Installing Athens


The Go ecosystem has always been federated and completely open. Anyone with a GitHub or GitLab (or any other supported VCS) account can effortlessly provide a library with just a git push (or similar). No extra accounts to create or credentials to set up.

A Federated Ecosystem

We feel that Athens should keep the community federated and open, and nobody should have to change their workflow when they’re building apps and libraries. So, to make sure the community can stay federated and open, we’ve made it easy to install Athens for everyone so that:

  • Anyone can run their own full-featured mirror, public or private
  • Any organization can run their own private mirror, so they can manage their private code just as they would their public code


As you know, go get and go mod download will fetch packages directly from version control systems like GitHub. This system has been mostly great for both package developers and the dependent apps, but at the same we’ve suffered from a fundamental problem for a long time.

Code in version control systems can always change even after it’s been committed. For example, a package developer can run git push -f and overwrite a commit or tag that you depend on in your project. In these cases, you’ll often see checksum verification errors (for example, see here).

Athens prevents these issues by storing code in its own, immutable database. Here’s what happens when you run go get:

  1. go get requests a module from Athens
  2. Athens accepts the request and begins looking for the module
  3. First, it looks in its storage. If it finds the module, Athens immediately sends it back to the go get client from (1)
  4. If it doesn’t find the module, it fetches the module from the version control system, saves in storage, and returns to the client from (1)

Athens never changes anything once it saves a module to storage, so the system has the following two important properties:

  • Athens will only ever call go mod download once per module version. In other words, Athens will only hit step (4) once for any given module & version
  • Athens treats storage as append-only, so once a module is saved, it never changes, even if a developer changes it in GitHub

Release Scheme

We follow semver. Our Docker images are tagged to indicate stability:

  • latest = the most recent stable release
  • canary = the most recent build of master

We strongly recommend using a tagged release, e.g. gomods/athens:v0.3.0, instead of the latest or canary tags.

Where to Go from Here

To make sure it’s easy to install, we try to provide as many ways as possible to install and run Athens:

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