Installing the Platform

VOLTTRON is written in Python 3.6+ and runs on Linux Operating Systems. For users unfamiliar with those technologies, the following resources are recommended:

This guide will specify commands to use to successfully install the platform on supported Linux distributions, but a working knowledge of Linux will be helpful for troubleshooting and may improve your ability to get more out of your deployment.


Volttron version 7.0rc1 is currently tested for Ubuntu versions 18.04 and 18.10 as well as Linux Mint version 19.3. Version 6.x is tested for Ubuntu versions 16.04 and 18.04 as well as Linux Mint version 19.1.

Step 1 - Install prerequisites

The following packages will need to be installed on the system:

  • git

  • build-essential

  • python3.6-dev

  • python3.6-venv

  • openssl

  • libssl-dev

  • libevent-dev

On Debian-based systems, these can all be installed with the following command:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install build-essential python3-dev python3-venv openssl libssl-dev libevent-dev git

On Ubuntu-based systems, available packages allow you to specify the Python3 version, 3.6 or greater is required (Debian itself does not provide those packages).

sudo apt-get install build-essential python3.6-dev python3.6-venv openssl libssl-dev libevent-dev git

On arm-based systems (including, but not limited to, Raspbian), you must also install libffi-dev, you can do this with:

sudo apt-get install libffi-dev


On arm-based systems, the available apt package repositories for Raspbian versions older than buster (10) do not seem to be able to be fully satisfied. While it may be possible to resolve these dependencies by building from source, the only recommended usage pattern for VOLTTRON 7 and beyond is on raspberry pi OS 10 or newer.

On Redhat or CENTOS systems, these can all be installed with the following command:

sudo yum update
sudo yum install make automake gcc gcc-c++ kernel-devel python3-devel openssl openssl-devel libevent-devel git


Python 3.6 or greater is required, please ensure you have installed a supported version with python3 --version

If you have an agent which requires the pyodbc package, install the following additional requirements:

  • freetds-bin

  • unixodbc-dev

On Debian-based systems these can be installed with the following command:

sudo apt-get install freetds-bin  unixodbc-dev

On Redhat or CentOS systems, these can be installed from the Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux (EPEL) repository:

sudo yum install
sudo yum install freetds unixODBC-devel


The above command to install the EPEL repository is for Centos/Redhat 8. Change the number to match your OS version. EPEL packages are included in Fedora repositories, so installing EPEL is not required on Fedora.

It may be possible to deploy VOLTTRON on a system not listed above but may involve some troubleshooting and dependency management on the part of the user.

In order to support historians, the python installation must include the built-in sqlite3 support (a compile time option). This is included in all of the linux distribution packages referenced above, which is the recommended and supported way of running python. In cases where a user needs to compile their own python (not an officially supported configuration), make sure that the sqlite3 option is enabled.

Step 2 - Clone VOLTTRON code

Repository Structure

There are several options for using the VOLTTRON code depending on whether you require the most stable version of the code or want the latest updates as they happen. In order of decreasing stability and increasing currency:

  • Main - Most stable release branch, current major release is 7.0. This branch is default.

  • develop - contains the latest finished features as they are developed. When all features are stable, this branch will be merged into Main.


    This branch can be cloned by those wanting to work from the latest version of the platform but should not be used in deployments.

  • Features are developed on “feature” branches or developers’ forks of the main repository. It is not recommended to clone these branches except for exploring a new feature.


VOLTTRON versions 6.0 and newer support two message buses - ZMQ and RabbitMQ.

git clone --branch <branch name>

Step 3 - Setup virtual environment

The script in the VOLTTRON root directory will create a virtual environment and install the package’s Python dependencies. Options exist for upgrading or rebuilding existing environments, and for adding additional dependencies for optional drivers and agents included in the repository.


The --help option for can specified to display all available optional parameters.

Steps for ZeroMQ

Run the following command to install all required packages:

cd <volttron clone directory>

Then activate the Python virtual environment:

source env/bin/activate

Proceed to step 4.


You can deactivate the environment at any time by running deactivate.

Steps for RabbitMQ

Step 1 - Install Required Packages and Activate the Virtual Environment

Setting up RabbmitMQ requires additional steps; but before running those steps we still need to install the required packages and activate the virtual environment just as we did in the Steps for ZeroMQ. To do so, see Steps for ZeroMQ. Once finished, proceed to the next step.

Step 2 - Install Erlang packages

For RabbitMQ based VOLTTRON, some of the RabbitMQ specific software packages have to be installed.

On Debian based systems and CentOS 8

If you are running a Debian or CentOS 8 system, you can install the RabbitMQ dependencies by running the “” script, passing in the OS name and appropriate distribution as parameters. The following are supported:

  • debian bionic (for Ubuntu 18.04)

  • debian focal (for Ubuntu 20.04)

Example command:

./scripts/ debian xenial

You can download and install Erlang from Erlang Solutions. Please include OTP/components - ssl, public_key, asn1, and crypto. Also lock your version of Erlang using the yum-plugin-versionlock.


Currently VOLTTRON only officially supports specific versions of Erlang for each operating system:
  • 1:24.1.7-1 for Debian

  • 24.2-1.el8 for CentOS 8

Step 3 - Configure hostname

Make sure that your hostname is correctly configured in /etc/hosts. See this StackOverflow post. If you are testing with VMs make please make sure to provide unique host names for each of the VMs you are using.

The hostname should be resolvable to a valid IP when running on bridged mode. RabbitMQ checks for this during initial boot. Without this (for example, when running on a VM in NAT mode) RabbitMQ start-up would fail with the error “unable to connect to empd (port 4369) on <hostname>.”


RabbitMQ startup error would show up in the VM’s syslog (/var/log/messages) file and not in RabbitMQ logs (/var/log/rabbitmq/rabbitmq@hostname.log)

Step 4 - Bootstrap the environment

cd volttron
python3 --rabbitmq [optional install directory. defaults to <user_home>/rabbitmq_server]

This will build the platform and create a virtual Python environment and dependencies for RabbitMQ. It also installs RabbitMQ server as the current user. If an install path is provided, that path should exist and the user should have write permissions. RabbitMQ will be installed under <install dir>/rabbitmq_server-<rmq-version>. The rest of the documentation refers to the directory <install dir>/rabbitmq_server-<rmq-version> as $RABBITMQ_HOME.


There are many additional options for for including dependencies, altering the environment, etc.

By bootstrapping the environment for RabbitMQ, an environmental variable $RABBITMQ_HOME is created for your convenience. Thus, you can use $RABBITMQ_HOME to see if the RabbitMQ server is installed by checking its status:

$RABBITMQ_HOME/sbin/rabbitmqctl status


The RABBITMQ_HOME environment variable can be set in ~/.bashrc. If doing so, it needs to be set to the RabbitMQ installation directory (default path is <user_home>/rabbitmq_server/rabbitmq_server-3.9.7)

echo 'export RABBITMQ_HOME=$HOME/rabbitmq_server/rabbitmq_server-3.9.7'|sudo tee --append ~/.bashrc
source ~/.bashrc
$RABBITMQ_HOME/sbin/rabbitmqctl status

Step 5 - Configure RabbitMQ setup for VOLTTRON

vcfg rabbitmq single [--config optional path to rabbitmq_config.yml]

A sample configuration file can be found in the VOLTTRON repository in examples/configurations/rabbitmq/rabbitmq_config.yml. At a minimum you will need to provide the host name and a unique common-name (under certificate-data) in the configuration file.


common-name must be unique and the general convention is to use <volttron instance name>-root-ca.

Running the above command without the optional configuration file parameter will cause the user user to be prompted for all the required data in the command prompt. “vcfg” will use that data to generate a rabbitmq_config.yml file in the VOLTTRON_HOME directory.


If the above configuration file is being used as a basis for creating your own configuration file, be sure to update it with the hostname of the deployment (this should be the fully qualified domain name of the system).

This script creates a new virtual host and creates SSL certificates needed for this VOLTTRON instance. These certificates get created under the subdirectory “certificates” in your VOLTTRON home (typically in ~/.volttron). It then creates the main VIP exchange named “volttron” to route message between the platform and agents and alternate exchange to capture unrouteable messages.


We configure the RabbitMQ instance for a single VOLTTRON_HOME and VOLTTRON_INSTANCE. This script will confirm with the user the volttron_home to be configured. The VOLTTRON instance name will be read from volttron_home/config if available, if not the user will be prompted for VOLTTRON instance name. To run the scripts without any prompts, save the the VOLTTRON instance name in volttron_home/config file and pass the VOLTTRON home directory as a command line argument. For example:

vcfg --vhome /home/vdev/.new_vhome --rabbitmq single


The default behavior generates a certificate which is valid for a period of 1 year.

The Following are the example inputs for vcfg rabbitmq single command. Since no config file is passed the script prompts for necessary details.

Your VOLTTRON_HOME currently set to: /home/vdev/new_vhome2

Is this the volttron you are attempting to setup?  [Y]:
Creating rmq config yml
RabbitMQ server home: [/home/vdev/rabbitmq_server/rabbitmq_server-3.9.7]:
Fully qualified domain name of the system: []:

Enable SSL Authentication: [Y]:

Please enter the following details for root CA certificates
Country: [US]:
State: Washington
Location: Richland
Organization: PNNL
Organization Unit: Volttron-Team
Common Name: [volttron1-root-ca]:
Do you want to use default values for RabbitMQ home, ports, and virtual host: [Y]: N
Name of the virtual host under which RabbitMQ VOLTTRON will be running: [volttron]:
AMQP port for RabbitMQ: [5672]:
http port for the RabbitMQ management plugin: [15672]:
AMQPS (SSL) port RabbitMQ address: [5671]:
https port for the RabbitMQ management plugin: [15671]:
INFO:rmq_setup.pyc:Starting rabbitmq server
Warning: PID file not written; -detached was passed.
INFO:rmq_setup.pyc:**Started rmq server at /home/vdev/rabbitmq_server/rabbitmq_server-3.9.7
INFO:requests.packages.urllib3.connectionpool:Starting new HTTP connection (1): localhost
INFO:requests.packages.urllib3.connectionpool:Starting new HTTP connection (1): localhost
INFO:requests.packages.urllib3.connectionpool:Starting new HTTP connection (1): localhost
Checking for CA certificate

Root CA (/home/vdev/new_vhome2/certificates/certs/volttron1-root-ca.crt) NOT Found. Creating root ca for volttron instance
Created CA cert
INFO:requests.packages.urllib3.connectionpool:Starting new HTTP connection (1): localhost
INFO:requests.packages.urllib3.connectionpool:Starting new HTTP connection (1): localhost
INFO:rmq_setup.pyc:**Stopped rmq server
Warning: PID file not written; -detached was passed.
INFO:rmq_setup.pyc:**Started rmq server at /home/vdev/rabbitmq_server/rabbitmq_server-3.9.7


Setup complete for volttron home /home/vdev/new_vhome2 with instance name=volttron1

-   Please set environment variable `VOLTTRON_HOME` to `/home/vdev/new_vhome2` before starting volttron

-   On production environments, restrict write access to
    /home/vdev/new_vhome2/certificates/certs/volttron1-root-ca.crt to only admin user. For example: sudo chown root /home/vdev/new_vhome2/certificates/certs/volttron1-root-ca.crt

-   A new admin user was created with user name: volttron1-admin and password=default_passwd.
    You could change this user's password by logging into <> Please update /home/vdev/new_vhome2/rabbitmq_config.yml if you change password


Test the VOLTTRON Deployment

We are now ready to start VOLTTRON instance. If configured with RabbitMQ message bus a config file would have been generated in $VOLTTRON_HOME/config with the entry message-bus=rmq. If you need to revert back to ZeroMQ based VOLTTRON, you will have to either remove the message-bus parameter or set it to the default “zmq” in $VOLTTRON_HOME/config.

The following command starts volttron process in the background:

volttron -vv -l volttron.log&

This enters the virtual Python environment and then starts the platform in debug (vv) mode with a log file named volttron.log. Alternatively you can use the utility script start-volttron script that does the same.


To stop the platform, use the vct command:

volttron-ctl shutdown --platform

or use the included stop-volttron script:



If you plan on running VOLTTRON in the background and detaching it from the terminal with the disown command be sure to redirect stderr and stdout to /dev/null. Some libraries which VOLTTRON relies on output directly to stdout and stderr. This will cause problems if those file descriptors are not redirected to /dev/null

#To start the platform in the background and redirect stderr and stdout
#to /dev/null
volttron -vv -l volttron.log > /dev/null 2>&1&

Installing and Running Agents

VOLTTRON platform comes with several built in services and example agents out of the box. To install a agent use the script

python scripts/ -s <top most folder of the agent> [-c <config file. Might be optional for some agents>]

For example, we can use the command to install and start the Listener Agent - a simple agent that periodically publishes heartbeat message and listens to everything on the message bus. Install and start the Listener agent using the following command:

python scripts/ -s examples/ListenerAgent --start

Check volttron.log to ensure that the listener agent is publishing heartbeat messages.

tail volttron.log
2016-10-17 18:17:52,245 (listeneragent-3.2 11367) listener.agent INFO: Peer: 'pubsub', Sender: 'listeneragent-3.2_1':, Bus: u'', Topic: 'heartbeat/listeneragent-3.2_1', Headers: {'Date': '2016-10-18T01:17:52.239724+00:00', 'max_compatible_version': u'', 'min_compatible_version': '3.0'}, Message: {'status': 'GOOD', 'last_updated': '2016-10-18T01:17:47.232972+00:00', 'context': 'hello'}

You can also use the volttron-ctl (or vctl) command to start, stop or check the status of an agent

(volttron)volttron@volttron1:~/git/rmq_volttron$ vctl status
  AGENT                  IDENTITY            TAG           STATUS          HEALTH
6 listeneragent-3.2      listeneragent-3.2_1               running [13125] GOOD
f platform_driveragent-3.2 platform.driver     platform_driver
vctl stop <agent id>


The default working directory is ~/.volttron. The default directory for creation of agent packages is ~/.volttron/packaged

Next Steps

There are several walk-throughs and detailed explanations of platform features to explore additional aspects of the platform: