Golo Roden Golo Roden - 5 months ago 20
Node.js Question

Install Node.js to install n to install Node.js?

I have a problem understanding the use of n. Basically, it is clear that it is a version manager for Node.js such as nvm.

But in contrast to nvm, which is basically a shell script, according to the documentation you are encouraged to use npm to install n:

$ npm install -g n


What I don't get is: For having
npm
at hand you need to install Node.js. Why would I install Node.js manually to use
npm
to then be able to install Node.js using n?

To put my question in other words: Why does n suggest installing using
npm
, if its main purpose is to install Node.js, which includes npm?

Answer

tl; dr

# Install n and the latest stable Node.js version to ~/n.
# For bash, ksh, zsh, modify the relevant shell-initialization file to
# define env. variable N_PREFIX and append $N_PREFIX/bin to the $PATH.
curl -L https://git.io/n-install | bash  

I feel your pain. Installing Node.js to then install n to then manage Node.js installations is indeed a strange setup.

It would indeed be great to be able to install n by itself first.

I've created a project to support installation of n directly from GitHub; the only prerequisite beyond what n itself needs is git.

Note that you must first remove any pre-existing n / Node.js versions.
The target directory, ~/n by default, must either not yet exist or be empty.
For bash, ksh, and zsh, the relevant shell initialization file (e.g., ~/.bashrc) is automatically modified to define environment variable N_PREFIX and append $N_PREFIX/bin to the $PATH; for other shells, this must be done manually.

Aside from installing n directly from GitHub, it also installs helper scripts for updating n (n-update) and uninstalling it (n-uninstall).

Here are working examples; see the n-install GitHub repo for details:

  • Installation with confirmation prompt to confirm installing to default location $HOME/n and installing the latest stable Node.js version:

    curl -L https://git.io/n-install | bash
    
  • Automated installation to the default location, with subsequent installation of the latest LTS (long-term support) and stable Node.js versions, as well as the latest 4.1.x Node.js version:

    curl -L https://git.io/n-install | bash -s -- -y lts stable 4.1
    
  • Automated installation to the default location, without subsequent installation of the latest stable Node.js version:

    curl -L https://git.io/n-install | bash -s -- -y -
    
  • Automated installation to custom location ~/util/n, with subsequent installation of the latest stable Node.js version:

    curl -L https://git.io/n-install | N_PREFIX=~/util/n bash -s -- -y
    
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