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Node Version Helper

Project status: planning to archive this project. See #16.

npm version

Easily install Node.js versions. No profile setup required for default install location.

Written in bash (and does not require a working node install).

On Windows the "Windows Subsystem for Linux" is supported, but not "Git BASH".

Forked from tj/n with improvements to syntax, new features, and prototype future changes for n.


If you already have node, the easiest way to install nvh is with npm:

npm install --global @shadowspawn/nvh
nvh help

nvh installs node to /usr/local by default, but you may change this location by defining NVH_PREFIX (see environment variables). The downloads are written to a cache in subdirectory nvh/versions.

To avoid requiring sudo for nvh and npm global installs, it is recommended you either install to your home directory using NVH_PREFIX, or take ownership of the system directories:

sudo mkdir -p /usr/local/nvh
sudo chown -R $(whoami) /usr/local/nvh
sudo chown -R $(whoami) /usr/local/bin
sudo chown -R $(whoami) /usr/local/include
sudo chown -R $(whoami) /usr/local/lib
sudo chown -R $(whoami) /usr/local/share

If npm is not yet available, a way to bootstrap an install:

curl -L -o nvh
bash nvh install lts
# Now node and npm are available

Installing Node Versions

Execute nvh install <version> to download and install a version of node. If <version> has already been downloaded, nvh will install from its cache.

nvh install 8.11.3
nvh i lts

Execute nvh on its own to view your downloaded versions, and install the selected version.

$ nvh

ο node/v10.15.0

Use up/down arrow keys to select a version, return key to install, d to delete, q to quit

(You can also use j and k to navigate up or down without using arrows.)

Specifying Node Versions

There are a variety of ways of specifying the target node version for nvh commands. Most commands use the latest matching version, and nvh ls-remote lists multiple matching versions.

Numeric version numbers can be complete or incomplete, with an optional leading v.

  • 4.9.1
  • 8: 8.x.y versions
  • v6.1: 6.1.x versions

There are labels for two especially useful versions:

  • lts: newest Long Term Support official release
  • latest, current: newest official release

There is an auto label to read the target version from a file in the current directory, or any parent directory. nvh looks for in order:

  • .nvh-node-version: version on single line. Custom to nvh.
  • .node-version: version on single line. Used by multiple tools: node-version-usage
  • .nvmrc: version on single line. Used by nvm.
  • package.json: use engines field to determine compatible node. Requires an installed version of node, and uses npx semver to resolve complex ranges.

There is support for release streams:

  • argon, boron, carbon: codenames for LTS release streams

These node support aliases may be used, although simply resolve to the latest matching version:

  • lts, active, lts_active, lts_latest, supported, current

The last version form is for specifying other releases available using the name of the remote download folder optionally followed by the complete or incomplete version. For example:

  • nightly
  • test/v11.0.0-test20180528
  • rc/10

Using Downloaded Node Versions Without Reinstalling

There are three commands for working directly with your downloaded versions of node, without reinstalling.

You can show the path to the downloaded version:

$ nvh which 6.14.3

Or run a downloaded node version with the nvh run command:

nvh run 8.11.3 --debug some.js

Or execute a command with PATH modified so node and npm will be from the downloaded node version. (NB: this npm will be working with a different and empty global node_modules directory, and you should not install global modules this way.)

nvh exec 10 my-script --fast test

Preserving npm

A node install normally includes npm as well, but you may wish to preserve an updated npm and npx leaving them out of the install using --preserve:

$ nvh install latest
installed : v10.6.0 (with npm 6.1.0)
$ npm --version
$ nvh install --preserve v8.0.0
installed : v8.0.0
$ npm --version

You can make --preserve the default behaviour for installs by setting NVH_PRESERVE_NPM:



Remove the installed version of node and npm:

nvh uninstall

List matching remote versions available for download:

nvh ls-remote lts
nvh ls-remote latest
nvh lsr 10
nvh lsr --all

List downloaded versions in cache:

nvh ls

Remove some downloaded versions:

nvh rm 4.9.1 8.15.0

Remove all downloaded versions except the version matching the installed version, or all:

nvh cache prune
nvh cache clear

Display diagnostics to help resolve problems:

nvh doctor

Optional Environment Variables

The nvh command downloads and installs to /usr/local by default, but you may override this location by defining NVH_PREFIX. To change the location to say $HOME/.nvh, add lines like the following to your shell initialization file:

export NVH_PREFIX=$HOME/.nvh

See Environment Variables for more about these settings:


See Proxy Server for variables and advice for using a proxy server.


How It Works

nvh downloads a prebuilt node package and installs to a single prefix (e.g. /usr/local). This overwrites the previous version. The bin folder in this location should be in your PATH (e.g. /usr/local/bin).

The downloads are kept in a cache folder to be used for reinstalls. The downloads are also available for limited use using nvh which and nvh run and nvh exec.

The global npm packages are not changed by the install, with the exception of npm itself which by default is part of the node install.

Alternatives to nvh

nvh is a fork from tj/n, so the original is an alternative!

nvh does not:

  • manage the global npm modules per version of node
  • dynamically change the available node as navigate in shell
  • run natively on Windows or in Git BASH

Alternatives offering different feature sets are:

  • nvs Node Version Switcher (cross-platform)
  • nvm Node Version Manager (Linux and Mac)
  • nvm-windows Node.js version manager for Windows