When working in node it can be hard to keep your node versions straight. Vision Media's N was designed to fix this.
The name aside, N is an effective tool for building node from source and managing versions on your machine, similar to Ruby's RVM.
Now when setting up a new box, I use a recipe which performs these steps:
$ sudo apt-get install npm build-essential
$ sudo npm install -g n
$ n install stable
$ sudo apt-get remove npm
$ ln -s /usr/local/n/current/bin/npm /usr/local/bin/npm
(this fixes a weird npm pathing issue described here: https://github.com/visionmedia/n/issues/63)
Done! You now have complete control over your node and npm version with N.