node.js - run - NPM modules won't install globally without sudo

using sudo npm install (9)

As for October 2014:

Node.js is available from the NodeSource Debian and Ubuntu binary distributions repository.

curl -sL | sudo bash -
sudo apt-get install -y nodejs

That's it.

Outdated answer:

The fastest way without using sudo is like described here by isaac

I strongly encourage you not to do package management with sudo! Packages can run arbitrary scripts, which makes sudoing a package manager command as safe as a chainsaw haircut. Sure, it's fast and definitely going to cut through any obstacles, but you might actually want that obstacle to stay there.

I recommend doing this once instead:

sudo chown -R $USER /usr/local


There are certain security concerns and functionality limitations regarding changing the ownership of /usr/local to the current user:

Having said that, if you want to install global module without using sudo, I don't see any better solution (from pragmatic point of view) than mentioned. Security vs easy of use is very broad topic, and there is no easy answer for that - it just depends on your requirements.

I have just reinstalled Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, and before anything else i did these steps:

  1. Installed Node via package manager with the following script

    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get install python-software-properties python g++ make
    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:chris-lea/node.js
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get install nodejs
  2. Tried to install yeoman, express, n, yeoman's generators globally and all of them returned the same error

    npm ERR! Error: EACCES, symlink '../lib/node_modules/n/bin/n'

    npm ERR! { [Error: EACCES, symlink '../lib/node_modules/n/bin/n'] errno: 3, code: 'EACCES', path: '../lib/node_modules/n/bin/n' }

    npm ERR!

    npm ERR! Please try running this command again as root/Administrator.

    npm ERR! System Linux 3.8.0-29-generic

    npm ERR! command "/usr/bin/node" "/usr/bin/npm" "install" "-g" "-d" "n"

    npm ERR! cwd /home/heberlz

    npm ERR! node -v v0.10.20

    npm ERR! npm -v 1.3.11

    npm ERR! path ../lib/node_modules/n/bin/n

    npm ERR! code EACCES

    npm ERR! errno 3

    npm ERR! stack Error: EACCES, symlink '../lib/node_modules/n/bin/n'

    npm ERR!

    npm ERR! Additional logging details can be found in:

    npm ERR! /home/heberlz/npm-debug.log

    npm ERR! not ok code 0

  3. Reclaimed ownership of the following folders recursively ~/.npm, /usr/lib/node, /usr/lib/node_modules, and of the following symlinks /usr/bin/node, /usr/bin/nodejs with absolutely no success

I need to install yeoman and its generators without sudo not to be in trouble later on :(

The issue was i installed node using sudo, to avoid errors when installing npm modules globally one MUST NEVER install node with sudo.

My solution was to reinstall node it this way:

Download latest stable node sources from #in my case node-v0.10.20.tar.gz

tar -zxf node-v0.10.20.tar.gz #uncompress sources

cd node-v0.10.20 #enter uncompressed folder

sudo chown -R $USER /usr/local

./configure --prefix=/usr/local && make && make install

One thing to note is that only taking ownership of the /usr/local folder wouldn't work in my case because node installation itself was made with sudo

Last step to install yeoman: #although at it says that doing "npm install -g yo" already installs bower and grunt, there are some submodules of grunt that fail, so i fixed that by installing it by itself

npm install -g bower

npm install -g grunt

npm install -g yo

npm install -g generator-angular

Actually, I just changed the permission of a user folder that was owned by root:

sudo chown -R $USER ~/.config/configstore

Then I could "npm install" and "bower install" without sudo! Worked fine!

Find the path to npm's directory:

npm config get prefix

For many systems, this will be /usr/local.

Change the owner of npm's directories to the name of the current user (your username!):

sudo chown -R $(whoami) $(npm config get prefix)/{lib/node_modules,bin,share}

This changes the permissions of the sub-folders used by npm and some other tools (lib/node_modules, bin, and share).

Here is the link for full details

I solved this problem with environment variable and shell alias:

export NPM_PREFIX=$HOME/node
alias npmg="npm -g --prefix $NPM_PREFIX"

For me npm did not honor the "prefix" config setting in .npmrc.

If you already have $HOME/bin in your path, a simpler solution is just ...

npm config set prefix ~
  • New node commands will now install into your $HOME/bin directory.
  • No need to change your path!

Since this discussion is really about reducing the security risks of running sudo, you should also be aware that any node app could potentially be installing an app name that does not match the registered node package name you think you're installing. So there is a security risk that an npm install will replace an existing system command or one you already have in $HOME/bin. If you're concerned, check the bin, and scripts properties in the package.json file of the app you're installing first.

In general, it's safest to:

  • (a) Place $HOME/bin last in your path so system commands are not superseded.
  • (b) don't include "." or any relative path in your $PATH so you don't accidentally run a command that happens to be in the current directory.


The best solution I found was to install Node.js from the tar package on to user home directory & link the lib folder location. Here is what you need to do

This will install Nodejs under ~/.local/ instead of the default /usr/local/

Add this to your ~/.npmrc (create the file if it doesn't exist already):

root =    /home/YOUR-USERNAME/.local/lib/node_modules
binroot = /home/YOUR-USERNAME/.local/bin
manroot = /home/YOUR-USERNAME/.local/share/man
Download the Nodejs source code from and install it under your ~/.local tree:

tar xf node......
cd node........
./configure --prefix=~/.local
make install

Create ~/.node_modules symlink. (This directory will be automatically searched when you load modules using require "module" in scripts. I'm not sure why Node doesn't search ~/.local/lib/node_modules by default.)

ln -s .local/lib/node_modules .node_modules
Is ~/.local/bin in your path? Type

which npm
If it says ~/.local/bin/npm, you're done.

Otherwise, do this...

export PATH=$HOME/.local/bin:$PATH
...and add that line to your ~/.profile file, so it'll run every time you log in.

If you still encounter ownership or permission error while installing packages, then change ownership of ~/.local/ dir by running

chown -R user:user ~/.local/

Now you should be good to install packages via 'npm'



This issue and other caused by the same reason can be solved installing Node in user space.

You can do it just copying and pasting in your terminal

cd /tmp
wget -N && tar xzf node-latest.tar.gz
NODEJS_CURRENT=$(tar tf node-latest.tar.gz|head -1)
./configure --prefix=$NODEJS_ROOT/$NODEJS_CURRENT && make install
rm current 2> /dev/null # Removes current symbolic link, if any
ln -s $NODEJS_CURRENT current

Same commands can be launched also to get Node updated to latest version.

Don't forget to edit your environment. Only once, do

echo "export NODEJS_ROOT=$NODEJS_ROOT"            >> $HOME/.bash_profile
echo 'export PATH=$NODEJS_ROOT/current/bin:$PATH' >> $HOME/.bash_profile
source $HOME/.bash_profile # reload your env, so you can use node right now

Check out this article as a reabout how to Install Node.js without sudo.

For a more general solution about this topic (i.e., install software locally) see dotsoftware.

using lubuntu 14.04.3, I tried changing ownership of .npm and npm prefix, updated my path, npm installed modules to my home directory without sudo but the path was incorrect so the modules like ember were not found, linuxbew solved the problem, quick setup guide here for node/npm