Snap-installed Node.js cannot spawn() a Node.js app

spawn()ing node binary itself also doesn't work

There is an issue with Snap-installed Node.js that has been plaguing me for quite some time. I can child_process.spawn() to execute a system binary (cat, ls, etc) but not Node.js app binaries (like npm)

const { spawn } = require('child_process')
const npm = spawn('npm', ['--version'])

npm.stdout.on('data', (data) => {
  console.log(`stdout: ${data}`)

npm.stderr.on('data', (data) => {
  console.error(`stderr: ${data}`)

npm.on('close', (code) => {
  console.log(`child process exited with code ${code}`)

In above example, spawn() simply went straight to the close event; this issue also affects node binary (spawn('node', ['--version']). Initially, I faulted Solus for having outdated version of snapd and moved one.

Recently, I tried to benchmark hexojs/hexo-renderer-marked#159 using benchmark.js currently used by Hexo to run regression testing. Since benchmark.js heavily utilise spawn(), so I could not run the benchmark on my Solus. Then, I tried again on a Ubuntu 20.04 VM and I got the same error message. By then, I realised it wasn’t Solus’ fault. Since Node.js was also installed via Snap (Ubuntu’s apt repo is still hosting v10) in that VM, the issue could be due to Snap with its additional confinement. I reinstalled Node.js using nvs and then spawn() worked as expected.

This issue had been reported previously to NodeSource (maintainer of Node.js’s snap) in nodesource/distributions#843, but unfortunately there was no interest in fixing it.