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Building from source

Installation from a binary is recommended for normal kOps operation. However, if you want to build from source, it is straightforward:

If you don't have a GOPATH:

mkdir ~/kops
cd ~/kops
export GOPATH=`pwd`

Check out and build the code:

go get -d
cd ${GOPATH}/src/
git checkout release
  • The release branch is where releases are taken from. This is the stable code branch.
  • The master branch should also be functional, but is where active development happens, so may be less stable.

Cross Compiling

Cross compiling for things like nodeup are now done automatically via make nodeup. make push-aws-run-amd64 TARGET=admin@$TARGET will automatically choose the linux amd64 build from your .build directory.


To enable interactive debugging, the kOps binary needs to be specially compiled to include debugging symbols. Add DEBUGGING=true to the make invocation to set the compile flags appropriately.

For example, DEBUGGING=true make will produce a kOps binary that can be interactively debugged.

Interactive debugging with Delve

Delve can be used to interactively debug the kOps binary. After installing Delve, you can use it directly, or run it in headless mode for use with an Interactive Development Environment (IDE).

For example, run dlv --listen=:2345 --headless=true --api-version=2 exec ${GOPATH}/bin/kops -- <kops command>, and then configure your IDE to connect its debugger to port 2345 on localhost.


  • Make sure $GOPATH is set, and your workspace is configured.
  • kOps will not compile with symlinks in $GOPATH. See issue go issue 17451 for more information
  • building kops requires go 1.15
  • kOps will only compile if the source is checked out in $GOPATH/src/ If you try to use $GOPATH/src/ you will run into issues with package imports not working as expected.