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license: MIT


n-install — introduction

Installs n, the Node.js version manager, on Unix-like platforms, without needing to install Node.js first.
Additionally, installs scripts n-update for later on-demand updating of n, and n-uninstall for uninstalling.

The simplest case is installation of n with confirmation prompt, with subsequent installation of the latest LTS Node.js version:

curl -L | bash

This is by far the simplest way to get started with both n and Node.js - even if you're looking to install only the latest LTS (long-term support) Node.js version, with no (immediate) plans to install multiple versions.

n is installed as follows:

  • The installation target is a dedicated directory, which defaults to ~/n and can be overridden with environment variable N_PREFIX; n itself as well as the active Node.js version are placed there.
    • When overriding, it is advisable to choose a user location - typically, a subfolder of ~ (at any level) - so as to avoid the need to use sudo for installation of global npm packages.
    • Either way, the target directory must either not exist yet or be empty.
    • Using a dedicated directory to hold both n and the Node.js versions greatly simplifies later uninstallation.
  • If your shell (your default interactive shell, as reflected in environment variable $SHELL) is bash, ksh, zsh, fish, or pwsh (PowerShell), the relevant shell initialization file is modified:
    • Environment variable N_PREFIX is defined to point to the installation directory.
    • Directory $N_PREFIX/bin is appended to the $PATH, unless already present.
    • For other shells, these modification must be performed manually; instructions are provided during installation.
    • NoteL You can also suppress modification with the -n option.
    • Note: If you want to override what shell's initialization file is updated, set the SHELL environment variable to that shell's file name (e.g., fish) before calling the installation command; e.g., from a POSIX-compatible shell: curl -L | SHELL=fish bash; similarly, on uninstallation you'll have to use SHELL=fish n-uninstall
  • By default, the latest LTS Node.js version is installed; you can suppress that or even specify multiple Node.js versions to install.
  • Note that any preexisting n, Node.js installation must be removed before using this installation method.
  • All installation prerequisites are met by default on macOS and some Linux distros; notably, git and curl must be present - see Installing n for details.
  • After installation, be sure to open a new terminal tab or window or reload your shell initialization file before attempting to use n / Node.js.

See examples below, and Installing n for prerequisites and installation options.


See Installation options for details.

  • Installation with confirmation prompt to default location $HOME/n and installation of the latest LTS Node.js version:
curl -L | bash
  • Automated installation to default location $HOME/n and installation of the latest LTS Node.js version:
curl -L | bash -s -- -y
  • Automated, quiet installation to default location $HOME/n and installation of the latest LTS Node.js version; no status information is displayed:
curl -sL | bash -s -- -q
  • Automated installation to the default location, with subsequent installation of the latest LTS (Long Term Support) version, and the latest 0.10.x release:
curl -L | bash -s -- -y lts 0.10
  • Automated installation to custom location ~/util/n, with subsequent installation of the latest LTS Node.js version:
curl -L | N_PREFIX=~/util/n bash -s -- -y

Installing n

Supported platforms and prerequisites

Among the platforms supported by n, any Unix-like platform with the following is supported:

These prerequisites are met by default on macOS and on at least some Linux platforms. What's missing from some by default is git and/or curl, which, however, are easy to install from the respective package managers (e.g., sudo apt-get install git curl on Debian, or sudo yum install git on Fedora). bash and curl are required by n itself as well.

Irrespective of the installation method chosen below, no further steps are required if your default shell is either bash, ksh, zsh, fish, or pwsh (PowerShell).
For other shells, manual updating of the relevant initialization file is required; detailed instructions are provided during installation.

Installation from GitHub

curl -L | [N_PREFIX=<dir>] bash [-s -- [-y] [<version>...]]

See below for an explanation of the options; -s -- is required by Bash itself in order to pass options through to the script piped from stdin.

Before you can use n and any installed Node.js versions, you must open a new terminal tab/window or reload your shell initialization file.
For instance, if your shell is Bash and you're on Linux, you'd use . ~/.bashrc; on macOS, you'd use . ~/.bash_profile; the installer will tell you the specific file to reload on successful installation.

Caveat: If you reload the initialization file from a script (rather than interactively) - so that you can make use of n or Node.js in the remainder of the script, e.g., in order to preinstall global npm packages - make sure that you account for initialization files that prevent (re)sourcing from a non-interactive shell.
For instance, Debian and Ubuntu come with a default ~/.bashrc file that - needlessly - categorically prevents sourcing (loading) if the shell is not interactive, using the following line at the start of the script:
[ -z "$PS1" ] && return
To bypass that:

  • In bash, precede the reload (sourcing) command with set -i to simulate an interactive environment:

        set -i       # turn on interactive mode
        . ~/.bashrc  # reload (source) the initialization file
        set +i       # turn interactive mode back off
  • Alternatively, invoke your script as a whole with bash --norc --noprofile -i <script>, which processes it in interactive (-i) mode.

    • This would work analogously for ksh and zsh as well.

Manual installation

  • Download this bash script as n-install.
  • Make it executable with chmod +x.
  • Move or symlink it to a directory in your $PATH.
  • Invoke n-install as detailed below.
  • Open a new terminal tab/window or reload your shell initialization file before using n and any installed Node.js versions - see GitHub instructions above.

Note: Even when executing n-install locally, downloading from this repository occurs; specifically, helper scripts n-update and n-uninstall are downloaded - see below.

Installation options

$ n-install --help

  n-install [-t] [-y|-q] [-n] [-a <arch>] [<version>...]

  Directly installs n, the Node.js version manager, which bypasses the need to
  manually install a Node.js version first.

  Additionally, installs n-update for updating n,
  and n-uninstall for uninstallation.

  On successful installation of n, the specified Node.js <version>(s)
  are installed; by default, this is the latest LTS Node.js version.
  To opt out, specify '-' as the only version argument.

  Supported version specifiers:

  * lts    ... the LTS (long-term stability) version
  * latest ... the latest version available overall
  * otherwise, specify an explicit version number, such as '0.12' or '0.10.35'
  If multiple versions are specified, the first one will be made active.

  The default installation directory is:

  which can be overridden by setting environment variable N_PREFIX to an
  absolute path before invocation; either way, however, the installation
  directory must either not exist yet or be empty.

  If your shell is bash, bsh, zsh, fish, or pwsh (PowerShell), the relevant
  initialization file will be modified so as to:
   - export environment variable $N_PREFIX to point to the installation dir.
   - ensure that the directory containing the n executable, $N_PREFIX/bin,
     is in the $PATH.
  Note that you either have to open a new terminal tab/window or re-source
  the relevant initialization file before you can use n and Node.js.
  For any other shell you'll have to make these modifications yourself.
  You can also explicitly opt out of the modification with -n.


    Merely tests if all installation prerequisites are met, which is signaled
    with an exit code of 0.

    Assumes yes as the reply to all prompts; in other words: runs unattended
    by auto-confirming the confirmation prompt.
    Like -y, except that, additionally, all status messages are suppressed,
    including the information and progress bar normally displayed by n while
    installing Node.js versions.

    Suppresses updating of the relevant shell initialization file.
    For instance, this allows for custom setups where all exports are 
    "out-sourced" to an external file that is then sourced from the 
    shell-initialization file; however, note that you'll then have to edit 
    the out-sourced file *manually* - instructions will be printed.

  -a <arch>
    Specifies a specific architecture to install the specified or implied
    Node.js version(s) for, e.g. arm64 or x64.
    This overrides the default behavior of auto-selecting binaries that match
    the current system.

  For more information, see

  bash ... to run this script and n itself.
  curl ... to download helper scripts from GitHub and run n itself.
  git ... to clone n's GitHub repository and update n later.
  GNU make ... to run n's installation procedure.
    # Install n and the latest LTS Node.js version, with 
    # interactive prompt:
    # Only test if installation to the specified location would work.
  N_PREFIX=~/util/n n-install -t
    # Automated installation of n, without installing Node.js
  n-install -y -
    # Automated installation of n, followed by automated installation
    # of the latest LTS and the latest-overall Node.js versions, as well
    # as the latest 0.8.x version.
  n-install -y lts latest 0.8

Updating n

Run n-update on demand to update n itself to the latest version.
n-update -y skips the confirmation prompt.

Manual updating

If, for some reason, n-update doesn't work or isn't available, run the following to update n:

  • cd "$N_PREFIX/n/.repo" && git fetch --depth 1 --quiet && git reset --hard origin/master --quiet && PREFIX="$N_PREFIX" make install && cd -

Uninstalling n

Run n-uninstall to uninstall n as well as the Node.js versions that were installed with it.
n-uninstall -y skips the confirmation prompt - use with caution.

Manual uninstallation

If, for some reason, n-uninstall doesn't work, do the following:

  • Remove the N_PREFIX environment-variable definition and associated PATH modification from your shell's initialization file.

  • Remove the directory that N_PREFIX points to:

    • Be sure that that directory contains no content unrelated to n that you may want to preserve.
    • If $N_PREFIX is not defined, look in the default installation location, ~/n.


Copyright (c) 2015-2021 Michael Klement (, released under the MIT license.


This project gratefully depends on the following open-source components, according to the terms of their respective licenses.

npm dependencies below have optional suffixes denoting the type of dependency; the absence of a suffix denotes a required run-time dependency: (D) denotes a development-time-only dependency, (O) an optional dependency, and (P) a peer dependency.

npm dependencies


Versioning complies with semantic versioning (semver).

  • v0.6.3 (2022-04-26):

    • [fix] Restored old shell-initialization file ID string, so as not to break existing installations.
  • v0.6.2 (2022-04-26):

    • [fix] Short URL domain names updated to, given that is being retired (thanks, @SukkaW).
  • v0.6.1 (2021-03-12):

    • [fix] fish initialization-file modification corrected.
  • v0.6.0 (2021-03-12):

    • [enhancement] Added initialization-files support for fish and pwsh (PowerShell).
  • v0.5.1 (2020-01-10):

    • [fix] Fixes #28: support for a custom zsh initialization-file directory via environment variable ZDOTDIR.
  • v0.5.0 (2018-07-25):

    • [breaking change] It is now the LTS version (long-term support, lts) version that is installed by default, because the previous default, stable, is obsolete and no longer meaningful: the minor version number being odd or even no loger carries meaning since Node.js embraced semantic versioning. See From now on, choose either lts for the latest LTS version or latest for the latest in-development version, which Node.Js now calls current.
  • v0.4.1 (2018-07-24):

    • Adds support for pass-thru option -a <arch>, so as to allow overriding the target architecture when installing the initial Node.js version(s) - implements request #22.
  • v0.4.0 (2017-10-26):

    • [enhancement] The integrity of helper scripts n-update and n-uninstall, which are downloaded by n-install from this repo, is now verified via SHA-256 checksums embedded in n-install.
  • v0.3.7 (2017-10-25):

    • [doc] Clarified that even during local execution after having manually downloaded n-install helper scripts are downloaded from this repo.
  • v0.3.6 (2017-09-03):

    • [enhancement] Installation and updating of n now guards against unexpected core.autocrlf settings.
    • [enhancement] Status and error messages improved to consistently mention version spec. 'lts'
  • v0.3.5 (2017-02-25):

    • [doc] Fixed manual n update instructions, added LTS version hints to CLI help.
  • v0.3.4 (2017-01-27):

    • [fix] for #10: n-update could fail to update n due to how it updated the local copy of the n repo.
      To update an already-installed copy of n-update, run the following:
      • cd "$N_PREFIX/bin"
      • curl > n-update
      • and then run n-update again.
  • v0.3.3 (2016-06-01):

    • [security] Switched to https:// URLs.
  • v0.3.2 (2016-02-20):

    • [enhancement] New option -q (quiet mode) skips prompts, like -y, and additionally suppresses all status output.
  • v0.3.1 (2016-02-05):

    • [optimization] git clone and git pull now use --depth 1 to only get the latest revision of n, which is all that is needed; tip of the hat to @steelbrain.
  • v0.3.0 (2016-01-14):

    • [enhancement] Support for n's symbolic lts version specifier that installs the latest LTS (Long Term Support) version.
  • v0.2.0 (2015-12-24):

    • [enhancement] New option -n allows suppressing modification of shell-initialization files, to allow for setups where all exports are "out-sourced" to an external file that is then sourced from the shell-initialization file; note that use of -n therefore requires performing the modifications manually.
  • v0.1.9 (2015-12-18):

    • [fix] Runtime Bash version check fixed; verified to work on at least 3.1.x - unclear, how far back it'll work.
  • v0.1.8 (2015-12-18):

    • [enhancement] Added runtime check to ensure that the Bash version running n-install is 3.2 or higher.
  • v0.1.7 (2015-11-23):

    • [doc] Removed references to io.js, now the project has merged with Node.js.
    • [doc] Added better tip for simulating an interactive environment for reloading a Bash initialization file.
  • v0.1.6 (2015-10-08):

    • [doc] CLI usage-help corrections.
  • v0.1.5 (2015-08-09):

    • [doc] Improved post-installation instructions.
  • v0.1.4 (2015-07-27):

    • [enhancement] Success message now mentions manually re-sourcing the shell initialization file as an alternative to opening a new terminal tab/window.
  • v0.1.3 (2015-07-04):

    • [robustness] If make is found not to be GNU make, an attempt is made to use gmake instead.
    • [doc] --version now also outputs the project's home URL; read-me improvements.
  • v0.1.2 (2015-06-21):

    • [doc] Examples revised.
  • v0.1.1 (2015-06-21):

    • [doc] Examples revised.
  • v0.1.0 (2015-06-20):

    • Initial release.


Installs n, the Node.js version manager, without needing to install Node.js first: curl -L | bash







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