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Zero downtime restarts and deploys for Go using systemd

During restarts, your API may be unavailable for short period of time required to stop an old app instance and start a new one. You can fix that by introducing another app (proxy) that listens on behalf of the main app and somehow proxies the data to the main app.

A popular way to do that is to pass the listening socket as a file descriptor to a child process and then re-create the socket there using the descriptor. Systemd can do that for you via the feature called socket activationopen in new window.

By configuring a systemd socket, you can tell systemd to listen on the configured ports and start your service with a copy of the listening sockets. During restarts, the data is not lost but stored in OS buffers.

Systemd socket

You can configure a systemd socket by creating /lib/systemd/system/myapp.socket file, for example, the following socket listens on the port 80, but you can add as many ports as you need:

ListenStream = 80
#ListenStream = 443
BindIPv6Only = both
Service      = myapp.service

WantedBy =

You also need to configure an accompanying systemd service by creating myapp.service file:

Description = myapp
After       =

Type = simple

ExecStart = /bin/myapp
ExecStop  = /bin/kill $MAINPID
KillMode  = none

WantedBy =

Using systemd sockets

The Go application should be modified to use the systemd socket instead of directly listening on the port. Let's install a Go module that will help us with that:

go get

And then use it like this:

import ""

func main() {
	listeners, err := activation.Listeners()
	if err != nil {
		return err

	httpLn := listeners[0]
	//httpsLn := listeners[1]

	httpServer := &http.Server{
		ReadHeaderTimeout: 5 * time.Second,
		ReadTimeout:	   5 * time.Second,
		WriteTimeout:	   5 * time.Second,
		IdleTimeout:	   60 * time.Second,
		Handler:		   router,
	if err := httpServer.Serve(httpLn); err != nil {
		log.Printf("Serve failed: %s", err)

Restarting the app

First, you need to start the configured systemd socket:

sudo systemctl start myapp.socket

And then check that the socket was created successfully:

sudo systemctl status myapp.socket

Systemd will automatically start the service on the first request or if the service crashes. You can also manually restart the service during deploys:

sudo systemctl restart myapp.service