[ros-users] Towards a Debian ROS install without pip

Michael Janssen (CS Grad) mjanssen at cs.umn.edu
Tue Sep 25 03:16:32 UTC 2012

So, the installation instructions for installing Fuerte on Debian have
been out of date for a little while now; They don't work
out-of-the-box for sure, and I've been trying to figure out how to
make them a bit better.

PIP is suggested as part of the first thing to get the rosinstall,
rospkg, and rosdep tools.  This has been [disrecommended on this
list][1] for about a month.  The recommended way is to use apt now,
but there aren't any instructions on the [Debian Fuerte install
page][2] for that.  I would like to remedy this.

The packages installed via pip are rosinstall, rospkg, rosdep, and
vcstools.  They are available in the ubuntu repository at

Lucky for us, python is nice and cross plaform, and Ubuntu packages
are compatible with Debian, and none of these packages have
dependencies outside this set, so they install fine with dpkg if you
download them all and put them on one line. python-vcstools and
python-rosinstall depend on bzr, which isn't included in the
"bootstrap dependencies" earlier in the wiki document, but 'apt-get
install bzr' remedies that situation.

>From here on out, the install instructions work fine, installing from
source.  However, I would prefer to have a completely Debian-package
based install, similar to the Ubuntu install.  Most of the packages
and all of the package tools are shared between Ubuntu and Debian.
Using the fuerte.yaml from [the rosdistro page][3] and the fact that
we've already installed python-yaml from the earlier steps, we can
build Debian packages automatically for the entire underlay.  Using
the "precise" tags that are the most recent work fine on both Debian
squeeze and sid.  I haven't been able to test on wheezy yet, but I
suspect it works fine there as well.

The attached script should take a Debian system from nothing to a
working ros-underlay install (ready to start at step 1.3.2 on the
[installation page][2]), with all Debian packages instead of source.
I've tested it on current (2012-09-24) squeeze and sid.

My next step is to contribute some rosdep rules, I think.  Right now I
have a branch at http://github.com/jamuraa/rosdep (in accordance with
the [instructions pointed at by Tully][4]) and have been updating it.
Right now I am stuck at packages in two states: packages like pcl and
ros which have their own packages built for Ubuntu (and therefore
should not be handled through rosdep?) or sets of missing resources
like this:

runtime_monitor: Missing resource rxbag
turtle_actionlib: Missing resource turtlesim
smach_viewer: Missing resource xdot

There are a [couple][5] of [questions][6] on answers.ros.org, but they
aren't getting much attention / answers.  If someone else has tried
this and has some advise / tips, or wants to point me in the right
direction for setting up a build server, I'd be grateful.

[1]: http://code.ros.org/lurker/attach/3@20120806.010403.409c5c22.attach
[2]: http://www.ros.org/wiki/fuerte/Installation/Debian
[3]: https://github.com/ros/rosdistro/raw/master/releases/fuerte.yaml
[4]: http://ros.org/doc/api/rosdep2/html/contributing_rules.html
[5]: http://answers.ros.org/question/44070/contributing-rosdep-rules-for-debian/
[6]: http://answers.ros.org/question/33002/rosdep-install-a-fails-on-debian-sqeeze/

Michael Janssen --- mjanssen at cs.umn.edu
Center for Distributed Robotics --- University of Minnesota
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