(!) Please ask about problems and questions regarding this tutorial on answers.ros.org. Don't forget to include in your question the link to this page, the versions of your OS & ROS, and also add appropriate tags.

Installing the software for a Roomba

Description: This tutorial will guide you through the process of installing all the necessary software to run a LSE Roomba on its netbook.

Tutorial Level: BEGINNER


At the LSE each Roomba has its own netbook running ROS allowing it to work autonomously. This tutorial takes you through the steps necessary to get the netbook ready. You might want to skip some steps, depending on the current state of your netbook.

Install Ubuntu 10.04 LTS on the Roomba netbook

Currently we are using Ubuntu 10.04 on all computers and robots at the LSE. You will need a USB flash drive with at least 1Gb for this step.

  1. On another computer download Ubuntu 10.04 Desktop Edition (the Netbook edition is crap!) and put it into the USB flash drive. You can find more details on how to do this at http://www.ubuntu.com/desktop/get-ubuntu/download

  2. Plug the USB flash drive into the netbook.
  3. Turn the laptop on and press thee "ESC" key repeatedly until a console "Please select boot device" appears.
  4. Select the USB device and hit Enter
  5. Follow the steps to install Ubuntu.
  6. The username for all Roomba netbooks is usually roomba.

Some of the Eee PCs in the LSE have some problems connection over WiFi to the internet. If you are having problems with the WiFi see this tutorial.

Software Installation

Before you install ROS there are a few apps that might come in handy and should be installed. Start by update apt repository, open a terminal window and:

sudo apt-get update


Install subversion:

sudo apt-get install subversion


Install mercurial:

sudo apt-get install mercurial

Secure Shell

Install Secure Shell to allow remote connections:

sudo apt-get install ssh


Clock synchronization is important for ROS. Chrony has been found to be the best ntp client by the ROS community. Start by manually syncing NTP:

sudo ntpdate ntp.ubuntu.com

Then install Chrony:

sudo apt-get install chrony

Installing ROS

Right now we are using C-Turtle on all our Roombas. Follow the Base install of ROS for Ubuntu 10.04 here.

If you wish you can install Diamondback instead. Follow the Desktop full install of ROS for Ubuntu 10.04 here.

Downloading the LSE stacks

Finally you need to download the LSE stacks, including the Roomba stack. Create a folder under home called myStacks. Next press "CTRL+h" to see hidden files and open .bashrc with gedit. Add the following line to the end of the file:


Save .bashrc and close it. The folder myStacks is now on the ROS package path, and this is where we are going to store the stacks we make.

Next we need to install rosinstall. Follow the installation instruction under section 3 found here.

The next step downloading the roomba.rosinstall file into myStacks. Open a terminal window and:

cd myStacks
rosinstall ~/myStacks roomba.rosinstall /opt/ros/c-turtle

And that's it! Now all you need to do if any stack is updated is open a new terminal window and:

cd myStacks
rosinstall .

Don't forget you still need to rosmake the packages on myStacks. Happy researching!

Wiki: lse_roomba_toolbox/Tutorials/Installing the software for a Roomba (last edited 2011-05-02 17:38:13 by Gonçalo Cabrita)