Upgrading Node with n

Using n as a Node binary management tool

Posted by Joel Lord on December 31st, 2015

Node is a fast moving library and might require frequent updates. You probably want to be able to run the latest version of node so you can try the newest features like ES6 support and so on but you might also have legacy software that will run on previous versions of node. This library, "n", will let you run the version of Node that you need.

What is "n"

N is a version node binary management solution. It will let you download and install any version of node. After this, you can use n rather than node to execute your javascript code with the node version that you want. You can also easily use n to update your node version to the one you want to use by default.

Install "n"

N is part of the npm library so you can easily install it using a global npm install.

SYS0635:~ jlord$ npm install -g n

Install a new node version with n

Now that you have n, you can start installing various versions of Node on your system

SYS0635:~ jlord$ n stable

     install : node-v5.2.0
       mkdir : /usr/local/n/versions/node/5.2.0
       fetch : https://nodejs.org/dist/v5.2.0/node-v5.2.0-darwin-x64.tar.gz
   installed : v5.2.0

SYS0635:~ jlord$ n latest

     install : node-v5.3.0
       mkdir : /usr/local/n/versions/node/5.3.0
       fetch : https://nodejs.org/dist/v5.3.0/node-v5.3.0-darwin-x64.tar.gz
   installed : v5.3.0

SYS0635:~ jlord$ n 0.11.1

     install : node-v0.11.1
       mkdir : /usr/local/n/versions/node/0.11.1
       fetch : https://nodejs.org/dist/v0.11.1/node-v0.11.1-darwin-x64.tar.gz
   installed : v0.11.1

You now have the latest version of node, the latest stable version and another older version (0.11.1). You can now select what version of node you want to run.

SYS0635:~ jlord$ node --version
SYS0635:~ jlord$ n

  o node/4.2.1

SYS0635:~ jlord$ node --version

How to default to the new version

When you ran n <version_number>, you installed the binaries for node and npm on your machine. n uses the one that you switched to. If you want to upgrade your default node, you can create sym links to the n version of node you want to use.

#Find the node versions you have installed
ls /usr/local/n/versions/node
0.10.33/ 0.11.1/  0.12.0/  4.2.1/

#Check the version
/usr/local/n/versions/node/4.2.1/bin/node --version
/usr/local/n/versions/node/4.2.1/bin/npm --version

#Create the sym links
sudo ln -sf /usr/local/n/versions/node/<version_number>/bin/node /usr/bin/node
sudo ln -sf /usr/local/n/versions/node/<version_number>/bin/npm /usr/bin/npm

And you're done ! You now have multiple instances of node install and you can choose which one you want to use.