Getting Started

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Welcome to Linkbot Labs! This book contains instructions on how to get your Linkbots working with your computer.

Using Your Linkbot With Your Computer


The Linkbot Labs installer will install all of the necessary drivers and software for you to use your Linkbot. Linkbot Labs may be downloaded from here.

Ubuntu Linux

Installing the Software

These instructions have been tested on an Ubuntu 14.04LTS machine. These instructions should also work on higher versions of Ubuntu.

To install everything you need to run this curriculum, which includes Linkbot Labs, Python 3, Python 3 setup tools, and the Barobo Python package, make sure you have an internet connection and run these commands in a terminal window. Note that in Ubuntu, you can highlight text and then middle click in a console window to paste the text into the console.

sudo apt-get install python3 python3-setuptools python3-pip python3-numpy idle3
wget -O - | sudo apt-key add -
sudo add-apt-repository "deb trusty main"
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install linkbotlabs
sudo pip3 install --upgrade --index-url= PyLinkbot
sudo usermod -a -G dialout $USER

The listed commands will install everything you need to run Linkbot Labs and Python3 programs to control Linkbots. Linkbot Labs is an interactive graphical portal where you can access curriculum content and control robots. To start Linkbot Labs in Ubuntu, click on the "Home" button on the top left and search for "Linkbot Labs".

For other distributions of Linux, follow the instructions provided by either your distribution or on the Python website to get Anaconda and PyLinkbot installed. Note that you may have to reboot your computer after installing Linkbot Labs before you can begin controlling your robots.

You may need to restart your computer after installing these packages for all of the changes to take effect.

Raspberry Pi (Raspbian)

Linkbot Labs can run on the Raspberry Pi 2 running Raspbian Jessie (but not Wheezy).

Raspbian and Kano come with Python 3 and numpy installed by default. To install Linkbot Labs and the Python3 Linkbot module, make sure your Pi is connected to the internet and type or copy/paste the following commands. Note that on Raspbian and Kano, you can highlight text and then middle-click in a console to paste the text into the console.

Tip: For Kano users, the default user password is "kano". If you want to change your default password, type in the command "passwd" in a terminal and follow the instructions.

wget -O - | sudo apt-key add -
echo 'deb jessie main' | sudo tee --append /etc/apt/sources.list
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install linkbotlabs
sudo apt-get install python3-setuptools
sudo easy_install3 --upgrade --index-url= PyLinkbot

You may need to restart your computer after installing these packages for all of the changes to take effect.

Updating your Linkbots Firmware

In Raspbian and Kano, users are not allowed to directly access the Linkbot USB-serial device by default. While you are able control Linkbots via Linkbot Labs and run Python programs to control your Linkbot, Raspbian prevents users from performing tasks such as updating the Linkbot's firmware. There are a couple options you can do to enable these features.

Giving a single user permissions to update Linkbot firmware

To give a single user permission to update Linkbot firmware, you must add that user to the "dialout" and "gpio" group. To do this, execute the following commands in a terminal:

sudo usermod -a -G dialout $USER
sudo usermod -a -G gpio $USER

You may replace the text $USER with another username if you are adding another username to the dialout or gpio groups. Otherwise, it will add your current username to the "gpio" and "dialout" groups.

Giving all users permission to update Linkbot firmware

Alternatively, you may instruct Raspbian to give access to all users. To do this, execute the following commands:

echo 'KERNEL=="ttyACM[0-9]*",MODE="0666"' > sudo tee /etc/udev/rules.d/50-ttyacm.rules
sudo udevadm control --reload-rules
sudo udevadm trigger


As of February of 2018, experimental support for ChromeBooks has been added. To get started, follow the following steps.

  1. Upgrade the firmware on your robots and dongles. Download the firmware updating Chrome App from here . Start the application on your ChromeBook and follow the instructions to update the firmware on your hardware. Once you have updated the firmware on all of the hardware that you want to use with your ChromeBook, close the firmware updating application.
  2. Install the "Linkbot IDE" Chrome app from here. Start the Linkbot IDE application once you have downloaded it. This application must be running in order for your ChromeBook to control Linkbots.
  3. Attach a dongle to your ChromeBook with a Micro-USB cable. Once you have attached a dongle, wait until the status ticker at the top of the Linkbot IDE application indicates that the dongle is "connected".
  4. Open Chrome on your ChromeBook and navigate to . Explore and have fun!