Skip to main content
Version: 9.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 3.x, so please ensure you have it installed and in your path for all operating systems.

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++ python3 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.

Electron has a different application binary interface (ABI) from Node.js, so it is necessary to make sure the correct ABI version is installed to match the electron version of your project, rather than the node.js version installed on your machine. The easiest way to achieve this is to use electron-rebuild:

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

If you have trouble on Windows, try: .\node_modules\.bin\electron-rebuild.cmd

Each release of Serialport is published with prebuilt support for a large number of environments (and ABI combinations), you can see the supported environments in the assets for our latest release. If you are using an environment which doesn't have a prebuild available then you will need to recompile it.

To recompile serialport (or any native Node.js module) for Electron, you can use electron-rebuild. You may need to install additional build tools in order to use electron-rebuild to recompile for your environment; more info can be found at Electron's README.

Once electron-rebuild, and the required build tools are installed you can configure the recompile process:

  1. Add "buildDependenciesFromSource": true,"npmRebuild": false, to your project.json's build configuration; more info at Electron-builder.

Additional troubleshooting info for electron can be found within the electron documentation.

Invoking SerialPort within the renderer processes

If you wish to invoke serialport within your renderer processes then you will need to override some of the Electron default settings.

  1. Add 'app.allowRendererProcessReuse = false' within your main process - Required since Electron V9
  2. Add 'contextIsolation: false' to your BrowserWindow webPreferences within your main process - Required since Electron V12

For example:

app.allowRendererProcessReuse = false

import { app, BrowserWindow } from "electron"

async function createMainWindow() {
const window = new BrowserWindow({
webPreferences: {
nodeIntegration: true,
contextIsolation: false

Over time we should migrate away from invocation within the renderer process, but many existing projects still rely on these workarounds.

For an example Electron 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.