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Building Windows Go programs on Linux

See here for available GOOS and GOARCH values.

Go version >= 1.5

Since Go version 1.5 cross-compiling of pure Go executables has become very easy. Try it out with the code below. More can be found at this blog post by Dave Cheney.

$ cat hello.go
package main

import "fmt"

func main() {
        fmt.Printf("Hello\n")
}
$ GOOS=windows GOARCH=386 go build -o hello.exe hello.go

In cmd.exe instead of PowerShell:

$ set GOOS=windows
$ set GOARCH=386
$ go build -o hello.exe hello.go

You can now run hello.exe on a Windows machine near you.

Note that the command above will silently rebuild most of standard library, and for this reason will be quite slow. To speed-up the process, you can install all the windows-amd64 standard packages on your system with

GOOS=windows GOARCH=amd64 go install

Note also that cgo is disabled when cross-compiling, so any file that mentions import "C" will be silently ignored (See golang/go#24068). In order to use cgo, or any of the build modes c-archive, c-shared, shared, plugin, you need to have a C cross-compiler.

Older Go version (<1.5)

I use linux/386, but, I suspect, this procedure will apply to other host platforms as well.

Preparation (if needed):

sudo apt-get install gcc
export go env GOROOT

First step is to build host version of go:

cd $GOROOT/src
sudo -E GOOS=windows GOARCH=386 PATH=$PATH ./make.bash

Next you need to build the rest of go compilers and linkers. I have small program to do that:

$ cat ~/bin/buildcmd
#!/bin/sh
set -e
for arch in 8 6; do
	for cmd in a c g l; do
		go tool dist install -v cmd/$arch$cmd
	done
done
exit 0

Last step is to build Windows versions of standard commands and libraries. I have a small script for that too:

$ cat ~/bin/buildpkg
#!/bin/sh
if [ -z "$1" ]; then
	echo 'GOOS is not specified' 1>&2
	exit 2
else
	export GOOS=$1
	if [ "$GOOS" = "windows" ]; then
		export CGO_ENABLED=0
	fi
fi
shift
if [ -n "$1" ]; then
	export GOARCH=$1
fi
cd $GOROOT/src
go tool dist install -v pkg/runtime
go install -v -a std

I run it like that:

$ ~/bin/buildpkg windows 386

to build Windows/386 version of Go commands and packages. You can probably see from my script that I exclude building of any cgo related parts — these will not work for me, since I do not have correspondent gcc cross-compiling tools installed. So I just skip those.

Now we're ready to build our Windows executable:

$ cat hello.go
package main

import "fmt"

func main() {
        fmt.Printf("Hello\n")
}
$ GOOS=windows GOARCH=386 go build -o hello.exe hello.go

We just need to find a Windows computer to run our hello.exe.


Last update: March 1, 2022