Bloat-free Ubuntu Installation

We used Ubuntu Trusty and ROS Indigo in this write-up, but it should work for newer versions.

Minimal install

Use ubuntu server CD image for a clean and minimum installation. Then configure software source and update the sources.

sudo apt-get update

GUI desktop environment

Boot into recovery mode (hold <shift> while boot), then resume to shell.

sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends xorg gdm menu gksu
sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends gnome-session gnome-panel gnome-shell

If this is enough, you can jump to “Start up the GUI” section.

I personally recommend lightdm+awesome for a minimum-distraction environment (Well, you should really consider using ArchLinux in the first place.)

sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends xorg lightdm lightdm-gtk-greeter awesome awesome-extra termit
sudo service lightdm start

Necessary GUI tools

Without gnome-terminal, GUI is useless. synaptic provides package management under the GUI.

sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends gnome-terminal synaptic

If you want to tweak system configurations within GUI:

sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends gnome-control-center

If you want to tweak gnome configurations:

sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends gnome-tweak-tool gnome-shell-extensions

For some early versions of Ubuntu (14.04 trusty for example), gnome-tweak-tool may have a small bug preventing some settings being saved.

Use following fix:

mkdir -p ~/.config/gtk-3.0
touch ~/.config/gtk-3.0/settings.ini

You may also need a file manager and a browser:

sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends nautilus firefox

Start up the GUI

Before start up, it is recommended to upgrade everything:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

Then kick-off gdm

sudo service gdm start

Once you’ve done that, you will be brought to GUI login for the next boot.

So let’s reboot and make everything settled:

sudo reboot --

Build essentials

This is simple:

sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends build-essential

Fonts for CJK and developer

You will need a CJK font, and a nice monospace font, use the ones you like:

sudo apt-get install fonts-noto-cjk fonts-inconsolata

Then open gnome-tweak-tool to set them.

Virtual Box guest additions

If you’re installing in virtual box, this is the time you mount the addon disk:

# cd /media/cdrom
sudo ./

If you try shared folders now, users in guest system may have no permissions.

All you have to do is to add the user to vboxsf user group:

# grant access to virtual box shared folders
sudo usermod -aG vboxsf userName

Remember to re-login or reboot for changes to take place.

ROS installation

This step is fairly straight-forward, as you can follow the installation tutorial on the ROS website:

# here we used a faster source
sudo sh -c '. /etc/lsb-release && echo "deb $DISTRIB_CODENAME main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ros-latest.list'
sudo apt-key adv --keyserver hkp:// --recv-key 421C365BD9FF1F717815A3895523BAEEB01FA116
sudo apt-get update

# install indigo
sudo apt-get install ros-indigo-desktop-full

# initialize rosdep
sudo rosdep init
rosdep update

# setup environment
echo "source /opt/ros/indigo/setup.bash" >> ~/.bashrc
source ~/.bashrc

# install rosinstall
sudo apt-get install python-rosinstall