Installation on Linux

This chapter describes how to install libfranka and franka_ros, either as binary packages or by building from source, and how to install a real-time Linux kernel. franka_ros is only required if you want to control your robot using ROS.


While libfranka and the franka_ros packages should work on different Linux distributions, official support is currently only provided for:

  • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Bionic Beaver and ROS Melodic Morenia (requires at least libfranka 0.6.0)

  • Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Focal Fossa and ROS Noetic Ninjemys (requires at least libfranka 0.8.0)

The following instructions are exemplary for Ubuntu 20.04 LTS system and ROS Noetic Ninjemys. They only work in the supported environments.


We do not offer support for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Xenial Xerus and ROS Kinetic Kame anymore, as they have reached their end-of-life.

Installing from the ROS repositories


These packages might not always be up-to-date, as they are only synced at certain intervals. Read the changelog at to find out which libfranka version is required for a particular robot software version. If this doesn’t match the ros-noetic-libfranka version from the repositories, you need to build from source.

Binary packages for libfranka and franka_ros are available from the ROS repositories. After setting up ROS Noetic, execute:

sudo apt install ros-noetic-libfranka ros-noetic-franka-ros

Building from source

Before building from source, please uninstall existing installations of libfranka and franka_ros to avoid conflicts:

sudo apt remove "*libfranka*"

Building libfranka

To build libfranka, install the following dependencies from Ubuntu’s package manager:

sudo apt install build-essential cmake git libpoco-dev libeigen3-dev

Then, download the source code by cloning libfranka from GitHub.

For Panda you need to clone:

git clone --recursive # only for panda
cd libfranka

By default, this will check out the newest release of libfranka. If you want to build a particular version of libfranka instead, check out the corresponding Git tag:

git checkout <version>
git submodule update

The above instructions for cloning libfranka only work for Panda. For Franka Research 3 you have to clone:

git clone --recursive --branch 0.10.0 # only for FR3
cd libfranka

In the source directory, create a build directory and run CMake:

mkdir build
cd build
cmake --build .

Optionally (but recommended), a libfranka Debian package can be built using the following command in the same directory:

cpack -G DEB

This creates libfranka-<version>-<architecture>.deb. This package can then be installed with:

sudo dpkg -i libfranka*.deb

Building the ROS packages

After setting up ROS Noetic, create a Catkin workspace in a directory of your choice:

cd /path/to/desired/folder
mkdir -p catkin_ws/src
cd catkin_ws
source /opt/ros/noetic/
catkin_init_workspace src

Then clone the franka_ros repository from GitHub:

git clone --recursive src/franka_ros

By default, this will check out the newest release of franka_ros. If you want to build a particular version of franka_ros instead, check out the corresponding Git tag:

git checkout <version>

Install any missing dependencies and build the packages:

rosdep install --from-paths src --ignore-src --rosdistro noetic -y --skip-keys libfranka
catkin_make -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release -DFranka_DIR:PATH=/path/to/libfranka/build
source devel/


If you also installed ros-noetic-libfranka, libfranka might be picked up from /opt/ros/noetic instead of from your custom libfranka build!

Setting up the real-time kernel

In order to control your robot using libfranka, the controller program on the workstation PC must run with real-time priority under a PREEMPT_RT kernel. This section describes the procedure of patching a kernel to support PREEMPT_RT and creating an installation package.


NVIDIA binary drivers are not supported on PREEMPT_RT kernels.

First, install the necessary dependencies:

sudo apt-get install build-essential bc curl ca-certificates gnupg2 libssl-dev lsb-release libelf-dev bison flex dwarves zstd libncurses-dev

Then, you have to decide which kernel version to use. To find the one you are using currently, use uname -r. Real-time patches are only available for select kernel versions, see We recommend choosing the version closest to the one you currently use. If you choose a different version, simply substitute the numbers. Having decided on a version, use curl to download the source files:


For Ubuntu 16.04 tested with the kernel version 4.14.12:

curl -SLO
curl -SLO
curl -SLO
curl -SLO


For Ubuntu 18.04 tested with the kernel version 5.4.19:

curl -SLO
curl -SLO
curl -SLO
curl -SLO


For Ubuntu 20.04 tested with the kernel version 5.9.1:

curl -SLO
curl -SLO
curl -SLO
curl -SLO

And decompress them with:

xz -d *.xz

Verifying file integrity


This step is optional but recommended!

The .sign files can be used to verify that the downloaded files were not corrupted or tampered with. The steps shown here are adapted from the Linux Kernel Archive , see the linked page for more details about the process.

You can use gpg2 to verify the .tar archives:

gpg2 --verify linux-*.tar.sign
gpg2 --verify patch-*.patch.sign

If your output is similar to the following:

$ gpg2 --verify linux-*.tar.sign
gpg: assuming signed data in 'linux-4.14.12.tar'
gpg: Signature made Fr 05 Jan 2018 06:49:11 PST using RSA key ID 6092693E
gpg: Can't check signature: No public key

You have to first download the public key of the person who signed the above file. As you can see from the above output, it has the ID 6092693E. You can obtain it from the key server:

gpg2  --keyserver hkp:// --recv-keys 6092693E

Similarly for the patch:

gpg2 --keyserver hkp:// --recv-keys 2872E4CC

Note that keys for other kernel version might have different IDs, you will have to adapt accordingly.

Having downloaded the keys, you can now verify the sources. Here is an example of a correct output:

$ gpg2 --verify linux-*.tar.sign
gpg: assuming signed data in 'linux-4.14.12.tar'
gpg: Signature made Fr 05 Jan 2018 06:49:11 PST using RSA key ID 6092693E
gpg: Good signature from "Greg Kroah-Hartman <>" [unknown]
gpg:                 aka "Greg Kroah-Hartman <>" [unknown]
gpg:                 aka "Greg Kroah-Hartman (Linux kernel stable release signing key) <>" [unknown]
gpg: WARNING: This key is not certified with a trusted signature!
gpg:          There is no indication that the signature belongs to the owner.
Primary key fingerprint: 647F 2865 4894 E3BD 4571  99BE 38DB BDC8 6092 693E

See Linux Kernel Archive for more information about the warning.

Compiling the kernel

Once you are sure the files were downloaded properly, you can extract the source code and apply the patch:

tar xf linux-*.tar
cd linux-*/
patch -p1 < ../patch-*.patch

Next copy your currently booted kernel configuration as the default config for the new real time kernel:

cp -v /boot/config-$(uname -r) .config

Now you can use this config as the default to configure the build:

make olddefconfig
make menuconfig

The second command brings up a terminal interface in which you can configure the preemption model. Navigate with the arrow keys to General Setup > Preemption Model and select Fully Preemptible Kernel (Real-Time).

After that navigate to Cryptographic API > Certificates for signature checking (at the very bottom of the list) > Provide system-wide ring of trusted keys > Additional X.509 keys for default system keyring

Remove the “debian/canonical-certs.pem” from the prompt and press Ok. Save this configuration to .config and exit the TUI.


If you prefer GUIs over TUIs use make xconfig instead of make menuconfig

Afterwards, you are ready to compile the kernel. As this is a lengthy process, set the multithreading option -j to the number of your CPU cores:

make -j$(nproc) deb-pkg

Finally, you are ready to install the newly created package. The exact names depend on your environment, but you are looking for headers and images packages without the dbg suffix. To install:

sudo dpkg -i ../linux-headers-*.deb ../linux-image-*.deb

Verifying the new kernel

Restart your system. The Grub boot menu should now allow you to choose your newly installed kernel. To see which one is currently being used, see the output of the uname -a command. It should contain the string PREEMPT RT and the version number you chose. Additionally, /sys/kernel/realtime should exist and contain the the number 1.


If you encounter errors that you fail to boot the new kernel see Cannot boot realtime kernel because of “Invalid Signature”

Allow a user to set real-time permissions for its processes

After the PREEMPT_RT kernel is installed and running, add a group named realtime and add the user controlling your robot to this group:

sudo addgroup realtime
sudo usermod -a -G realtime $(whoami)

Afterwards, add the following limits to the realtime group in /etc/security/limits.conf:

@realtime soft rtprio 99
@realtime soft priority 99
@realtime soft memlock 102400
@realtime hard rtprio 99
@realtime hard priority 99
@realtime hard memlock 102400

The limits will be applied after you log out and in again.