Building and Installing UHD and GNU Radio to a Custom Prefix

From Ettus Knowledge Base
Revision as of 19:00, 22 January 2019 by Ettus (Talk | contribs) (Build and Install UHD)

(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search

Application Note Number


Revision History

Date Author Details
2018-12-12 Nate Temple Initial creation


This application note provides step-by-step instructions on building and installing UHD and GNU Radio to a local directory.


This application note will cover the details of installing UHD and GNU Radio from source, into a local directory on Linux systems. This is often useful if you desire to have multiple UHD and GNU Radio installations on the same system.

This application note uses Ubuntu 18.x for an example. Other versions of Ubuntu and Linux will be similar in process.

Reconfigure Default Shell

Switch your default shell on the host computer from Dash to Bash. In some Linux distributions (e.g. Ubuntu) Dash is set as default shell, which may cause some issues. It is recommended to set the shell to Bash by running the following commands in the terminal. Choose No when prompted by the first command and the second command will validate the that Bash will be used.

   $ sudo dpkg-reconfigure dash

Verify Bash is the default shell.

   $ ll /bin/sh

Expected Output:

   lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 4 Apr  2 22:00 /bin/sh -> bash*

Update and Install Dependencies

Update your OS

   sudo apt update
   sudo apt upgrade -y

Installing Dependencies

   sudo apt-get -y install git swig cmake doxygen build-essential libboost-all-dev libtool libusb-1.0-0 libusb-1.0-0-dev libudev-dev libncurses5-dev libfftw3-bin libfftw3-dev libfftw3-doc libcppunit-1.14-0 libcppunit-dev libcppunit-doc ncurses-bin cpufrequtils python-numpy python-numpy-doc python-numpy-dbg python-scipy python-docutils qt4-bin-dbg qt4-default qt4-doc libqt4-dev libqt4-dev-bin python-qt4 python-qt4-dbg python-qt4-dev python-qt4-doc python-qt4-doc libqwt6abi1 libfftw3-bin libfftw3-dev libfftw3-doc ncurses-bin libncurses5 libncurses5-dev libncurses5-dbg libfontconfig1-dev libxrender-dev libpulse-dev swig g++ automake autoconf libtool python-dev libfftw3-dev libcppunit-dev libboost-all-dev libusb-dev libusb-1.0-0-dev fort77 libsdl1.2-dev python-wxgtk3.0 git libqt4-dev python-numpy ccache python-opengl libgsl-dev python-cheetah python-mako python-lxml doxygen qt4-default qt4-dev-tools libusb-1.0-0-dev libqwtplot3d-qt5-dev pyqt4-dev-tools python-qwt5-qt4 cmake git wget libxi-dev gtk2-engines-pixbuf r-base-dev python-tk liborc-0.4-0 liborc-0.4-dev libasound2-dev python-gtk2 libzmq3-dev libzmq5 python-requests python-sphinx libcomedi-dev python-zmq libqwt-dev libqwt6abi1 python-six libgps-dev libgps23 gpsd gpsd-clients python-gps python-setuptools

Dependencies for other operating systems including Ubuntu 14.x to 17.x and Fedora can be found here:

Create Workarea Directory and Installation Directory

In this step we will create a workarea directory. This will be used to clone the sources and build UHD and GNU Radio.

   $ mkdir -p ~/workarea
   $ mkdir -p ~/workarea/src

We will target an arbitary directory ~/workarea/installs for the installation prefix.

   $ mkdir -p ~/workarea/installs

Build and Install UHD

First clone the UHD sources:

   $ cd ~/workarea/src
   $ git clone --recursive
   $ cd ~/workarea/src/uhd

Checkout your desired version of UHD:

To identify git tags, either look at or run

   $ git tag -l 

Then checkout a tagged release:

Example for UHD 3.9.5:

   $ git checkout release_003_009_005

or example for UHD

   $ git checkout v3.13.1.0 

Update the git submodules after checking out the tagged branch:

   $ git submodule update

Finally build UHD:

   $ cd host
   $ mkdir build
   $ cd build

Note: The CMake parameter CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX is added in the configuration step, which points to our desired installation prefix of ~/workarea/installs.

   $ cmake -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=~/workarea/installs ../
   $ make -j4 

Note: Since this installation is not being installed to a system level directory (e.g. /usr/local), the make install command does not require sudo privileges.

   $ make install

Configuring USB

On Linux, udev handles USB plug and unplug events. The following commands install a udev rule so that non-root users may access the device. This step is only necessary for devices that use USB to connect to the host computer, such as the B200, B210, and B200mini. This setting should take effect immediately and does not require a reboot or logout/login. Be sure that no USRP device is connected via USB when running these commands.

   cd ~/workarea/src/uhd/host/utils
   sudo cp uhd-usrp.rules /etc/udev/rules.d/
   sudo udevadm control --reload-rules
   sudo udevadm trigger

Configuring Thread Priority

When UHD spawns a new thread, it may try to boost the thread's scheduling priority. If setting the new priority fails, the UHD software prints a warning to the console, as shown below. This warning is harmless; it simply means that the thread will retain a normal or default scheduling priority.

UHD Warning:
    Unable to set the thread priority. Performance may be negatively affected.
    Please see the general application notes in the manual for instructions.
    EnvironmentError: OSError: error in pthread_setschedparam

To address this issue, non-privileged (non-root) users need to be given special permission to change the scheduling priority.

To enable this, first create a Linux group usrp

   sudo groupadd usrp

Add your user to this group:

   sudo usermod -aG usrp $USER

Append the following line to end of /etc/security/limits.conf file.

   @usrp - rtprio  99

This can be performed with the command as shown below:

   sudo sh -c "echo '@usrp\t-\trtprio\t99' >> /etc/security/limits.conf"

You must log out and log back in for this setting to take effect.

Building GNU Radio

   $ cd ~/workarea/src
   $ git clone --recursive
   $ cd ~/workarea/src/gnuradio

Checkout your desired version of GNU Radio:

To identify git tags, either look at or run

   $ git tag -l 

Then checkout a tagged release:

   $ git checkout v3.7.10.2 


   $ git checkout v3.7.13.4

Update the submodules:

   $ git submodule update

Create a directory to build GNU Radio:

   $ mkdir build
   $ cd build

Next, configure the build to use the custom installation directory prefix and previously installed version of UHD, by providing the CMake parameters:

   $ cmake -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=~/workarea/installs -DUHD_DIR=~/workarea/installs/lib/cmake/uhd/ -DUHD_INCLUDE_DIRS=~/workarea/installs/include/ -DUHD_LIBRARIES=~/workarea/installs/lib/ ../
   $ make -j4
   $ make install

Create an Environment Setup File

Since this installation is in a custom directory, we must setup a environment file to tell the operating system where to look for various files.

In the installation directory, create a file setup.env:

   $ cd ~/workarea/installs
   $ touch setup.env

Add the content below to the setup.env file:

export PYTHONPATH=$LOCALPREFIX/lib/python2.7/site-packages:$PYTHONPATH
export PYTHONPATH=$LOCALPREFIX/lib/python2.7/dist-packages:$PYTHONPATH
export UHD_RFNOC_DIR=$LOCALPREFIX/share/uhd/rfnoc/
export UHD_IMAGES_DIR=$LOCALPREFIX/share/uhd/images

Next source this environment setup file to configure your system to use this new installation. This step must be done anytime you open a new terminal window/shell.

   $ source setup.env

Verifying the Installation

After sourcing the setup.env file, you can verify that you're using this local installation with the which command.

   $ which uhd_usrp_probe

Expected Output:

   $ which uhd_usrp_probe

Downloading the UHD FPGA Images

You can now download the UHD FPGA Images for this installation. This can be done by running the command uhd_images_downloader.

   $ uhd_images_downloader

Note: Since this installation is not being installed to a system level directory (e.g. /usr/local), the uhd_images_downloader command does not require sudo privileges.

Example ouput for UHD

$ uhd_images_downloader 
Images destination:      /home/user/workarea/installs/share/uhd/images
Downloading images from:
Downloading images to:   /tmp/tmpm46JDg/
57009 kB / 57009 kB (100%)

Images successfully installed to: /home/user/workarea/installs/share/uhd/images

Example output for UHD 3.13:

$ uhd_images_downloader
[INFO] Images destination: /home/user/workarea/installs/share/uhd/images
[INFO] No inventory file found at /home/user/workarea/installs/share/uhd/images/inventory.json. Creating an empty one.
00006 kB / 00006 kB (100%)
19484 kB / 19484 kB (100%)
02757 kB / 02757 kB (100%)
02109 kB / 02109 kB (100%)
00522 kB / 00522 kB (100%)
00474 kB / 00474 kB (100%)
02415 kB / 02415 kB (100%)
05920 kB / 05920 kB (100%)
15883 kB / 15883 kB (100%)
00506 kB / 00506 kB (100%)
18676 kB / 18676 kB (100%)
00017 kB / 00017 kB (100%)
04839 kB / 04839 kB (100%)
00007 kB / 00007 kB (100%)
00009 kB / 00009 kB (100%)
00450 kB / 00450 kB (100%)
00142 kB / 00142 kB (100%)
00460 kB / 00460 kB (100%)
00319 kB / 00319 kB (100%)
00009 kB / 00009 kB (100%)
11537 kB / 11537 kB (100%)
05349 kB / 05349 kB (100%)
00866 kB / 00866 kB (100%)
[INFO] Images download complete.

Building a GNU Radio OOT

To build a GNU Radio Out Of Tree module (OOT) against this custom installation, you must provide a few additional CMake parameters during the configuration setup as shown below.

   $ git clone <URL_OF_OOT>
   $ cd gr-oot/
   $ mkdir build
   $ cd build
   $ cmake -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=~/workarea/installs -DUHD_DIR=~/workarea/installs/lib/cmake/uhd/ -DUHD_INCLUDE_DIRS=~/workarea/installs/include/ -DUHD_LIBRARIES=~/workarea/installs/lib/ ../
   $ make 
   $ make install


This page summarized the step-by-step process involved in building and installing UHD and GNU Radio to a custom prefix. Any questions or feedback should be sent to

Additional References