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Installation Instructions for Melodic in macOS (OS X)

This page describes how to install ROS Melodic on macOS. macOS is not officially supported by ROS and the installation might fail.

This is a work in progress! At present, the instructions cover only the installation of ROS-Comm (Bare Bones) variant and tested on the following configuration:

  • - macOS Mojave + native (Apple) Python 2.7.10 + XCode 11.2.1



First, go to http://brew.sh to install homebrew and install some additional software:

Add our ROS dependencies tap and the Homebrew Core tap so you can get some non-standard formulae:

Note: if you are upgrading from previous ROS distro try this before installing:

$ brew untap ros/DISTRO

In general it is not recommended to try and install multiple ROS versions at the same time on macOS due to conflicting system dependencies.

Setup Environment

You will need to tell Python about modules installed by Homebrew. The recommended way of doing this are the following commands:

Additional Tools

Finally, we need to install a few ROS python tools using 'pip'.

If you don't already have pip, install it with:

$ sudo -H python -m pip install -U pip  # update pip

Install the following packages using 'pip':

Initializing rosdep


Start by building the core ROS packages.

Create a catkin Workspace

In order to build the core packages, you will need a catkin workspace. Create one now:

  • $ mkdir ~/ros_catkin_ws
    $ cd ~/ros_catkin_ws

Next we will want to fetch the core packages so we can build them. We will use vcstool for this. Select the vcstool command for the particular variant you want to install:

Desktop-Full Install: ROS, rqt, rviz, robot-generic libraries, 2D/3D simulators, navigation and 2D/3D perception

  • $ rosinstall_generator desktop_full --rosdistro melodic --deps --tar > melodic-desktop-full.rosinstall
    $ vcs import src < melodic-desktop-full.rosinstall

Desktop Install (recommended): ROS, rqt, rviz, and robot-generic libraries

  • $ rosinstall_generator desktop --rosdistro melodic --deps --tar > melodic-desktop.rosinstall
    $ mkdir src
    $ vcs import src < melodic-desktop.rosinstall

ROS-Comm: (Bare Bones) ROS package, build, and communication libraries. No GUI tools.

  • $ rosinstall_generator ros_comm --rosdistro melodic --deps --tar > melodic-ros_comm.rosinstall
    $ vcs import src < melodic-ros_comm.rosinstall

This will add all of the catkin packages in the given variant and then fetch the sources into the ~/ros_catkin_ws/src directory. The command will take a few minutes to download all of the core ROS packages into the src folder. The -j8 option downloads 8 packages in parallel.

In addition to the 3 variants above, more are defined in REP 131 such as robot, perception, etc. Just change the package path to the one you want, e.g., for robot do:

$ rosinstall_generator robot --rosdistro melodic --deps --tar > melodic-robot.rosinstall
$ vcs import src < melodic-robot.rosinstall

Modify Some CMake Config Files

Now you will modify four CMake configuration files to avoid some compile and linker issues on MacOS.

Edit the files src/ros_comm/rosbag/CMakeLists.txt and src/ros_comm/rosbag_storage/CMakeLists.txt by adding the lines below. Where you put it doesn’t really matter.. you can just insert them after the project(“package_name”) line at the top of the file.

Edit the file src/ros_comm/message_filters/CMakeLists.txt by removing the Boost.Signals package dependency. Look for the line:

and change it to:

Edit the file src/ros_comm/roscpp/CMakeLists.txt by removing the Boost.Signals package dependency. Look for the line:

and change it to:

Resolving Dependencies

Before you can build your catkin workspace you need to make sure that you have all the required dependencies. We use the rosdep tool for this:

This will look at all of the packages in the src directory and find all of the dependencies they have. Then it will recursively install the dependencies.

The --from-paths option indicates we want to install the dependencies for an entire directory of packages, in this case src. The --ignore-src option indicates to rosdep that it shouldn't try to install any ROS packages in the src folder from the package manager, we don't need it to since we are building them ourselves. The --rosdistro option is required because we don't have a ROS environment setup yet, so we have to indicate to rosdep what version of ROS we are building for. The -y option indicates to rosdep that we don't want to be bothered by too many prompts from the package manager. The --skip-keys option suppresses some dependency error messages.

After a while (and maybe some prompts for your password) rosdep will finish installing system dependencies and you can continue.

Note: After running rosdep you will see the error below, so you may encounter issues when running roslisp or rosbag. (would be great if someone can test) .

ERROR: the following packages/stacks could not have their rosdep keys resolved to system dependencies:  

roslisp: No definition of [python3-mock] for OS [osx]  
rosbag: No definition of [python-gnupg] for OS [osx]  
rosbag_storage: No definition of [libgpgme-dev] for OS [osx]

Building the catkin Workspace

Once it has completed downloading the packages and resolving the dependencies you are ready to build the catkin packages. We will use the catkin_make_isolated command because there are both catkin and plain cmake packages in the base install, when developing on your catkin only workspaces you may choose to use catkin/commands/catkin_make which only works with catkin packages.

Invoke catkin_make_isolated:

Note: The -DCMAKE_MACOSX_RPATH and -DCMAKE_INSTALL_RPATH flags are mandatory. They are needed by roscore (and other programs) to find the *.dylib libraries at runtime.

Note: The default catkin installation location would be ~/ros_catkin_ws/install_isolated, if you would like to install somewhere else then you can do this by adding the --install-space /opt/ros/melodic argument to your catkin_make_isolated call.

For usage on a robot without Ubuntu, it is recommended to install compiled code into /opt/ros/melodic just as the Ubuntu packages would do. Don't do this in Ubuntu, as the packages would collide with apt-get packages. It is also possible to install elsewhere (e.g. /usr), but it is not recommended unless you really know what you are doing.

Please see REP 122: Filesystem Hierarchy Layout for more detailed documentation on how the installed files are placed.

Note: In the above command we are running the catkin_make_isolated command from the catkin source folder because it has not been installed yet, once installed it can be called directly.

Now the packages should have been installed to ~/ros_catkin_ws/install_isolated or to wherever you specified with the --install-space argument. If you look in that directory you will see that a setup.bash file have been generated. To utilize the things installed there simply source that file like so:

Maintaining a Source Checkout

Note: This section has not been tested.

If we want to keep our source checkout up to date, we will have to periodically update our rosinstall file, download the latest sources, and rebuild our workspace.

Update the workspace

To update your workspace, first move your existing rosinstall file so that it doesn't get overwritten, and generate an updated version. For simplicity, we will cover the *destop-full* variant. For other variants, update the filenames and rosinstall_generator arguments appropriately.

$ mv -i melodic-desktop-full.rosinstall melodic-desktop-full.rosinstall.old
$ rosinstall_generator desktop_full --rosdistro melodic --deps --tar > melodic-desktop-full.rosinstall

Then, compare the new rosinstall file to the old version to see which packages will be updated:

$ diff -u melodic-desktop-full.rosinstall melodic-desktop-full.rosinstall.old

If you're satisfied with these changes, incorporate the new rosinstall file into the workspace and update your workspace:

$ wstool merge -t src melodic-desktop-full.rosinstall
$ wstool update -t src

Rebuild your workspace

Now that the workspace is up to date with the latest sources, rebuild it:

$ ./src/catkin/bin/catkin_make_isolated --install

If you specified the --install-space option when your workspace initially, you should specify it again when rebuilding your workspace

Once your workspace has been rebuilt, you should source the setup files again:

$ source ~/ros_catkin_ws/install_isolated/setup.bash


Free to add any tips or workarounds found for installing Melodic on macOS. Troubleshooting from previous releases of ROS are located here:

'No definition of [google-mock] for OS [osx]' error during rosdep install

Add --skip-keys google-mock to rosdep install

empy fails

sudo pip install empy

‘ImportError: No module named Crypto’

sudo pip install pycryptodome


Rerun catkin_make_isolated with the CMAKE_MACOSX_RPATH and CMAKE_INSTALL_RPATH flags.

2024-07-20 13:23