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Virtual Environments for Node


If you want a global nave command, you could install this thing with npm. But that's not really necessary. You can run the shell script from here, or symlink it wherever you want.


Usage: nave <cmd>


install <version>    Install the version passed (ex: 0.1.103)
use <version>        Enter a subshell where <version> is being used
use <ver> <program>  Enter a subshell, and run "<program>", then exit
use <name> <ver>     Create a named env, using the specified version.
                     If the name already exists, but the version differs,
                     then it will update the link.
usemain <version>    Install in /usr/local/bin (ie, use as your main nodejs)
clean <version>      Delete the source code for <version>
uninstall <version>  Delete the install for <version>
ls                   List versions currently installed
ls-remote            List remote node versions
ls-all               List remote and local node versions
latest               Show the most recent dist version
help                 Output help information

<version> can be the string "latest" to get the latest distribution.
<version> can be the string "stable" to get the latest stable version.

That's about it. Enjoy.

When you're done using a specific version of node, just exit the shell to return to where you were before using nave.

env vars

  • $NAVE The current shell. Either a version, or a name and version.
  • $NAVENAME The name of the current shell. Equal to $NAVEVERSION in unnammed environments.
  • $NAVEVERSION The version of node that the current shell is pointing to. (This should comply with node -v.)
  • $NAVELVL The level of nesting in the subshell.
  • $NAVE_DEBUG Set to 1 to run nave in bash -x style.
  • $NAVE_DIR Set to the location where you'd like nave to do its business. Defaults to ~/.nave.
  • $NAVE_CONFIG Set this to an array of arguments to pass to ./configure. Defaults to ("--debug"). (Note that parens are required to supply multiple arguments. I use ("--debug" "--without-npm") on my own system, since I'm usually using nave to test npm, so installing it in the subshell doesn't help much.) This can be set in the ~/.naverc file, or in your normal ~/.bash{rc,_profile} files.
  • $NAVE_JOBS If set, this will be the number of jobs to run when building node. If this isn't set, it'll use the $JOBS env, then try to guess a reasonable value based on the number of CPUs, then fall back on 2 if sysctl -n hw.ncpu fails.


Prior to version 0.2, nave would run programs as node <program>. However, this is somewhat more limiting, so was dropped. If you prefer the old style, just prefix your command with node.

Nave requires bash. It will probably never work on Windows, or other systems lack a native Bourne Again Shell. Sorry.

Nave works out of the box with bash. If you use zsh, sh, ksh, csh, or any other sh as your shell, then you should need to add this line or its equivalent to your init script:



Nave will source ~/.naverc on initialization of a new subshell, if it exists and is readable.

You may control the place where nave puts things by setting the NAVE_DIR environment variable. However, note that this must be set somewhere other than ~/.naverc, since it needs to be set in the parent shell where the nave command is invoked.

By default, nave puts its stuff in ~/.nave/. If this directory does not exist and cannot be created, then it will attempt to use the location of the bash script itself. If it cannot write to this location, then it will exit with an error.


nave borrows concepts, inspiration, and code from Tim Caswell's "nvm" and Kris Kowal's "sea" programs.

Sea is really nice, but is very tied to Narwhal. Also, it's a require.paths manager, which nave is not.

Nvm is also really nice, but has to be sourced rather than being run, and thus is a little bit wonky for some use cases. But it doesn't involve subshells, which makes it better for some others.