Skip to content
Node Version Manager - Simple bash script to manage multiple active node.js versions
Shell Makefile


Node Version Manager Build Status


First you'll need to make sure your system has a c++ compiler. For OS X, Xcode will work, for Ubuntu, the build-essential and libssl-dev packages work.

Note: nvm does not support Windows (see #284). Two alternatives exist, which are neither supported nor developed by us:

Note: nvm does not support Fish either (see #303). Alternatives exist, which are neither supported nor developed by us:

  • bass allows to use utilities written for Bash in fish shell
  • fast-nvm-fish only works with version numbers (not aliases) but doesn't significantly slow your shell startup
  • fin is a pure fish node version manager for fish shell
  • plugin-nvm plugin for Oh My Fish, which makes nvm and its completions available in fish shell

Note: We still have some problems with FreeBSD, because there is no pre-built binary from official for FreeBSD, and building from source may need patches, see the issue ticket:

Note: On OS X, if you do not have Xcode installed and you do not wish to download the ~4.3GB file, you can install the Command Line Tools. You can check out this blog post on how to just that:

Note: On OS X, if you have/had a "system" node installed and want to install modules globally, keep in mind that:

  • When using nvm you do not need sudo to globally install a module with npm -g, so instead of doing sudo npm install -g grunt, do instead npm install -g grunt
  • If you have an ~/.npmrc file, make sure it does not contain any prefix settings (which is not compatible with nvm)
  • You can (but should not?) keep your previous "system" node install, but nvm will only be available to your user account (the one used to install nvm). This might cause version mismatches, as other users will be using /usr/local/lib/node_modules/* VS your user account using ~/.nvm/versions/node/vX.X.X/lib/node_modules/*

Homebrew installation is not supported.

Install script

To install or update nvm, you can use the install script using cURL:

curl -o- | bash

or Wget:

wget -qO- | bash

The script clones the nvm repository to ~/.nvm and adds the source line to your profile (~/.bash_profile, ~/.zshrc, ~/.profile, or ~/.bashrc).

You can customize the install source, directory, profile, and version using the NVM_SOURCE, NVM_DIR, PROFILE, and NODE_VERSION variables. Eg: curl ... | NVM_DIR=/usr/local/nvm bash for a global install.

NB. The installer can use git, curl, or wget to download nvm, whatever is available.

Note: On OS X, if you get nvm: command not found after running the install script, your system may not have a [.bash_profile file] where the command is set up. Simply create one with touch ~/.bash_profile and run the install script again.

Verify installation

To verify that nvm has been installed, do:

command -v nvm

which should output 'nvm' if the installation was successful. Please note that which nvm will not work, since nvm is a sourced shell function, not an executable binary.

Manual install

For manual install create a folder somewhere in your filesystem with the file inside it. I put mine in ~/.nvm.

Or if you have git installed, then just clone it, and check out the latest version:

git clone ~/.nvm && cd ~/.nvm && git checkout `git describe --abbrev=0 --tags`

To activate nvm, you need to source it from your shell:

. ~/.nvm/

Add these lines to your ~/.bashrc, ~/.profile, or ~/.zshrc file to have it automatically sourced upon login: (you may have to add to more than one of the above files)

export NVM_DIR="$HOME/.nvm"
[ -s "$NVM_DIR/" ] && . "$NVM_DIR/" # This loads nvm

Manual upgrade

For manual upgrade with git, change to the $NVM_DIR, pull down the latest changes, and check out the latest version:

cd "$NVM_DIR" && git fetch origin && git checkout `git describe --abbrev=0 --tags`

After upgrading, don't forget to activate the new version:

. "$NVM_DIR/"


To download, compile, and install the latest v5.0.x release of node, do this:

nvm install 5.0

And then in any new shell just use the installed version:

nvm use 5.0

Or you can just run it:

nvm run 5.0 --version

Or, you can run any arbitrary command in a subshell with the desired version of node:

nvm exec 4.2 node --version

You can also get the path to the executable to where it was installed:

nvm which 5.0

In place of a version pointer like "0.10" or "5.0" or "4.2.1", you can use the following special default aliases with nvm install, nvm use, nvm run, nvm exec, nvm which, etc:

  • node: this installs the latest version of node
  • iojs: this installs the latest version of io.js
  • stable: this alias is deprecated, and only truly applies to node v0.12 and earlier. Currently, this is an alias for node.
  • unstable: this alias points to node v0.11 - the last "unstable" node release, since post-1.0, all node versions are stable. (in semver, versions communicate breakage, not stability).

If you want to install a new version of Node.js and migrate npm packages from a previous version:

nvm install node --reinstall-packages-from=node

This will first use "nvm version node" to identify the current version you're migrating packages from. Then it resolves the new version to install from the remote server and installs it. Lastly, it runs "nvm reinstall-packages" to reinstall the npm packages from your prior version of Node to the new one.

You can also install and migrate npm packages from specific versions of Node like this:

nvm install v5.0 --reinstall-packages-from=4.2
nvm install v4.2 --reinstall-packages-from=iojs

If you want to install io.js:

nvm install iojs

If you want to install a new version of io.js and migrate npm packages from a previous version:

nvm install iojs --reinstall-packages-from=iojs

The same guidelines mentioned for migrating npm packages in Node.js are applicable to io.js.

If you want to use the system-installed version of node, you can use the special default alias "system":

nvm use system
nvm run system --version

If you want to see what versions are installed:

nvm ls

If you want to see what versions are available to install:

nvm ls-remote

To restore your PATH, you can deactivate it:

nvm deactivate

To set a default Node version to be used in any new shell, use the alias 'default':

nvm alias default node

To use a mirror of the node binaries, set $NVM_NODEJS_ORG_MIRROR:

nvm install node

NVM_NODEJS_ORG_MIRROR= nvm install 4.2

To use a mirror of the iojs binaries, set $NVM_IOJS_ORG_MIRROR:

nvm install iojs-v1.0.3

NVM_IOJS_ORG_MIRROR= nvm install iojs-v1.0.3

nvm use will not, by default, create a "current" symlink. Set $NVM_SYMLINK_CURRENT to "true" to enable this behavior, which is sometimes useful for IDEs.


You can create a .nvmrc file containing version number in the project root directory (or any parent directory). nvm use, nvm install, nvm exec, nvm run, and nvm which will all respect an .nvmrc file when a version is not supplied.

For example, to make nvm default to the latest 5.9 release for the current directory:

$ echo "5.9" > .nvmrc

Then when you run nvm:

$ nvm use
Found '/path/to/project/.nvmrc' with version <5.9>
Now using node v5.9.1 (npm v3.7.3)

Deeper Shell Integration

You can use avn to deeply integrate into your shell and automatically invoke nvm when changing directories. avn is not supported by the nvm development team. Please report issues to the avn team.

If you prefer a lighter-weight solution, the recipes below have been contributed by nvm users. They are not supported by the nvm development team. We are, however, accepting pull requests for more examples.


Calling nvm use automatically in a directory with a .nvmrc file

Put this into your $HOME/.zshrc to call nvm use automatically whenever you enter a directory that contains an .nvmrc file with a string telling nvm which node to use:

# place this after nvm initialization!
autoload -U add-zsh-hook
load-nvmrc() {
  if [[ -f .nvmrc && -r .nvmrc ]]; then
    nvm use
  elif [[ $(nvm version) != $(nvm version default)  ]]; then
    echo "Reverting to nvm default version"
    nvm use default
add-zsh-hook chpwd load-nvmrc


nvm is released under the MIT license.

Copyright (C) 2010-2016 Tim Caswell

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.


Running tests

Tests are written in Urchin. Install Urchin (and other dependencies) like so:

npm install

There are slow tests and fast tests. The slow tests do things like install node and check that the right versions are used. The fast tests fake this to test things like aliases and uninstalling. From the root of the nvm git repository, run the fast tests like this:

npm run test/fast

Run the slow tests like this:

npm run test/slow

Run all of the tests like this:

npm test

Nota bene: Avoid running nvm while the tests are running.

Bash completion

To activate, you need to source bash_completion:

[[ -r $NVM_DIR/bash_completion ]] && . $NVM_DIR/bash_completion

Put the above sourcing line just below the sourcing line for nvm in your profile (.bashrc, .bash_profile).



$ nvm [tab][tab]
alias               deactivate          install             ls                  run                 unload
clear-cache         exec                list                ls-remote           unalias             use
current             help                list-remote         reinstall-packages  uninstall           version

nvm alias:

$ nvm alias [tab][tab]

$ nvm alias my_alias [tab][tab]
v0.6.21        v0.8.26       v0.10.28

nvm use:

$ nvm use [tab][tab]
my_alias        default        v0.6.21        v0.8.26       v0.10.28

nvm uninstall:

$ nvm uninstall [tab][tab]
my_alias        default        v0.6.21        v0.8.26       v0.10.28

Compatibility Issues

nvm will encounter some issues if you have some non-default settings set. (see #606) The following are known to cause issues:

Inside ~/.npmrc:


Environment Variables:


Shell settings:

set -e

Installing nvm on Alpine Linux

In order to provide the best performance (and other optimisations), nvm will download and install pre-compiled binaries for Node (and npm) when you run nvm install X. The Node project compiles, tests and hosts/provides pre-these compiled binaries which are built for mainstream/traditional Linux distributions (such as Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, RedHat et al).

Alpine Linux, unlike mainstream/traditional Linux distributions, is based on busybox, a very compact (~5MB) Linux distribution. Busybox (and thus Alpine Linux) uses a different C/C++ stack to most mainstream/traditional Linux distributions - musl. This makes binary programs built for such mainstream/traditional incompatible with Alpine Linux, thus we cannot simply nvm install X on Alpine Linux and expect the downloaded binary to run correctly - you'll likely see "...does not exist" errors if you try that.

There is a -s flag for nvm install which requests nvm download Node source and compile it locally but currently (May 2016), this is not available for Node versions newer than v0.10 so unless you need an older Node version, this won't help you. Work is in progress on source-builds for newer Node versions but is not yet complete.

If installing nvm on Alpine Linux is still what you want or need to do, you should be able to achieve this by running the following from you Alpine Linux shell:

apk add bash
wget -qO- | /bin/bash

The Node project has some desire but no concrete plans (due to the overheads of building, testing and support) to offer Alpine-compatible binaries.

As a potential alternative, @mhart (a Node contributor) has some Docker images for Alpine Linux with Node and optionally, npm, pre-installed.


If you try to install a node version and the installation fails, be sure to delete the node downloads from src (~/.nvm/src/) or you might get an error when trying to reinstall them again or you might get an error like the following:

curl: (33) HTTP server doesn't seem to support byte ranges. Cannot resume.

Where's my 'sudo node'? Check out this link:

On Arch Linux and other systems using python3 by default, before running install you need to:

  export PYTHON=python2

After the v0.8.6 release of node, nvm tries to install from binary packages. But in some systems, the official binary packages don't work due to incompatibility of shared libs. In such cases, use -s option to force install from source:

nvm install -s 0.8.6

If setting the default alias does not establish the node version in new shells (i.e. nvm current yields system), ensure that the system's node PATH is set before the source line in your shell profile (see #658)

Something went wrong with that request. Please try again.