I have written a new post explaining how to do this better and easier using nvm
A lot of people (myself included) have run into permissions errors installing packages globally via npm.
The common reaction (I did it!) is to simply
sudo npm install *** which works, but will only cause more problems down the line!
I have read a lot of discussions online, and it seems that this is usually caused by installing node using sudo (often required when using package managers), or by using sudo to install the first package.
This causes the ~/.npm cache folder with root permissions which means that all subsequent installs also require root permissions.
Some people suggest re-installing node from source to get round this, but this still requires some further configuration so I prefer to install via my package manager of choice and just reconfigure npm to work without sudo.
This solution works fine for people who already have node & npm installed – you just need to reinstall your global packages at the end.
I have tested this in OS X (Yosemite), Ubuntu 14.04 and a number of older versions of Linux Mint.
What are you going to need to reinstall?
Before you begin, I suggest you get a list of your globally installed packages so you know what to reinstall later:
npm list -g --depth=0
/usr/lib ├── email@example.com ├── firstname.lastname@example.org ├── email@example.com ├── firstname.lastname@example.org └── email@example.com
Tell npm to install packages to home
By default, npm installs packages under
/usr/local/lib/node_modules depending on your OS / distribution.
If you’re curious, you can check like this:
npm config get prefix
Your install path is the output of the above command plus
So if the command outputs
/usr/lib then your install path is
The first step is to get it to install to your home directory instead.
npm config set prefix ~/npm
Fix your paths
Next, you need to add the appropriate paths to your environment variables…
# open your .bashrc (Linux) or .bash_profile (Mac) file for editing: nano ~/.bashrc # for Linux # or... nano ~/.bash_profile # for Mac if you haven't created a .bashrc file # add these lines: export PATH="$PATH:$HOME/npm/bin" export NODE_PATH="$NODE_PATH:$HOME/npm/lib/node_modules" # save the file and then enter this command to make the changes take effect: . ~/.bashrc # or... . ~/.bash_profile
Now you need to take ownership of everything that has previously been installed in ~/.npm.
Anything that was previously installed using
sudo npm install will be owned by
root and will cause problems later.
# optionally check to see if anything is owned by root: ls -la ~/.npm # take ownership of everything in your ~/.npm directory (must be run with sudo): sudo chown -R $USER:`id -g -n $USER` ~/.npm
Reinstall your global packages
Finally, reinstall all your global packages (the ones you checked for in the first step)… this time without sudo!
# no sudo necessary 🙂 npm install -g bower npm install -g grunt-cli npm install -g gulp npm install -g yo
And that’s it – hopefully this helps someone.
If I missed anything, or if there is a better way, please let me know in the comments.