Go Fork Exec

1 minute read

Go self fork/exec in Linux/MacOS and possibly BSD

Go’s os package exposes a convenient way to fork and exec. Since, I found this trick handy, I thought I might share it. What I am trying to achieve is a way to re-execute the same binary image so that the task re-opens configuration files, re-establishes network connections - whatever it be - when a suitable POSIX signal is delivered to it.

func main() {
    if err := selfExec(); err != nil {
        // Process err
    // Exit this process

func selfExec() error {
    // Setup the binary name/path, any standard/file/socket
    // descriptors and environment variables.
    // Start a new process using os.StartProcess(..)

Let’s now look at how we can now support simple binary restarts using Go’s excellent support for POSIX signals. We will deliver SIGHUP to our sigch channel so the binary can re-execute.

sigch := make(chan os.Signal, 1)
signals.Notify(sigch, syscall.SIGHUP, syscall.SIGTERM)
for {
    // Something something...
    select {
        case sig := <-sigch :
            if sig == syscall.SIGHUP {
                // Re-Execute ourself
            } else {
                // Process other signals

Since this is a post about Go, we’ll keep Bash away. Using trap in Bash is yet another way to achieve the same thing. At least two ways to achieve the same thing ;)

I agree this post is intentionally vague because I did not want to flaff around with other logic. I will try to expand on it in the future.


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