Communicate with ROS in WSL2

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Steven Crews
Steven Crews on 11 Nov 2020
Commented: Haasith Pasala on 5 Mar 2022
I am using MATLAB 2020a on Windows 10, v2004 with WSL2 Ubuntu 20.04.
I am having trouble communicating between Ubuntu using WSL and Matlab on Windows. I build ROS nodes on both Ubuntu and Matlab.
I ran the basic publisher ( in Ubuntu. Within WSL2 Ubuntu, I have no issues seeing /talker.
In Matlab, I run
rosinit % run once only
rostopic list
% /chatter
% /rosout
% /rosout_agg
python_talker = rossubscriber('/chatter','std_msgs/String');
but the /chatter message is empty.
Similarly, if I start in Matlab with
matlab_talker = rospublisher('/matlab_chatter','std_msgs/Float64MultiArray');
matlab_message = rosmessage( matlab_talker );
while toc < 10
matlab_message.Data = [toc , 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 ] ;
send( matlab_talker , matlab_message )
I can see that the /matlab_chatter node exists in Ubuntu, but it's also empty:
$ rostopic list
% /chatter
% /matlab_chatter
% /rosout
% /rosout_agg
$ rostopic echo /matlab_chatter
% no output
This all works if I'm running pure Ubuntu. Any ideas on troubleshooting WSL2 inter-connectivity?
Steven Crews
Steven Crews on 18 Nov 2020
Thanks, Cam. I'm looking into these options. I hope it is an easy setting somewhere.

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Answers (1)

MathWorks Robotics and Autonomous Systems Team
Hello Steven,
To communicate between WSL2 ROS and MATLAB/Simulink, you would need to make sure the environment variable "ROS_IP" being set correctly on both MATLAB and WSL2 sides. Otherwise, it might ended up getting only part of working functionalities. Below are steps to get this work. Feel free to skip directly to Step 3 if you already have WSL2 enabled and ROS Noetic installed on WSL2.
Step 1: Enable WSL2 on Windows
You may follow this offical link to install WSL2 on windows, I would recommand using Ubuntu20.04 and ROS Noetic if you would like to use Gazebo in your project later on.
Step 2: Install ROS/ROS 2 on WSL2
You may follow this ROS tutorial to install ROS Noetic on WSL2. You may install ROS 2 following this tutorial instead.
Step 3: Configure Environment Variables
To make sure specific URI is known for both side of ROS (ROS NetworkSetup wiki), you can either use the automatic configuration function or set it up by yourself.
Using function:
(Note that you need to enable ssh on WSL2 for running this script. Refer to this article on enabling ssh on WSL2.)
1. Type in "$ifconfig" on WSL2 Terminal, look for "inet" under "eth0". This will be your WSL2 IP Address.
2. Download configureWSL2.m for attachment and launch MATLAB.
3. Call "configureWSL2" with IP Address, Username, Password of your WSL2 as input. This function will setup all required environment variables for you. Note that it assumes you have installed ROS Noetic on Ubuntu20.04. If you installed different version of ROS or installed it in another directory other than the default directory, you may need to modify the "ROSPath" variable in the function.
Manually set it up:
1. Type in "$ifconfig" on WSL2 Terminal, look for "inet" under "eth0". This will be your WSL2 IP Address. Set this on WSL2 side (e.g. $ export
2. Type in ">ipconfig" on Windows Command Prompt and find IPv4 Address under "Ethernet adapter vEthernet (WSL)". Set this on MATLAB side (e.g. >> setenv('ROS_IP',''))
Step 4: Visualization with Gazebo and Rviz
To run GUI applications such as Gazebo and Rviz and bring them to your windows desktop, you need to install X server on Windows, such as VcXsrc.
If you already run "configureWSL2.m" in Step 3, all you need to do is launch "Xlaunch" (VcXsrv) and type in "$gazebo" on WSL2 terminal.
As an alternative, you may also set environment variables manually referring to this video.
Hope this helps,
MathWorks Robotics and Autonomous Systems Team
  1 Comment
Haasith Pasala
Haasith Pasala on 5 Mar 2022
After running "configureWSL2.m", when I launch gazebo it's not responding. Please find the attachment. As you see here, the real timee factor, sim time all are blank.
In Ubuntu 20.04, Ros Noetic on WSL2 in windows 11. Matlab version R2021b

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