Elevator pitch for vcstool alternative

It is quite common to handle ROS 2 package dependencies through the use of .repos files and vcs. After several years of using vcs, I have encountered several issues and quirk behaviors with it that motivated me to create an alternative CLI tool. Here I am introducing ripvcs (following the naming scheme of ripgrep). It is a CLI tool written in Go that offers improvement both in speed as well a set of new features.


  • Faster operations for commands shared with vcs
  • Recursive import: Automatically import other .repos files within the cloned repositories
  • Repositories sync: Stash and pull any changes in any repositories found in given path.
  • Nested repository pull: Pull changes even within nested repositories.

I invite you to try ripvcs out and provide feedback on any issues you encounter to improve the performance and reliability of it.


Wow, this looks good! We use our custom wrapper around wstool that added the recursive option. Your tool looks great and I’d give it a try. But there are a few features I’m missing:

  • Support for .rosinstall files in addition to .repos
  • Possibility to specify a different folder for the recursively imported repositories (so that you can have one workspace with just the top-level repos and another workspace with their dependencies).
  • Support for proxy remotes (this is basically a temporary remote that is tried instead of e.g. github.com)
    • We use this in case we go to a field experiment and we expect that Internet will be inaccessible in that place. Before we go, we pull all repos on a central server we take with us and other computers should temporarily use this remote instead of github/gitlab.
    • This task cannot be easily done by setting a HTTP proxy, as git pulls are over HTTPS or SSH and we can’t (unfortunately) fake github’s host keys.
    • Alternatively, instead of this quite nonstandard feature, ripvcs could just support specifying the name of a remote used for pull/sync. We could then manually add the temporary remote using git remote add and just tell ripvcs to pull from this one.

Thanks for feedback!

I’ll look into the points you raised and provide a solution for them.

What do .rosinstall files offer extra to .repos files?

Nothing, but they exist, and converting them all to .repos is quite some churn and would be unnecessary if the tool supported them.

Yes, as @gavanderhoorn said, they offer nothing in addition to .repos. But sometimes we don’t even control the source of the files as they’re a part of a 3rd party package.

Having it as an apt package might be nice. I think an apt-get command communicates better for installations instructions than wgetting a binary blob.