Node-RED, npm, sudo and permissions

I ran into a problem on my Pi yesterday; I could not update any npm installed packages.  If I did try, it simply failed, quietly.  Some searching led me to believe that it was because I had installed npm using sudo and possibly other packages as well (I’d lost some Bash history so I cannot be sure – a blog for another time).

I dug around a little and found this comment on StackOverflow;

“Recent versions of npm switch to user “nobody” as a security measure if it’s being run with sudo privileges.”

I could see exactly this within /usr/lib/node_modules.

On the npm site itself, there is an item on this issue which suggests some modifications which I really did not look the like of, as  npm config get prefix  returned just /usr.

Another item I found suggested changing permissions in a similar manner to the npm docs but I felt it was rather over the top and changed too much.  So I took a middle road and did the following;

This changed all the ‘nobody’ owned files and folders to owned by pi (which I was logged in as).

What I cannot remember (lost history again) is if I did it for the folders in my home folder. If I had found any files owned by ‘nobody’ I would have done so.

This has solved the problem and now I can use npm without sudo and update (both locally and globally) work fine.


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