Installing npm modules globally without sudo

I needed to install pm2 globally and run it as non root. This meant installing it with npm without using the sudo command. However, when you do this npm will throw an error.

“Error: EACCES: permission denied”

The npm documentation does provide a solution that works, which has a caveat.

  1. Make a directory for global installations:
    mkdir ~/.npm-global
  2. Configure npm to use the new directory path:
    npm config set prefix '~/.npm-global'
  3. Open or create a ~/.profile file and add this line:
    export PATH=~/.npm-global/bin:$PATH
  4. Back on the command line, update your system variables:
    source ~/.profile

As a side note, an easier way to execute step 3 is:

echo 'export PATH=~/.npm-global/bin:$PATH' >> ~/.profile

When I initially executed these steps it worked. However, after logging out and in again the pm2 command was no longer available. It turns out that on login the .bash_profile file is loaded instead of the .profile. Actually bash will try loading ~/.bash_profile, ~/.bash_login and ~/.profile, in that order. Once it finds one of them it will not try and load any of the others. After adding the statement to .bash_profile it worked like a dream.

echo 'export PATH=~/.npm-global/bin:$PATH' >> ~/.bash_profile

Hope this helps someone.

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