Go build obfuscator.

Daniel Martí d342de4099 CHANGELOG: v0.7.1 happening today 1 week ago
.github 0119a775d7 CI: test with gotip as of July 30th 1 week ago
internal 21bd89ff73 slight simplifications and alloc reductions 1 month ago
scripts 201d890430 start checking some third party builds for regressions 2 months ago
testdata 4155854a2e go 1.18.x now sets -buildvcs=false for `go test` 2 weeks ago
.gitattributes ab560ff007 start testing on GitHub Actions 2 years ago
.gitignore f1bf6f91ee skip literals used in constant expressions 2 years ago
AUTHORS 22e3d30216 support code taking the address of a []byte literal (#530) 3 months ago
CHANGELOG.md d342de4099 CHANGELOG: v0.7.1 happening today 1 week ago
CONTRIBUTING.md 8e7765ee6f CONTRIBUTING: introduce -toolexec and add more dev tips 4 months ago
LICENSE 805c895d59 set up an AUTHORS file to attribute copyright 1 year ago
README.md 8bc971e0a2 README: slightly tweak the wording around flags 1 month ago
bench_test.go 91d4a8b6af start reporting total allocs by garble in the benchmark 5 months ago
cmdgo_quoted.go 0b6769c807 remove duplicate go:generate directive 4 months ago
go.mod c9337022a0 bump gotip and x/exp, mention 1.19 in the changelog 2 months ago
go.sum c9337022a0 bump gotip and x/exp, mention 1.19 in the changelog 2 months ago
hash.go c1c90fee13 make obfuscation fully deterministic with -seed 5 months ago
main.go 4155854a2e go 1.18.x now sets -buildvcs=false for `go test` 2 weeks ago
main_test.go 2d12f41e71 actually remove temporary directories after obfuscation 1 month ago
position.go 21dfbd3379 obfuscate cgo-generated-Go filenames 1 month ago
reverse.go 2d12f41e71 actually remove temporary directories after obfuscation 1 month ago
runtime_strip.go 237e0b7b7c Detect unnecessary imports instead of hardcoding 4 months ago
shared.go 3f9d77d9b6 join runtimeAndDeps into cannotObfuscate 1 month ago



go install mvdan.cc/garble@latest

Obfuscate Go code by wrapping the Go toolchain. Requires Go 1.18 or later.

garble build [build flags] [packages]

The tool also supports garble test to run tests with obfuscated code, and garble reverse to de-obfuscate text such as stack traces. See garble -h for up to date usage information.


Produce a binary that works as well as a regular build, but that has as little information about the original source code as possible.

The tool is designed to be:

  • Coupled with cmd/go, to support modules and build caching
  • Deterministic and reproducible, given the same initial source code
  • Reversible given the original source, to de-obfuscate panic stack traces


The tool wraps calls to the Go compiler and linker to transform the Go build, in order to:

  • Replace as many useful identifiers as possible with short base64 hashes
  • Replace package paths with short base64 hashes
  • Replace filenames and position information with short base64 hashes
  • Remove all build and module information
  • Strip debugging information and symbol tables via -ldflags="-w -s"
  • Obfuscate literals, if the -literals flag is given
  • Remove extra information, if the -tiny flag is given

The tool obfuscates the packages matching GOGARBLE, a comma-separated list of glob patterns of module path prefixes, as documented in go help private. When GOGARBLE is empty, it assumes the value of GOPRIVATE. When GOPRIVATE is also empty, then GOGARBLE assumes the value of the current module path, to obfuscate all packages under the current module.

Note that commands like garble build will use the go version found in your $PATH. To use different versions of Go, you can install them and set up $PATH with them. For example, for Go 1.17.1:

$ go install golang.org/dl/go1.17.1@latest
$ go1.17.1 download
$ PATH=$(go1.17.1 env GOROOT)/bin:${PATH} garble build

Literal obfuscation

Using the -literals flag causes literal expressions such as strings to be replaced with more complex expressions, resolving to the same value at run-time. This feature is opt-in, as it can cause slow-downs depending on the input code.

Literals used in constant expressions cannot be obfuscated, since they are resolved at compile time. This includes any expressions part of a const declaration, for example.

Tiny mode

With the -tiny flag, even more information is stripped from the Go binary. Position information is removed entirely, rather than being obfuscated. Runtime code which prints panics, fatal errors, and trace/debug info is removed. All in all, this can make binaries 2-5% smaller.

With this flag, no panics or fatal runtime errors will ever be printed, but they can still be handled internally with recover as normal. In addition, the GODEBUG environmental variable will be ignored.

Note that this flag can make debugging crashes harder, as a panic will simply exit the entire program without printing a stack trace, and all source code positions are set to line 1. Similarly, garble reverse is generally not useful in this mode.


garble build should take about twice as long as go build, as it needs to complete two builds. The original build, to be able to load and type-check the input code, and then the obfuscated build.

Garble obfuscates one package at a time, mirroring how Go compiles one package at a time. This allows Garble to fully support Go's build cache; incremental garble build calls should only re-build and re-obfuscate modified code.

Note that the first call to garble build may be comparatively slow, as it has to obfuscate each package for the first time. This is akin to clearing GOCACHE with go clean -cache and running a go build from scratch.

Determinism and seeds

Just like Go, garble builds are deterministic and reproducible in nature. This has significant benefits, such as caching builds and being able to use garble reverse to de-obfuscate stack traces.

By default, garble will obfuscate each package in a unique way, which will change if its build input changes: the version of garble, the version of Go, the package's source code, or any build parameter such as GOOS or -tags. This is a reasonable default since guessing those inputs is very hard.

However, providing your own obfuscation seed via -seed brings some advantages. For example, builds sharing the same seed will produce the same obfuscation, even if any of the build parameters or versions vary. It can also make reverse-engineering harder, as an end user could guess what version of Go or garble you're using.

Note that extra care should be taken when using custom seeds. If a seed used to build a binary gets lost, garble reverse will not work. Rotating the seeds can also help against reverse-engineering in the long run, as otherwise some bits of code may be obfuscated the same way over time.

An alternative approach is -seed=random, where each build is entirely different.


Most of these can improve with time and effort. The purpose of this section is to document the current shortcomings of this tool.

  • Exported methods are never obfuscated at the moment, since they could be required by interfaces. This area is a work in progress; see #3.

  • Garble aims to automatically detect which Go types are used with reflection, as obfuscating those types might break your program. Note that Garble obfuscates one package at a time, so if your reflection code inspects a type from an imported package, and your program broke, you may need to add a "hint" in the imported package: ```go type Message struct { Command string Args string }

// Never obfuscate the Message type. var _ = reflect.TypeOf(Message{}) ```

  • Go declarations exported for cgo via //export are not obfuscated.

  • Go plugins are not currently supported; see #87.


We welcome new contributors. If you would like to contribute, see CONTRIBUTING.md as a starting point.