Commandline Commands#

Commandline Variables#

echo $<variable_name>        # To display value

ROS_DISTRO                   # Distro name e.g. melodic
ROS_ETC_DIR                  #
ROS_LISP_PACKAGE_DIRECTORIES # common-lisp folder e.g. ~/catkin_ws/devel/share/common-lisp
ROS_HOSTNAME                 # ros hostname e.g. localhost
ROS_MASTER_URI               # ros master url e.g. http://localhost:11311
ROS_PACKAGE_PATH             # package path's e.g. ~/catkin_ws/src:/opt/ros/$(ROS_DISTRO)/share
ROS_PYTHON_VERSION           # python version 2 or 3 e.g. 2
ROS_ROOT                     # ros installation e.g. /opt/ros/$(ROS_DISTRO)/share/ros
ROS_VERSION                  # ros version 1 or 2 e.g. 1

Useful commands#

ROS tools#


Launch ROS master core



rosversion -d                             # Print ROS distro name
rosversion <package_name>                 # Print package vrosnode


Nodes use the parameter server to store and retrieve parameters at runtime.

rosparam list                             # list parameter names
rosparam set /<parameter_name> <value>    # set parameter
rosparam get /<parameter_name>            # get parameter
rosparam delete /<parameter_name>         # delete parameter
rosparam dump <file>                      # dump parameter to file
rosparam load                             # load parameter from file


Work with nodes

rosnode list                              # list all nodes
rosnode ping /<node_name>                 # check node connectivity
rosnode info /<node_node>                 # print information about node
rosnode machine                           # list nodes running on a particular machine
rosnode kill /<node_name>                 # kill a running node


Work with topics

rostopic list                             # list all topics
rostopic info /<topic_name>               # print information about active topic
rostopic echo /<topic_name>               # print messages to screen
rostopic pub /<topic_name> msg/MessageType "data:value" # pubish data to topic

rostopic type /<topic_name>               # print topic or field type
rostopic find <type>                      # find topics by type
rostopic bw /<topic_name>                 # display bandwidth used by topic
rostopic hz /<topic_name>                 # display publishing rate of topic


To start a launch file which can contain multiple nodes.

roslaunch <ros_pkg_name> <launch_file_name> # Launch ros launch file


To run a node

rosrun <ros_pkg_name> <node_name>         # Start a ros node
rosrun <PACKAGE_NAME><NODE_NAME> __name:=<INSTANCE_NAME> # Start another instance of a node, the parameter *INSTANCE_NAME* can be whatever you want, but it must be unique.


Work with services

rosservice list                           # list active services
rosservice info <service_name>            # print information about service
rosservice uri <service_name>             # print service ROSRPC


ROS offers the possibility to record the data published on topics into bag files :

  1. create a directory to store the bag files:

    ~/ mkdir ros_bag_files && cd ros_bag_files
  2. run the record command :

    rosbag record -O <bag_name>.bag <topic_name> <topic_name>
  3. play the bag file :

    rosbag play <bag_name>.bag
  4. Compress a bag file :

    # Option 1 : use BZ2 compression -> slow but bigger compression rate
    rosbag compress <bag_name>.bag
    # Option 2 : use LZ4 compression -> much faster, but smaller compression rate
    rosbag compress --lz4 <bag_name>.bag
  5. Decompress a compressed bag file :

    rosbag decompress <bag_name>.bag
  6. Repair a broken bag file (happens when there is a file instead of a .bag file):

    rosbag reindex <bag_name>
    rosbag fix <bag_name> <fixed_bag_name>.bag
  7. Shorten a bag file :

    rosbag filter <input>.bag <output>.bag "t.secs >= <timestamp>"

Many options are available for the rosbag command, see this page for more details.


To play a bag with several pointclouds at different position, it is better to have the following topics recorded:

  • /cloud

  • /tf_static

The /tf_static is helpful to visualize in RViz

rosbag record -O cloud.bag /cloud /tf_static


Display information about ros messages.

rosmsg list                     # List all messages
rosmsg info <message_name>      # Show message description
rosmsg package <package_name>   # List messages in a package
rosmsg packages <package_name>  # List packages that contain messages

Other Commands#

roscd <PKG_NAME>                 # move to the folder of the package

rosinstall <PKG_NAME>            # install a ROS package

rosdep <PKG_NAME                 # install all the dependencies of a package

rqt                              # tool with many plug-ins available such as topic publisher, service caller, …

rqt_graph                        # display the connections between nodes

rviz                             # launch the graphical tool to visualize robots, point clouds, …

view_frames                      # create a PDFcalled ``frames.pdf`` with the TF frames that are active
evince frames.pdf                # show with evince the generated frames.pdf


More info:

Create Package#

  1. new terminal

  2. navigate to the source folder of the catkin workspace : .../catkin_ws/src

  3. run : catkin_create_pkg <PACKAGE_NAME> <DEPENDENCIES>

  4. update both CMakeLists.txt and package.xml note : run_depend has to be replaced by the exec_depend

  5. write source code in the source folder of the package :

  6. build the catkin workspace with the alias command : cm

  7. launch the master as explained [here](

  8. now launch the node as explained [here](#roslaunch) and [here](rosrun).

catkin_create_pkg <PKG_NAME> <PKG_DEPENDENCIES> # create a package, must be called inside a catkin workspace


catkin_make                                     # build the whole workspace
catkin_make <PKG_NAME>                          # build a single package


catkin_make install                             # installs all executables
catkin_make install <PKG_NAME>                  # installs single executables

Python modules#

Tips :

  • put the script in a folder called scripts

  • make sure to run chmod +x <script_name>.py so that the script is recognized as an executable by ROS

Update services with RQT#

  1. launch RQT from a new terminal : run rqt

  2. Search for the plugin Service Caller

  3. Choose the service that you want to update

  4. Fill the expression field with an expected parameter of this service

  5. Call the service and the response is displayed