Developing Light Chutes

Light chutes build and install the same way as normal chutes and can do many of the same things. However, they make use of prebuilt base images that are optimized for different programming languages. We offer light chutes as a convenience for projects that only rely on one of the supported languages and do not need to install other system packages.

Light chutes offer a few advantages over normal chutes.

  • Safety: Light chutes have stronger confinement properties, so you can feel safer installing a light chute written by a third party developer.
  • Fast installation: Light chutes use a common base image that may already be cached on the router, so installation can be very fast.
  • Simplicity: You do not need to learn how to write and debug a Dockerfile to develop a chute. Instead, you can use the package management tools you may already be using (e.g. package.json for npm and requirements.txt for pip).
  • Portability: With ARM suppport coming soon for ParaDrop, your light chutes will most likely run on ARM with extra work on your part. This is not the case for normal chutes that use a custom Dockerfile.

We will look at the node-hello-world chute as an example of a light chute for ParaDrop.


Our hello-world chute is a git project with the following files:

The project contains the typical files for a node.js project as well as a special file called “paradrop.yaml”.


The paradrop.yaml file contains information that ParaDrop needs in order to run the chute. Here are the contents for the hello-world example:

name: node-hello-world
description: This chute demonstrates a simple web service.
  type: git
type: light
use: node
command: node index.js
    port: 3000

Most of these fields are self-explanatory and covered in the Introduction section.

type: light

This indicates that we are building a light chute as opposed to a normal chute, which would require a Dockerfile be present.

use: node

This indicates that we are using the node base image for this chute. You should choose the base image appropriate for your project. Examples of supported images are node and python2.

This is handled in an interesting way by ParaDrop. ParaDrop does not use one single node image. Rather, the execution engine considers the architecture of the underlying hardware and uses a node image built for that architecture.

command: node index.js

This line indicates the command for starting your application. You can either specify it this way, as a string with spaces between the parameters, or you can use a list of strings. The latter format would be particularly useful if your parameters include spaces. Here is an example:

  - node
  - index.js

Persistent Data

Each running chute has a persistent data storage that is not visible to other chutes. By default the persistent data directory is named “/data” inside the chute’s filesystem. Files stored in this directory will remain when upgrading or downgrading the chute and are only removed when uninstalling the chute.