Followed all info I could find, getting 'npm: command not found'?

Just to be thorough, I’ll dump every minimal step I did to encounter this problem:

  1. I start a completely fresh serverless project:
    1. doctl serverless init --language js sandbox4
  2. I run the project to test that it works:
    1. doctl serverless deploy sandbox4
    2. it works, it’s deployed and I can see it in the web GUI. 🎉
  3. I add a single dependency, (in this case mongodb)
    1. cd sandbox4/packages/sample/hello
    2. npm init -y (generate a package.json for the function package)
    3. npm install --package-lock-only mongodb
  4. I go back to the same directory and re-run the deploy command
    1. cd ../../../..
    2. doctl serverless deploy sandbox4
  5. it fails with the following:
Deploying '/home/j/doctl/sandbox4'
  to namespace 'fn-52e42936-046c-46fb-bf57-2cd06f2ddbe2'
  on host ''
Started running npm install --production in /home/j/doctl/sandbox4/sample/hello
Output of failed build in /home/j/doctl/sandbox4/packages/sample/hello
/bin/bash: npm: command not found

Error: While deploying action 'sample/hello': 'npm install' exited with code 127

I have so many questions:

  • am I using the wrong runtime? (it’s currently nodejs:default)
  • did I structure my project wrongly?

Currently it looks like this:

➜  doctl tree sandbox4 -a
├── .deployed
│   └── versions.json
├── .gitignore
├── packages
│   └── sample
│       └── hello
│           ├── hello.js
│           ├── package.json
│           └── package-lock.json
└── project.yml

4 directories, 6 files
➜  doctl 

and the only content that should look any different from the auto-generated sample files is the package.json (and its lock file), it looks like this:

➜  doctl cat sandbox4/packages/sample/hello/package.json 
  "dependencies": {
    "mongodb": "^4.7.0"

  • can I get more verbose error output somehow? I want more information!
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Bobby Iliev
Site Moderator
Site Moderator badge
July 5, 2022
Accepted Answer

Hi there,

I’ve just tried this out and it seems to all be working as expected.

I’ve created a demo project with the exact same steps as you:

Would you mind trying to run this and let me know if you are still seeing the issue:

  • Clone the repo:
git clone
  • Deploy the project:
doctl serverless deploy serverless-hello-wolrd-node
  • Invoke the function:
doctl serverless functions invoke sample/hello

EDIT: I’ve just received some feedback from our FaaS team, in order for your function to be built remotely, you need to specify the --remote-build flag.

Alternatively, you need to install npm locally so that the build could succeed on your local machine too.

Let me know how it goes!



I encountered the exact same error. Read the output message with care, and you can the deploy is trying to run npm on your local machine, and your npm is not in its $PATH envoirment.

On my machine, that was caused by install node via nvm. Thus adding a link of your npm cli to /usr/local/bin should fix this issue.

Rodric Rabbah
DigitalOcean Employee
DigitalOcean Employee badge
August 2, 2022

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