How to Authenticate CLI Using OAuth

4 min read  #cli  #OAuth  #golang

Are you building a CLI that needs to authenticate using OAuth?

If so, you'll need to require permission for your access token using OAuth flow. In this article, we'll walk through the process of authenticating a CLI using OAuth and GitHub.

If you are interested in accessing the code for this project, you can refer to my GitHub repository.

What is OAuth 2.0

OAuth 2.0 is an open-standard authorization protocol that allows third-party applications to access user data without compromising credentials. It works by delegating user authentication to the service that hosts the user account and authorization for the application to access the user's data.

GitHub provides OAuth2-based authentication, which requires a client ID and secret to authenticate the client. Once authenticated, the client can request an access token, which can then be used to make authenticated requests to the GitHub API.

Setting up Github

To use APIs with a GitHub account, you need to go to the GitHub developer settings page and create a new GitHub application. Navigate to "Settings" -> "Developer settings" -> "OAuth Apps" and click "New OAuth App".

Fill out the required information, including the callback URL, which is the URL where the user will be redirected after authorizing the application.

Authenticating a CLI with Github in Golang

package main
import (

func main() {
	config := &oauth2.Config{
		ClientID:     os.Getenv("GITHUB_CLIENT_ID"),
		ClientSecret: os.Getenv("GITHUB_CLIENT_SECRET"),
		Scopes:       []string{"read:org", "read:user", "read:project", "public_repo", "gist"},
		Endpoint:     github.Endpoint,
		RedirectURL:  "http://localhost:9999/oauth/callback",
	// ...

To handle OAuth authentication, we'll be using the package. The ClientID and ClientSecret fields in the oauth2.Config struct should be replaced with your own GitHub credentials.

	// start server
	ctx := context.Background()
	tr := &http.Transport{
		TLSClientConfig: &tls.Config{InsecureSkipVerify: true},
	sslcli := &http.Client{Transport: tr}
	ctx = context.WithValue(ctx, oauth2.HTTPClient, sslcli)

	server := &http.Server{Addr: ":9999"}

	// create a channel to receive the authorization code
	codeChan := make(chan string)

	http.HandleFunc("/oauth/callback", handelOauthCallback(ctx, config, codeChan))

	go func() {
		if err := server.ListenAndServe(); err != nil && err != http.ErrServerClosed {
			log.Fatalf("Failed to start server: %v", err)

	// get the OAuth authorization URL
	url := config.AuthCodeURL("state", oauth2.AccessTypeOffline)

	// Redirect user to consent page to ask for permission
	// for the scopes specified above
	fmt.Printf("Your browser has been opened to visit::\n%s\n", url)

	// open user's browser to login page
	if err := browser.OpenURL(url); err != nil {
		panic(fmt.Errorf("failed to open browser for authentication %s", err.Error()))

	// wait for the authorization code to be received
	code := <-codeChan

	// exchange the authorization code for an access token
	token, err := config.Exchange(context.Background(), code)
	if err != nil {
		log.Fatalf("Failed to exchange authorization code for token: %v", err)

	if !token.Valid() {
		log.Fatalf("Cann't get source information without accessToken: %v", err)

	// write the access token to a file
	if err := writeTokenToFile(token); err != nil {
		log.Fatalf("Failed to write token to file: %v", err)

	// shut down the HTTP server
	if err := server.Shutdown(context.Background()); err != nil {
		log.Fatalf("Failed to shut down server: %v", err)

	log.Println(color.CyanString("Authentication successful"))

Here's how the authentication flow works:

  1. The program starts the server and launches the user's browser application for granting permission to authorize the program to access Github resources.
  2. Once the user grants permission, the authorization server redirects the request to the predefined redirect URL.
  3. The client program parses the redirect request and receives the authorization code.
  4. The client uses this authorization code to exchange for an access token by calling the authorization server endpoint.
  5. The program saves this token to a file named token.json with 0600 permissions
  6. Now you can make API requests using cli on behalf of the user.

NOTE: If you need to use a different scope, you will need to modify the Scopes field in the oauth2.Config struct accordingly.


  1. The OAuth 2.0 Authorization Framework RFC


In conclusion, OAuth 2.0 is a secure and convenient way to authenticate command-line applications using Github. By following the steps outlined in this post, you can easily authenticate your CLI using Github in Golang.

If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to add a comment or contact me on twitter.