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0.2.0 • Public • Published

Run any binary easily on AWS Lambda

Although most of the examples are based on AWS Lambda this module can be used in normal Node.js applications.

The idea of this solution for AWS Lambda is explained at my article https://www.lambrospetrou.com/articles/aws-lambda-meets-racket/

This module allows you to start any executable as a subprocess (using child_process.spawn()) and communicate with it over standard input and output. It is really just a wrapper on child_process and readline to reduce the boilerplate needed in Lambdas.

I tested this module with Racket, Go, cat, and you can use it for any binary that runs on your system or in case of AWS Lambda any binary that runs on Amazon Linux.


You can find examples of AWS Lambda functions in the _examples directory.

To test and create the zip file that you need to upload just run make bundle from inside the example directory you want.

Make sure your AWS Lambda is configured to use Node.js 6.10 and the handler name is set to wrapper.handler.

Upload the bundle.zip generated by the make command above and Test it a few times to notice the sub-millisecond execution times!

For example the bash-cat example is the snippet below!

const spawnLineByLine = require('aws-lambda-binary').spawnLineByLine;
const application = spawnLineByLine({
    spawn: { command: 'cat' }
exports.handler = function (event, context) {
    application.stdout((result) => {
        context.done(null, result);


The package provides two process builders based on the protocol/communication type between your wrapper and your binary.

If you want easy line-by-line communication you can use the spawnLineByLine() function, and if you want byte-by-byte communication you can use spawnByteByByte() to start up your binary process.



Creates a new helper object to ease the communication with the given command's binary process over a simple line by line protocol.

The options argument contains all the information needed to start the binary process we want. You can pass an object containing the spawn property, which contains the exact arguments as described in https://nodejs.org/api/child_process.html#child_process_child_process_spawn_command_args_options

const application = require('aws-lambda-binary').spawnLineByLine({
    spawn: {command: 'cat'}

You can use the returned application object to send/receive lines of data to/from the process (in the example above to the cat command).

In AWS Lambda you should put this line in the static section of your lambda code, otherwise if you put it in the function code a new process will be created every time.


Makes sure that the underlying process has not exited or closed, and if it did then it restarts it using the options passed to the spawnLineByLine() call.


Will set the given callback function to be called for every line written to stdout by the underlying process. Callback should receive an argument with the line read, which should not include the newline \n character.

application.stdout((line) => {
    console.log('Line received in standard output', line);


Will write the given data to stdin of the underlying process, appending a \n (new line) character at the end.

application.stdin('Write this string to the stdin of the process!');


Will set the given callback function to be called for every data written to stderr by the underlying process. This is not necessarily a full line!

application.stdout((data) => {
    console.log('Data received in standard error', data);


Will set the given callback function to be called when the underlying process exits. The callback function receives the exit code.

application.onExit((exitCode) => {
    console.log('Exit code received', exitCode);

As explained in https://nodejs.org/api/child_process.html#child_process_event_exit


Will set the given callback function to be called when the underlying process closes. The callback function receives the exit code.

application.onClose((exitCode) => {
    console.log('Exit code received', exitCode);

As explained in https://nodejs.org/api/child_process.html#child_process_event_close


Just forward the given signal to the underlying spawned process' kill() method as explained in https://nodejs.org/api/child_process.html#child_process_subprocess_kill_signal


The exact same API exists for the byte-by-byte protocol, with the only difference that the application.stdin(data) and application.stdout(callback) functions are not using lines. So the stdin(data) function will just write the given data to the standard input of the underlying process, without appending a new line character. Similarly, the stdout(callback) method will set the callback to be called whenever there is data written to standard output by the underlying process, instead of full lines.


The fact that this protocol is not based on lines means that it's up to you the developer to make sure that the standard input or output are flushed from the underlying binary process so that the wrapper code can read it completely. Same goes for the wrapper code writing to the process.

Communication protocol helpers

This package provides communication helpers for line-by-line protocols, and raw bytes protocols.

You can contribute to the package by adding new communication helpers and making a Pull Request. However with the line-by-line and byte-by-byte protocols I think you can pretty much do anything.


I am happy to accept Pull Requests, as long as it's functionality needed by many cases, or it makes it easier (less code) to communicate with the underlying process.

Also, feel free to open any issues or even fix any bug you might encounter.

npm package



npm i aws-lambda-binary

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