Installation of GNU radio software on a orbit node with the baseline.ndz image

Binary Packages

Baseline.ndz installs a slimed version of Debian, for image speed. There is a binary package of GNU radio in the Debian repository, but it is very old and not maintained. The package that is now being maintained is made for Ubuntu 9.04. Its not part of the Ubuntu repository. It is maintained by, if you want to install it you will need to add their repository to your list of sources (reference). The paths are:

Stable release branch:
  deb stable main
  deb-src stable main
Unstable development branch:
  deb unstable main 
  deb-src unstable main

It should be noted that these packages are for Ubuntu. Although they might install on baseline image, the probably won't work correctly. The GNU Radio website for these packages is

Building from sources

This section explains how to build the GNU Radio software from sources. It is loosely modeled after the instructions from . As noted before, however, we're installing on a Debian system, so the process is a little different.


Before we build the actual Gnu radio we must satisfy this list of prerequisites:

  • sdcc-libraries_2.6.0-5
  • boost-build
  • wx-common
  • libqt3-mt-dev
  • libgsl0-dev
  • guile-1.8
  • libcomedi-0.7.22
  • locales
  • Python
  • build-essentials
  • auto-make

Most of these are can be installed with apt-get (reference). You may need to modify your source list to include:

deb etch main non-free contrib

You may find it usefull to run the following two commands:

apt-get build-dep gnuradio
apt-get build-dep usrp

These commands would install any of the packages that the gnuradio and usrp packages depend on. Although we will not be installing the gnuraido and usrp packages, there is probably some packages that are common to both the package installation and source build of GNU Radio.

One noteable exception is sdcc-library which had to be installed via a deb package, because the repository version does not support a feature we need (asx8051). We will have to downgrade to version sdcc 2.6.0-5:

 dpkg -i sdcc-libraries_2.6.0-5_all.deb 

It may be necessary to modify the compiler and documentation packages as well.

Note: Our architecture is i686, but the only debs for i386. We have used the i386 ones sucessfully. The install process was the same as for the libraries.


Once we have all the dependencies in place, we can begin building the actual GNU Radio software. There are many ways to get the sources. The most straight forward is to download the file from If you are using the node's console you can use wget. As an alternative you can download the file to some other machine, and them copy file to the node with scp. Once you have the source on your node you'll need to extract it (refrence).


If you copied from the development repositories (svn or git) you man need to run ./bootstrap. Once bootstrap completes you will need to run ./configure. Once completed a list of components being built will be displayed:

The following GNU Radio components have been successfully configured:


You my now run the make command to build these components.

The following components were skipped either because you asked not
to build them or they didn't pass configuration checks:


These components will not be built.

It should be checked for the components you are interested in. A file named config.log is created when the configure script is being built. If there are any missing components, this file should have useful information. At a minimum, gr-usrp will be needed. This component steers the USRP, and is vital to the rest of the process. Once the configure process completes, we can simply run make sequence. If all the dependencies are satisfied the build process should be as simple as this sequence:

$ ./bootstrap         # Do NOT perform this step if you are building from a tarball.
$ ./configure
$ make
$ make check
$ sudo make install

Post Build setup

Once you have correctly built executables, there are a few modification to be made before you can run the examples. These may all be optional, if you encounter errors when you try to use the executables one of these changes may fix it.

Create USRP Group

Follow these steps to create a usrp group. This is need to have udev (reference) enumerate the USRP properly.

sudo addgroup usrp
sudo addgroup <YOUR_USERNAME> usrp
echo 'ACTION=="add", BUS=="usb", SYSFS{idVendor}=="fffe", SYSFS{idProduct}=="0002", GROUP:="usrp", MODE:="0660"' > tmpfile
sudo chown root.root tmpfile
sudo mv tmpfile /etc/udev/rules.d/10-usrp.rules

Reboot the machine after this change. You should see a usrp device in the list of usb devices:

node1-1:~# ls -lR /dev/bus/usb | grep usrp
crw-rw---- 1 root usrp 189, 385 Jan 28 14:20 002

This path is needed for some of the examples. (and perhaps your own blocks)

export PYTHONPATH=/usr/local/lib/python2.5/site-packages/gnuradio/
libtool modification

There was a problem with earlier versions of Debian/Ubuntu's linker (refrence). It was resolved with this fix:

cp /etc/ /tmp/
echo /usr/local/lib >> /tmp/
mv /tmp/ /etc/

You can check the to make sure that /usr/local/lib/ is included:

node1-1:~# more /etc/
include /etc/*.conf

Running Examples

Assuming you have x11 exports correctly configured (reference) you can use the live FFT to see some interesting graphs.

Once you have successfully compiled the GNU Radio software, you should take an image. Once you have the image on two nodes you can run:

sender node:path.../gnuradio/gnuradio-examples/python/digital# ./ -f 5M -r 250k -T A -v
receiver node:path.../gnuradio/gr-utils/src/python# ./ -R A -f 5M -d 128

If you're X11 exports are working on the receiver you should see:

You can decode the transmitted waveform by using the command:

receiver node:path.../gnuradio/gnuradio-examples/python/digital# ./ -f 5M -r 125k -R A -v
>>> gr_fir_fff: using SSE
bits per symbol = 1
M&M clock recovery omega = 2.000000
M&M clock recovery gain mu = 0.175000
M&M clock recovery mu = 0.500000
M&M clock recovery omega rel. limit = 0.005000
frequency error = 0.000000

Receive Path:
Using RX d'board A: Basic Rx
Rx gain:         10
modulation:      gmsk_demod
bitrate:         125kb/s
samples/symbol:    2
decim:           256
Rx Frequency:    5M
ok =  True  pktno =    1  n_rcvd =    1  n_right =    1
ok =  True  pktno =    2  n_rcvd =    2  n_right =    2
ok =  True  pktno =    3  n_rcvd =    3  n_right =    3
ok =  True  pktno =    4  n_rcvd =    4  n_right =    4
ok =  True  pktno =    5  n_rcvd =    5  n_right =    5
ok =  True  pktno =    6  n_rcvd =    6  n_right =    6
ok =  True  pktno =    7  n_rcvd =    7  n_right =    7
ok =  True  pktno =    8  n_rcvd =    8  n_right =    8

And you will see the decoded packet count as output.

Last modified 10 years ago Last modified on Sep 11, 2014, 8:50:11 PM

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