Running roscore and Launching ROS nodes as Background Process

I access my ROS running robot wirelessly using secure shell (SSH). To run my program, I have to first run all the startup scripts such as roscore and my robot’s driver. It’s kind of tedious to open a lot of shells just to keep this services on. And I can’t simply run this on background by using & operator because sometimes I need to check the node’s output.

So to keep it simple and neat, I made simple script to run roscore and robot driver on background, but still be able to check the outputs of this two (e.g. error messages).

First thing first, I like to have my own bin folder, to keep my own scripts.

cd ~
mkdir bin
echo "export PATH=$PATH:/home/ariandy/bin" >> ~/.bashrc
source ~/.bashrc

Then all this scripts will be kept inside this folder. If you need to run roscore and some nodes as a startup script, it will be better if you keep this scripts in /usr/local/bin/ folder.

#!/bin/bash
# file: youbot-roscore.sh

source /opt/ros/fuerte/setup.bash
export ROS_PACKAGE_PATH=$ROS_PACKAGE_PATH:/home/ariandy/youbot_driver:/home/ariandy/applications:/home/ariandy/ros_stacks

roscore

This is for my node:

#!/bin/bash
# file: youbot-oodl.sh

source /opt/ros/fuerte/setup.bash
export ROS_PACKAGE_PATH=$ROS_PACKAGE_PATH:/home/ariandy/youbot_driver:/home/ariandy/applications:/home/ariandy/ros_stacks

# this is my driver
roslaunch youbot_oodl youbot_oodl_driver.launch
# or your own node/launch script
#roslaunch {your_package} {your_thing}

The main tool for our topic is linux’ “screen“. Install it first if you don’t have it.

#!/bin/bash
# file: run-youbot-ros-startup.sh

echo "running roscore daemon.."
screen -dmS roscore youbot-roscore.sh
sleep 2
echo "running youbot oodl daemon"
screen -dmS oodl youbot-oodl.sh
echo "done. view with screen -ls"

The format is screen -dmS [any_name] [your_script]. The -dm argument will tell screen to run this session as a daemon. Then we use -S argument to give the session a name, so it will be easier for later. Please note that if your_script is not located on system path folder (e.g. /usr/bin/, /usr/local/bin/, etc.), you have to give the full path for the screen argument.

roscore needs some time (1-2 seconds) to reach its full operational state. That is why I give 2 seconds delay (with sleep 2) before running my node.

With this done, then we can run the things on the background:

ariandy@youbot$ run-youbot-ros-startup.sh 
running roscore daemon..
running youbot oodl daemon
done. view with screen -ls

To view what are the running sessions, call screen -ls

There are screens on:
	9285.oodl	(05/08/2013 05:01:50 PM)	(Detached)
	9224.roscore	(05/08/2013 05:01:49 PM)	(Detached)
2 Sockets in /var/run/screen/S-ariandy.

The format is [pid].[name]. Use this name if you want to go to each session: screen -r name.

When we’re inside the screen session, Ctrl-C will send a signal to the program we are running inside screen, makes it quitting and then the screen session closes. We don’t want this. What we want is to go back to our original shell session, and put the screen session back as background process. We do that by using key combination Ctrl-A-D, that is while holding Ctrl, press A, then press D.

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