Raspberry Pi GPIO on Node-RED Needs Raspberry Pi OS

I didn’t manage to get Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) running in Node-RED on a Windows PC, so experimentation moved on to other hardware platforms. Specifically the hardware hacking darling Raspberry Pi. I knew it was possible because of the number of projects that already existed, plus Node-RED has an instruction page dedicated to Raspberry Pi installation. This would be straightforward… except I intentionally made things difficult for myself.

The twist is that my Raspberry Pi 3 readily available for experimentation was most recently set up to check out ROS on arm64. Which meant it was running Ubuntu 20 for 64-bit Raspberry Pi instead of the default Raspberry Pi OS. (Formerly known as Raspbian.) I was confident all the fundamental parts of Node-RED such as flows and network I/O would continue functioning, which makes it a low-power alternative to running Node-RED on a PC. But the other reason to run Node-RED is to interface with devices via Raspberry Pi’s GPIO pins. I wanted to know how well that would work under arm64 Ubuntu.

And I got my answer: it does not work. It appears whatever means Node-RED employed to access Raspberry Pi GPIO is not available on Ubuntu arm64 builds. I assume it is possible to install and/or port over the components required for such support, but today’s experiment is just to see if it works out of the box and now I know it does not.

31 Aug 20:36:53 - [info] Node-RED version: v1.1.3
31 Aug 20:36:53 - [info] Node.js version: v12.18.3
31 Aug 20:36:53 - [info] Linux 5.4.0-1016-raspi arm64 LE
31 Aug 20:36:54 - [info] Loading palette nodes
/bin/sh: 1: /home/ubuntu/.node-red/node_modules/node-red-node-pi-gpio/testgpio.py: not found
31 Aug 20:36:56 - [warn] rpi-gpio : Raspberry Pi specific node set inactive

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