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Building ROS 2 on Linux

System requirements

The current target platforms for Rolling Ridley are

  • Tier 1: Ubuntu Linux - Focal Fossa (20.04) 64-bit

Tier 3 platforms (not actively tested or supported) include:

As defined in REP 2000

System setup

Set locale

Make sure you have a locale which supports UTF-8. If you are in a minimal environment (such as a docker container), the locale may be something minimal like POSIX. We test with the following settings. However, it should be fine if you’re using a different UTF-8 supported locale.

locale  # check for UTF-8

sudo apt update && sudo apt install locales
sudo locale-gen en_US en_US.UTF-8
sudo update-locale LC_ALL=en_US.UTF-8 LANG=en_US.UTF-8
export LANG=en_US.UTF-8

locale  # verify settings

Add the ROS 2 apt repository

You will need to add the ROS 2 apt repositories to your system. To do so, first authorize our GPG key with apt like this:

sudo apt update && sudo apt install curl gnupg2 lsb-release
curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/ros/rosdistro/master/ros.asc | sudo apt-key add -

And then add the repository to your sources list:

sudo sh -c 'echo "deb [arch=$(dpkg --print-architecture)] http://packages.ros.org/ros2/ubuntu $(lsb_release -cs) main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ros2-latest.list'

Install development tools and ROS tools

sudo apt update && sudo apt install -y \
  build-essential \
  cmake \
  git \
  libbullet-dev \
  python3-colcon-common-extensions \
  python3-flake8 \
  python3-pip \
  python3-pytest-cov \
  python3-rosdep \
  python3-setuptools \
  python3-vcstool \
# install some pip packages needed for testing
python3 -m pip install -U \
  argcomplete \
  flake8-blind-except \
  flake8-builtins \
  flake8-class-newline \
  flake8-comprehensions \
  flake8-deprecated \
  flake8-docstrings \
  flake8-import-order \
  flake8-quotes \
  pytest-repeat \
  pytest-rerunfailures \
  pytest \
# install Fast-RTPS dependencies
sudo apt install --no-install-recommends -y \
  libasio-dev \
# install Cyclone DDS dependencies
sudo apt install --no-install-recommends -y \

Ubuntu 18.04 is not an officially supported platform, but may still work. You’ll need at least the following additional dependencies:

python3 -m pip install -U importlib-metadata importlib-resources

Get ROS 2 code

Create a workspace and clone all repos:

mkdir -p ~/ros2_rolling/src
cd ~/ros2_rolling
wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/ros2/ros2/master/ros2.repos
vcs import src < ros2.repos

Install dependencies using rosdep

sudo rosdep init
rosdep update
rosdep install --from-paths src --ignore-src --rosdistro rolling -y --skip-keys "console_bridge fastcdr fastrtps rti-connext-dds-5.3.1 urdfdom_headers"

Install additional DDS implementations (optional)

If you would like to use another DDS or RTPS vendor besides the default, eProsima’s Fast RTPS, you can find instructions here.

Build the code in the workspace

More info on working with a ROS workspace can be found in this tutorial.

cd ~/ros2_rolling/
colcon build --symlink-install

Note: if you are having trouble compiling all examples and this is preventing you from completing a successful build, you can use AMENT_IGNORE in the same manner as CATKIN_IGNORE to ignore the subtree or remove the folder from the workspace. Take for instance: you would like to avoid installing the large OpenCV library. Well then simply $ touch AMENT_IGNORE in the cam2image demo directory to leave it out of the build process.

Optionally install all packages into a combined directory (rather than each package in a separate subdirectory). On Windows due to limitations of the length of environment variables you should use this option when building workspaces with many (~ >> 100 packages).

Also, if you have already installed ROS 2 from Debian make sure that you run the build command in a fresh environment. You may want to make sure that you do not have source /opt/ros/${ROS_DISTRO}/setup.bash in your .bashrc. You can make sure that ROS 2 is not sourced with the command printenv | grep -i ROS. The output should be empty.

colcon build --symlink-install --merge-install

Afterwards source the local_setup.* from the install folder.

Environment setup

Source the setup script

Set up your environment by sourcing the following file.

. ~/ros2_rolling/install/setup.bash

Try some examples

In one terminal, source the setup file and then run a C++ talker:

. ~/ros2_rolling/install/local_setup.bash
ros2 run demo_nodes_cpp talker

In another terminal source the setup file and then run a Python listener:

. ~/ros2_rolling/install/local_setup.bash
ros2 run demo_nodes_py listener

You should see the talker saying that it’s Publishing messages and the listener saying I heard those messages. This verifies both the C++ and Python APIs are working properly. Hooray!

Next steps after installing

Continue with the tutorials and demos to configure your environment, create your own workspace and packages, and learn ROS 2 core concepts.

Using the ROS 1 bridge

The ROS 1 bridge can connect topics from ROS 1 to ROS 2 and vice-versa. See the dedicated documentation on how to build and use the ROS 1 bridge.

Additional RMW implementations (optional)

The default middleware that ROS 2 uses is Cyclone DDS, but the middleware (RMW) can be replaced at runtime. See the tutorial on how to work with multiple RMWs.

Alternate compilers

Using a different compiler besides gcc to compile ROS 2 is easy. If you set the environment variables CC and CXX to executables for a working C and C++ compiler, respectively, and retrigger CMake configuration (by using --force-cmake-config or by deleting the packages you want to be affected), CMake will reconfigure and use the different compiler.


To configure CMake to detect and use Clang:

sudo apt install clang
export CC=clang
export CXX=clang++
colcon build --cmake-force-configure

TODO: using ThreadSanitizer, MemorySanitizer

Stay up to date

See Maintaining a source checkout of ROS 2 to periodically refresh your source installation.


Troubleshooting techniques can be found here.


  1. If you installed your workspace with colcon as instructed above, “uninstalling” could be just a matter of opening a new terminal and not sourcing the workspace’s setup file. This way, your environment will behave as though there is no Rolling install on your system.

  2. If you’re also trying to free up space, you can delete the entire workspace directory with:

    rm -rf ~/ros2_rolling