How To Install Node.js on Ubuntu 16.04

Updated on September 29, 2021
How To Install Node.js on Ubuntu 16.04
Not using Ubuntu 16.04?Choose a different version or distribution.
Ubuntu 16.04


Node.js is a JavaScript runtime for server-side programming. It allows developers to create scalable backend functionality using JavaScript, a language many are already familiar with from browser-based web development.

In this guide, we will show you three different ways of getting Node.js installed on an Ubuntu 16.04 server:

  • using apt to install the nodejs package from Ubuntu’s default software repository
  • using apt with an alternate PPA software repository to install specific versions of the nodejs package
  • installing nvm, the Node Version Manager, and using it to install and manage multiple versions of Node.js

For many users, using apt with the default repo will be sufficient. If you need specific newer (or legacy) versions of Node, you should use the PPA repository. If you are actively developing Node applications and need to switch between node versions frequently, choose the nvm method.


This guide assumes that you are using Ubuntu 16.04. Before you begin, you should have a non-root user account with sudo privileges set up on your system. You can learn how to do this by following the Ubuntu 16.04 initial server setup tutorial.

Option 1 — Installing Node.js with Apt from the Default Repositories

Warning: the version of Node.js included with Ubuntu 16.04, version 4.2.6 is now unsupported and unmaintained. You should not use this version, and should refer to one of the other sections in this tutorial to install a more recent version of Node.

To get this version, you can use the apt-get package manager. Refresh your local package index first by typing:

  1. sudo apt-get update

Then install Node.js:

  1. sudo apt-get install nodejs

Check that the install was successful by querying node for its version number:

  1. nodejs -v

If the package in the repositories suits your needs, this is all you need to do to get set up with Node.js. In most cases, you’ll also want to also install npm, the Node.js package manager. You can do this by installing the npm package with apt:

  1. sudo apt-get install npm

This will allow you to install modules and packages to use with Node.js.

At this point you have successfully installed Node.js and npm using apt-get and the default Ubuntu software repositories. The next section will show how to use an alternate repository to install different versions of Node.js.

Option 2 — Installing Node.js with Apt Using a NodeSource PPA

To install a different version of Node.js, you can use a PPA (personal package archive) maintained by NodeSource. These PPAs have more versions of Node.js available than the official Ubuntu repositories. Node.js v12, v14, and v16 are available as of the time of writing.

First, we will install the PPA in order to get access to its packages. From your home directory, use curl to retrieve the installation script for your preferred version, making sure to replace 16.x with your preferred version string (if different).

  1. cd ~
  2. curl -sL https://deb.nodesource.com/setup_16.x -o nodesource_setup.sh

Refer to the NodeSource documentation for more information on the available versions.

Inspect the contents of the downloaded script with nano (or your preferred text editor):

  1. nano nodesource_setup.sh

When you are satisfied that the script is safe to run, exit your editor, then run the script with sudo:

  1. sudo bash nodesource_setup.sh

The PPA will be added to your configuration and your local package cache will be updated automatically. You can now install the Node.js package in the same way you did in the previous section:

  1. sudo apt-get install nodejs

Verify that you’ve installed the new version by running node with the -v version flag:

  1. node -v

The NodeSource nodejs package contains both the node binary and npm, so you don’t need to install npm separately.

At this point you have successfully installed Node.js and npm using apt and the NodeSource PPA. The next section will show how to use the Node Version Manager to install and manage multiple versions of Node.js.

Option 3 — Installing Node Using the Node Version Manager

Another way of installing Node.js that is particularly flexible is to use nvm, the Node Version Manager. This piece of software allows you to install and maintain many different independent versions of Node.js, and their associated Node packages, at the same time.

To install NVM on your Ubuntu 16.04 machine, visit the project’s GitHub page. Copy the curl command from the README file that displays on the main page. This will get you the most recent version of the installation script.

Before piping the command through to bash, it is always a good idea to audit the script to make sure it isn’t doing anything you don’t agree with. You can do that by removing the | bash segment at the end of the curl command:

  1. curl -o- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/nvm-sh/nvm/v0.38.0/install.sh

Take a look and make sure you are comfortable with the changes it is making. When you are satisfied, run the command again with | bash appended at the end. The URL you use will change depending on the latest version of nvm, but as of right now, the script can be downloaded and executed by typing:

  1. curl -o- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/nvm-sh/nvm/v0.38.0/install.sh | bash

This will install the nvm script to your user account. To use it, you must first source your .bashrc file:

  1. source ~/.bashrc

Now, you can ask NVM which versions of Node are available:

  1. nvm list-remote
. . . v14.16.0 (LTS: Fermium) v14.16.1 (LTS: Fermium) v14.17.0 (LTS: Fermium) v14.17.1 (LTS: Fermium) v14.17.2 (LTS: Fermium) v14.17.3 (LTS: Fermium) v14.17.4 (Latest LTS: Fermium) v15.0.0 v15.0.1 v15.1.0 v15.2.0 v15.2.1 v15.3.0 v15.4.0 v15.5.0 v15.5.1 v15.6.0 v15.7.0 v15.8.0 v15.9.0 v15.10.0 v15.11.0 v15.12.0 v15.13.0 v15.14.0 v16.0.0 v16.1.0 v16.2.0

It’s a very long list! You can install a version of Node by typing any of the release versions you see. For instance, to get version v14.10.1, you can type:

  1. nvm install v14.10.1

You can see the different versions you have installed by typing:

nvm list
-> v14.10.1 system default -> v14.10.1 (-> N/A) iojs -> N/A (default) unstable -> N/A (default) node -> stable (-> v14.10.1) (default) stable -> 14.10 (-> v14.10.1) (default)) . . .

This shows the currently active version on the first line (-> v14.10.1), followed by some named aliases and the versions that those aliases point to.

Note: if you also have a version of Node.js installed through apt, you may see a system entry here. You can always activate the system-installed version of Node using nvm use system.

Additionally, you’ll see aliases for the various long-term support (or LTS) releases of Node:

. . . lts/* -> lts/fermium (-> N/A) lts/argon -> v4.9.1 (-> N/A) lts/boron -> v6.17.1 (-> N/A) lts/carbon -> v8.17.0 (-> N/A) lts/dubnium -> v10.24.1 (-> N/A) lts/erbium -> v12.22.4 (-> N/A) lts/fermium -> v14.17.4 (-> N/A)

We can install a release based on these aliases as well. For instance, to install the latest long-term support version, fermium, run the following:

  1. nvm install lts/fermium
Downloading and installing node v14.17.4... . . . Now using node v14.17.4 (npm v6.14.14))

You can switch between installed versions with nvm use:

  1. nvm use v14.10.0
Now using node v14.10.0 (npm v6.14.8) ``` You can verify that the install was successful using the same technique from the other sections, by typing: ```command node -v

The correct version of Node is installed on our machine as we expected. A compatible version of npm is also available.


There are a quite a few ways to get up and running with Node.js on your Ubuntu 16.04 server. Your circumstances will dictate which of the above methods is best for your needs. While using the packaged version in Ubuntu’s repository is the easiest method, using nvm or a NodeSource PPA offers additional flexibility.

For more information on programming with Node.js, please refer to our tutorial series How To Code in Node.js.

DigitalOcean provides multiple options for deploying Node.js applications, from our simple, affordable virtual machines to our fully-managed App Platform offering. Easily host your Node.js application on DigitalOcean in seconds.

Learn more here

Tutorial Series: How to Install Node.js and Create a Local Development Environment

Node.js is a JavaScript platform for general-purpose programming that allows users to build network applications quickly. By leveraging JavaScript on both the front and backend, Node.js makes development more consistent and integrated.

To get your development environment configured so you can start building Node.js applications. select the tutorial for your platform.

About the authors

Still looking for an answer?

Ask a questionSearch for more help

Was this helpful?

This textbox defaults to using Markdown to format your answer.

You can type !ref in this text area to quickly search our full set of tutorials, documentation & marketplace offerings and insert the link!

Would be very helpful if after this command:

sudo apt-get install nodejs

That you recommend users to create a symbolic link to nodejs in its usual location:

sudo ln -s which nodejs /usr/bin/node

This way they can run node as usual by typing node.

Ubuntu 16.04 - Not working now. Err:1 https://deb.nodesource.com/node_16.x xenial/main amd64 nodejs amd64 16.19.1-deb-1nodesource1 404 Not Found

I got confused trying to replace the x here: https://deb.nodesource.com/setup_8.x when actually it’s the major version “8” in this case that gets replaced e.g. https://deb.nodesource.com/setup_10.x

Recommendation is to stick with https://deb.nodesource.com/setup_8.x as of today

Do installing nodejs under sudo is a good practice? I’ve read many posts that says it is not a good practice.

All in One, Easy to understand - production ready guide for beginners and professionals.

NodeJS, MongoDB, PM2 and NGINX installation and configuration for production server — ubuntu 16.04

Try this: curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/creationix/nvm/master/install.sh | sh source ~/.nvm/nvm.sh nvm install --lts nvm use --lts npm --version

Great guide! thanks a lot!

keep is stupid simple with one command that installs anything


This comment has been deleted

    For anyone else who ran into issues because they installed using apt:


    Try DigitalOcean for free

    Click below to sign up and get $200 of credit to try our products over 60 days!

    Sign up

    Join the Tech Talk
    Success! Thank you! Please check your email for further details.

    Please complete your information!

    Featured on Community

    Get our biweekly newsletter

    Sign up for Infrastructure as a Newsletter.

    Hollie's Hub for Good

    Working on improving health and education, reducing inequality, and spurring economic growth? We'd like to help.

    Become a contributor

    Get paid to write technical tutorials and select a tech-focused charity to receive a matching donation.

    Welcome to the developer cloud

    DigitalOcean makes it simple to launch in the cloud and scale up as you grow — whether you're running one virtual machine or ten thousand.

    Learn more
    DigitalOcean Cloud Control Panel