Installing TinyOS 2.0.2
Last updated 14 Feb 2008

If you already have a 1.x tree or an existing 2.x tree, you are better off following the upgrade instructions at upgrade-tinyos.html. There are several ways to install TinyOS. The first way is to install a live CD that gives you a virtualized Linux with a complete TinyOS install. Note that since this is on a CD, you can't modify anything; you can, however, make a LiveUSB device to use as your TinyOS install. The second way is to a Ubuntu-based virtual machine directly on your hard drive. The final way is to install TinyOS on your host operating system. When installing on a host operating system, you can either use a debian package repository or manually instally with RPMs.

Of the four options, installing a VM image is simplest. Using a Live CD lets you try out TinyOS without installing it on your drive. Debian packages are the simplest and best way to install TinyOS on your host operating system. RPMs are mostly a stand-by for RedHat or other Linux distributions, as well as Windows/Cygwin users. If you are using Cygwin, we strongly recommend using a VM image, unless you are completely unfamiliar with UNIX tools such as editors (xemacs, vi) and the shell,

One-step install with a VM Image

The most current instructions on how to install the VM image are on

One-step Install with a Live CD

Download a Linux live CD that has a TinyOS installation on it. All you need to do is download the CD image, burn it onto a CD, and install from there. This saves you all of the complexities of installation, and it's the recommended way to install TinyOS. The link above has complete instructions. The live CD is provided by the Toilers group at the Colorado School of Mines.

Two-step install on your host OS with Debian packages

If you are running a version of Linux that supports Debian packages, then you may want to use the TinyOS package repository. There is a story on that describes how to use it. If you do this, then you do not have to install the instructions here, except that you will need to check that your environment is set up correctly (the end of step 5 in the manual installation.

Manual installation on your host OS with RPMs

Currently, the TinyOS Core Working Group supports TinyOS on two platforms: Cygwin (Windows) and Linux. There have been some successful efforts to getting TinyOS environments working on Mac OSX, but OSX is not supported by the Core WG.

Installing a TinyOS enviromnent has five basic steps; Windows requires an extra step, installing Cygwin, which is a UNIX-like environment. The steps are:

  1. Installing a Java 1.5 (Java 5) JDK. Java is the most common way of interacting with mote base stations or gateways that are plugged into a PC or laptop.
  2. Windows only. Install Cygwin. This gives you a shell and many UNIX tools which the TinyOS environment uses, such as perl and shell scripts.
  3. Installing native compilers. As you're compiling code for low-power microcontrollers, you need compilers that can generate the proper assembly code. If you using mica-family motes, you need the AVR toolchain; if you're using telos-family motes, you need the MSP430 toolchain.
  4. Installing the nesC compiler. TinyOS is written in nesC, a dialect of C with support for the TinyOS concurrency model and component-based programming. The nesC compiler is platform-independent: it passes its output to the native compilers, so that it can take advantage of all of the effort put into their optimizations.
  5. Installing the TinyOS source tree. If you want to compile and install TinyOS programs, you need the code.
  6. Installing the Graphviz visualization tool. The TinyOS environment includes nesdoc, a tool that automatically generates HTML documentation from source code. Part of this process involves drawing diagrams that show the relationships between different TinyOS components. Graphviz is an open source tool that nesdoc uses to draw the diagrams.

Step 1: Install Java 1.5 JDK

Windows Download and install Sun's 1.5 JDK from

Linux Download and install IBM's 1.5 JDK from

Step 2: Install Cygwin

This step is required for Windows installations only. If you are installing on Linux, skip to step 3.

We have put online the cygwin packages that we've confirmed to be compatible with TinyOS. The instructions below use those packages. You can also upgrade your cygwin environment according to the instructions at and your environment will most likely work. A large number of TinyOS users, upgrade their cygwin packages at least monthly from cygnus. However, since we can't test what packages are compatible as they become available daily, we can't confirm that today's set will work.

  1. Download and install Cygwin from

  2. Download the confirmed-compatible cygwin packages from the tinyos web site here .

  3. In a cygwin shell, unzip the above package into some directory. In these instructions the directory is /cygdrive/c/newcygpkgs.
         $ cd /cygdrive/c/newcygpkgs
         $ tar zxvf cygwin-1.2a.tgz 
    This unzips the packages.

  4. In Windows Explorer, navigate to /cygdrive/c/newcygpkgs and click on the file setup.exe. Setup.exe is the setup program distributed by Cygnus Solutions.

  5. Follow these steps when the Cygwin Setup windows appears:

  6. Opt to disable the virus scanner (it will be enabled when you're finished).

  7. Opt to Install from Local Directory.

  8. Specify the Root directory to be where your current cygwin installation is. This would be the directory that directories like 'opt' and 'usr' are in. For example, mine is rooted at c:\tinyos\cygwin, so I enter that.

  9. Select to Install for All Users

  10. Select the Unix file type (very important!)

  11. For the Local Packages Directory, specify where you unzipped the cygwin packages tarfile. For example, I would specify c:\newcygpkgs. (The setup.exe program will probably select the right default directory.)

  12. The next window will allow you to select packages to install. You should see that most of the packages have an X-ed box next to them; these are the packages that are to be installed.

  13. Click install.

Some notes:

Step 3: Install native compilers

Install the appropriate version of the following (Windows or Linux, avr or msp430 or both) with the rpm command 'rpm -ivh rpm>'. On windows, if you get an error claiming that the rpm was build for an NT computer and you're on a windows NT computer, bypass the erroneous error by using 'rpm -ivh --ignoreos rpmname'. (We have xscale compiler tools online at but they have not yet been extensively tested by a large community.)

Atmel AVR Tools
Tool Windows/Cygwin Linux
avr-binutils avr-binutils-2.15tinyos-3.cygwin.i386.rpm avr-binutils-2.15tinyos-3.i386.rpm
avr-gcc avr-gcc-3.4.3-1.cygwin.i386.rpm avr-gcc-3.4.3-1.i386.rpm
avr-libc avr-libc-1.2.3-1.cygwin.i386.rpm avr-libc-1.2.3-1.i386.rpm
avarice avarice-2.4-1.cygwin.i386.rpm avarice-2.4-1.i386.rpm
insight (avr-gdb) avr-insight-6.3-1.cygwin.i386.rpm avr-insight-6.3-1.i386.rpm
If you receive an rpm error that indicates that you have a newer version already installed, try rpm -Uvh --force

TI MSP430 Tools
Tool Windows/Cygwin Linux
base msp430tools-base-0.1-20050607.cygwin.i386.rpm msp430tools-base-0.1-20050607.i386.rpm
python tools msp430tools-python-tools-1.0-1.cygwin.noarch.rpm msp430tools-python-tools-1.0-1.noarch.rpm
binutils msp430tools-binutils-2.16-20050607.cygwin.i386.rpm msp430tools-binutils-2.16-20050607.i386.rpm
gcc msp430tools-gcc-3.2.3-20050607.cygwin.i386.rpm msp430tools-gcc-3.2.3-20050607.i386.rpm
libc msp430tools-libc-20050308cvs-20050608.cygwin.i386.rpm msp430tools-libc-20050308cvs-20050608.i386.rpm
jtag Not yet available msp430tools-jtag-lib-20031101cvs-20050610.i386.rpm
gdb Not yet available msp430tools-gdb-6.0-20050609.i386.rpm

Step 4: Install TinyOS toolchain

The TinyOS-specific tools are the NesC compiler and a set of tools developed in the tinyos-2.x/tools source code repository. They are also installed using rpms. If you using the Cygwin version recommended in these install instructions, you should install the "Recommended" Windows/Cygwin nesC RPM. If you get strange errors when you try to compile TinyOS programs, such as the error message "the procedure entry point basename could not be located in the dynamic link library cygwin1.dll", this is likely due to a Cygwin version incompatibility: try the "Other" Windows/Cygwin RPM (1.2.7a). If you are using Cygwin and installing the nesC RPM causes an error that the RPM was built for Cygwin, add the --ignoreos option. Finally, there are two Linux versions of tinyos-tools, depending on whether you have a 32-bit or 64-bit machine. The first is the i386 RPM and the second is the i686 RPM. If you have a 64-bit Java VM, it is important that you install the i686 RPM or otherwise the Java support may not work properly.

TinyOS-specific Tools
Tool Recommended Windows/Cygwin Other Windows/Cygwin Linux Command
NesC nesc-1.2.8a-1.cygwin.i386.rpm nesc-1.2.8b-1.cygwin.i386.rpm nesc-1.2.8a-1.i386.rpm rpm -Uvh
rpm -Uvh --ignoreos (if Cygwin complains)
Tool Windows/Cygwin 32-bit Linux 64-bit Linux Command
tinyos-tools tinyos-tools-1.2.4-2.cygwin.i386.rpm tinyos-tools-1.2.4-3.i386.rpm tinyos-tools-1.2.4-3.i686.rpm rpm -ivh --force (1.x tree)
rpm -Uvh (no 1.x tree)

Step 5: Install the TinyOS 2.x source tree

Now that the tools are installed, you need only install the tinyos 2.x source tree and then set your environment variables. Install the appropriate version of the following (Window or Linux) with the rpm command 'rpm -ivh rpm'. As with the previous rpms, if you get an error claiming that the rpm was build for an NT computer and you're on a windows NT computer, bypass the erroneous error by using 'rpm -ivh --ignoreos rpmname'.

Step 6: Installing Graphviz

Go to download page of the Graphviz project and download the appropriate RPM. You only need the basic graphviz RPM (graphviz-); you don't need all of the add-ons, such as -devel, -doc, -perl, etc. If you're not sure what version of Linux you're running,

uname -a

might give you some useful information. Install the rpm with rpm -i rpm-name. In the case of Windows, there is a simple install program, so you don't need to deal with RPMs.