Node.js — installing packages


The following describes how to install Node.js and related local packages to DreamHost servers.

Installing Node.js and npm

Node.js is not installed by default on newer DreamHost servers. You must manually install a custom version under your server's username. View the following article for instructions on how to install a custom version of Node.js.

Once installed, npm is also installed and you'll be able to run the commands below.

Local package installation

It's only recommended that you install packages locally for each individual project.

To install a package locally, navigate to your site's application directory (not the /public directory). The command to install a package is:

[server]$ npm install <package_name>

For example, this installs a packages called 'lodash'.:

[server]$ npm install lodash
└── lodash@4.17.4

npm WARN enoent ENOENT: no such file or directory, open '/home/username/'
npm WARN No description
npm WARN No repository field.
npm WARN No README data
npm WARN No license field.

This creates a directory in your site's application directory called /node_modules.

You should then check to confirm it was correctly installed. You must be in your site's application directory where the local /node_modules directory resides:

[server]$ ls node_modules

Testing your locally installed package

This example is taken from

Create a file named index.js, with the following code:

// index.js 
var lodash = require('lodash');
var output = lodash.without([1, 2, 3], 1);

Run the file using node index.js. It should output [2, 3].

[server]$ node index.js
[ 2, 3 ]

If the module was not correctly installed, an error would be thrown.

Creating a packages.json file for locally installed packages

It's a good idea to create a local packages.json file in your site's application directory where the /node_modules directory resides. This package.json file helps to manage your locally installed packages.

To be clear, this package.json file is different than the package.json file within any locally installed package. For example:

  • Local site package.json file location: /
  • Locally installed package package.json file: /<module_name>/package.json

Global package installation

If your project depends on a specific package, it should always be installed locally as shown above. Global installs should be reserved for packages that your projects do not depend on, such as CLI utilities. 

Use the -g flag to install a package globally:

[server]$ npm install -g <package_name>

You can confirm which packages are installed globally by running the following:

[server]$ npm list -g --depth=0
└── npm@6.13.4

Updating packages

Updating local packages

Navigate to your site's application directory where the local /node_modules folder resides.

First, check which packages need to be updated:

[server]$ npm outdated

You can update a single package with:

[server]$ npm update -S <package_name>

You can update all local packages with:

[server]$ npm update -S

It's a good idea to use the -S flag. This saves the new version as the minimum required dependency in your site's package.json file. If you do not use the -S flag, the package will update, but the package.json file for your site will not be updated.

Updating global packages

First, check which packages need to be updated:

[server]$ npm outdated -g --depth=0

You can update a single package with:

[server]$ npm outdated -g <package_name>

You can update all global packages with:

[server]$ npm update -g

Using a package to update packages

There are several packages that can help to update your site's packages. For example:

See also

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Article last updated PST.

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