Using Docker Containers with MoveIt

Docker is an open-source project that automates the deployment of Linux applications inside software containers. See

Docker can help you easily evaluate someone else’s code changes without breaking your local setup, as well as test on versions of Linux other than your local installed version. MoveIt has an official MoveIt Docker build that lets you quickly get a MoveIt setup in a local container.

Installing Docker

Before starting this tutorial please complete installation as described in Docker’s installation instructions. Installation instructions are available for multiple operating systems.

Note that for recent Linux distros, the installation is basically just a single wget command. You may also want add your user to the docker group to avoid having to use sudo permissions when you use the docker command.


If you are running a recent version of Ubuntu (e.g. 14.04, 16.04) it can be as simple as:

sudo apt-get install curl
curl -sSL | sh
sudo usermod -aG docker $(whoami)

And you will likely need to log out and back into your user account for the changes to take affect.

Running MoveIt Containers

To run a Debian-installed container of MoveIt with graphics support:

wget -O gui-docker && chmod +x gui-docker
./gui-docker -it --rm moveit/moveit:melodic-release /bin/bash

This will attempt to use nvidia-docker if hardware and drivers are available.

Command-Line Only

docker run -it moveit/moveit:melodic-release

MoveIt Container Types

There are many variants of the MoveIt Docker available as documented here. For example, any of the two current distros work: [kinetic, melodic]. Other variations include:

  • moveit/moveit:melodic-source contains a full MoveIt workspace downloaded and built to ~/ws_moveit/src. This container is useful for developers wanting to test or develop in a sandbox.
  • moveit/moveit:melodic-release builds ontop of the CI image, the full debian-based install of MoveIt using apt-get.
  • moveit/moveit:melodic-ci an image optimized for running continuous integration with Travis
  • moveit/moveit:melodic-ci-shadow an image optimized for running continuous integration with Travis using the latest unreleased build of ROS


To make the source container more useful for developing and testing code, we recommend you install the following extra dependencies because the docker container is very bare-bones:

apt-get install less ssh bash-completion tree nano

MoveIt’s docker containers are built automatically on, but you can modify and build locally if desired with the following command:

cd moveit/.docker/source
docker build -t moveit/moveit:melodic-source .