Installed ROS Lunar on macOS Mojave! But...

mjyc profile image Michael Jae-Yoon Chung ・6 min read


I've been playing with Comzo lately and tried to integrate its sdk with ROS. Initially, I used a Ubuntu desktop for running ROS but I wanted to use my Macbook Pro laptop instead so I tried installing ROS on macOS. I found the following instructions:

and the first one seems like an official one, so I tried it. There was a big yellow warning

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

but my setup met the described requirement and I only needed ROS-Comm (Bare Bones) packages so just went ahead with it.

Initial Installation

First, I ran all commands in Setup section they went through smoothly. I felt great, so additionally ran ominous brew upgrade since it's been a while I have done that.

In Installation section, I chose ROS-Comm option in 2.1 as I planned earlier. Everything went through until running catkin_make_isolated in 2.5.2 Building the catkin Workspace subsubsection. It outputted:

CMake Error at test/CMakeLists.txt:108 (set_target_properties):
  set_target_properties Can not find target to add properties to: test_socket

Pfft! who needs test? I added -DCATKIN_ENABLE_TESTING=0 flag and ran the below install command again:

./src/catkin/bin/catkin_make_isolated --install -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release -DCMAKE_MACOSX_RPATH=ON -DCMAKE_INSTALL_RPATH=$HOME/ros_catkin_ws/install_isolated/lib -DCATKIN_ENABLE_TESTING=0

then it outputted:

[ 81%] Building CXX object CMakeFiles/roscpp.dir/src/libros/transport_subscriber_link.cp
18: error:
      expected '('
, server_address_{}
1: error:
      expected unqualified-id
, local_address_{}
3 warnings and 2 errors generated.
make[2]: *** [CMakeFiles/roscpp.dir/src/libros/transport/transport_udp.cpp.o] Error 1
make[2]: *** Waiting for unfinished jobs....

This output didn't look too good. I google searched the error messages and it sounded like I was trying to compile src code that is not compatible the C++ compiler I have on my mac. Arr... I didn't want to up/downgrading my system/brew libraries, so I searched for a different solution on internet but didn't like them at all. Then I thought about giving a shot at installing an older version of ROS and see if that works so I decided to install ROS Lunar. I ran this command to download ROS lunar packages

rosinstall_generator ros_comm --rosdistro lunar --deps --tar > lunar-ros_comm.rosinstall

and ran the same catkin_make_isolated command above to start building. It now complained about missing boost_signals:

CMake Error at /usr/local/lib/cmake/Boost-1.72.0/BoostConfig.cmake:119 (find_package):
  Could not find a package configuration file provided by "boost_signals"
  (requested version 1.72.0) with any of the following names:


  Add the installation prefix of "boost_signals" to CMAKE_PREFIX_PATH or set
  "boost_signals_DIR" to a directory containing one of the above files.  If
  "boost_signals" provides a separate development package or SDK, be sure it
  has been installed.
Call Stack (most recent call first):
  /usr/local/lib/cmake/Boost-1.72.0/BoostConfig.cmake:184 (boost_find_component)
  /usr/local/Cellar/cmake/3.17.2/share/cmake/Modules/FindBoost.cmake:444 (find_package)
  CMakeLists.txt:25 (find_package)

It turned out the solution was mentioned in ROS melodic installations instructions. After modifying some CMake config files as suggested, the built everything successfully!

Testing and More Installation

After sourcing the setup.bash file, i.e., ran source ~/ros_catkin_ws/install_isolated/setup.bash, and I ran roscore and it worked!!

$ roscore
... logging to /Users/mjyc/.ros/log/a15e85b8-98a1-11ea-8b7b-f45c898e9ff7/roslaunch-mjmbp
Checking log directory for disk usage. This may take awhile.
Press Ctrl-C to interrupt

started roslaunch server http://mjmbpr.local:63709/
ros_comm version 1.13.7


 * /rosdistro: lunar
 * /rosversion: 1.13.7


auto-starting new master
process[master]: started with pid [92166]

setting /run_id to a15e85b8-98a1-11ea-8b7b-f45c898e9ff7
process[rosout-1]: started with pid [92169]
started core service [/rosout]
[ERROR] [1589763055.896770000]: [registerService] Failed to contact master at [mjmbpr.lo
cal:11311].  Retrying...
[ERROR] [1589763055.960174000]: [registerPublisher] Failed to contact master at [mjmbpr.
local:11311].  Retrying...
[ERROR] [1589763056.025336000]: [registerSubscriber] Failed to contact master at [mjmbpr
.local:11311].  Retrying...

There were some error messages but that didn't matter. I tried rostopic list and I got:

Fatal Python error: PyThreadState_Get: no current thread
Abort trap: 6

It seemed like I used the brew installed python when I should have used the system installed one. For example, the command below worked.

/usr/bin/python /Users/mjyc/ros_catkin_ws/install_isolated/bin/rostopic list

Urgh, I didn't change my python settings because doing so could mess up my other python projects (I don't use virtualenv, conda, pyenv, etc). I also noticed adding source ~/ros_catkin_ws/devel/setup.bash to ~/.bash_profile slowed down opening every new terminal window, which was super annoying. To make these problems go away, I added the following bash script to ~/.bash_profile, which makes the sourcing setup.bash on-demand and creates aliases for basic ROS commands:

if [ ! "$(type -t __init_ros)" = function ]; then
  declare -a __ros_commands=('roscd' 'roscore' 'rosrun' 'catkin_make')
  declare -a __ros_commandspy=('rostopic' 'rosmsg')
  function __init_ros() {
    for i in "${__ros_commands[@]}"; do unalias $i; done
    for i in "${__ros_commandspy[@]}"; do alias $i='/usr/bin/python /Users/mjyc/ros_catkin_ws/install_isolated/bin/'$i; done
    source $HOME/ros_catkin_ws/install_isolated/setup.bash
    [ -f $HOME/catkin_ws/devel/setup.bash ] && source $HOME/catkin_ws/devel/setup.bash
    unset __ros_commands
    unset __ros_commandspy
    unset -f __init_ros
  for i in "${__ros_commands[@]}"; do alias $i='__init_ros && '$i; done
  for i in "${__ros_commandspy[@]}"; do alias $i='__init_ros && /usr/bin/python /Users/mjyc/ros_catkin_ws/install_isolated/bin/'$i; done

Now the commands below runs without errors and there were no more delay in opening up a new terminal!

rostopic pub -r 1 /chatter std_msgs/String hello
rostopic echo /chatter
rostopic type /chatter | rosmsg show

Adding More ROS Packages

My goal of installing ROS on macOS was to use ros_cozmo which is dependent on actionlib and dependent packages. So I added them by running

mv lunar-ros_comm_plus.rosinstall lunar-ros_comm_plus.rosinstall.old
rosinstall_generator ros_comm actionlib --rosdistro lunar --deps --tar > lunar-ros_comm_plus.rosinstall
rm src/.rosinstall
wstool merge -t src melodic-desktop-full.rosinstall
wstool update -t src

and rebuilt the workspace. It built without any errors.

Then I became interested in teleoperating Cozmo via a web app with roslib. I updated .rosinstall file via

rosinstall_generator ros_comm actionlib --rosdistro lunar --deps --tar > lunar-ros_comm_plus.rosinstall

and tried rebuilding the workspace. This time I faced error messages like

/Users/mjyc/ros_catkin_ws/src/rosauth/src/ros_mac_authentication.cpp:15:10: fatal error:

      'openssl/sha.h' file not found
#include <openssl/sha.h>
1 error generated.
make[2]: *** [CMakeFiles/ros_mac_authentication.dir/src/ros_mac_authentication.cpp.o] Er
ror 1
make[1]: *** [CMakeFiles/ros_mac_authentication.dir/all] Error 2
make: *** [all] Error 2
<== Failed to process package 'rosauth':
  Command '['/Users/mjyc/ros_catkin_ws/install_isolated/env.sh', 'make', '-j8', '-l8']'
returned non-zero exit status 2


There were some suggestions on internet to solve this problem but at this point, I felt like installing packages like this is not a scalable approach.


I felt like what I tried wasn't the right approach for using ROS on mac in 2020. I guess there are

and I think ROS docker and ROS development studio are reasonable but they weren't amazing. Maybe I just need to wait for ROS2.


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