Set up Node.js version management

Different projects often require different Node.js versions. For switching between multiple versions, you can use the Node.js version manager - nvm. While other Node.js version managers are available, nvm is recommended since the Netgen Media Site Makefile is configured to be used with that one.

1 Install nvm

First uninstall Node.js, as it will conflict with the versions installed through the version manager.

The installation should be fairly straightforward if you follow the instructions at Github:

curl -o- | bash

Make sure to check the correct version, please do not just copy the link above as it could be an old/deprecated version.

This will install the nvm to ~/.nvm folder, and attempt to modify your profile file (it will attempt to go through the following: ~/.bash_profile, ~/.zshrc, ~/.profile, or ~/.bashrc). If you have any other profile file, please add the following to the file your self:

export NVM_DIR="$([ -z "${XDG_CONFIG_HOME-}" ] && printf %s "${HOME}/.nvm" || printf %s "${XDG_CONFIG_HOME}/nvm")"
[ -s "$NVM_DIR/" ] && \. "$NVM_DIR/" # This loads nvm


If you are getting nvm: command not found after the installation, try to source your profile file (eg. source ~/.bashrc), or simply close your current terminal and open a new one.

2 Install Node.js through nvm

You can now use nvm to install Node.js, for example the latest and LTS versions:

nvm install node # "node" is an alias for the latest version
nvm install --lts

To install a specific version of Node.js, for example 19.7.0, execute on the command line:

nvm install 19.7.0

You can also install the latest release of a specific major version, for example 12, with:

nvm install 12

Note that each version of Node.js installed through nvm will come with its own version of npm.

3 Switch between different versions of Node.js

To switch between different versions of Node.js, execute on the command line:

nvm list

This will show you the currently installed versions of Node.js on your system. You can select one of those, or install another one, and then execute the following:

nvm use 19.7.0

However, you will rarely need to do that - usually, your project should have a .nvmrc file, which already has the required Node.js version defined. In that case, all you need to do is run:

nvm use

This command, however, will fail if the requested version of Node.js is not already installed, and will require you to install it first. To get around this, you can run:

nvm use || nvm install

You can also add this to your alias list, so it is simpler to use (nvmuse for example).

4 Switch between different versions of Node.js automatically

If you want to have nvm automatically switch to a different Node.js version upon navigating inside a directory which contains a .nvmrc file, you can configure the function for this in the ~/.cdnvm file:

cdnvm() {
    command cd "$@";
    nvm_path=$(nvm_find_up .nvmrc | tr -d '\n')

    # If there are no .nvmrc file, use the default nvm version
    if [[ ! $nvm_path = *[^[:space:]]* ]]; then

        declare default_version;
        default_version=$(nvm version default);

        # If there is no default version, set it to `node`
        # This will use the latest version on your machine
        if [[ $default_version == "N/A" ]]; then
            nvm alias default node;
            default_version=$(nvm version default);

        # If the current version is not the default version, set it to use the default version
        if [[ $(nvm current) != "$default_version" ]]; then
            nvm use default;

    elif [[ -s $nvm_path/.nvmrc && -r $nvm_path/.nvmrc ]]; then
        declare nvm_version

        declare locally_resolved_nvm_version
        # `nvm ls` will check all locally-available versions
        # If there are multiple matching versions, take the latest one
        # Remove the `->` and `*` characters and spaces
        # `locally_resolved_nvm_version` will be `N/A` if no local versions are found
        locally_resolved_nvm_version=$(nvm ls --no-colors "$nvm_version" | tail -1 | tr -d '\->*' | tr -d '[:space:]')

        # If it is not already installed, install it
        # `nvm install` will implicitly use the newly-installed version
        if [[ "$locally_resolved_nvm_version" == "N/A" ]]; then
            nvm install "$nvm_version";
        elif [[ $(nvm current) != "$locally_resolved_nvm_version" ]]; then
            nvm use "$nvm_version";
alias cd='cdnvm'
cd "$PWD"

and add this to your ~/.bashrc (or whichever other profile file you are using):

if [ -f ~/.cdnvm ]; then
   . ~/.cdnvm # This enables automatic switch of nvm on folder change

5 Managing packages with nvm

For some packages (yarn usually), it is best to let nvm install it together with a new Node.js version. To accomplish this, you can add package names, one per line, to the file $NVM_DIR/default-packages

NOTE: $NVM_DIR is usually ~/.nvm/.