Version: 8.x.x

Installing SerialPort

Installation Instructions#

For most "standard" use cases (a supported Node.js on Mac, Linux, or Windows on a x64 processor), Node SerialPort will install nice and easy with:

npm install serialport

Compilation Problems#

We use prebuild to compile and post binaries of the library for most common use cases (Linux, Mac, Windows on standard processor platforms). If you have a special case, Node SerialPort will work, but it will compile the binary during the install. Compiling with nodejs is done via node-gyp which requires Python 2.x, so please ensure you have it installed and in your path for all operating systems. Python 3.x will not work.

This assumes you have everything on your system necessary to compile ANY native module for Node.js. If you don't, then please ensure the following are true for your system before filing a "Does not install" issue.

Installation Special Cases#

Alpine Linux#

Alpine is a (very) small distro, but it uses the musl standard library instead of glibc (used by most other Linux distros) so it requires compilation. It's commonly used with Docker. A user has confirmed that Node-Serialport works with alpine-node.

# If you don't have node/npm already, add that first
sudo apk add --no-cache nodejs
# Add the necessary build and runtime dependencies
sudo apk add --no-cache make gcc g++ python linux-headers udev
# Then we can install serialport, forcing it to compile
npm install serialport --build-from-source
# If you're installing as root, you'll also need to use the --unsafe-perm flag


Electron is a framework for creating cross-platform desktop applications. It comes with its own version of the Node.js runtime.

If you require serialport as a dependency for an Electron project, you must compile it for the version of Electron your project's using.

When you first install serialport it will compile against the version of Node.js on your machine, not against the Node.js runtime bundled with Electron.

To recompile serialport (or any native Node.js module) for Electron, you can use electron-rebuild; more info at Electron's README.

  1. npm install --save-dev electron-rebuild
  2. Add electron-rebuild to your project's package.json's install hook
  3. Run npm install

For an example project, check out electron-serialport.


NW.js is an app runtime based on Chromium and node.js.

Like Electron, NW.js also requires compilation against its own specific headers.

To instruct prebuild to build against the correct headers, place a file named .prebuildrc on your package root with the following content:


Where <target_version> is the NW.js version you are building against (for example, 0.26.6).

Illegal Instruction#

The pre-compiled binaries assume a fully capable chip. Intel's Galileo 2, for example, lacks a few instruction sets from the ia32 architecture. A few other platforms have similar issues. If you get Illegal Instruction when trying to run Node-Serialport, you'll need to ask npm to rebuild the Serialport binary.

# Will ask npm to build serialport during install time
npm install serialport --build-from-source
# If you have a package that depends on serialport, you can ask npm to rebuild it specifically...
npm rebuild serialport --build-from-source

Mac OS X#

Ensure that you have at a minimum the xCode Command Line Tools installed appropriate for your system configuration. If you recently upgraded the OS, it probably removed your installation of Command Line Tools, please verify before submitting a ticket. To compile node-serialport with Node.js 4.x+, you will need to use g++ v4.8 or higher.

Raspberry Pi Linux#

Follow the instructions for setting up a Raspberry pi for use with Johnny-Five and Raspi IO. These projects use Node Serialport under the hood.

RevisionCPUArm Version
A, A+, B, B+32-bit ARM1176JZF-SARMv6
Compute Module32-bit ARM1176JZF-SARMv6
Zero32-bit ARM1176JZF-SARMv6
B232-bit ARM Cortex-A7ARMv7
B332-bit ARM Cortex-A53ARMv8

To enable the serial port on Raspbian, you launch raspi-config, then select Interfacing Options, then Serial. You will then be asked two questions:

  1. Would you like a login shell to be accessible over serial?
  2. Would you like the serial port hardware to be enabled?

You must answer No to question 1 and Yes to question 2. If the login shell is left active, you will experience hangs and or disconnects.

DietPi also has the ability to enable the serial port in dietpi-config; however, it doens't have a way to disable the login shell that we know of.

sudo / root#

If you're going to use sudo or root to install Node-Serialport, npm will require you to use the unsafe parameters flag.

sudo npm install serialport --unsafe-perm --build-from-source

Failure to use the flag results in an error like this:

root@rpi3:~# npm install -g serialport
/usr/bin/serialport-list -> /usr/lib/node_modules/serialport/bin/serialport-list.js
/usr/bin/serialport-term -> /usr/lib/node_modules/serialport/bin/serialport-terminal.js
> serialport@6.0.0-beta1 install /Users/wizard/src/node-serialport
> prebuild-install || node-gyp rebuild
prebuild-install info begin Prebuild-install version 2.2.1
prebuild-install info install installing standalone, skipping download.
gyp WARN EACCES user "root" does not have permission to access the dev dir "/root/.node-gyp/6.9.1"
gyp WARN EACCES attempting to reinstall using temporary dev dir "/usr/lib/node_modules/serialport/.node-gyp"
make: Entering directory '/usr/lib/node_modules/serialport/build'
make: *** No rule to make target '../.node-gyp/6.9.1/include/node/common.gypi', needed by 'Makefile'. Stop.
make: Leaving directory '/usr/lib/node_modules/serialport/build'
gyp ERR! build error
gyp ERR! stack Error: `make` failed with exit code: 2

Ubuntu/Debian Linux#

The best way to install any version of Node.js is to use the NodeSource Node.js binary distributions. Older versions of Ubuntu install Node.js with the wrong version and binary name. If your Node binary is nodejs instead of node, or if your Node version is v0.10.29, then you should follow these instructions.

You'll need the package build-essential to compile serialport. If there's a binary for your platform, you won't need it. Keep rocking!

# Using Ubuntu and Node 6
curl -sL | sudo -E bash -
sudo apt-get install -y nodejs
# Using Debian and Node 6 as root
curl -sL | bash -
apt-get install -y nodejs


Node-Serialport supports Windows 7, 8.1, 10, and 10 IoT. Precompiled binaries are available, but if you want to build it from source you'll need to follow the node-gyp installation instructions. Once you've got things working, you can install Node-Serialport from source with:

npm install serialport --build-from-source

Node-gyp's documentation doesn't mention it, but it sometimes helps to create a C++ project in Visual Studio so that it will install any necessary components not already installed during the past two hours of setup. This will solve some instances of Failed to locate: "CL.exe".

An old issue that you may still run into: when working with multiple Serial Ports you can set the UV_THREADPOOL_SIZE environment variable to be set to 1 + the number of ports you wish to open at a time. Defaults to 4 which supports 3 open ports.

Last updated on by Francis Gulotta