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Title:ROS Melodic and Newer Metapackages
Author:Tully Foote <tfoote at openrobotics.org>, Chris Lalancette <clalancette at openrobotics.org>


This REP describes the metapackages for the ROS Melodic release and for releases that follow until otherwise replaced by a similar update REP. This REP updates REP 131 [3] and REP 142 [5] for changes in packages.


For a discussion on the general motivation and role of variants, please see REP 108 [1].

As of ROS Hydro we have completed the transition to using metapackages instead of variants. For more information on metapackages see REP 127 [2].

This document covers the common metapackages used for recommended installations. It is expressed in the ros/metapackages repository on github.com [4].

This REP proposes the same entrypoints as REP 108 and merely updates the variant definitions to reflect the organizational changes in ROS stacks. In particular, in ROS Melodic the robot metapackage is contracted to remove robot_model and instead explicitly list the necessary packages.

The definitions in this REP are more focused and concise for clearer purpose, and do not list all transitive dependencies explicitly.


End-user entry points

We define the same three main entry points for ROS users as REP 108 [1].

  • desktop_full (recommended)
  • desktop
  • ros_base


ROS Core

The ros_core metapackage composes the core communication protocols. It may not contain any GUI dependencies.

- ros_core:
     packages: [catkin, class_loader, cmake_modules, common_msgs, gencpp,
                geneus, genlisp, genmsg, gennodejs, genpy, message_generation,
                message_runtime, pluginlib, ros, ros_comm,
                rosbag_migration_rule, rosconsole, rosconsole_bridge,
                roscpp_core, rosgraph_msgs, roslisp, rospack, std_msgs,

ROS Base

The ros_base metapackage composes the ros_core metapackage with commonly used libraries. It may not contain any GUI dependencies.

- ros_base:
    extends: [ros_core]
    packages: [actionlib, bond_core, dynamic_reconfigure, nodelet_core]

Robot metapackage

The robot metapackage is defined to be core, stable, ROS libraries for any robot hardware. It is the "general robotics" libraries of ROS. It may not contain any GUI dependencies.

- robot:
    extends: [ros_base]
    packages: [control_msgs, diagnostics, executive_smach, filters, geometry,
               joint_state_publisher, kdl_parser, kdl_parser_py,
               robot_state_publisher, urdf, urdf_parser_plugin, xacro]

Capability variants

The capability variants organize commonly used libraries that are specific to a class of use case. We also define a simulators variant that provides an organizational role for higher-level variants. We discourage GUI dependencies in these stacks, if possible.

- perception:
    extends: [ros_base]
    packages: [image_common, image_pipeline,
               image_transport_plugins, laser_pipeline,
               perception_pcl, vision_opencv]

- simulators:
    extends: [robot]
    packages: [gazebo_ros_pkgs, rqt_common_plugins, rqt_robot_plugins,

- viz:
    extends: [ros_base]
    packages: [rqt_common_plugins, rqt_robot_plugins, rviz]

Desktop variants

The desktop variants are main entry points for users. The desktop_full is a "batteries included" experience for users and attempts to collect stable, well-documented libraries. These libraries may be specific to certain classes of robots, such as mobile robots, though they are not specific to a particular robot. The desktop variant is more minimal and only provides the stacks in the robot variant, plus visualization and debugging tools. Both of these variants contain tutorials for the stacks they provide.

- desktop:
    extends: [robot, viz]
    packages: [angles, common_tutorials, geometry_tutorials, joint_state_publisher_gui,
               ros_tutorials, roslint, urdf_tutorial, visualization_tutorials]
- desktop_full:
    extends: [desktop, perception, simulators]
    packages: [urdf_sim_tutorial]

Institution-specific and robot-specific

Please see REP 108 [1] for discussion of institution-specific metapackages.

When creating robot or institution specific metapackages consider using the *_robot and *_desktop and *_base form where * is the institution or robot name.

An institution is not required to provide a metapackage, they are mainly provided for convenience and identity.

Backwards Compatibility

The metapackages in this REP provide the same semantic top level entry points while simplifying the definitions.


[1](1, 2, 3) REP 108: Diamondback Variants (http://www.ros.org/reps/rep-0108.html)
[2]REP 127: Specification of package manifest format (https://ros.org/reps/rep-0127.html)
[3]REP 131: Groovy Variants (http://www.ros.org/reps/rep-0131.html)
[4]ROS Metapackages Repository (https://github.com/ros/metapackages)
[5]REP 142: Indigo Variants (http://www.ros.org/reps/rep-0142.html)