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colcon-bundle GitHub Action Status

NOTE: colcon-bundle only supports Ubuntu Xenial and Ubuntu Bionic operating systems and x86, ARMHF, and ARM64 architectures. All other operating systems and architectures are currently not supported.

This package is a plugin to colcon-core. It provides functionality to bundle a built workspace. A bundle is a portable environment which can be moved to a different linux system and executed as if the contents of the bundle were installed locally.

Currently, ROS Kinetic is supported by installing the colcon-ros-bundle package.


In order to use colcon-bundle execute the following (if you do not have root privileges you will need to run the pip3 commands with sudo):

sudo apt-get install python3-apt python3-pip
sudo pip3 install -U setuptools pip
sudo pip3 install colcon-ros-bundle

How it works

colcon bundle performs the following steps to bundle your package:

  1. Parse package dependencies through your package.xml.
  2. Add dependencies to the install list for each installer.
  3. Run installs in the following order:
    1. apt
    2. pip
    3. pip3
  4. Run the following transforms:
    1. Update the shebangs of scripts to use #!/usr/bin/env.
  5. Bundle your local workspace and dependencies into a standalone ROS workspace. The bundled workspace follows the format defined in

Building a bundle with colcon bundle

To build your ROS workspace into a bundle execute:

colcon bundle

This will parse your dependencies, download apt and pip dependencies, install the dependencies into the bundle, and then install your built workspace into the bundle. The final output is located at bundle/output.tar

In Docker

The simplest way to get up and running without affecting your local development environment is to use Docker.

The contents of an example Dockerfile are below. Create the Dockerfile in your workspace and then execute:

docker build -t colcon-docker .

Once your docker image is built you can then run it with your local workspace mounted into the container by executing docker run -it -v <PATH_TO_WORKSPACE>:/workspace colcon-docker bash. Once inside the docker container /workspace will be bound to your local directory.


FROM ros:kinetic

RUN apt-get update && apt-get install -y python3-pip python3-apt

RUN pip3 install -U setuptools pip
RUN pip3 install colcon-ros-bundle

Bundle Usage

When colcon bundle is executed in a ROS workspace it will create bundle/output.tar that follows the specification located here.

A bundle is an entire application. In order to execute inside the bundle context follow the following steps:

  1. Extract the main archive.
  2. Extract metadata.tar.gz and look at overlays.json.
  3. Extract each overlay listed in overlays.json.
  4. In order execute BUNDLE_CURRENT_PREFIX=<path to extracted overlay> source <path to extracted overlay>/
  5. The bundle is now activated in your shell's environment.

Package Blacklist

When we create the bundle we choose not to include certain packages that are included by default in most Linux distributions. To create this blacklist for Ubuntu apt list --installed | sed 's/^\(.*\)\/.*$/\1/' was run on a base ubuntu:xenial container.

You can override this blacklist by using the --apt-package-blacklist argument.

colcon-bundle Development



A colcon extension to create portable application bundles




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