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Jun 26, 2018
Dec 17, 2012
Oct 15, 2019


Startup script for Linux-based systems for running a Node.js app when rebooting, using an /etc/init.d script.

Looking for a maintainer

If you use node-startup and would like to be a maintainer, send me a message.


Clone the repo:

git clone
cd node-startup/init.d

Edit the node-app script with your settings from the Configuration section, then follow instructions in the Running section.


At the top of the node-app file, a few items are declared which are either passed to the Node.js app or used for general execution/management.

Node.js Config

The items declared and passed to the Node.js application are:

  • NODE_ENV - the type of environment - development, production, etc. - can be read by the application to do things conditionally (defaults to "production")
  • PORT - the port that the Node.js application should listen on - should be read by the application and used when starting its server (defaults to "3000")
  • CONFIG_DIR - used for node-config (defaults to "$APP_DIR"); is required, but should be kept as the default if not needed

Execution Config

The items declared and used by the overall management of executing the application are:

  • NODE_EXEC - location of the Node.js package executable - useful to set if the executable isn't on your PATH or isn't a service (defaults to $(which node))
  • APP_DIR - location of the Node.js application directory (defaults to "/var/www/")
  • NODE_APP - filename of the Node.js application (defaults to "app.js")
  • PID_DIR - location of the PID directory (defaults to "$APP_DIR/pid")
  • PID_FILE - name of the PID file (defaults to "$PID_DIR/")
  • LOG_DIR - location of the log (Node.js application output) directory (defaults to "$APP_DIR/log")
  • LOG_FILE - name of the log file (defaults to "$LOG_DIR/app.log")
  • APP_NAME - name of the app for display and messaging purposes (defaults to "Node app")

Available Actions

The service exposes 4 actions:

  • start - starts the Node.js application
  • stop - stops the Node.js application
  • restart - stops the Node.js application, then starts the Node.js application
  • status - returns the current running status of the Node.js application (based on the PID file and running processes)


Test that it all works:

/etc/init.d/node-app start
/etc/init.d/node-app status
/etc/init.d/node-app restart
/etc/init.d/node-app stop

Add node-app to the default runlevels:

# Debian
update-rc.d node-app defaults
# RHEL, --del to remove
chkconfig --add node-app

Finally, reboot to be sure the Node.js application starts automatically:

Force Action## Why node-startup?

When my VPS was rebooted occassionally by the hosting provider, my Node.js app was not coming back online after boot. This script can be used in /etc/init.d, which will allow rc.d to restart your app when the machine reboots without your knowledge.

If you are using MongoDB, Redis, or Nginx, you want to add those to your default run-level as well.


Copy the startup script node-app to your /etc/init.d directory:

sudo bash -l
cp ./init.d/node-app /etc/init.d/

In addition to the start, stop, and restart actions, a --force option can be added to the execution so that the following scenarios have the following outcomes:

  • start - PID file exists but application is stopped -> removes PID file and starts the application

  • stop - PID file exists but application is stopped -> removes PID file

  • restart - either of the above scenarios occur

    sudo reboot

Supported OS

Tested with Debian 6.0, but it should work on other Linux systems that use startup scripts in /etc/init.d (Red Hat, CentOS, Gentoo, Ubuntu, etc.).


(The MIT License)

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Startup script for Linux-based systems for running node app when rebooting using an /etc/init.d script.




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