Learning Lab: Create Simple TCP/IP Server in Go

This lab focuses on the net package of the standard library. The first thing to do is to allow for the PORT variable to be configurable, which is done using os.Getenv. It’s always good to add a check and a default, which looks like the following.

PORT := os.Getenv("PORT")
if PORT == "" {
    PORT = "9001"

Since os.Getenv returns a string, we check if PORT is an empty string rather than if its nil.

The next task is to print a greeting on a new inbound connection. This is where net comes in. The example for a simple tcp server in the documentation is the following.

ln, err := net.Listen("tcp", ":8080")
if err != nil {
    // handle error
for {
    conn, err := ln.Accept()
    if err != nil {
        // handle error
    go handleConnection(conn)

My implementation looks like the following.

addr := fmt.Sprintf("", PORT)

lis, err := net.Listen("tcp", addr)
if err != nil {

log.Printf("Server is running at %s ...", addr)
for {
    conn, err := lis.Accept()
    if err != nil {

    welcome := fmt.Sprintf("Hello %s!\n", conn.RemoteAddr().String())

I added a print statement to log that the server is running and what address its listening on. I also added conn.RemoteAddr().String() to the greeting, which returns the remote network address.

The last task is to enable a minimal set of commands. Unfortunately the example implementations of net.Listener in the documentation don’t really cover how to handle input from net.Conn. After taking a look at the example solution, it uses bufio.NewScanner and loops over the scanned lines using a switch statement. I like this approach rather than approaches I found online that use a for loop and reading the input into a buffer.

My implementation is going to use bufio.NewReader instead of scanner, and looks like the following.

func handle(c net.Conn) {
    defer c.Close()

    br := bufio.NewReader(c)

    remoteAddr := c.RemoteAddr().String()

    for {
        fmt.Fprintf(c, "> ")

        line, err := br.ReadString('\n')
        if err != nil {
            if err == io.EOF {

        line = strings.TrimeSpace(line)
        log.Printf("%s > %s\n", remoteAddr, line)

        switch line {
            case "ip":
                fmt.Fprintf(c, "%s\n", remoteAddr)
            case "rng":
                fmt.Fprintf(c, "%d\n", rand.Int63())
            case "time":
                fmt.Fprintf(c, "%s\n", time.Now())
                fmt.Fprintf(c, "commands: ip|rng|time\n")

One thing to mention is rather than having to call c.Write and pass []byte everytime, or write a helper function, I chose to use fmt.Fprintf. It’s like fmt.Printf, but allows you to pass an io.Writer (net.Conn in this case).

When building/running the server and connecting to it using nc localhost 9001, I got the following results.

commands: ip|rng|time
> ip
> rng
> time
2021-12-23 15:28:39.715435996 -0800 PST m=+13.929682867

There are two extra tasks, which are to create a Dockerfile and a docker-compose.yaml file. Since I love both, I will quickly implement them.

The Dockerfile looks like the following.

FROM go:1.17
ADD . /tcp-server
WORKDIR /tcp-server
RUN go build -o tcp-server
CMD ["./tcp-server"]

The docker-compose.yaml file looks like the following.

version: "3.9"
    build: .
      - "9001:9001"
      - PORT=9001



#go #net #tcp #ocms #lab