ROS 2 in Parallels VM on MacOSX

While I sported a Linux laptop throughout grad school, my Willow Garage days, and my early startup years, I’ve been using a Macbook Pro as my daily driver for about a decade now.

That equates to a lot of “ROS on Mac” pain.

Things were supposed to get easier with ROS 2.

Back in 2020, I installed ROS 2 natively on my last Intel-based Macbook. You can read all about the fun of compiling from source.

Then Apple moved to their new M1 architecture, ROS downgraded OSX to Tier 3 support, and I got older and maybe a bit more grumpy. For all of these reasons, I decided not to do a native installation for ROS 2 Humble. I tried out a few approaches as documented here, but ended up settling on using a Parallels VM.

Yes, Parallels costs cash money. But, how do you value your time?

Parallels Installation

My original post had a quick run down of my installation, but here is a recap:

Issue: RVIZ2

rviz2 runs well inside the Parallels VM, especially if you avoid using “points” as the display type for laser scan and point cloud messages. There seems to be a bug there that causes frequent crashes - but only for that display type. I’ve had great success with Flat Squares as the rendering type. I’ve also had no issue visualizing points in a visualization_msgs/Marker.

Issue: Bridged Networks

If you just want to develop locally within your VM, then you can keep right on using the “Shared Network” profile and skip over this issue.

However, if you want to connect to a robot and actually stream data from ROS 2, you will need to change from “Shared Network” to “Bridged Network”. This sounds easy, however, it appears there are numerous issues with Parallels creating bridged networks (their support forum was a wasteland of these issues, all unanswered). I could not get the default network to even come up with a bridged configuration.

The workaround appears to be to create a second network adapter, and make that one bridged. Since the primary network is still shared and comes up as expected, your Ubuntu VM will boot, and then you can configure the bridged network within the VM. I found that using a fixed IP was the most reliable approach:

Issue: Disk Size

About a year later, I started to run out of disk space. I had created the VM with a 64GB drive in the Parallels configuration, but inside the VM it only reported a 32GB drive. Apparently, this is a side effect of using the server installation of Ubuntu - the drive won’t automatically be fully sized. The good news here is that we don’t need to use tools like gparted as we are only adjusting the logical partition. I got my other 30GB with:

sudo lvresize —resizes —size +30G ubuntu-vg/ubuntu-lv


This is a pretty short post - because things are mostly working. I’ve been using this setup over the past few weeks to connect RVIZ to my RoboMagellan robot while it is navigating around outdoors. I’ll have some RoboMagellan-specific posts coming up soon.