Reinstalling Linux

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Although our pre-installed Linux installation can be best supported by MobileRobots staff, many users wish to upgrade Linux on their onboard computer to more recent versions of their favorite distributions. There are several ways to go about this, requiring varying degrees of hardware or software setup.

If you ordered a robot with Linux installed on the onboard computer, we used a version of either Ubuntu or Debian GNU/Linux. Older robots had RedHat 7 installed. If instead, you want to use a different distribution (e.g. SUSE, Fedora, etc.), make sure to read the README.txt files distributed with software packages such as ARIA and ARNL to check what build tools are required and their required versions. In general, however, software packages from MobileRobots have minimal external dependencies other than standard system libraries and the most common build tools.

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Upgrading Online

You can easily upgrade from one major stable release of Debian or Ubuntu to the next via the Internet. See Upgrade Debian 5 (lenny) to Debian 6 (squeeze) for Debian instructions.

On Ubuntu, use the Ubuntu Update Manager or run sudo do-release-upgrade in a Terminal window. You can run sudo do-release-upgrade -c to check whether a release upgrade is available and if so, which one.

Reinstall via PxE

Support for Pre-eXecution Environment(aka LAN-booting) is available on all Versalogic onboard computers, and on the Pioneer LX embedded computer. You need to setup a PxE server with the required files for your distribution. Many linux distributions provide small, network install initial images and configs for ease-of-network install. See this howto for instructions on a multi-OS-distributing server on an Ubuntu-Edgy box.

Reinstall via CDROM

Pioneer 3 and PowerBot onboard computers have IDE or SATA connectors. Manuals for onboard computers can be found at the Manuals page. Remember to verify proper BIOS setup for CDROM use and booting.

See How do I connect a CD-ROM disk drive to my onboard computer? for more details.

Reinstall via USB

Pioneer LX and robots with Mamba or Corvalet Q87 onboard computers can also boot from USB devices. Enter BIOS configuration at boot and select removable or USB storage as the first boot option, and reboot. Set it back to hard disk when finished.


Where to get Debian and Ubuntu installation media

Installers for Ubuntu are available at http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop. The most recent LTS (Long Term Support) version is recommended, but later versions can be used if you wish. An explanation of the Ubuntu release roadmap is available at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Releases.

Instructions for creating a bootable USB stick or CD-ROM containing the installation image are available at the following locations:

Installers for the latest version of Debian is available at http://www.debian.org/distrib/ . Use the i386 version for 32-bit Mamba and Cobra computers, and use amd64 on the Corvalet Q87 and Pioneer LX computer if you want an all-64-bit operating system, or you can also install i386 for a 32-bit OS instead if you wish.

Installers for older versions of Debian are available at http://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/archive/ Debian 3.1 ("sarge") images that can be burned onto CDs are available at: http://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/archive/3.1_r8/i386/iso-cd/ . Debian 5.0 ("lenny") images are available at http://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/archive/5.0.10/i386/iso-cd . The "netinst" image (fits on one CD and downloads packages from the internet) is recommended for 5.0. The computer must be connected to a network with access to the internet for netinst to work.

Note that the main Debian mirrors no longer supply packages for Debian 3 ("sarge") or 5 ("lenny"). After installing, edit /etc/apt/sources.list to specify "deb http://archive.debian.org/debian sarge" or "deb http://archive.debian.org/debian lenny" as the APT installation source instead of the original default.

Hardware and Driver Configuration after Reinstall

Mainboards are generally Intel-based and well supported in any modern GNU/Linux Distribution. See Drivers for information on links on specific devices and components. Contact Support if you have any questions or need information not available there or in the computer manuals.

If you have trouble with serial devices (e.g. LMS200 laser), see Computer Serial Port Configuration.

To give new users full access to the serial ports, you can add them to the dialout group by default by adding dialout to EXTRA_GROUPS in /etc/adduser.conf and making sure ADD_EXTRA_GROUPS is set to 1.

You will need to reconfigure the wireless and ethernet network interfaces according to your local network infrastructure settings. See Onboard Computer Network Configuration.

If you have an ethernet laser (e.g. LMS500 or LMS100 or LMS111), or an ethernet camera (e.g. Axis 214 or Axis 212), you will need to restore the ethernet interface configuration entries for them. See SICK_LMS-100/LMS-111/LMS-500_Laser_Rangefinders

Because the PioneerLX uses USB based serial ports, the port name for the main robot connection connection is /dev/ttyUSB0 instead of the default /dev/ttyS0, and the baud rate is 57600 instead of the default 9600. So you need to create a file, /etc/Aria.args with the following text:

   -robotPort /dev/ttyUSB0 -robotBaud 57600

Reinstalling Software

All software is available for download at Software. You will need your authorization login and password (provided with robot documentation) to download some packages.

(It is not neccesary to reinstall (flash) the robot firmware onto the robot's controller. You can download the firmware package and unpack it on the robot's onboard computer to have easy access to the configuration utility, if you wish.)

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