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liboqs-go: Go bindings for liboqs

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The Open Quantum Safe (OQS) project has the goal of developing and prototyping quantum-resistant cryptography.

liboqs-go offers a Go wrapper for the Open Quantum Safe liboqs C library, which is a C library for quantum-resistant cryptographic algorithms.

liboqs-go is a Go package, hence in the following it is assumed that you have access to a Go compliant environment. liboqs-go has been extensively tested on Linux, macOS and Windows platforms. Continuous integration is provided via GitHub actions.

The project contains the following files and directories:

  • oqs/oqs.go: main package file for the wrapper
  • .config/liboqs-go.pc: pkg-config configuration file needed by cgo
  • .config-static/liboqs-go.pc: pkg-config configuration file needed by cgo when linking statically against liboqs
  • examples: usage examples, including a client/server KEM over TCP/IP
  • oqstests: unit tests


  • liboqs

  • git

  • CMake

  • C compiler, e.g., gcc , clang , MSYS2 etc.

  • Go 1.21 or later

  • pkg-config (use sudo apt-get install pkg-config to install on Ubuntu/Debian-based Linux platforms or install it via a third-party compiler such as MSYS2 on Windows)

  • If using Windows, you need a C compiler supported by cgo added to your PATH environment variable; currently, the best supported ones are provided by MSYS2 and tdm-gcc; Cygwin is not yet supported by cgo; we recommend using MSYS2 since it also contains pkg-config as a package; to install gcc and pkg-config under MSYS2, please execute in a MSYS2 terminal window pacman -S mingw64/mingw-w64-x86_64-gcc mingw64/mingw-w64-x86_64-pkg-config, then add the corresponding installation location (e.g, C:\msys64\mingw64\bin) to your PATH environment variable by executing set PATH=%PATH%;C:\msys64\mingw64\bin.

    Very important: make sure that the PATH entry to the gcc and pkg-config provided by MSYS2comes before any other (if any) gcc and pkg-config executables you may have installed (e.g. such as the ones provided by Cygwin). To verify, type into a Command Prompt gcc --version, and you should get an output such as

    gcc (Rev3, Built by MSYS2 project) 9.1.0

Functional restrictions

Please note that on some platforms not all algorithms are supported:

  • macOS/Darwin: The Rainbow and Classic-McEliece algorithm families as well as HQC-256 do not work.
  • Windows: The Rainbow and Classic-McEliece algorithm families do not work.


In the rest of this document, we assume you execute commands from inside the $HOME directory on UNIX-like systems, or from inside the %USERPROFILE% on Windows.

Configure, build and install liboqs

Execute in a Terminal/Console/Administrator Command Prompt

git clone --depth=1
cmake -S liboqs -B liboqs/build -DBUILD_SHARED_LIBS=ON
cmake --build liboqs/build --parallel 8
cmake --build liboqs/build --target install

The last line may require prefixing it by sudo on UNIX-like systems. Change --parallel 8 to match the number of available cores on your system.

On UNIX-like platforms, you may need to set the LD_LIBRARY_PATH (DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH on macOS) environment variable to point to the path to liboqs' library directory, e.g.,

export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=$LD_LIBRARY_PATH:/usr/local/lib

On Windows platforms, you must ensure that the liboqs shared library oqs.dll is visible system-wide, and that the following environment variable are being set. Use the "Edit the system environment variables" Control Panel tool or execute in a Command Prompt, e.g.,

set PATH=%PATH%;C:\Program Files (x86)\liboqs\bin

You can change liboqs' installation directory by configuring the build to use an alternative path, e.g., C:\liboqs, by replacing the first CMake line above by

cmake -S liboqs -B liboqs/build -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX="C:\liboqs" -DBUILD_SHARED_LIBS=ON

Configure and install the wrapper

Execute in a Terminal/Console/Administrator Command Prompt

git clone --depth=1

Next, you must modify the following lines in $HOME/liboqs-go/.config/liboqs-go.pc


so they correspond to your liboqs include/lib installation directories. On Windows, using forward slashes / and not back-slashes, e.g.,

LIBOQS_INCLUDE_DIR=C:/Program Files (x86)/liboqs/bin
LIBOQS_LIB_DIR=C:/Program Files (x86)/liboqs/lib

Finally, you must add/append the $HOME/liboqs-go/.config directory to the PKG_CONFIG_PATH environment variable, i.e., on UNIX-like systems execute in a terminal

export PKG_CONFIG_PATH=$PKG_CONFIG_PATH:$HOME/liboqs-go/.config

or, on Windows platforms, use the "Edit the system environment variables" Control Panel tool or execute in a Command Prompt

set PKG_CONFIG_PATH=%PKG_CONFIG_PATH%;$HOME/liboqs-go/.config

Linking statically against liboqs - excluding macOS/OS X platforms

Replace .config with .config-static when setting the PKG_CONFIG_PATH environment variable above. This assumes that you previously compiled and installed the static version of liboqs, i.e., you did not pass -DBUILD_SHARED_LIBS=ON to CMake when configuring liboqs above.

Note that .config-static/liboqs-go.pc links statically against OpenSSL as well. In case you don't have OpenSSL installed, remove the -lcrypto from the last line of .config-static/liboqs-go.pc, and make sure you compiled liboqs without OpenSSL, i.e., pass the -DOQS_USE_OPENSSL=OFF CMake flag when configuring liboqs, otherwise you will get linker errors.

Important: Ensure that you run go clean -cache before building or running, so pkg-config refreshes its cache.

Linking statically against liboqs - macOS/OS X platforms

The macOS/OS X linker does not allow choosing static vs dynamic linking when both static and dynamic versions of a library are installed. In this case, the dynamic version will always be chosen by the linker. Hence, to link statically agains liboqs on macOS/OS X, make sure you have not installed the dynamic version of liboqs anywhere on your system, and use the .config (not .config-static) when setting the PKG_CONFIG_PATH environment variable.

Important: Ensure that you run go clean -cache before building or running.

Run the examples

From inside the liboqs-go directory, execute

go run examples/kem/kem.go
go run examples/sig/sig.go
go run examples/rand/rand.go

Build executables

Replace go run by go build, e.g., go build examples/kem/kem.go.

Note go binaries produced on macOS arm64 are not code-signed properly. See golang/go#63997.

To fix, run

codesign -f -s - path/to/executable

Run the unit tests

From inside the liboqs-go directory, execute

cd liboqs-go
go test -v ./oqstests

On Windows, you may need to replace forward-slashes / by back-slashes \.

Usage in standalone applications

liboqs-go can be imported into Go programs with

import (

The examples in the examples directory are self-explanatory and provide more details about the wrapper's API.


The liboqs-go wrapper is fully documented using the Go standard documentation conventions. For example, to read the full documentation about the oqs.Signature.Verify method, execute from inside the liboqs-go directory

go doc liboqs-go/oqs.Signature.Verify

For the RNG-related function, execute e.g.

go doc liboqs-go/oqs/rand.RandomBytes

For automatically-generated documentation in HTML format, click here.

For the RNG-related documentation, click here.


A self-explanatory minimalistic Docker file is provided in Dockerfile.

Build the image by executing

docker build -t oqs-go .

Run, e.g., the key encapsulation example by executing

docker run -it oqs-go sh -c "cd liboqs-go && go run examples/kem/kem.go"

Or, run the unit tests with

docker run -it oqs-go sh -c "cd liboqs-go && go test -v ./oqstests"

In case you want to use the Docker container as a development environment, mount your current project in the Docker container with

docker run --rm -it --workdir=/app -v ${PWD}:/app oqs-go /bin/bash

Limitations and security

liboqs is designed for prototyping and evaluating quantum-resistant cryptography. Security of proposed quantum-resistant algorithms may rapidly change as research advances, and may ultimately be completely insecure against either classical or quantum computers.

We believe that the NIST Post-Quantum Cryptography standardization project is currently the best avenue to identifying potentially quantum-resistant algorithms. liboqs does not intend to "pick winners", and we strongly recommend that applications and protocols rely on the outcomes of the NIST standardization project when deploying post-quantum cryptography.

We acknowledge that some parties may want to begin deploying post-quantum cryptography prior to the conclusion of the NIST standardization project. We strongly recommend that any attempts to do make use of so-called hybrid cryptography, in which post-quantum public-key algorithms are used alongside traditional public key algorithms (like RSA or elliptic curves) so that the solution is at least no less secure than existing traditional cryptography.

Just like liboqs, liboqs-go is provided "as is", without warranty of any kind. See LICENSE for the full disclaimer.


liboqs-go is licensed under the MIT License; see LICENSE for details.


The Open Quantum Safe project is led by Douglas Stebila and Michele Mosca at the University of Waterloo.

liboqs-go was developed by Vlad Gheorghiu at softwareQ Inc. and at the University of Waterloo.


Financial support for the development of Open Quantum Safe has been provided by Amazon Web Services and the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security.

We'd like to make a special acknowledgement to the companies who have dedicated programmer time to contribute source code to OQS, including Amazon Web Services, evolutionQ, softwareQ, and Microsoft Research.

Research projects which developed specific components of OQS have been supported by various research grants, including funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC); see the source papers for funding acknowledgments.