A simple bash script to generate rosinstall files 'from the past'
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A simple bash script to generate .rosinstall files 'from the past'.


This is a bash script that will, given a GitHub issue link, a date in the past and some other bits of information, try to generate a .rosinstall file using rosinstall_generator and a clone of ros/rosdistro as it was at the date specified.

The .rosinstall file can then be used to build the set of ROS packages that will approximate the 'state of ROS' as it was at the time the issue was reported.



Example invocation to generate a .rosinstall file, based on an issue opened on the yujinrobot/kobuki_core tracker on the 1st of March 2017 (note reuse of the cache):

user@machine:~$ rosinstall_generator_tm.sh \
  https://github.com/yujinrobot/kobuki_core/issues/29 \
  eed104d \
  kinetic \
  kobuki_ftdi \
Switched to branch 'master'
Your branch is up-to-date with 'origin/master'.
Retrieving issue 'created_at' property for: https://github.com/yujinrobot/kobuki_core/issues/29
Found: 2017-03-01T08:57:20Z
Determined rosdistro commit: 2af311e205b874e862be155ffe21cb54e902f60b
Reusing existing branch
Switched to branch 'bughunt_eed104d'
Skipping rosdistro cache, already exists
Creating temporary rosdistro index ..
Using temporary index to generate rosinstall file (dependencies only) ..
Using ROS_DISTRO: kinetic
Storing metadata ..

The same invocation, but with a datetime instead of an issue url:

user@machine:~$ rosinstall_generator_tm.sh \
  2017-03-01T08:57:20Z \
  eed104d \
  kinetic \
  kobuki_ftdi \

Note: be prepared to press RET a few times for some repositories that no longer exist, or are now private repositories (and for which git would now need a password).

This will generate the deps_eed104d.rosinstall file containing all dependencies (and only the dependencies) of the kobuki_ftdi package in ROS Kinetic at the time that yujinrobot/kobuki_core/issues/29 was reported. It will also generate a yaml file containing some metadata (ros/rosdistro commit used, issue created stamp, ROS distribution, etc) and a directory containing the rosdistro cache that was used to generate the .rosinstall file.


In order to be able to run this, the following need to be present:

  • git
  • Python 2
  • rosdistro Python library (this fork, rosin_bughunt_0.6.8 branch)
  • rosinstall_generator
  • PyGitHub

It is recommended to install these dependencies (ie: rosdistro and rosinstall_generator) in a Python virtual environment (order matters):

virtualenv ritm_venv
source ritm_venv/bin/activate
pip install -U pip
pip install wheel
pip install git+https://github.com/rosin-project/rosdistro_python@rosin_bughunt_0.6.8
pip install rosinstall_generator
pip install PyGitHub

At this point the environment setup should be complete and the tool can be used. Do not forget to (re)activate the virtual environment again when needed.


The current implementation can only go back to 25th of January, 2014 (on that date updates to various packages including rosdistro and rosinstall_generator was rolled out for REP-141 compliance). It also cannot reuse any caches that are 'close' or 'near' in time to a previous cache right now, leading to the tool always (re)building a rosdistro cache, even if there is only a minor time difference between two subsequent rosdistro commits.

It (obviously) cannot provide information on repositories that no longer exist (this becomes more of a problem the further back in time one goes).

Future work

  • probably rewrite in Python
  • extend support to version 2 and earlier versions of rosdistro (and related tools)
  • add reuse of existing caches that are 'near in time'
  • host caches in an online repository to avoid having to build them in the first place
  • silence rosdistro_build_cache a bit
  • expand metadata generation to include more details
  • distribute this tool in a Docker image
  • integrate with OSRF Legacy ROS Docker images


Some frequently asked questions and answers.

Date YYYY-MM-DDTHH:MM:SS too far in the past

This error is printed whenever the script is asked to go back to a date that is beyond what is currently supported (25th of January 2014).

No packages/stacks left after ignoring not released

After figuring out the rosdistro commit, the script uses rosinstall_generator to generate a .rosinstall file with all the dependencies of the specified PUT. For this to work, the PUT itself must have been released (and thus registered in rosdistro) at the date and time that the time machine was asked to go back to.

Make sure this is the case if running into this error. Realise that the package may not have been released at the time the bug was reported (if using the issue URL as input to the time machine).