Proposal: DNS Based Vanity Imports

Author(s): Sam Whited

Last updated: 2018-06-30

Discussion at


A new mechanism for performing vanity imports using DNS TXT records.


Vanity imports allow the servers behind Go import paths to delegate hosting of a packages source code to another host. This is done using the HTTP protocol over TLS which means that expired certificates, problems with bespoke servers, timeouts contacting the server, and any number of other problems can cause looking up the source to fail. Running an HTTP server also adds unnecessary overhead and expense that may be difficult for hobbyists that create popular packages. To avoid these problems, a new mechanism for looking up vanity imports is needed.


To create a vanity import using DNS a separate TXT record is created for each package with the name where is the domain from the package import path. The record data is the same format that would appear in an HTTP based vanity imports “content” attribute. This allows us to easily list all packages with vanity imports under a given apex domain:

$ dig +short TXT
" git"
" git"

Because the current system for vanity import paths requires TLS unless the -insecure flag is provided to go get, it is desirable to provide similar security guarantees with DNS. To this end go get should only accept TXT records with a verified DNSSEC signature unless the -insecure flag has been passed. To determine which package to import the Go tool would search each TXT record returned for one that starts with the same fully qualified import path that triggered the lookup. TXT records for a given domain should be fetched only once when the first package with a given domain in its import path is found and reused when parsing other import lines in the same build.


Before we can make an HTTP request (as the current vanity import mechanism does), or even establish a TLS connection, we must already have performed a DNS lookup. Because this happens anyways, it would be ideal to cut out other steps (HTTP, TLS, etc.) altogether (and the extra problems they bring with them) and store the information in the DNS record. Even if vanity imports are deprecated in the near future for ZIP based package servers ala vgo, backwards compatibility will be needed for some time and any experience gained here may apply to pointing domains at package servers (eg. via DNS SRV).

TXT records were chosen instead of a custom resource record to simplify deployment and avoid the overhead of dealing with the IETF. Because TXT records are limited to 255 characters but the apex domain used by a package may be significantly longer than this, it is possible that some packages may not fit in the record. Since fully qualified package names must be typed in import statements this does not seem practical or a cause for concern, so it is not addressed here.


If no TXT records are found for a given domain go get should fall back to using the HTTP-based mechanism. Having DNS TXT record lookup also lays the groundwork for discovering package servers in a vgo-based future.


The author of this proposal has started looking into implementing it in the Go tool, but cannot yet commit to a timeframe for an implementation.

Open issues

  • Does a DNSSEC implementation exist that could be vendored into the Go tool?