How to Install and Switch Between Multiple Node.js Versions

Tutorial Jan 25, 2021

Node.js is an open-source, cross-platform JavaScript run-time environment for running JavaScript code outside of a web browser.

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When working on a Node.js project, at some point, you would want to be able to switch between multiple versions of Node.js. Maybe you're upgrading an old Node.js project to a newer version. Unfortunately, Node.js does not offer us any options to work with multiple versions of it. For this, we will need to become familiar with a very handy tool called NVM (Node Virtual Manager). It will allow us to easily switch between Node.js versions.

INSTALLING NVM

We can install nvm using either curl or wget.

With curl,

curl -o- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/nvm-sh/nvm/v0.37.2/install.sh | bash

With wget,

wget -qO- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/nvm-sh/nvm/v0.37.2/install.sh | bash

v0.37.2 is the latest version of nvm available at the time of writing this. The version number will change as the project develops. So, to make sure you install the latest version, it's best to visit the project's Github page.

After installing, to get the nvm command available on the terminal, run the following command or close your current terminal instance and open a new one.

source ~/.bashrc

Run the following command to confirm that we can use the nvm command.

nvm --version
0.37.2

USING NVM

Now that we have successfully installed nvm, let us look at some basic operations.

1. Get List of Node.js Versions

For seeing the list of Node.js versions available to us, run the following command.

nvm ls-remote

2. Installing Versions of Node.js

We can install a specific version of Node.js using nvm install as shown below.

nvm install 12.20.1

The above command will install version 12.20.1 of Node.js

When we nvm install a version, it will become our active version of Node.js.

Since nvm follows Semantic Versioning, for installing the latest 12.18 patch, run the following command.

nvm install 12.18

The above command will install 12.18.x where x is the latest patch number available. At the time of writing, for version 12.18, the latest patch number is 4. So, the above command will install 12.18.4.

Run the following command to install the latest version of Node.js. At the time of writing, it is version 15.6.0.

nvm install node

Run the following command to install the latest LTS version of Node.js. At the time of writing, it is version 14.15.4.

nvm install --lts

3. Uninstalling Versions of Node.js

For uninstalling a specific version of Node.js, we can use the nvm uninstall command,

nvm uninstall 12.20.1

4. Check Currently Using Node.js Version

We can check what version of Node.js we are currently using with either the nvm or node commands.

nvm current
node -v

5. List Installed Versions

Use the nvm ls to see all the Node.js versions we installed.

nvm ls
       v12.18.4
       v12.20.1
->     v14.15.4
        v15.6.0
         system
default -> lts/* (-> v14.15.4)
iojs -> N/A (default)
unstable -> N/A (default)
node -> stable (-> v15.6.0) (default)
stable -> 15.6 (-> v15.6.0) (default)
lts/* -> lts/fermium (-> v14.15.4)
lts/argon -> v4.9.1 (-> N/A)
lts/boron -> v6.17.1 (-> N/A)
lts/carbon -> v8.17.0 (-> N/A)
lts/dubnium -> v10.23.1 (-> N/A)
lts/erbium -> v12.20.1
lts/fermium -> v14.15.4

6. Use a Specific Version

To switch to a specific version which we have installed, use the nvm use command.

If it is installed, use the following command to switch to the latest version of Node.js.

nvm use node

if it is installed, use the following command to switch to the latest LTS version of Node.js.

nvm use --lts

If a specific version of Node.js is installed, to switch to it, use the following command.

nvm use 12.18.4

UNINSTALLING NVM

If for some reason you wish to uninstall nvm, all we have to do is delete the ~/.nvm directory.

rm -r ~/.nvm

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