Node.js modules best practice (draft)

Package naming

The binary package name must be called node-foo, and the source package name should be called the same

if the library is usable both from a web-browser and from NodeJS, it should generate two binary packages, each called as described above and in Policy page.


The scripts should be installed to /usr/lib/nodejs/ or /usr/lib/nodejs/foo/. The choice depends whether the module is contained in a single file or in multiple files.

In case the latter is true, please refer to the upstream documentation (also available in /usr/share/doc/nodejs/api/modules.html#modules_folders_as_modules) to understand how to correctly make it available to the Node.js framework.


Loading a module in Node.js is done with

var mymod = require("somepathtomymod");

The path of the module refers to :

The path itself can be in Node.js search path (NODE_PATH, see Node.js documentation), or an absolute or relative filesystem path.

Because of the plurality of ways to load a module, it is inevitable there is a plurality of ways to (debian-)package and install a module.

This page tries to explain the best and most compatible way to install a module.

how to install a module

A module typically has already a source tree layout with directories like "lib", "bin", and a package.json file at its root.

Installing is as simple as:

This usually allows source to be kept unpatched (except for the nodejs rename):

declare a build-dependency on nodejs

The nodejs package depends on libv8 and doesn't build on some architectures. Because of that, node-* packages having "Architecture: all" are available on architectures where nodejs isn't available - and so are uninstallable on those architectures. To work around that inconvenience to the users, simply declare an unversioned "Build-Depends: nodejs".

Declaring that build-dependency is also quite natural in the case of a package running its test suite during its build.

Binary rename of node to nodejs

The program name "node" is conflicting with another package. Technical committee decided to fix this by renaming node to nodejs. To comply to this, it is often as simple as :

Some programs are a bit less obvious to fix, for example they can spawn nodejs instances using "node" name.