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The latest OSX documentation I found on the website is from 2011, and the latest build is from over a year ago. I'm a complete n00b to all things ROS and wanted to start playing with it. What is the easiest way?

Edit: this version of the installation instructions is more recent (April 2013), but it says that

OSX is not officially supported by ROS and the installation might fail for several reasons. This page does not (yet) contain instructions for most higher level ROS packages, only for the base system. This includes the middleware and command line tools but not much more.

"Does not contain instructions" also means it doesn't work? What do OSX users who work on ROS usually do? Run it on an Ubuntu VM? Install it just fine on their own on OSX, even though there aren't detailed instructions on the website?

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  • $\begingroup$ Others install a virtualbox, it may be easier: nootrix.com/2012/05/ros-installation $\endgroup$ – ott-- May 6 '13 at 13:39
  • $\begingroup$ @ott-- If you can include a little more context than just a link, your comment could make the basis for a good answer. $\endgroup$ – Mark Booth May 6 '13 at 23:15
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From experience, I suggest you only install ROS on Ubuntu (the only supported platform at the moment). As previously mentioned, Virtualbox or, in my case, VMware Fusion, is how you'd get it to run as a guest in OSX. I'd suggest you dual-boot to Ubuntu for running ROS, though, mainly due to the computational requirements of some packages and workflows.

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Installing ROS is one thing, but the question you should really be asking is about maintaining ROS.

It's certainly possible to install ROS on any *nix system if you satisfy all the dependencies, but since those dependencies are constantly being updated to new versions the maintenance quickly becomes a nightmare. The OSX install tips on their wiki (Homebrew or MacPorts -- noting the lack of instruction for higher-level libraries) give some hints of this.

Virtualbox is (unfortunately) the easiest method -- "unfortunately", because technically you're installing ROS on the guest OS, not OSX. But on the upside, it's the supported way to go.

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  • $\begingroup$ Ian makes a valid point. The ROS package dependencies are extensive (possibly excessive?) and so on an 'unsupported' platform you are likely to have to do more work when doing a ROS upgrade. If you're not comfortable building software, this is probably not a path you want to go down. $\endgroup$ – timbo May 21 '15 at 9:56

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