Managing Go versions


All Go binaries, with the exception of GitLab Runner and Security Projects, are built in projects managed by the Distribution team.

The Omnibus GitLab project creates a single, monolithic operating system package containing all the binaries, while the Cloud-Native GitLab (CNG) project publishes a set of Docker images deployed and configured by Helm Charts or the GitLab Operator.

Testing matrices for all projects using Go must include the version shipped by Distribution:

Supporting multiple Go versions

Individual Golang projects need to support multiple Go versions because:

  • When a new version of Go is released, we should start integrating it into the CI pipelines to verify compatibility with the new compiler.
  • We must support the official Omnibus GitLab Go version, which may be behind the latest minor release.
  • When Omnibus switches Go version, we still may need to support the old one for security backports.

These 3 requirements may easily be satisfied by keeping support for the 3 latest minor versions of Go.

It is ok to drop support for the oldest Go version and support only the 2 latest releases, if this is enough to support backports to the last 3 minor GitLab releases.

For example, if we want to drop support for go 1.11 in GitLab 12.10, we need to verify which Go versions we are using in 12.9, 12.8, and 12.7. We do not consider the active milestone, 12.10, because a backport for 12.7 is required in case of a critical security release.

  • If both Omnibus GitLab and Cloud-Native GitLab (CNG) were using Go 1.12 in GitLab 12.7 and later, then we can safely drop support for 1.11.
  • If Omnibus GitLab or Cloud-Native GitLab (CNG) were using 1.11 in GitLab 12.7, then we still need to keep support for Go 1.11 for easier backporting of security fixes.

Updating Go version

We should always:

  • Use the same Go version for Omnibus GitLab and Cloud Native GitLab.
  • Use a supported version.
  • Use the most recent patch-level for that version to keep up with security fixes.

Changing the version affects every project being compiled, so it's important to ensure that all projects have been updated to test against the new Go version before changing the package builders to use it. Despite Go's compatibility promise, changes between minor versions can expose bugs or cause problems in our projects.

Upgrade process

The upgrade process involves several key steps:

Tracking work

Use the product categories page if you need help finding the correct person or labels:

  1. Create the epic in gitlab-org group:

    • Title the epic Update Go version to <VERSION_NUMBER>.
    • Ping the engineering managers responsible for the projects listed below.
      • Most engineering managers can be identified on the product page or the feature page.
      • If you still can't find the engineering manager, use Git blame to identify a maintainer involved in the project.
  2. Create an upgrade issue for each dependency in the location indicated below titled Support building with Go <VERSION_NUMBER>. Add the proper labels to each issue for easier triage. These should include the stage, group and section.

    • The issue should be assigned by a member of the maintaining group.
    • The milestone should be assigned by a member of the maintaining group.

    NOTE: Some overlap exists between project dependencies. When creating an issue for a dependency that is part of a larger product, note the relationship in the issue body. For example: Projects built in the context of Omnibus GitLab have their runtime Go version managed by Omnibus, but "support" and compatibility should be a concern of the individual project. Issues in the parent project's dependencies issue should be about adding support for the updated Go version.

    NOTE: The upgrade issues must include upgrade validation items in their definition of done. Creating a second performance testing issue titled Validate operation and performance at scale with Go <VERSION_NUMBER> is strongly recommended to help with scheduling tasks and managing workloads.

  3. Schedule an update with the GitLab Development Kit:

    • Title the issue Support using Go version <VERSION_NUMBER>.
    • Set the issue as related to every issue created in the previous step.
  4. Schedule one issue per Sec Section team that maintains Go based Security Analyzers and add the section::sec label to each:

    NOTE: Updates to these Security analyzers should not block upgrades to Charts or Omnibus since the analyzers are built independently as separate container images.

  5. Schedule builder updates with Distribution projects:

    • Dependency and GitLab Development Kit issues created in previous steps should be set as blockers.
    • Each issue should have the title Support building with Go <VERSION_NUMBER> and description as noted:

    NOTE: If the component is not automatically upgraded for Omnibus GitLab and Cloud Native GitLab, issues should be opened in their respective trackers titled Updated bundled version of COMPONENT_NAME and set as blocked by the component's upgrade issue.

Known dependencies using Go

Component Name Where to track work
Alertmanager Issue Tracker
Docker Distribution Pruner Issue Tracker
Gitaly Issue Tracker
GitLab Compose Kit Issuer Tracker
GitLab Container Registry Issue Tracker
GitLab Elasticsearch Indexer Issue Tracker
GitLab agent server for Kubernetes (KAS) Issue Tracker
GitLab Pages Issue Tracker
GitLab Quality Images Issue Tracker
GitLab Shell Issue Tracker
GitLab Workhorse Issue Tracker
Labkit Issue Tracker
Node Exporter Issue Tracker
PgBouncer Exporter Issue Tracker
Postgres Exporter Issue Tracker
Prometheus Issue Tracker
Redis Exporter Issue Tracker

Communication plan

Communication is required at several key points throughout the process and should be included in the relevant issues as part of the definition of done:

  1. Immediately after creating the epic, it should be posted to Slack. Community members must ask the pinged engineering managers for assistance with this step. The responsible GitLab team member should share a link to the epic in the following Slack channels:
    • #backend
    • #development
  2. Immediately after merging the GitLab Development Kit Update, the same maintainer should add an entry to the engineering week-in-review sync and announce the change in the following Slack channels:
    • #backend
    • #development
  3. Immediately upon merge of the updated Go versions in Cloud-Native GitLab and Omnibus GitLab add the change to the engineering-week-in-review sync and announce in the following Slack channels:
    • #backend
    • #development
    • #releases

Upgrade validation

Upstream component maintainers must validate their Go-based projects using:

Upstream component maintainers should consider validating their Go-based projects with:

  • Isolated component operation performance tests.

    Integration tests are costly and should be testing inter-component operational issues. Isolated component testing reduces mean time to feedback on updates and decreases resource burn across the organization.

  • Components should have end-to-end test coverage in the GitLab Performance Test tool.

  • Integration validation through installation of fresh packages and upgrade from previous versions for:

    • Single GitLab Node
    • Reference Architecture Deployment
    • Geo Deployment