new embed package provides access to files embedded in the program during compilation using the new //go:embed directive.

File Systems

The new io/fs package defines the fs.FS interface, an abstraction for read-only trees of files. The standard library packages have been adapted to make use of the interface as appropriate.

On the producer side of the interface, the new embed.FS type implements fs.FS, as does zip.Reader. The new os.DirFS function provides an implementation of fs.FS backed by a tree of operating system files.

On the consumer side, the new http.FS function converts an fs.FS to an http.FileSystem. Also, the html/template and text/template packages’ ParseFS functions and methods read templates from an fs.FS.

For testing code that implements fs.FS, the new testing/fstest package provides a TestFS function that checks for and reports common mistakes. It also provides a simple in-memory file system implementation, MapFS, which can be useful for testing code that accepts fs.FS implementations.

Deprecation of io/ioutil

The io/ioutil package has turned out to be a poorly defined and hard to understand collection of things. All functionality provided by the package has been moved to other packages. The io/ioutil package remains and will continue to work as before, but we encourage new code to use the new definitions in the io and os packages. Here is a list of the new locations of the names exported by io/ioutil:

Minor changes to the library

As always, there are various minor changes and updates to the library, made with the Go 1 promise of compatibility in mind.


The new Reader.Open method implements the fs.FS interface.


The crypto/dsa package is now deprecated. See issue #40337.


New will now panic if separate calls to the hash generation function fail to return new values. Previously, the behavior was undefined and invalid outputs were sometimes generated.


I/O operations on closing or closed TLS connections can now be detected using the new net.ErrClosed error. A typical use would be errors.Is(err, net.ErrClosed).

A default write deadline is now set in Conn.Close before sending the “close notify” alert, in order to prevent blocking indefinitely.

Clients now return a handshake error if the server selects an ALPN protocol that was not in the list advertised by the client.

Servers will now prefer other available AEAD cipher suites (such as ChaCha20Poly1305) over AES-GCM cipher suites if either the client or server doesn’t have AES hardware support, unless both Config.PreferServerCipherSuites and Config.CipherSuites are set. The client is assumed not to have AES hardware support if it does not signal a preference for AES-GCM cipher suites.

Config.Clone now returns nil if the receiver is nil, rather than panicking.


The GODEBUG=x509ignoreCN=0 flag will be removed in Go 1.17. It enables the legacy behavior of treating the CommonName field on X.509 certificates as a host name when no Subject Alternative Names are present.

ParseCertificate and CreateCertificate now enforce string encoding restrictions for the DNSNames, EmailAddresses, and URIs fields. These fields can only contain strings with characters within the ASCII range.

CreateCertificate now verifies the generated certificate’s signature using the signer’s public key. If the signature is invalid, an error is returned, instead of a malformed certificate.

DSA signature verification is no longer supported. Note that DSA signature generation was never supported. See issue #40337.

On Windows, Certificate.Verify will now return all certificate chains that are built by the platform certificate verifier, instead of just the highest ranked chain.

The new SystemRootsError.Unwrap method allows accessing the Err field through the errors package functions.

On Unix systems, the crypto/x509 package is now more efficient in how it stores its copy of the system cert pool. Programs that use only a small number of roots will use around a half megabyte less memory.


More DT and PT constants have been added.


Unmarshal and UnmarshalWithParams now return an error instead of panicking when the argument is not a pointer or is nil. This change matches the behavior of other encoding packages such as encoding/json.


The json struct field tags understood by Marshal, Unmarshal, and related functionality now permit semicolon characters within a JSON object name for a Go struct field.


The encoder has always taken care to avoid using namespace prefixes beginning with xml, which are reserved by the XML specification. Now, following the specification more closely, that check is case-insensitive, so that prefixes beginning with XML, XmL, and so on are also avoided.


The new Func function allows registering a flag implemented by calling a function, as a lighter-weight alternative to implementing the Value interface.


The Package struct has new fields that report information about //go:embed directives in the package: EmbedPatterns, EmbedPatternPos, TestEmbedPatterns, TestEmbedPatternPos, XTestEmbedPatterns, XTestEmbedPatternPos.

The Package field IgnoredGoFiles will no longer include files that start with “_” or “.”, as those files are always ignored. IgnoredGoFiles is for files ignored because of build constraints.

The new Package field IgnoredOtherFiles has a list of non-Go files ignored because of build constraints.


The new go/build/constraint package parses build constraint lines, both the original // +build syntax and the //go:build syntax that will be introduced in Go 1.17. This package exists so that tools built with Go 1.16 will be able to process Go 1.17 source code. See https://golang.org/design/draft-gobuild for details about the build constraint syntaxes and the planned transition to the //go:build syntax. Note that //go:build lines are not supported in Go 1.16 and should not be introduced into Go programs yet.


The new template.ParseFS function and template.Template.ParseFS method are like template.ParseGlob and template.Template.ParseGlob, but read the templates from an fs.FS.


The package now defines a ReadSeekCloser interface.

The package now defines Discard, NopCloser, and ReadAll, to be used instead of the same names in the io/ioutil package.


The new Default function provides access to the default Logger.


The Writer now uses the local message format (omitting the host name and using a shorter time stamp) when logging to custom Unix domain sockets, matching the format already used for the default log socket.


The Reader’s ReadForm method no longer rejects form data when passed the maximum int64 value as a limit.


The case of I/O on a closed network connection, or I/O on a network connection that is closed before any of the I/O completes, can now be detected using the new ErrClosed error. A typical use would be errors.Is(err, net.ErrClosed). In earlier releases the only way to reliably detect this case was to match the string returned by the Error method with "use of closed network connection".

In previous Go releases the default TCP listener backlog size on Linux systems, set by /proc/sys/net/core/somaxconn, was limited to a maximum of 65535. On Linux kernel version 4.1 and above, the maximum is now 4294967295.

On Linux, host name lookups no longer use DNS before checking /etc/hosts when /etc/nsswitch.conf is missing; this is common on musl-based systems and makes Go programs match the behavior of C programs on those systems.


In the net/http package, the behavior of StripPrefix has been changed to strip the prefix from the request URL’s RawPath field in addition to its Path field. In past releases, only the Path field was trimmed, and so if the request URL contained any escaped characters the URL would be modified to have mismatched Path and RawPath fields. In Go 1.16, StripPrefix trims both fields. If there are escaped characters in the prefix part of the request URL the handler serves a 404 instead of its previous behavior of invoking the underlying handler with a mismatched Path/RawPath pair.

The net/http package now rejects HTTP range requests of the form "Range": "bytes=--N" where "-N" is a negative suffix length, for example "Range": "bytes=--2". It now replies with a 416 "Range Not Satisfiable" response.

Cookies set with SameSiteDefaultMode now behave according to the current spec (no attribute is set) instead of generating a SameSite key without a value.

The Client now sends an explicit Content-Length: 0 header in PATCH requests with empty bodies, matching the existing behavior of POST and PUT.

The ProxyFromEnvironment function no longer returns the setting of the HTTP_PROXY environment variable for https:// URLs when HTTPS_PROXY is unset.

The Transport type has a new field GetProxyConnectHeader which may be set to a function that returns headers to send to a proxy during a CONNECT request. In effect GetProxyConnectHeader is a dynamic version of the existing field ProxyConnectHeader; if GetProxyConnectHeader is not nil, then ProxyConnectHeader is ignored.

The new http.FS function converts an fs.FS to an http.FileSystem.


ReverseProxy now flushes buffered data more aggressively when proxying streamed responses with unknown body lengths.


The Client’s Mail method now sends the SMTPUTF8 directive to servers that support it, signaling that addresses are encoded in UTF-8.


Process.Signal now returns ErrProcessDone instead of the unexported errFinished when the process has already finished.

The package defines a new type DirEntry as an alias for fs.DirEntry. The new ReadDir function and the new File.ReadDir method can be used to read the contents of a directory into a slice of DirEntry. The File.Readdir method (note the lower case d in dir) still exists, returning a slice of FileInfo, but for most programs it will be more efficient to switch to File.ReadDir.

The package now defines CreateTemp, MkdirTemp, ReadFile, and WriteFile, to be used instead of functions defined in the io/ioutil package.

The types FileInfo, FileMode, and PathError are now aliases for types of the same name in the io/fs package. Function signatures in the os package have been updated to refer to the names in the io/fs package. This should not affect any existing code.

The new DirFS function provides an implementation of fs.FS backed by a tree of operating system files.


The new NotifyContext function allows creating contexts that are canceled upon arrival of specific signals.


The Match function now returns an error if the unmatched part of the pattern has a syntax error. Previously, the function returned early on a failed match, and thus did not report any later syntax error in the pattern.


The new function WalkDir is similar to Walk, but is typically more efficient. The function passed to WalkDir receives a fs.DirEntry instead of a fs.FileInfo. (To clarify for those who recall the Walk function as taking an os.FileInfo, os.FileInfo is now an alias for fs.FileInfo.)

The Match and Glob functions now return an error if the unmatched part of the pattern has a syntax error. Previously, the functions returned early on a failed match, and thus did not report any later syntax error in the pattern.


The Zero function has been optimized to avoid allocations. Code which incorrectly compares the returned Value to another Value using == or DeepEqual may get different results than those obtained in previous Go versions. The documentation for reflect.Value describes how to compare two Values correctly.


The runtime.Error values used when SetPanicOnFault is enabled may now have an Addr method. If that method exists, it returns the memory address that triggered the fault.


ParseFloat now uses the Eisel-Lemire algorithm, improving performance by up to a factor of 2. This can also speed up decoding textual formats like encoding/json.


NewCallback and NewCallbackCDecl now correctly support callback functions with multiple sub-uintptr-sized arguments in a row. This may require changing uses of these functions to eliminate manual padding between small arguments.

SysProcAttr on Windows has a new NoInheritHandles field that disables inheriting handles when creating a new process.

DLLError on Windows now has an Unwrap method for unwrapping its underlying error.

On Linux, Setgid, Setuid, and related calls are now implemented. Previously, they returned an syscall.EOPNOTSUPP error.

On Linux, the new functions AllThreadsSyscall and AllThreadsSyscall6 may be used to make a system call on all Go threads in the process. These functions may only be used by programs that do not use cgo; if a program uses cgo, they will always return syscall.ENOTSUP.


The new ErrReader function returns an io.Reader that always returns an error.

The new TestReader function tests that an io.Reader behaves correctly.


Newlines characters are now allowed inside action delimiters, permitting actions to span multiple lines.

The new template.ParseFS function and template.Template.ParseFS method are like template.ParseGlob and template.Template.ParseGlob, but read the templates from an fs.FS.


A new CommentNode was added to the parse tree. The Mode field in the parse.Tree enables access to it.


The slim timezone data format is now used for the timezone database in $GOROOT/lib/time/zoneinfo.zip and the embedded copy in this package. This reduces the size of the timezone database by about 350 KB.


The unicode package and associated support throughout the system has been upgraded from Unicode 12.0.0 to Unicode 13.0.0, which adds 5,930 new characters, including four new scripts, and 55 new emoji. Unicode 13.0.0 also designates plane 3 (U+30000-U+3FFFF) as the tertiary ideographic plane.