Skip to content Skip to footer

How to Fix “sudo: npm: command not found” and Upgrade Node.js

When attempting to upgrade Node.js using n or any other method, you might encounter the sudo: npm: command not found error. This indicates that the npm command is not accessible to the sudo environment. Below, we will explore various solutions to resolve this issue and successfully upgrade Node.js.

Solution 1: Install npm using Package Manager

If npm is not found by sudo, it might not be installed globally or accessible in the system path. You can install or reinstall npm using your distribution’s package manager:

sudo apt-get install npm

This command is for Debian-based distributions like Ubuntu. It will install npm and should make it accessible to sudo.

Solution 2: Reinstall Node.js from the Official Website

Sometimes, the npm file may not be correctly installed or linked. Reinstalling Node.js from the official website can resolve this issue:

  1. Visit the Node.js official website.
  2. Download the appropriate package for your system.
  3. Follow the installation instructions provided on the website.

This should place npm in the standard location (/usr/local/bin/npm) and make it accessible to sudo.

Solution 3: For macOS Users

If you’re on a Mac and using Homebrew, you can follow these steps:

  1. If you encounter an error with Homebrew, start by installing it using:
    /bin/bash -c "$(curl -fsSL"
  2. Then, update Homebrew and reinstall Node.js:
    brew update
    brew uninstall node
    brew install node
    brew postinstall

This should properly set up node and npm on your Mac.

Creating symbolic links manually can ensure that npm is found in the sudo environment:

sudo ln -s /usr/local/bin/node /usr/bin/node
sudo ln -s /usr/local/lib/node /usr/lib/node
sudo ln -s /usr/local/bin/npm /usr/bin/npm
sudo ln -s /usr/local/bin/node-waf /usr/bin/node-waf

This manually links the npm executable to a location within the sudo secure path.

Solution 5: Adjust Permissions (Use with Caution)

Sometimes, permission issues can prevent npm from being accessed by sudo. You can adjust permissions, but do this cautiously as it can pose security risks:

sudo chmod -R 777 /usr/local/lib/node_modules/npm
sudo chmod -R 777 /usr/local/lib/node_modules
sudo chmod g+w /usr/local/lib
sudo chmod g+rwx /usr/local/lib

WARNING: Using chmod 777 is risky and not recommended. Only use it as a last resort and revert permissions to more secure settings afterward.

Solution 6: Use nvm

If you initially installed node and npm using nvm (Node Version Manager), ensure that nvm is loaded in your shell session:

source ~/.nvm/

Add this line to your .bash_profile or .bashrc file to load nvm automatically.

When using sudo, you can preserve the user’s environment by using the -i flag:

sudo -iu username npm install -g n

Replace username with your actual username.

Additional Tips

  • Ensure that your $PATH variable includes the directory where npm is located.
  • If you’ve manually changed permissions, consider resetting them to safer defaults using chmod 644 for files and chmod 755 for directories.
  • Always check the official Node.js documentation for the recommended installation procedure for your platform.

By following these solutions, you should be able to resolve the sudo: npm: command not found error and successfully upgrade to the latest version of Node.js.