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ROS1 2018 Version Survey: The results are in


The results are in from the 2018 ROS user survey. Thanks to everyone who participated!

We had a total of 273 responses. We’ll walk through the questions, one at a time:

A majority of respondents are using the latest ROS LTS (Kinetic). There is still a fair amount of use of the previous LTS, then the long tail of respondents who use the non-LTS versions.

Indigo seemed to be a particularly popular release, with Kinetic and “older” both being heavily used. One surprise here is that Jade had quite a few users in the past, which is a strong showing for a non-LTS release.

Ubuntu usage dominates among respondents, and within Ubuntu, most users are using one of the last two LTS releases. Not shown in the chart are responses that only had one vote, like Fedora, CentOS, WIndows 10 with WSL, Debian unstable, etc.

The OSs running on robots is also heavily dominated by the Ubuntu LTS distributions.

The majority of users never upgrade to a non-LTS ROS distribution. Most of the ones that do update to a non-LTS do so because they need a specific update.

Only a small minority of users never update to a ROS LTS release. As an LTS gets towards its first year of being available, more and more users are migrating to it.

As pointed out in the discourse thread, this question really needed a “Never/don’t care” option, but we didn’t want to change the survey halfway through. Instead, when we processed the data we discarded any responses from people who answered “Never” to the “When do you upgrade to a new ROS1 non-LTS distribution?” question. This left the above chart, which shows that of the people who do want a non-LTS, most of them are looking for 6-12 months of support on it.

Almost half of the respondents would like to have a new LTS release every 2 years, which is consistent with the current release model. A somewhat smaller contingent wants an LTS every year, with a 4 year LTS release cycle rounding out the top 3.

Again this question needed a “Never/don’t care” option. As in the “How often would you like to have a new ROS1 non-LTS distro (implying new features are released)?” question, we discarded the respondents who answered “Never” to the “When do you upgrade to a new ROS1 non-LTS distribution?” question. This left the above chart, which shows that of the people who do want a non-LTS, about half are happy with the current 1 year of support, while there is an even race between shortening supporting to 6 months and lengthening it to 2 years.

Around 25% of respondents favored shortening the ROS LTS release cycle to 4 years, which would mean that the ROS LTS would go out of support before its corresponding Ubuntu LTS did. Of the rest, there was slight favor for lengthening the support cycle to 6 years (from the current support of 5 years).


There isn’t a clear trend among respondents for features vs. stability. Some clearly favor stability, while some want newer versions of libraries.


As with previous questions, respondents overwhelming prefer using the ROS LTS releases.


Most users are using packages to get their dependencies, with a few outliers building everything from source.

Over 50% of respondents update their packages at least once a month.

Thank you!

Thanks to everyone who participated in the survey. We’re discussing the results and based on this data, will start a discussion about changing some aspects of the release process soon.

ROS 2018 Survey
Proposed changes to the ROS releases
How long after the release of a new version of ROS do most previous package come out?

Lots of interesting results!

I think that this data supports moving to a Debian-style release model coupled with long-term support for the stable releases beyond “the next stable release” (e.g. support the past two stable releases). Looking forward to seeing that discussion started!