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I am no expert at Linux dev, but i have been looking for a Linux distro designed for robotics. so why would i wan't such a thing if a robot ...
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    Lightbulb RoboLinux idea


    I am no expert at Linux dev, but i have been looking for a Linux distro designed for robotics. so why would i wan't such a thing if a robot is basically a small computer on its own? well many times the micro controllers are a bit limiting. you can buy better ones for insanely high prices but really its easier to connect the micro controller to a laptop and have the laptop handle everything. with this configuration there is no limit.

    after looking around for a few years i finally came to the conclusion there is no such thing as a Robot Linux distro. so then i realized there should be such a thing. and if there is not such a thing. then i will be happy to help build it.

    however i cannot build it on my own. i am pretty bad a C++ although i do know C and i am horrible at assembly.

    so the next question is who thinks this could work? and who's willing to help?

    on the more technical side, what should it be based on? LFS, Debian, Arch, the bare kernel? or something else entirely? if we can decide on these things then i will start a sourceforge project and get started with anyone who would like to help.

    so what would a RoboLinux have that any other distro does not have?

    • it would have to be light weight,
    • provide easy support for any drivers, including custom built ones.
    • it would provide support for as many micro controllers as possible.
    • it would have to include Bluetooth, parallel, and serial support.
    • perhaps an easy way to connect to OpenCV vision library.
    • text to speech, speech to text support.
    • Wireless network support for internet controlled robots.
    • one or more good ides.
    • anything else that anyone can think of that would be usefull for robotics


    it might seem a far fetched idea (and it is) but i believe with enough people on the project, it would be possible

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    thats what i mean. there are a lot of Linux robot projects and no Linux robot distro. if one could be developed, then there would definitely be a market for it. even NASA uses Linux for robots.

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    Linux Guru reed9's Avatar
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    Well, admittedly, I don't know too much about robot production or programming requirements, but it seems to me that unless robot production adhered to an available standard, if would be pretty tough to create a distro catering to their needs. Depending on how the robot is designed, you're going to have different software requirements for controlling movement, or interfacing with any sort of sensors or whatnot you have. Every robot is going to need some custom software written.

    In the DIY Robot article, they use Gentoo, which makes perfect sense as an incredibly customizable distro, with all the tools readily available for quick and easy software compilation.

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    that is true, however most robots use serial or usb or bluetooth to communicate. tharefore if you create a distro that makes it easy to develop drivers, as well as the tools for creating the interfaces and maybe some libraries for using any driver. and also the vision libraries, then you don't have to deal with Gentoo's complexities. if you are an expert at Linux, Gentoo is perfect. however if you just wan't an on board computer for your robot, you might wan't something a bit smaller and easier to use for robotics.

    it could also provide support for some of the more common controllers such as NXT and Vex. and then whoever happens to have a controller thats not supported, they can develop drivers for those robots.

    obviously you cannot provide support for all controllers. and each controller will (as you said) probably require custom software. but if we could create a repository for controller drivers, then any user can provide support for any controller and upload it to the repository. on the next release of the distro, those drivers can be included.
    welcome to open source .

    the solution to creating such a thing is lots of people. this would not be a project that one person can take on, all on there own.

    there are many programs that provide multiple controller support. i'm just expanding that idea to a full on board robotic computer operating system designed for robotics developers, as well as Linux developers.

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    Linux Guru reed9's Avatar
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    each controller will (as you said) probably require custom software. but if we could create a repository for controller drivers, then any user can provide support for any controller and upload it to the repository. on the next release of the distro, those drivers can be included.
    welcome to open source .
    But the other part of opensource is not reinventing the wheel everytime around. It would seem to me, creating and maintaining a repository of robotic specific packages for a chosen distro would achieve the same goal, with less work.

    NXT-python is already licensed under the GPL. (And in fact Arch has PKGBUILDs for it in the AUR.) There's been some work on programming for the Vex under Unix.

    The bigger need it seems to me is documentation. Just look at the NXT python doc page.

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    has there been a robot Linux though? i looked a long time and never found one. also sometimes it is good to build other alternatives to open source projects. the reason is that with open source, sometimes they just stop updating.

    you should never just have one solution for a problem. and in this case a full blown operating system designed for robots alone and not for any other reason, is not reinventing the wheel. i have hundreds of different methods of controlling robots. each one works, but its hard to find them all sometimes. in some cases, it would be nice to have one operating system that supports whatever controller you want.

    as you said, there isn't any Linux robot operating system. and as a robotics developer, i think that would be very useful. but i cannot make it all by myself, and i am not a Linux expert. i am more experienced in robotics. i have experimented with developing distro's before though and i built LFS once (and never want to do it again!).

    and yes i suppose since there are already packages scattered around that would make the job easier. the idea is not to make something with entirely new software. we just wan't to make something that supports as many robots as possible with the right tools weather they are brand new or have existed since the first Linux came out. the challenge is making it all work together.

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