unpublishing go modules

or as close as you can get


unpublishing go modules

or as close as you can get

unpublishing go modules

tldr: retract [v0.0.0-0, vX.Y.Z] and publish a new version at vX.Y.Z

Go, by default, uses module proxies to fetch dependencies, which brings speed advantages (a GET is faster than a bunch of VCS operations) and also some reliability improvements (if your proxy can permanently cache things). The default proxy, proxy.golang.org (also used by pkg.go.dev) caches most things more or less permanently, reducing the impact of left-pad type situations (where dependencies just disappear).


So why might you want to unpublish something?

undo multi module

For example: you have a module at github.com/foo/bar and you decided to experiment with with a multi module configuration, creating github.com/foo/bar/cmd/bar. Now you want to more or less undo that. Because of the permanent cache and longest module path wins, removing the module from your source repo isn't enough. This is especially apparent for tools installed with go install pkg@latest.

wiping a repo

You no longer want to keep the repo, and you also want pkg.go.dev to stop displaying documentation for it. You should do this before you actually wipe out the repo.


You'll want to use the retract directive. It can take a range of versions, like retract [v0.0.1, v0.0.5].

Note: the code will still live on in the proxy, stopping existing builds from breaking, but new code shouldn't, by default, add it as a new direct dependency.


What version do you start retracting from? If you're wiping out something entirely, v0.0.0-0 is a good choice.

Explanation: go uses semver for versions. To make plain commits fit within semver and order properly, go uses pseduo-versions, these are generated, valid semver ids that represent individual commits, and order correctly in the context of other non generated versions. v0.0.0 is the base version, but prereleases order before the actual release so we need one of those. Within prerelease identifiers, shorter sets (dot separated) order first, and numeric identifiers order before strings, so 0 is the earliest prerelease possible.


What version do you end at retracting? If you've never published tags for it, you could use v0.0.1. If you have, then the next version up works fine. The important thing here is you can retract the same version that is publishing the retraction.


So you have a retract [v0.0.0-0, v1.5.6] directive in the go.mod. What next? You'll have to publish it with v1.5.6:

Note: because we're using tags, this doesn't have to happen on the main branch of the repo. You could create an empty branch, say retractions, with just the go.mod containing the module .... and retract in it.


You have a multi module repo and you want to move back to a single module:

// /go.mod
module github.com/foo/bar

// published tags:
// v0.1.0
// v0.2.0
// v0.3.0
// v0.4.0


// /cmd/bar/go.mod
module github.com/foo/bar/cmd/bar

// published tags:
// cmd/bar/v0.3.0
// cmd/bar/v0.4.0

You should:

On a non default branch tag this as cmd/bar/v0.5.0 (If you use the default branch, your next commit after the tag should remove to go.mod file entirely).

// /cmd/bar/go.mod
module github.com/foo/bar/cmd/bar

retract [v0.0.0-0, v0.5.0]

Tag a new release of the module at the root (github.com/foo/bar) so downstream users will have a working way of getting the content in cmd/bar. Ex: v0.4.1.