Eric Drechsel Eric Drechsel - 5 months ago 33
Node.js Question

Install NPM into home directory with distribution nodejs package (Ubuntu)

I'd like to use the distribution Node.js packages (or the chris-lea ppa for more recent releases) but install NPM to my home directory.

This may seem picky, but it's a pretty idiomatic way for polyglot/github-using developers to setup language runtime/library environments under Linux: distro packages for the runtime, 3rd-party libraries in per-user environment (see virtualenv, RVM - RVM will also build Ruby for you if you want). If necessary I will build node locally but it's a PITA since Node is becoming an incidental development requirement for lots of projects.

The second link seems like it might work with distribution nodejs packages, but it seems pretty sketchy.

Update this paste sums up the second link above, but doesn't work for me (it seems like npm ignores ~/.npmrc, at least during install).


NPM will install local packages into your projects already, but I still like to keep the system away from my operating system's files. Here's how I suggest compartmentalizing Nodejs packages:

Install Nodejs and NPM via the chris-lea PPA. Then I set up a package root in my homedir to hold the Node "global" packages:

 $ NPM_PACKAGES="$HOME/.npm-packages"
 $ mkdir -p "$NPM_PACKAGES"

Set NPM to use this directory for its global package installs:

 $ echo "prefix = $NPM_PACKAGES" >> ~/.npmrc

Configure your PATH and MANPATH to see commands in your $NPM_PACKAGES prefix by adding the following to your .zshrc/.bashrc:

# NPM packages in homedir

# Tell our environment about user-installed node tools
# Unset manpath so we can inherit from /etc/manpath via the `manpath` command
unset MANPATH  # delete if you already modified MANPATH elsewhere in your configuration

# Tell Node about these packages

Now when you do an npm install -g, NPM will install the libraries into ~/.npm-packages/lib/node_modules, and link executable tools into ~/.npm-packages/bin, which is in your PATH.

Just use npm install -g as you would normally:

[justjake@marathon:~] $ npm install -g coffee-script
... (npm downloads stuff) ...
/home/justjake/.npm-packages/bin/coffee -> /home/justjake/.npm-packages/lib/node_modules/coffee-script/bin/coffee
/home/justjake/.npm-packages/bin/cake -> /home/justjake/.npm-packages/lib/node_modules/coffee-script/bin/cake
coffee-script@1.3.3 /home/justjake/.npm-packages/lib/node_modules/coffee-script

[justjake@marathon:~] $ which coffee