Emad Elsaid Go FileSystem with fallback

Thursday 27 October 2022


I have been working on Xlog and I needed a way for the user to override assets files that Xlog serves from embed.FS. So I had to find a way to have two fs.FS instances to work as a unit. with one overriding the other.


So I had a list of assets that gets embeded in the binary

import _ "embed"

//go:embed public
var public embed.FS
  • Then it's used with http.FS to serve files with http.
  • I needed the user to override the files while running the program. so a file under ./public/style.css overrides the same file in public embed.FS


  • I needed another FS in the picture which serves files from current directory public
  • a way to find the file in the current directory FS first and if not found serve it from public embed.FS
  • So I thought having a struct that include these two FS AND implements the FS interface can make both FS be presented as one
  • turns out fs.FS interface just implements Open(name string) (File, error)
import (

// return file that exists in one of the FS structs.
// Prioritizing the end of the slice over earlier FSs.
type priorityFS []fs.FS

func (df priorityFS) Open(name string) (fs.File, error) {
	for i := len(df) - 1; i >= 0; i-- {
		cf := df[i]
		f, err := cf.Open(name)
		if err == nil {
			return f, err

	return nil, fs.ErrNotExist

How does it work?

  • priorityFS is a new type that's a slice of fs.FS that means it can include both an os.DirFS and embed.FS and any other struct that implements fs.FS interface
  • Open will go over all FS instances in reverse. if the file is found it'll be returned, otherwise it'll continue searching for the file backwards in the slice.


I use it in conjunction with http.FS and http.FileServer to serve files under an HTTP server

wd, _ := os.Getwd()
staticFSs := http.FS(priorityFS{

server := http.FileServer(staticFSs)

So now when a file exists in current directory with the same path as the embeded file the current directory file will be served.

The type is a slice and Open doesn't work on specific length so it can be used for more than just 2 filesystems.

See Also

Converting Ruby sinatra project to Go
Copy file
Country code to flag emojie in Go
Go function logging technique
Go init function
Go slice that doesn't grow past capacity
Golang Bleve Experience
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