The Robot Operating System (ROS) is a flexible framework for writing robot software. It is a collection of tools, libraries, and conventions that aim to simplify the task of creating complex and robust robot behavior across a wide variety of robotic platforms.
Running a ROS system usually involves multiple nodes (i.e. computers, real or virtual), interconnected through a master controller.
There are at least 3 different ways to run ROS: using Docker, using Linux, and using WSL on Windows. In recent times, it became possible to install ROS using Conda on Windows as well.
ROS on Docker
To massively simplify the use of these tools, we package complete ROS systems into bundles of Docker containers. Each of these bundles runs in a virtualized network within your computer.
Besides easing deployment, containers have the added benefit of ensuring repeatability.
You can start a minimally functional ROS system, containing a ROS master and the ROS Bridge with the following command:
docker run -p 9090:9090 -t gramaziokohler/ros-noetic-base roslaunch rosbridge_server rosbridge_websocket.launch
Complete ROS systems
It is usually not enough to run single ROS nodes. ROS systems are networks of
multiple interconnected nodes. Docker provides a way to compose virtualized
networks using the
docker-compose command. These commands take one simple
configuration file as input, and handle all tasks required to run and connect
all the nodes.
As an example, download
open the command prompt, go to the folder where the file was downloaded,
and run the following command:
docker-compose up -d
You now have a ROS system with two nodes running: a ROS master and the ROS Bridge which adds a web socket channel to communicate with ROS.
Creating new ROS bundles using containers is usually only a matter of combining
them into a new
docker-compose.yml file, which is relatively simple but we
prepared some very common ones as examples.
Complete ROS system examples
ROS Noetic Base setup:
ABB IRB4600 40/255:
ABB IRB4600 60/205:
Once the containers are running, it is possible to access the graphic user interface. Check the following page for more details.
ROS on Linux
The usual but most involved way to install ROS is on a Linux machine, either virtual or real. The machine should have an IP address reachable from your computer.
Follow the ROS installation instructions for all the details, or alternatively, use the following commands as a brief outline of the steps required to install ROS on Ubuntu 20.04:
sudo sh -c 'echo "deb http://packages.ros.org/ros/ubuntu $(lsb_release -sc) main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ros-latest.list' curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/ros/rosdistro/master/ros.asc | sudo apt-key add - sudo apt update sudo apt install ros-noetic-desktop-full ros-noetic-rosbridge-server python3-rosdep python3-rosinstall python3-rosinstall-generator python3-wstool build-essential sudo rosdep init && rosdep update echo "source /opt/ros/noetic/setup.bash" >> ~/.bashrc source ~/.bashrc mkdir -p ~/catkin_ws/src cd ~/catkin_ws/ catkin_make echo "source ~/catkin_ws/devel/setup.bash" >> ~/.bashrc source ~/.bashrc
Once ROS is installed, you can start a minimally functional ROS system, containing a ROS master and the ROS Bridge with the following command:
roslaunch rosbridge_server rosbridge_websocket.launch
ROS on WSL
For Windows 10 users, an alternative is to install the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). WSL allows to run Linux within Windows without the need for an additional virtual machine.
To install WSL, open PowerShell as administrator and run:
This command will enable the required optional components, download the latest Linux kernel,
set WSL 2 as your default, and install a Linux distribution for you.
Once the installation is completed, run
bash and follow the instructions
above to install ROS on Linux.
After installation, it is possible to access the graphic user interface. Check the following page for more details.
For additional details, see Microsoft WSL documentation.