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I'm able to install a custom plugin globally via npm i -g @somescope/myplugin then change into the directory where the package is globally installed and can run sfdx plugins:link and all my custom commands are available.

However, I'm not able to use it when installing it from an internal private registry via sfdx plugins:install @somescope/myplugin.

Other custom plugins out on the public GitHub seem to work with doing a global npm install without a link step. See mo-dx, shane-sfdx-plugins, and many others.

What does the sfdx install approach do underneath to associate the plugin with DX that doesn't happen when doing a global npm install?

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There is a known issue logged for this on the repo here

You can workaround for now by using the GitHub URL and using below

sfdx plugins:install https://github.com/someuser/someplugin

I am assuming you have a private git repo

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    Thank you Mohith, yes I have a private repo, was not aware there was a known issue. Much appreciated. – trebleCode Nov 20 '20 at 17:02

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