Long story short, my old Beaglebone died and I replaced it with a Beaglebone Green since the "White" is no longer available. I had to make an interface adaptor to move 16 gpio pins from P8 connector to unused ones on P9 as it wouldn't boot with the interface plugged in due to default states on my interface interacting with the sysboot pins.
I notice that the bone-eMMC-flasher-debian-10.3-iot-armhf-2020-04-06-4gb.img that I installed (after sudo apt update ; sudo apt upgrade) has node-red installed by default, but .node-red directory seems to be /var/lib/node-red a so called "global" install, which I thought was frowned upon.
I'm having two issues. It doesn't seem to start until a browser connects to 1880 and it doesn't seem to have permission to run my scripts in an exec node.
$ sudo systemctl enable node-red.service
Failed to enable unit: Unit file node-red.service does not exist.
Some Google results don't seem to line up with what I have with this default installation.
The Beaglebone is pretty weak compared to a PI3 or better for such things, so I wouldn't be motivated to install node-red on it if it wasn't "already there" but having it there are a few things I'd like to try.
Any idea how to make it start on boot as I do with my other systems since the sysctrl command doesn't seem to have the service files setup correctly.