Rock Installation

Supported Operating Systems

Rock's primary platform is Ubuntu. The only guarantee made by the Rock team is that Rock's current release and master branches work on the current Ubuntu LTS version and often works on the latest Ubuntu version.

Rock has no option to install from binary, the only currently supported method of install is from source.

Other linux-based platforms (Debian, Arch, …) are known to work, but since they don't see regular use, installation may not be as streamlined as on Ubuntu. MacOS X also has seen some Rock usage, but is seldom used and therefore can cause problems. Windows has seen some preliminary usage.


First step is to install Ruby. On Ubuntu 18.04, we recommend using the 2.5 ruby version as shipped by Ubuntu itself

sudo apt-get install ruby ruby-dev wget build-essential
ruby --version

Unfortunately, on Ubuntu 20.04, the version of Ruby that Ubuntu ships has grave bugs that cause some of our tooling to randomly crash. Install ruby with version >= 2.7.4 instead from the BrighBox PPA:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:brightbox/ruby-ng
sudo apt-get install ruby2.7 ruby-dev wget build-essential
ruby --version
  1. Create and "cd" into the directory in which you want to work. This directory will contain both the toolchain (that we will install in the next steps), as well as your own code. This is called a workspace.

    mkdir dev
    cd dev
  2. Download autoproj's bootstrap script

  3. Bootstrap your installation. This installs autoproj and checks out the main build configuration, but does not check out packages. One must use the master flavor of Rock to go through this documentation. Select the defaults for all the proposed configuration options.

    ruby autoproj_bootstrap \
  4. Update and build the installation's default packages.Select the defaults for all the proposed configuration options.

    aup --all -k
    amake --all -k

You must remember to source the generated script at the end of the amake command !!! You must also do in new terminals before you can interact with the Rock installation

Global Setup

While not strictly required, we recommend to do the following once, to help support your development using Rock:

Autoloading on new shells

Rock requires you to source a file called, which configures your shell to include the software installed within your Rock workspace. The following aenv function is a shell function that will look for in the current directory or one of its parents, and source it. This allows to get automatically loaded when a new shell is created within a Rock workspace, as e.g. when opening a terminal in VSCode.

Copy the following in e.g. .bashrc

function aenv() {
    while test "x$dir" != "x/"; do
        basename=`basename "$dir"`
        if test "$basename" != '.autoproj' && test -f "$dir/"; then
            echo "sourcing $dir/"
            source "$dir/"
        dir=`dirname "$dir"`

    if test "x$dir" = "x/"; then
        if test "x$AUTOPROJ_CURRENT_ROOT" = "x"; then
            echo "found no file to load"
            source $AUTOPROJ_CURRENT_ROOT/

Automatic cleanup of omniORB logs

Rock uses a daemon provided by omniORB, which gets installed the first time you bootstrap a Rock workspace. The Debian package (which is used by Ubuntu) is done in such a way that causes it sometimes to not start. A log file gets corrupted and then the daemon does not start anymore.

To avoid this happening, we recommend that you download and install this file: omniorb4-clean-log.service

sudo cp omniorb4-clean-log.service /lib/systemd/system
sudo systemctl daemon-reload
sudo systemctl enable omniorb4-clean-log

Next: an overview of how to interact day-to-day with the Rock workspace. Alternatively, if you already know about it, you can go straight to setting up Syskit and Gazebo