Radxa ROCK-5B Setup for ROS2 Docker

This tutorial should serve as quick starting guide on how to setup your Rock board. In the case of my Roboost project, I use the Rock 5B to run the Roboost-Cerebrum nodes within the Docker environment. In this post, I wrote down the steps I used to setup my environment to maybe spare someone out there the issues I faced during the setup.

Components for the Rock 5B Setup

For setting up the Rock 5B, I used the following components (as seen in the images):

  • Crucial P3 500GB M.2 PCIe Gen3 NVMe Internal SSD
  • AX210NGW WiFi Card, AX210 NGW WLAN Bluetooth 5.3 Card
  • SanDisk Extreme microSDXC UHS-I Memory Card 128 GB
  • 65 W USB C Power Supply Charging Cable for Lenovo
The 500GB SSD is used as main memory, while the micro SD card is used only for initial flashing. If you plan on using only wired connections, the WiFi card is not needed, but as I will use this board on my mobile robot it is really useful to have it.
Note that in terms of power supply, the Rock 5B needs to be powered using a USB-C connecter with PD capabilities. For testing purposes I use the Laptop charging cable, but on the robot I’m using this car charger jack, which can be supplied with 12 – 24 V and supports the needed PD features. I’m not that happy with the current power supply setup for this board on my robot, if you have other suggestions, please leave a comment down below.

Step 1: Preparing the Software Environment

  1. Downloading the Operating System:
  2. Initial Login and Configuration:
    • Login with radxa radxa via SSH.
    • Change keyboard layout with
      sudo apt-get install console-data
  3. Downloading and Writing the Image to SSD:
    • Download the image again for SSD installation:
      wget https://github.com/radxa-build/rock-5b/releases/download/b39/rock-5b_ubuntu_jammy_cli_b39.img.xz
    • Check if SSD is detected with
      sudo fdisk -l
    • Write the image to SSD:
      sudo xzcat rock-5b_ubuntu_jammy_cli_b39.img.xz | sudo dd of=/dev/nvme0n1 bs=1M status=progress

Step 2: Clearing and Updating the SPI Flash

  1. Clearing SPI:
    • Download zero.img.gz for clearing SPI:
      wget https://dl.radxa.com/rock5/sw/images/others/zero.img.gz
    • Check the integrity with
      md5sum zero.img.gz

      It should report back ac581b250fda7a10d07ad11884a16834 zero.img.gz.

    • Uncompress with
      gzip -d zero.img.gz

      and verify

      md5sum zero.img

      It should report back 2c7ab85a893283e98c931e9511add182 zero.img.

  2. Bootloader Update:
    • Download the latest bootloader:
      wget https://dl.radxa.com/rock5/sw/images/loader/rock-5b/release/rock-5b-spi-image-gbf47e81-20230607.img
    • Verify with
      md5sum rock-5b-spi-image-gbf47e81-20230607.img

      It should report back bd21a6459ad33b8189782e4c904d99b3 rock-5b-spi-image-gbf47e81-20230607.img.

    • Ensure SPI flash is available:
      ls /dev/mtdblock*

      should report back /dev/mtdblock0.

    • Clear SPI flash with
      sudo dd if=zero.img of=/dev/mtdblock0

      and verify.

    • Write the bootloader to SPI flash:
      sudo dd if=rock-5b-spi-image-gbf47e81-20230607.img of=/dev/mtdblock0

      and confirm with sync.

Step 3: Installing Docker on Rock 5B

  1. Adding Docker’s GPG Key and Repository:
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get install ca-certificates curl gnupg
    sudo install -m 0755 -d /etc/apt/keyrings
    curl -fsSL https://download.docker.com/linux/ubuntu/gpg | sudo gpg --dearmor -o /etc/apt/keyrings/docker.gpg
    sudo chmod a+r /etc/apt/keyrings/docker.gpg
    "deb [arch="$(dpkg --print-architecture)" signed-by=/etc/apt/keyrings/docker.gpg] https://download.docker.com/linux/ubuntu
    "$(. /etc/os-release && echo "$VERSION_CODENAME")" stable" |
    sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/docker.list > /dev/null
    sudo apt-get update
  2. Installing Docker:
    sudo apt-get install docker-ce docker-ce-cli containerd.io docker-buildx-plugin docker-compose-plugin
  3. Configuring Docker Group and Services:
    sudo groupadd docker
    sudo usermod -aG docker $USER
    sudo systemctl enable docker.service
    sudo systemctl enable containerd.service

Step 4: Final Configurations

  1. Post-Boot Setup:
    • Shutdown, remove SD, and restart to boot from SSD. Change keyboard layout.
    • Update the system with
      apt update


      apt upgrade
  2. WiFi Configuration:
    • For WiFi, reinstall network-manager if necessary.
    • Enable and start wpa_supplicant.service.
    • List WiFi networks with
      nmcli dev wifi list
  3. Setting Up a Camera Stream with VLC:
    • Install VLC with
      sudo apt install vlc


      sudo apt install v4l-utils
    • Set up the camera stream:
      cvlc v4l2:///dev/video1 --sout '#transcode{vcodec=mp4v}:std{access=http,mux=ts,dst=:8080}' -vvv
    • Access the stream on a host PC with
  4. Setup CPU Fan:
    • Configure with rsetup and select power_allocator.
    • Identify the fan index and activate it:
      echo 3 | sudo tee /sys/class/thermal/cooling_device4/cur_state

And with that we are ready to put the board on the robot. Here is a picture on how it looks on the Roboost-Mecanum bot:

Where to go from here

Now that the board is setup, we can use it to develop and deploy our robotics applications. In my case, I use it to run the Roboost-Cortex. Follow the instructions on the repos README for more information. A protective case for the board will soon follow!

If you have any questions or suggestions, please use the comment section! 🙂 Thanks for sticking around!

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Dan S
Dan S
1 month ago

Could you expand a bit the steps in the “WiFi Configuration” section, please?