Installing a custom version of NVM and Node.js


This article walks you through installing Node.js using Node Version Manager (nvm) on a Shared, VPS or Dedicated Server.

DreamHost support is unable to assist with custom installations. The directions below will explain how to install Node.js but if you find anything is not working as intended, you must contact a developer for further assistance.

What servers can Node.js be installed onto?

Node.js can be installed onto Shared, VPS, and Dedicated Servers.

What version of Node.js is installed?

A default version of Node.js is only installed on certain operating systems. To confirm if Node.js is installed, log into your server via SSH and run the following command:

[server]$ node -v

Please note that the default version is an older version and is not meant for development purposes. It's highly recommended you follow the steps below to install a current version.

Is it possible to run Node.js on ports 80 or 443?

Yes, but only if you've enabled Passenger in the panel and the file to load your application is named app.js. View the following article for further details.

The version of Passenger running on DreamHost servers does not currently function with Node.js versions 14+.

Installing Node Version Manager (nvm)

The following steps install Node Version Manager. You can then use nvm to install Node.js.

  1. Log into your server via SSH.
  2. Visit the following page to determine what version of NVM to install:
  3. Make sure you're in your user's directory.
    [server]$ cd ~
  4. Run the following command to download NVM. Change the version number as needed:
    [server]$ curl -o- | bash
    • This command installs nvm into a new directory under your user named /.nvm.
    • This command also adds the following to your .bashrc file:
    export NVM_DIR="$HOME/.nvm"
    [ -s "$NVM_DIR/" ] && \. "$NVM_DIR/" # This loads nvm
    [ -s "$NVM_DIR/bash_completion" ] && \. "$NVM_DIR/bash_completion" # This loads nvm bash_completion
  5. Update your .bashrc file to use these new settings.
    [server]$ source .bashrc

    Then run the following to confirm your local .nvm directory is set.

    [server]$ echo $NVM_DIR
  6. This step only applies to Shared or Dedicated servers.

    If installing NVM as a user on a Shared or Dedicated Server, make sure the script isn't blocked by running the following as your user:

    [server]$ setfattr -n user.pax.flags -v "mr" $NVM_DIR/

    This command does not return anything. If you see an error such as setfattr: / No such file or directory, something wasn't installed correctly. Try running the following command.

    [server]$ echo $NVM_DIR

    You should see the path to your local .nvm directory. If you do not, make sure the .bashrc file was updated as in step 5 above. Then try running this command again.

  7. View the creating and editing a file via SSH article for instructions on how to edit your existing .bash_profile. In this file, add the following line.
    source ~/.bashrc
  8. Run the following command to allow your shell to use this new version of nvm:
    [server]$ . ~/.bash_profile
  9. To test if you can now use nvm, run the following which should respond with the version you have installed:
    [server]$ nvm --version

Installing Node.js

Now that nvm has been installed, you can use it to install Node.js

  1. Check which versions of Node.js are available:
    [server]$ nvm ls-remote
  2. Install any version of Node.js you wish:
    [server]$ nvm install v12.22.7

    If installing Nodejs as a user on a Shared or Dedicated Server, there may be an error that looks like this:

    # Fatal error in , line 0
    # Check failed: reservation_.SetPermissions(protect_start, protect_size, permission).
    #FailureMessage Object: 0x3dfe93bb400

    If so, you'll need to update the security controls on each newly downloaded binary file before it will work. Run the following command as your user after each new version you download:

    [server]$ setfattr -n user.pax.flags -v "mr" $(find $NVM_DIR -type f -iname "node" -o -iname "npm" -o -iname "npx")

    This will need to be done each time a new version is installed.

  3. Set your current version of node to your new version:
    [server]$ nvm use v12.22.7
    Now using node v12.22.7 (npm v)
  4. Check which version of Node.js is running by entering the following:
    [server]$ node -v

Setting the default version of Node.js

After installing a new version of Node.js, your current Shell session should use it automatically when you log back in. If you notice that the version is not correct, you may need to review the .bash_profile instructions above. You could also set the new version as your default version by running the following command.

Make sure to change the version number to the version you've installed. This example uses v12.22.7.

[server]$ nvm alias default v12.22.7
default -> v12.22.7

Testing Node.js

Now that you have installed Node.js you can create a few simple test scripts to confirm if it's functioning.

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