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serialport v7.0.2

Node.js package to access serial ports. Linux, OSX and Windows. Welcome your robotic JavaScript overlords. Better yet, program them!

Node Serialport

Quick Answers to Important Questions

Helpful Resources for Getting Started with Node-Serialport

In addition to reading the article mentioned above, these others might help you:

Table of Contents

Platform Support

serialport officially supports all Active, Maintenance and Current LTS releases. The platforms, architectures and Node versions that serialport supports are the following;

Platform / ArchSupported
Linux / ia32☑⁴
Linux / x64
Linux / ARM v6¹
Linux / ARM v7¹
Linux / ARM v8¹
Linux / MIPSel¹
Linux / PPC64¹
OSX³ / x64
Windows² / x86
Windows² / x64

¹ ARM, MIPSel and PPC64¹ platforms are not currently part of our testing or build matrix, but will probably work.

² Windows 7, 8, 10, and 10 IoT are supported, but our CI tests only Windows Server 2012 R2.

³ OSX 10.4 Tiger and above are supported, but our CI tests only 10.9.5 Mavericks with Xcode 6.1.

⁴ NodeJS has dropped prebuilt binaries for NodeJS 10 and above for 32bit linux. As a result it's too difficult to maintain support. However if you build nodejs and serialport yourself it will probably work.

For NodeJS versions 0.10 and 0.12, the last functioning release was serialport@4. For node 4.0 the last functioning release was serialport@6.

Installation Instructions

For most "standard" use cases (Node v4.x on Mac, Linux, or Windows on a x86 or x64 processor), Node-Serialport will install nice and easy with:

npm install serialport

Installation Special Cases

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.

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).

OBS: NW.js support requires prebuild >= 7.3.0.

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

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).


Opening a Port

var SerialPort = require('serialport');
var port = new SerialPort('/dev/tty-usbserial1', {
  baudRate: 57600

When opening a serial port, specify (in this order)

  1. Path to Serial Port - required.
  2. Options - optional and described below.

Constructing a SerialPort object immediately opens a port. While you can read and write at any time (it will be queued until the port is open), most port functions require an open port. There are three ways to detect when a port is opened.

  • The open event is always emitted when the port is opened.
  • The constructor's openCallback is passed to .open(), if you haven't disabled the autoOpen option. If you have disabled it, the callback is ignored.
  • The .open() function takes a callback that is called after the port is opened. You can use this if you've disabled the autoOpen option or have previously closed an open port.
var SerialPort = require('serialport');
var port = new SerialPort('/dev/tty-usbserial1');

port.write('main screen turn on', function(err) {
  if (err) {
    return console.log('Error on write: ', err.message);
  console.log('message written');

// Open errors will be emitted as an error event
port.on('error', function(err) {
  console.log('Error: ', err.message);

Detecting open errors can be moved to the constructor's callback.

var SerialPort = require('serialport');
var port = new SerialPort('/dev/tty-usbserial1', function (err) {
  if (err) {
    return console.log('Error: ', err.message);

port.write('main screen turn on', function(err) {
  if (err) {
    return console.log('Error on write: ', err.message);
  console.log('message written');

When disabling the autoOpen option you'll need to open the port on your own.

var SerialPort = require('serialport');
var port = new SerialPort('/dev/tty-usbserial1', { autoOpen: false }); (err) {
  if (err) {
    return console.log('Error opening port: ', err.message);

  // Because there's no callback to write, write errors will be emitted on the port:
  port.write('main screen turn on');

// The open event is always emitted
port.on('open', function() {
  // open logic

Get updates of new data from the serial port as follows:

// Switches the port into "flowing mode"
port.on('data', function (data) {
  console.log('Data:', data);

// Read data that is available but keep the stream from entering "flowing mode"
port.on('readable', function () {

You can write to the serial port by sending a string or buffer to the write method:

port.write('Hi Mom!');
port.write(Buffer.from('Hi Mom!'));

Enjoy and do cool things with this code.


Testing is an important feature of any library. To aid in our own tests we've developed a MockBinding a fake hardware binding that doesn't actually need any hardware to run. This class passes all of the same tests as our hardware based bindings and provides a few additional test related interfaces. To use the mock binding check out the example here.

const SerialPort = require('serialport/test');
const MockBinding = SerialPort.Binding;

// Create a port and enable the echo and recording.
MockBinding.createPort('/dev/ROBOT', { echo: true, record: true })
const port = new SerialPort('/dev/ROBOT')


We use the debug package and log under the serialport namespace:

  • serialport:main for all high-level/main logging
  • serialport:binding for all low-level logging

You can enable logging through environment variables. Check the debug docs for info.

DEBUG=serialport:main node myapp.js
DEBUG=serialport:* node myapp.js
DEBUG=* node myapp.js

You can enable core dumps on osx with;

ulimit -c unlimited for core dumps

You can "console.log" from c++ with;

fprintf(stdout, "Hellow World num=%d str=%s\n", 4, "hi");

You can make use of the serialport-repl command with;

serialport-repl # to auto detect an arduino
serialport-repl /path/name # to connect to a specific port

It will load a serialport object with debugging turned on.

Error Handling

All functions in Node-Serialport follow two conventions:

  • Argument errors throw a TypeError object. You'll see these when functions are called with invalid arguments.
  • Runtime errors provide Error objects to the function's callback or emit an error event if no callback is provided. You'll see these when a runtime error occurs, like trying to open a bad port or setting an unsupported baud rate.

You should never have to wrap a Node-Serialport object in a try/catch statement if you call the functions with the correct arguments.

Command Line Tools

If you install serialport globally (e.g., npm install -g serialport), you'll receive two command line tools.

Serial Port List

serialport-list will list all available serial ports in different formats.

$ serialport-list -h

  Usage: serialport-list [options]

  List available serial ports


    -h, --help           output usage information
    -V, --version        output the version number
    -f, --format <type>  Format the output as text, json, or jsonline. default: text

$ serialport-list
/dev/tty.usbmodem1421    Arduino (

$ serialport-list -f json
[{"comName":"/dev/tty.Bluetooth-Incoming-Port"},{"comName":"/dev/tty.usbmodem1421","manufacturer":"Arduino (","serialNumber":"752303138333518011C1","locationId":"14200000","vendorId":"2341","productId":"0043"}]

$ serialport-list -f jsonline
{"comName":"/dev/tty.usbmodem1421","manufacturer":"Arduino (","serialNumber":"752303138333518011C1","locationId":"14200000","vendorId":"2341","productId":"0043"}

Serial Port Terminal

serialport-term provides a basic terminal interface for communicating over a serial port. ctrl+c will exit.

$ serialport-term -h

  Usage: serialport-term -p <port> [options]

  A basic terminal interface for communicating over a serial port. Pressing ctrl+c exits.


    -h, --help                     output usage information
    -V, --version                  output the version number
    -l --list                      List available ports then exit
    -p, --port, --portname <port>  Path or name of serial port
    -b, --baud <baudrate>          Baud rate default: 9600
    --databits <databits>          Data bits default: 8
    --parity <parity>              Parity default: none
    --stopbits <bits>              Stop bits default: 1
    --echo --localecho             Print characters as you type them

$ serialport-term -l
/dev/tty.usbmodem1421    Arduino (

Serial Port Repl

serialport-repl provides a nodejs repl for working with serialport. This is valuable when debugging.

You can make use of the serialport-repl command with;

$ serialport-repl # to auto detect an arduino
$ serialport-repl /dev/tty.usbmodem1421 # to connect to a specific port

It will load a serialport object with debugging turned on.

  serialport:binding:auto-detect loading DarwinBinding +0ms
port = SerialPort("/dev/tty.usbmodem1421", { autoOpen: false })
globals { SerialPort, portName, port }
> SerialPort.list()
  serialport:main .list +6s
[ { comName: '/dev/tty.usbmodem1421',
    manufacturer: 'Arduino (',
    serialNumber: '752303138333518011C1',
    pnpId: undefined,
    locationId: '14200000',
    vendorId: '2341',
    productId: '0043' } ]
> port.write('Calling all Autobots!')
  serialport:main _read queueing _read for after open +1m
  serialport:main opening path: /dev/tty.usbmodem1421 +30s
  serialport:bindings open +1ms


SerialPort is MIT licensed and all it's dependencies are MIT or BSD licensed.


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