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Getting Started

RoboStack is a bundling of ROS for Linux, Mac and Windows using the conda package manager, based on top of conda-forge.

Installation mamba

To get started with conda (or mamba) as package managers, you need to have a base conda installation. Please do not use the Anaconda installer, but rather start with miniforge that is much more "minimal" installer. This installer will create a "base" environment that contains the package managers conda and mamba. After this installation is done, you can move on to the next steps.

When you already have a conda installation you can install mamba with:

conda install mamba -c conda-forge

Do not install ROS packages in the base environment

Make sure to not install the ROS packages in your base environment as this leads to issues down the track. On the other hand, conda and mamba must not be installed in the ros_env, they should only be installed in base.

Do not source the system ROS environment

When there is an installation available of ros on the system, in non-conda environments, there will be interference with the environments. As the PYTHONPATH set in the setup script conflicts with the conda environment.

PowerShell is not supported

At the moment on Windows only the Command Prompt terminal is supported, while Powershell is not supported.

Installation ros

Prepare an environment to use the correct channels
mamba create -n ros_env
mamba activate ros_env

# this adds the conda-forge channel to the new created environment configuration 
conda config --env --add channels conda-forge
# and the robostack channel
conda config --env --add channels robostack-staging
# remove the defaults channel just in case, this might return an error if it is not in the list which is ok
conda config --env --remove channels defaults
Install ROS1 or ROS2
# Install ros-noetic into the environment (ROS1)
mamba install ros-noetic-desktop

# Install ros-humble into the environment (ROS2)
mamba install ros-humble-desktop
Reactivate the environment to initialize the ros env
mamba deactivate
mamba activate ros_env

When you only have micromamba available use the following commands:

ROS1 Noetic
# Create a ros-noetic desktop environment
micromamba create -n ros_env -c conda-forge -c robostack-staging ros-noetic-desktop

# Activate the environment
micromamba activate ros_env
ROS2 Humble
# Create a ros-humble desktop environment
micromamba create -n ros_env -c conda-forge -c robostack-staging ros-humble-desktop

# Activate the environment
micromamba activate ros_env

Installation tools for local development

Default tools to help with local development of ROS packages
mamba install compilers cmake pkg-config make ninja colcon-common-extensions catkin_tools
Additional dependencies for developing on windows
# Install Visual Studio 2017, 2019 or 2022 with C++ support 
# see https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/cpp/build/vscpp-step-0-installation?view=msvc-160

# Install the Visual Studio command prompt - if you use Visual Studio 2019:
mamba install vs2019_win-64

# Install the Visual Studio command prompt - if you use Visual Studio 2022:
mamba install vs2022_win-64
Default tools to help with local development of ROS packages
micromamba install -c conda-forge compilers cmake pkg-config make ninja colcon-common-extensions
Additional dependencies for developing on windows
# Install Visual Studio 2017 or 2019 with C++ support 
# see https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/cpp/build/vscpp-step-0-installation?view=msvc-160

# Install the Visual Studio command prompt - if you use Visual Studio 2019:
micromamba install vs2019_win-64

# Install the Visual Studio command prompt - if you use Visual Studio 2022:
micromamba install vs2022_win-64

Testing installation

After installation you are able to run rviz and other ros tools.

In the conda environment activation is the ROS activation included. There is no need to add a source command in the ~/.bashrc

ROS1

First terminal
mamba activate ros_env
roscore

Second terminal
mamba activate ros_env
rviz

ROS2

Note

ROS2 has the benefit of not needing a roscore, so only a single terminal is needed to run a tool.

Terminal
mamba activate ros_env
rviz2

ROS1

First terminal
micromamba activate ros_env
roscore

Second terminal
micromamba activate ros_env
rviz

ROS2

Note

ROS2 has the benefit of not needing a roscore, so only a single terminal is needed to run a tool.

Terminal
micromamba activate ros_env
rviz2

Updating

Updating all packages in your environment is as easy as:

mamba update --all
micromamba update --all

Deactivating

The (de)activation of the ros workspace goes in together with the conda environment. So running the corresponding (de)activation command will also (un)source the ros environment.

mamba deactivate
micromamba deactivate

Why ROS and Conda?

We tightly couple ROS with Conda, a cross-platform, language-agnostic package manager. We provide ROS binaries for Linux, macOS (Intel and Apple Silicon), Windows and ARM (Linux). Installing other recent packages via conda-forge side-by-side works easily, e.g. you can install TensorFlow/PyTorch in the same environment as ROS Noetic without any issues. As no system libraries are used, you can also easily install ROS Noetic on any recent Linux Distribution - including older versions of Ubuntu. As the packages are pre-built, it saves you from compiling from source, which is especially helpful on macOS and Windows. No root access is required, all packages live in your home directory. We have recently written up a paper and blog post with more information.

Attribution

If you use RoboStack in your academic work, please refer to the following paper:

@article{FischerRAM2021,
    title={A RoboStack Tutorial: Using the Robot Operating System Alongside the Conda and Jupyter Data Science Ecosystems},
    author={Tobias Fischer and Wolf Vollprecht and Silvio Traversaro and Sean Yen and Carlos Herrero and Michael Milford},
    journal={IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine},
    year={2021},
    doi={10.1109/MRA.2021.3128367},
}