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This is just enough info to get you up and running.

Much more info available via npm help once it's installed.


The master branch contains the latest release candidate, which as of this time is 1.0.something. If you want version 0.2 or 0.3, then you'll need to check those branches out explicitly.

The "latest" on the registry is 0.3, because 1.0 is not yet stable.

It will be the default install target at the end of April, 2011.


You need node v0.4 or higher to run this program.

To install an old and unsupported version of npm that works on node 0.3 and prior:

git clone git:// ./npm
cd npm
git checkout origin/0.2
make dev

Simple Install

To install npm with one command, do this:

curl | npm_install=rc sh

If that fails, try this:

git clone
cd npm
sudo make install

If you're sitting in the code folder reading this document in your terminal, then you've already got the code. Just do:

sudo make install

and npm will install itself.

If you don't have make, and don't have curl or git, and ALL you have is this code and node, you can probably do this:

sudo node ./cli.js install -g

However, note that github tarballs do not contain submodules, so those won't work. You'll have to also fetch the appropriate submodules listed in the .gitmodules file.



  • Use sudo for greater safety. Or don't.
  • npm will downgrade permissions if it's root before running any build scripts that package authors specified.

More details...

As of version 0.3, it is recommended to run some npm commands as root. This allows npm to change the user identifier to the nobody user prior to running any package build or test commands.

If this user id switch fails (generally because you are not the root user) then the command will fail.

If you would prefer to run npm as your own user, giving package scripts the same rights that your user account enjoys, then you may do so by setting the unsafe-perm config value to true:

npm config set unsafe-perm true

or simply by setting the --unsafe flag to any individual command:

npm test express --unsafe

Note that root/sudo access is only required when npm is doing the following actions:

  1. Writing files and folders to the root.
  2. Running package lifecycle scripts (generally to either build or test).

If you run npm without root privileges, and it doesn't have to do either of these things, then no error will occur.

More Fancy Installing

First, get the code. Maybe use git for this. That'd be cool. Very fancy.

The default make target is install, which downloads the current stable version of npm, and installs that for you.

If you want to install the exact code that you're looking at, the bleeding-edge master branch, do this:

sudo make dev

If you'd prefer to just symlink in the current code so you can hack on it, you can do this:

sudo make link

If you check out the Makefile, you'll see that these are just running npm commands at the cli.js script directly. You can also use npm without ever installing it by using node cli.js instead of "npm". Set up an alias if you want, that's fine. (You'll still need read permission to the root/binroot/manroot folders, but at this point, you probably grok all that anyway.)


So sad to see you go.

sudo npm uninstall npm -g

Or, if that fails,

sudo make uninstall

More Severe Uninstalling

Usually, the above instructions are sufficient. That will remove npm, but leave behind anything you've installed.

If that doesn't work, or if you require more drastic measures, continue reading.

This assumes that you installed node and npm in the default place. If you configured node with a different --prefix, or installed npm with a different prefix setting, then adjust the paths accordingly, replacing /usr/local with your install prefix.

rm -rf /usr/local/{lib/node,lib/node/.npm,bin,share/man}/npm*

If you installed things with npm, then your best bet is to uninstall them with npm first, and then install them again once you have a proper install. This can help find any symlinks that are lying around:

ls -laF /usr/local/{lib/node,lib/node/.npm,bin,share/man} | grep npm

Prior to version 0.3, npm used shim files for executables and node modules. To track those down, you can do the following:

find /usr/local/{lib/node,bin} -exec grep -l npm {} \; ;

Using npm Programmatically

If you would like to use npm programmatically, you can do that as of version 0.2.6. It's not very well documented, but it IS rather simple.

var npm = require("npm")
npm.load(myConfigObject, function (er) {
  if (er) return handlError(er)
  npm.commands.install(["some", "args"], function (er, data) {
    if (er) return commandFailed(er)
    // command succeeded, and data might have some info
  npm.on("log", function (message) { .... })

See ./cli.js for an example of pulling config values off of the command line arguments. You may also want to check out npm help config to learn about all the options you can set there.

As more features are added for programmatic access to the npm library, this section will likely be split out into its own documentation page.

More Docs

Check out the docs, especially the faq.

You can use the npm help command to read any of them.

If you're a developer, and you want to use npm to publish your program, you should read this

Legal Stuff

"npm" and "the npm registry" are owned by Isaac Z. Schlueter. All rights not explicitly granted in the MIT license are reserved. See the included LICENSE file for more details.

"Node.js" and "node" are trademarks owned by Joyent, Inc. npm is not officially part of the Node.js project, and is neither owned by nor officially affiliated with Joyent, Inc.

The packages in the npm registry are not part of npm itself, and are the sole property of their respective maintainers. While every effort is made to ensure accountability, there is absolutely no guarantee, warrantee, or assertion made as to the quality, fitness for a specific purpose, or lack of malice in any given npm package. Modules published on the npm registry are not affiliated with or endorsed by Joyent, Inc., Isaac Z. Schlueter, Ryan Dahl, or the Node.js project.

If you have a complaint about a package in the npm registry, and cannot resolve it with the package owner, please express your concerns to Isaac Z. Schlueter at

In plain english

This is mine; not my employer's, not Node's, not Joyent's, not Ryan Dahl's.

If you publish something, it's yours, and you are solely accountable for it. Not me, not Node, not Joyent, not Ryan Dahl.

If other people publish something, it's theirs. Not mine, not Node's, not Joyent's, not Ryan Dahl's.

Yes, you can publish something evil. It will be removed promptly if reported, and we'll lose respect for you. But there is no vetting process for published modules.

If this concerns you, inspect the source before using packages.

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