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Rob Linsalata of WillowGarage has posted a great demo video of ROS running on Gumstix Overo COM and iRobot Create platform. Unfortunately it looks like Rob did not get a chance to write up a full tutorial on what it takes to get ROS running on the Gumstix and iRobot collaboration. So here is how I managed to get ROS Groovy (the latest release as of December 2012) to drive the Create.


  • 1 Development computer running Ubuntu (I used 12.04)
  • 1 Gumstix Overo COM with WiFi
  • 1 Gumstix Turtlecore Expansion board
  • 1 MicroSD Card (4GB or larger recommended)


Get an operating system

First thing you probably want to do is toinstall Linaro on an Overo COM. Linaro is a variant of Ubuntu and is designed for embedded application. �So follow that link and get a Linaro image flashed into your MicroSD. The next part is where the challenge arises. WillowGarage does not provide ARM binaries. They only provide precompiled packages for your everyday computers running Intel or AMD CPUs. So we have to compile ROS from scratch for ARM architecture. Setting up a cross compilation environment is not a simple task, so I decided to do it natively on an Overo (even it means letting it compile over night).

ROS Native Compilation

  1. Get all libraries and tools
sudo apt-get install python-pip��build-essential python-yaml cmake subversion wget python-setuptools mercurial git-core��python-yaml libapr1-dev libaprutil1-dev libbz2-dev python-dev python-empy python-nose libgtest-dev python-paramiko libboost-all-dev liblog4cxx10-dev pkg-config libqt4-dev qt4-qmake
  1. Some of the ROS tools need to come from PIP as I wasn't able to get them through Aptitude
pip install rospkg rosdep rosinstall catkin-pkg wstool
  1. Not sure what the following two lines do
sudo rosdep init
rosdep update
  1. Now we create a catkin workspace and initialize to build core ROS packages
mkdir -p ~/ros_core_ws
 cd ~/ros_core_ws
 wstool init src
  1. Build catkin and install it. catkin is the low-level build system of ROS
 ./src/catkin/bin/catkin_make install
  1. Setup catkin build environment
source ~/ros_core_ws/install/setup.bash
  1. Now we create and initialize a workspace to put all our ROS packages
mkdir ~/ros
cd ~/ros
rosws init . ~/ros_core_ws/install/
  1. Current ROS distribution does not recognize Linaro. We have to patch the os detection file.
vim /usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/rospkg/
Add the following bold faced changes OS_UBUNTU='ubuntu' OS_LINARO='linaro' OsDetect.register_default(OS_UBUNTU, LsbDetect("Ubuntu")) OsDetect.register_default(OS_UBUNTU, LsbDetect("Linaro"))
  1. There are a couple dependencies required before we can compile iRobot's Create ROS package
roslocate info kdl > kdl.rosinstall
rosws merge kdl.rosinstall
rosws update
rosdep install kdl
rosmake kdl
roslocate info bullet > bullet.rosinstall
rosws merge bullet.rosinstall
rosws update
rosdep install bullet
rosmake bullet
If the last step fails indicating that a packaged named bullet was not found, try updating dependency map before running rosmake
rosdep update
  1. And build geometry package, the last dependency
roslocate info geometry > geometry.rosinstall
In the geometry package's rosinstall file, switch the branch name to fuerte_devel. For some reason the default branch does not work.
vim geometry.rosinstall
version: tf_rework
version: fuerte_devel
rosws merge geometry.rosinstall
rosws update
rosdep install geometry
 rosmake geometry
  1. Finally we can install iRobot's ROS package
roslocate info irobot_create_2_1 > irobot_create_2_1.rosinstall
vim irobot_create_2_1.rosinstall
rosws merge irobot_create_2_1 
rosws update
rosmake irobot_create_2_1

Running ROS

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