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Node.js installation

Installing JsThemis #

JsThemis is available on npm and can be installed with the usual npm install. Additionally, Themis Core library has to be installed in your system as well.

Themis Core is available as a system package for Linux and macOS. Usually you want to install the stable package to benefit from automatic dependency management and security updates. However, you can also build and install the latest JsThemis from the source code.

Note: Due to some issues with OpenSSL statically linked into Node.js, for correct JsThemis operation, you need to ensure that the Node.js and system OpenSSL versions match. Otherwise, you may encounter failures or crashes at runtime. Refer to Matching OpenSSL versions for more details.

Installing stable version on Linux #

The easiest way to install Themis on Linux is to use package repositories for your system. We build packages for a multitude of Linux distributions.

  1. Add Cossack Labs package repositories to your system.

  2. Install Themis Core development package.

    For Debian, Ubuntu:

    sudo apt install libthemis-dev

    For CentOS, RHEL:

    sudo yum install libthemis-devel
  3. Install JsThemis via npm for your project:

    npm install jsthemis

Once JsThemis is installed, you can try out code examples.

Installing stable version on macOS #

The easiest way to install Themis on macOS is to use Homebrew.

  1. Add Cossack Labs tap to your system:

    brew tap cossacklabs/tap
  2. Install Themis Core package:

    brew install libthemis
  3. Install JsThemis via npm for your project:

    npm install jsthemis

    JsThemis is a native addon for nodejs. During the installation process, all package files and all its dependencies are copied to the node_modules directory of your project. After copying, npm will start compiling the addon in your environment. If the compiler shows a compilation error, try adding the following variables before retrying the npm install. Locate the directories where the libthemis.a and themis/themis.h files are located and change the values of the CPPFLAGS, LDFLAGS variables to the appropriate values.

    export CPPFLAGS="-I/opt/homebrew/include"
    export LDFLAGS="-L/opt/homebrew/lib"
    npm install jsthemis

Once JsThemis is installed, you can try out code examples.

Building latest version from source #

If the stable package version does not suit your needs, you can manually build and install the latest version of Themis from source code.

  1. Build and install Themis Core library into your system.

  2. Build JsThemis package from the source code:

    make jsthemis

    The resulting package will be placed into build/jsthemis.tgz in Themis source tree.

  3. Install JsThemis via npm for your project:

    npm install /path/to/jsthemis.tgz

Troubleshooting Themis, Node and OpenSSL #

JsThemis is a simple library to Node.js that provides bindings to the Themis Core library, which is itself installed as a shared library in the system. In turn, Themis Core depends on OpenSSL installed in the system.

However, Node.js often comes with its own OpenSSL version included in the binary. This is a problem for JsThemis, because due to how linkage works, some OpenSSL functions will be linked directly from Node.js and the others will come from the system’s OpenSSL. If these OpenSSL versions are not the same, JsThemis could become confused and crash.

                          +-----> Node openssl
jsthemis ----> libthemis -+
                          +-----> System openssl

For these reasons, before installing JsThemis, it is critical to ensure that the Node.js and system OpenSSL versions are the same. To do so, you can check the output of these commands:

$ openssl version
OpenSSL 3.0.2 15 Mar 2022 (Library: OpenSSL 3.0.2 15 Mar 2022)
$ node -e "console.log(process.versions['openssl'])"

If the semantic versions are the same, you are good to go! If they differ, however, there are a few ways to resolve the situation, but there is no easy answer. For instance, here is what we use while testing Themis in CI:

  1. Choose the Node.js version with the OpenSSL that matches with your systems' one or that has no OpenSSL built in (there may be versions of Node.js that use shared OpenSSL).

    For example, Ubuntu Jammy Jellyfish (22.04) has OpenSSL 3.0.2, so the only Node.js versions suitable for it are v18.0 and v18.1. On the other hand, Ubuntu Focal Fossa (20.04) has OpenSSL 1.1.1, which is compatible with Node LTS v14 and v12. However, be aware that OpenSSL 1.1.1 will be unsupported after September 2023.

  2. Try another distribution with OpenSSL that matches Node.js.

Furthermore, here is how community solves this issue:

  1. Try to install OpenSSL version that matches your Node.js. Probably, it will require building OpenSSL from the sources. Then, you will have to rebuild Themis and JsThemis from sources. Don’t forget to specify the path to the new OpenSSL.

  2. You can try to build and install Themis Core and JsThemis from the sources with Boringssl engine.

However, none of these options are ideal because they can lock you to specific versions of software and disable the ability to update components and dependencies.

Example of errors #

Here are examples of errors you may encounter if the versions of OpenSSL on the system and NodeJS do not match.

Ubuntu 22.04 basic installation. #

# node -v
# openssl version
OpenSSL 3.0.2 15 Mar 2022 (Library: OpenSSL 3.0.2 15 Mar 2022)
# node -e "console.log(process.versions.openssl)"

This is a vivid example of a fatal coincidence. Old version of node. And as a result trying to run code with themis will crashed with SIGSEGV.

The very simple code example of JsThemis

const themis = require('jsthemis');

const masterKey = new themis.SymmetricKey();

const keypair = new themis.KeyPair()

The example of crash.

$ node ./index.js
<Buffer 80 9f 1a 70 9c ae 20 e6 c6 76 64 44 48 52 32 4d 5b 42 a2 fc b5 9b 33 57 a1 de ec 02 52 5d c6 de>
Segmentation fault (core dumped)

Another example:

# node ./index.js
<Buffer 93 74 61 d0 6b e7 dc be f1 46 32 2f 8d 67 f6 0d e8 05 c8 f1 0d a5 80 47 6b 21 2d ad f8 aa 5e 0d>
const keypair = new themis.KeyPair()

Error: Key Pair generation failed: failure
    at Object.<anonymous> (/root/test/index.js:6:17)
    at Module._compile (internal/modules/cjs/loader.js:999:30)
    at Object.Module._extensions..js (internal/modules/cjs/loader.js:1027:10)
    at Module.load (internal/modules/cjs/loader.js:863:32)
    at Function.Module._load (internal/modules/cjs/loader.js:708:14)
    at Function.executeUserEntryPoint [as runMain] (internal/modules/run_main.js:60:12)
    at internal/main/run_main_module.js:17:47 {
  code: 11

Let’s try to install LTS version of node. Remember, that even node 16 works with OpenSSL 1.1.1.

# npm install -g n
# n lts
# hash -r
# node -v
# node -e "console.log(process.versions.openssl)"
# node ./index.js
Segmentation fault (core dumped)

Another variant of error:

node ./index.js
let keypair = new themis.KeyPair()

Error: Key Pair generation failed: invalid parameter
    at Object.<anonymous> (/root/jsthemis/index.js:3:15)
    at Module._compile (node:internal/modules/cjs/loader:1241:14)
    at Module._extensions..js (node:internal/modules/cjs/loader:1295:10)
    at Module.load (node:internal/modules/cjs/loader:1091:32)
    at Module._load (node:internal/modules/cjs/loader:938:12)
    at Function.executeUserEntryPoint [as runMain] (node:internal/modules/run_main:83:12)
    at node:internal/main/run_main_module:23:47 {
  code: 12