Installation on Ubuntu

Table of Contents


At the moment, no precompiled Debian packages are available for download. Therefore, RobWork needs to be built by the user. This guide shows the steps for doing this in Ubuntu 16.04 and 14.04. The guide has been tested on a fresh install of Ubuntu 14.04.5, 16.04.2, and 16.10 in May 2017. If you have any suggestions or additions to the guide, please post it on the issue tracker .

RobWork is basically multiple projects:

Note that RobWork is needed to run RobWorkStudio, RobWorkSim and RobWorkHardware. Therefore it is not possible to use these, without having RobWork installed on the machine.

Installing dependencies

RobWork depends on third-party software that must be installed prior to compilation. This includes both build tools and third-party libraries. In Linux it is quite easy to set up the dependencies as these are available as packages in the systems package manager.

¤ Build Tools

To be able to checkout code it is necessary to install some source code management (SCM) tools, such as Subversion, Git and Mercurial. To be able to checkout the code from our own SVN repository, a SVN client is needed. Git and Mercurial clients are not strictly required, but depending on your needs it might be worthwhile to install them.

sudo apt-get install subversion git mercurial

To compile the C++ code, the GCC compiler should be used on Ubuntu. CMake must be used to prepare RobWork for compilation. The minimum CMake version for RobWork is currently 2.8.12, which is present in both Ubuntu 14.04 and 16.04.

sudo apt-get install gcc g++ cmake

¤ RobWork Required Dependencies

Start by installing the dependencies. This is done using the package manager by opening a terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T) and running the following commands. First, install the boost libraries:

sudo apt-get install libboost-dev libboost-date-time-dev libboost-filesystem-dev libboost-program-options-dev libboost-regex-dev libboost-serialization-dev libboost-system-dev libboost-test-dev libboost-thread-dev

Then, install Xerces:

sudo apt-get install libxerces-c3.1 libxerces-c-dev

Xerces is used some places in RobWork for opening XML files. It is still a requirement, but it is the intention that this dependency will one day become optional.

¤ RobWork Optional Dependencies

SWIG (optional) is a tool that makes it possible to generate a LUA script interface for RobWork. Python and Java interfaces are also possible, but require that Python or Java SDK is installed as well. All of these interfaces can be generated if you install the following packages:

sudo apt-get install swig liblua5.2-dev python-dev default-jdk

Google Test (optional) is used for unit tests in RobWork. If you are a developer and wants to develop code for the RobWork trunk, writing a GTest will be a requirement:

sudo apt-get install libgtest-dev

¤ RobWorkStudio Dependencies

RobWorkStudio requires Qt to be installed. Both Qt4 and Qt5 is supported, but on a fresh Qt install it is encouraged to choose the Qt5 version:

sudo apt-get install qtdeclarative5-dev

¤ RobWorkSim Dependencies

If you need to do dynamic simulations, you will probably need the RobWorkSim package. If you are in doubt and just need RobWorkStudio, you can likely skip this.

Open Dynamics Engine (ODE) can be installed through the package manager:

sudo apt-get install libode-dev libode4

Notice that the version from the package manager can sometimes be a bit outdated. If you want the latest version, Open Dynamics Engine (ODE) must be compiled from source. Use Mercurial to download the source from bitbucket:

hg clone

Open a terminal and run:

./configure --enable-double-precision --enable-shared --enable-ou --enable-builtin-threading-impl --disable-demos --disable-asserts
make -j4

This will make sure that ODE is built with 4 threads with double precision as a shared library.

Bullet Physics can also be installed through the package manager:

sudo apt-get install libbullet-dev libbullet-extras-dev

It is also possible to compile Bullet Physics from source, if a specific version is needed. Clone the source code with git:

git clone

Make a Build folder and run CMake to configure the build. From within the Build folder, run in a terminal:

make -j4

Modify the options to suit your needs. The shown options will make sure that Bullet is built with double precision, required compile flags and switch off building of things that are normally unnecessary when used in RobWorkSim.

RobWork Physics Engine (RWPE) requires access to code that is not yet public. Request more information about this if you need it.

¤ RobWorkHardware Dependencies

RobWorkHardware compilation depends heavily on which hardware you need to use. Install the following package:

sudo apt-get install libdc1394-22-dev

It is not currently possible to give any general instructions for RobWorkHardware.

Building RobWork

When the dependencies have been installed, RobWork is ready to be built. First, the source must be downloaded, followed by the build procedure.

Getting source files from SVN

Make a new directory where you want to install RobWork (in this guide, we will install in ~/RobWork):

mkdir RobWork
cd RobWork

When the depencies are installed, go ahead and download the newest version of RobWork from the SVN repository at:


In the terminal, this is done as follows: (be sure that you are located in the directory where you want to install RobWork)

svn co --username Guest --password '' .

Setup CMake Options & Environment

Before running CMake to build RobWork, some environment variables might need to be set. This is generally not needed when installing dependencies through the package manager. If one or more dependencies were compiled manually, one must be careful that CMake actually finds the dependency correctly. A good advice before building RobWork, is to actually read the CMake output carefully. Running CMake will be discussed later, but the CMake output will typically reveal early in the process if a dependency was not found. Building RobWork can take quite some time, and it is a pitty building everything, just to discover that some functionality was disabled due to a unmet dependency (especially a problem for the optional dependencies).

There are overall two methods to let RobWork know where a dependency is installed. One is to set an environment variable, another is to set CMake options when running the CMake command. Environment variables can be set up one time for all in the users home folder in the .bashrc file, while CMake options has to be specified each time you need to rebuild RobWork from scratch. The later does however give more fine-grained control, as it allows multiple versions of dependencies to be installed on the system. The version to use is then selected explicitly when running CMake.

In CMake Options & Environment we try to give an overview of the correct variables to set for the various dependencies.

Compiling RobWork

Add build directories for the projects you want to build:

mkdir Build
mkdir Build/RW
mkdir Build/RWS

Now we are ready to build RobWork. Run CMake:

cd Build/RW
cmake -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release ../../RobWork

Look carefully through the CMake output and check that there is no errors, and that the required dependencies are correctly found. Now that the CMake files has been built, we are ready to compile the project. Using 4 cores/threads, this is done by:

make -j4

Note that you need at least 1 GB of memory per thread when building. Ie. building with 4 cores requires around 4 GB of RAM.

For RobWorkStudio, the same procedure is repeated in the RWS build folder, and similar for RobWorkSim and RobWorkHardware if needed.

Finally, we need to add the following paths to ~/.bashrc:

1 {~/.bashrc}
3 export RW_ROOT=~/RobWork/trunk/RobWork/
4 export RWS_ROOT=~/RobWork/trunk/RobWorkStudio/
5 export RWHW_ROOT=~/RobWork/trunk/RobWorkHardware/
6 export RWSIM_ROOT=~/RobWork/trunk/RobWorkSim/

Remember to only add paths to the components you have actually installed. Ie. if you only installed RobWork and RobWorkStudio, the paths for RobWorkSim and RobWorkHardware should not be set.