Getting started with Node.js on Compute Engine

This tutorial shows how to get started with Compute Engine. Follow this tutorial by deploying a Hello World Node.js web app to Compute Engine. For help getting started with App Engine, see the App Engine standard environment.


  • Use Cloud Shell to download and deploy a Hello World sample app.
  • Deploy a Hello World sample app to a single Compute Engine instance.


In this document, you use the following billable components of Google Cloud:

To generate a cost estimate based on your projected usage, use the pricing calculator. New Google Cloud users might be eligible for a free trial.

Before you begin

  1. Sign in to your Google Cloud account. If you're new to Google Cloud, create an account to evaluate how our products perform in real-world scenarios. New customers also get $300 in free credits to run, test, and deploy workloads.
  2. In the Google Cloud console, on the project selector page, select or create a Google Cloud project.

    Go to project selector

  3. Make sure that billing is enabled for your Google Cloud project.

  4. Enable the Compute Engine API.

    Enable the API

  5. In the Google Cloud console, on the project selector page, select or create a Google Cloud project.

    Go to project selector

  6. Make sure that billing is enabled for your Google Cloud project.

  7. Enable the Compute Engine API.

    Enable the API

  8. In the Google Cloud console, open the app in Cloud Shell.

    Go to Cloud Shell

    Cloud Shell provides command-line access to your cloud resources directly from the browser.

  9. If you agree to clone the repository, click Confirm to download the sample code and change into the app directory.

  10. In Cloud Shell, configure the gcloud CLI to use your new Google Cloud project:
    # Configure gcloud for your project
    gcloud config set project YOUR_PROJECT_ID

Run the app in Cloud Shell

If you clicked Go to Cloud Shell in the preceding section, Cloud Shell cloned the nodejs-getting-started repository to your instance. After the instance launches, your working directory is ~/cloudshell_open/nodejs-getting-started/gce. If you are not in this directory, see the steps in Before you begin.

  1. Install dependencies:

    npm install
  2. Run the app:

    npm start
  3. In Cloud Shell, click Web preview , and select Preview on port 8080. This opens a new window with your running app.

To stop the local web server, press Control+C.

Set up Cloud Source Repositories

  1. Enable the Cloud Source Repositories API.

    Enable the Cloud Source Repositories API

  2. In the Google Cloud console, go to Cloud Source Repositories.

    Go to Cloud Source Repositories

  3. Select Add repository.

    Select add repository.

  4. Select Create new repository, and then click Continue.

  5. In the Repository name field, enter new-repo.

  6. In the Project field, enter the project ID of the project that you created or selected for this tutorial, and then click Continue.

  7. Select Clone your repository to a local Git repository.

  8. In Cloud Shell, return to root and clone the repository by following the instructions in the Google Cloud SDK tab, and keep this tab open.

    follow instructions to clone youre repository to a local Git repository

  9. Before completing the final step under the instructions, copy your app into your new repository in Cloud Shell:

    cd new-repo
    cp ../cloudshell_open/nodejs-getting-started/gce/app.js app.js
    cp ../cloudshell_open/nodejs-getting-started/gce/package.json package.json
  10. Follow the remaining instructions in the Google Cloud SDK tab to commit your changes to your repository. Confirm that you have added your code to the repository by refreshing the browser and checking that your code was added to the repo new-repo.

Deploy to a single instance

This section walks you through running a single instance of your app on Compute Engine.

Single-instance deployment.

From Cloud Shell, you can deploy to a single Compute Engine instance virtual machine (VM) which runs your app.

Use a startup script to initialize an instance

You need a way to instruct your instance to download and run your code. An instance can have a startup script that runs whenever the instance is started or restarted.

Here is the startup script that is included in the Hello World sample app:

set -v

# Talk to the metadata server to get the project id
PROJECTID=$(curl -s "" -H "Metadata-Flavor: Google")

# Install logging monitor. The monitor will automatically pick up logs sent to
# syslog.
curl -s "" | bash
service google-fluentd restart &

# Install dependencies from apt
apt-get update
apt-get install -yq ca-certificates git build-essential supervisor

# Install nodejs
mkdir /opt/nodejs
curl | tar xvzf - -C /opt/nodejs --strip-components=1
ln -s /opt/nodejs/bin/node /usr/bin/node
ln -s /opt/nodejs/bin/npm /usr/bin/npm

# Get the application source code from the Google Cloud Repository.
# git requires $HOME and it's not set during the startup script.
export HOME=/root
git config --global credential.helper
git clone${PROJECTID}/r/${REPOSITORY} /opt/app/new-repo

# Install app dependencies
cd /opt/app/new-repo
npm install

# Create a nodeapp user. The application will run as this user.
useradd -m -d /home/nodeapp nodeapp
chown -R nodeapp:nodeapp /opt/app

# Configure supervisor to run the node app.
cat >/etc/supervisor/conf.d/node-app.conf << EOF
command=npm start

supervisorctl reread
supervisorctl update

# Application should now be running under supervisor

The startup script performs the following tasks:

  • Installs the Cloud Logging agent. The agent automatically collects logs from syslog.

  • Installs Supervisor to run the app as a daemon.

  • Clones the app's source code from Cloud Source Repositories and installs dependencies.

  • Configures Supervisor to run the app. Supervisor makes sure the app is restarted if it exits unexpectedly or is terminated by an admin or other process. It also sends the app's stdout and stderr to syslog to be collected by the Logging agent.

Create and configure a Compute Engine instance

  1. Create a Compute Engine instance:


    gcloud compute instances create my-app-instance \
        --image-family=debian-9 \
        --image-project=debian-cloud \
        --machine-type=g1-small \
        --scopes userinfo-email,cloud-platform \
        --metadata app-location=us-central1-f \
        --metadata-from-file startup-script=gce/ \
        --zone us-central1-f \
        --tags http-server


    gcloud compute instances create my-app-instance ^
        --image-family=debian-9 ^
        --image-project=debian-cloud ^
        --machine-type=g1-small ^
        --scopes userinfo-email,cloud-platform ^
        --metadata-from-file startup-script=gce/ ^
        --zone us-central1-f ^
        --tags http-server

    Replace the zone with a development zone, for example us-central1-a. For more information on regions and zones, see Geography and regions.

    This creates a new instance, allows it to access Google Cloud services, and runs your startup script. The instance name is my-app-instance.

  2. Check the progress of the instance creation:

    gcloud compute instances get-serial-port-output my-app-instance --zone YOUR_ZONE

    Replace YOUR_ZONE with the zone you deployed your instance to.

    When the startup script is complete, you see the following message:

    startup-script: INFO Finished running startup scripts.
  3. Create a firewall rule to allow traffic to your instance:

    gcloud compute firewall-rules create default-allow-http-8080 \
        --allow tcp:8080 \
        --source-ranges \
        --target-tags http-server \
        --description "Allow port 8080 access to http-server"

  4. Get the external IP address of your instance:

    gcloud compute instances list
  5. To see your app running, enter this URL in your browser:


    Replace YOUR_INSTANCE_IP with the external IP address of your instance.

Manage and monitor an instance

You can use the Google Cloud console to monitor and manage your instance.

  1. In the Google Cloud console, go to the VM instances page.

    Go to VM instances

  2. In the list of virtual machine instances, click SSH in the row of the instance that you want to connect to.
  3. To view all of the logs generated by your Compute Engine resources, go to the Logs Explorer page. Go to Logs Explorer

    Cloud Logging is automatically configured to gather logs from various common services, including syslog.

Clean up

To avoid incurring charges to your Google Cloud account for the resources used in this tutorial, either delete the project that contains the resources, or keep the project and delete the individual resources.

Delete the project

  1. In the Google Cloud console, go to the Manage resources page.

    Go to Manage resources

  2. In the project list, select the project that you want to delete, and then click Delete.
  3. In the dialog, type the project ID, and then click Shut down to delete the project.

Delete the individual resources

gcloud compute instances delete my-app-instance --zone=YOUR_ZONE --delete-disks=all
gcloud compute firewall-rules delete default-allow-http-8080

What's next