Install Latest Node.js and npm in a Docker Container

Install the latest versions of Node.js and npm, into a Docker container, with or without the need for root access. Easily update both applications to the latest versions.

Install and Confirm Node and npm

Ubuntu and Node

Recently, I was setting up a new development laptop with Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic Unicorn). As part of the setup, I needed to install all the several development tools, including Node.js and npm. Researching the current recommendations for installing Node.js and npm on Ubuntu, I found using the traditional ‘apt-get‘ command does not always install the latest versions of either application. Additionally, ‘apt-get’ makes updating those versions difficult.

After a lot of investigation, I created three different snippets of code to install the latest copies of Node.js and npm. Some of my code came from Isaac Z. Schlueter‘s series of installations Gists, and a post on StackOverflow by Pascal Hartig. Joyant and others recommended Isaac’s Gists for installing earlier versions of Node.js and npm. Other code was found in posts by DigitalOcean. Versions are as follows:

  • Version 1: using ‘apt-get install’
  • Version 2: using curl, make, and’s install script
  • Version 3: version 2 without requiring ‘sudo’ to use npm*

*There is some debate on the use of ‘sudo’ with some earlier versions of npm. It appears not to be recommended with the latest versions of npm.


Docker containers and virtual machines (VM) are ideal platforms for developing and testing applications, locally. I often create a Docker container or VirtualBox VM, to install and test new scripts, before running them within our software environments. To test this code, I created three separate Docker containers, based on the official 14.04 Ubuntu base image, located on Docker Hub. I then executed each version of code within a container. After installation testing, I chose version 2 for my laptop.

Displaying Docker Ubuntu Image and Containers

Docker Ubuntu Image and Containers

GitHub Gists

The three versions of install scripts on, perform the following tasks:

  • Creates Docker container
  • Updates Ubuntu system packages within container
  • Creates new ‘testuser’ account within container (‘testuser’)
  • Installs required software to install Node.js, if necessary (curl, make, etc.)
  • Installs Node.js and npm
  • Installs some common full-stack JavaScript npm packages
  • Verifies installation locations and contents correct

Running Code

Installing Node, npm, and New User Account

Installing Node, npm, and New User Account

Installing and Verifying npm Packages

Installing and Verifying npm Packages

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