When you are developing a Node.js application, you typically run it like this:
$ node index.js
That's more than enough for debugging purposes, but what happens when you are ready to deploy to your production server?
Obviously, the above method is not adequate, since on your production server you want your application to:
Run in the background, even after you terminate your current shell session
Log STDOUT to a file
Restart automatically in case of crash, or server reboot
There are several methods to achieve these goals, but my favorite is to run the application as an Upstart service. Upstart allows you to run your Node.js application as a daemon, automatically restarts it if required, and provides a set of commands for manually starting / stopping your application.
This tutorial will show you how to create an Upstart script on Ubuntu 14.04. Since we should never run a Node.js application as root on a production server, we start by creating a new user.
Create a new user:
$ adduser www
Create a directory to save PID files:
$ mkdir /home/www/run $ chown -R www:www /home/www/run && chmod -R 770 /home/www/run
Create your application directory and transfer the source files:
$ mkdir /home/www/MY_APP $ mkdir /home/www/MY_APP/log $ chown -R www:www /home/www/MY_APP && chmod -R 770 /home/www/MY_APP
Save the script below at
description "MY_APP" author "MY_NAME" env NODE=/usr/bin/nodejs env SCRIPT=/home/www/MY_APP/index.js env LOG_FILE=/home/www/MY_APP/log/stdout.log env PID_FILE=/home/www/run/MY_APP.pid env USER=www start on filesystem or runlevel  stop on shutdown respawn respawn limit 10 5 script exec start-stop-daemon --start --chuid $USER --make-pidfile --pidfile $PID_FILE --exec $NODE $SCRIPT >> $LOG_FILE 2>&1 end script pre-start script touch $LOG_FILE chown root:$USER $LOG_FILE chmod 770 $LOG_FILE echo "[`date`] MY_APP starting" >> $LOG_FILE end script pre-stop script rm -f $PID_FILE echo "[`date`] MY_APP stopping" >> $LOG_FILE end script
Check if your script is valid:
$ init-checkconf /etc/init/MY_APP.conf
That's it! Now you can start your application with
service MY_APP start. Upstart will automatically restart it in case of crash, or server reboot.
If you want to learn more about Upstart, you can have a look at the official documentation here.