What is ROS On Windows?
ROS on Windows is a port of ROS that runs natively on Windows 10 as part of Microsoft’s renewed commitment to robotics announced at ROSCon 2018
This method is distinct from previous methods of running ROS through a Windows machine, which use a virtual machine to emulate a linux distribution or utilize the Windows Subsystem for Linux . Running ROS through a virtual machine may still be an attractive option since not all ROS packages are ported to ROS On Windows as of yet. You can read about the differences in ROS Windows and ROS Linux here.
But Microsoft’s decision to support ROS natively is a step in the right direction and will hopefully reduce the barrier of entry for getting started with ROS.
Why use ROS On Windows?
If you’re new to the world of ROS, robotics or programming in general, the move to a different operating system can be a large hindrance in your journey. The benefit here is that ROS On Windows eliminates the need for another operating system, so you can dive right into ROS.
And … ?
And that’s great! Robotics can use all the brain power available to solve some of its greatest open problems.
Svenzva wants the barrier into robotics to be as small as possible.
This post focuses on the steps to install ROS On Windows on an Intel NUC computer, for the eventual goal of running the Revel robotic arm on Windows.
ROS On Windows or ROS on Linux
It…depends. ROS development did originally start on Linux. ROS On Windows is technically ‘experimental’ so parts of it aren’t yet ported from Linux, and the parts that have been are not guaranteed to work.
That said, going the ROS On Windows route can be advantageous if you just want to get started quickly with ROS and don’t want to muck about with installing or dual booting a Linux operating system.
If you’re already a ROS power user, you may find some packages you depend on do not yet exist in the Windows ROS ecosystem.
And if in your ROS journey you become a ROS power user and want more full support, you can always go the Linux route at that time.
In short if you’re:
- already comfortable with Windows
- don’t have experience with Linux
- want to play around or develop with ROS
ROS on Windows is a great choice for you.
Installing ROS On Windows
To install ROS On Windows you’ll need an up-to-date Windows 10 computer with at least 15 Gb of free space. By up-to-date, Windows **must** be updated to version 1807 or greater. You can check your version by going to Settings -> System -> About.
And… that’s pretty much it. Though this ends with running the Revel robot on Windows, for which you need a Revel robot, the first half you can follow along with as a guide to install ROS On Windows.
This will be an expanded guide, following the official Microsoft installation guide which can you should reference.
You can also find the ROS On Windows documentation github project.
Video Walk Through
Check out the video below for a video walk through which mostly follows the text tutorial. Check out the video description for any commands or links that are not in the Microsoft guide
Video Guide Errata
Things are always changing, including setup and installation guides! Anything that becomes outdated in the video will be clarified and corrected here.
Running Svenzva Robots on Windows
While ROS On Windows doesn’t have the same support as the Linux ROS ecosystem, the big building blocks are there. I was able to run and command the Revel robotic arm after some minor modifications to the robot drivers.
In our next tutorial, we’ll install and setup some tools that will help us in our pursuit to develop robot apps through ROS.