Installing Total Open Station

There are a few different ways to install Total Open Station, depending on your operating system.


Since version 0.5, Total Open Station is based on Python 3 only. Python 2 is now unsupported.

GNU/Linux distributions

Installing Total Open Station through your Linux package manager, if available, is the only way to get automatic updates to the most recent version. All other installation methods require you to keep track of new releases and manually update. Total Open Station will not notify you when a new release is available.

To install the latest release, see Using pip below.


Total Open Station is packaged for OpenSUSE. Installing is as easy as:

$ sudo zypper ar GEO
$ sudo zypper refresh
$ sudo zypper install TotalOpenStation

Change the OpenSUSE version as your wish.

Debian and Ubuntu

Total Open Station is included in Debian and Ubuntu, just:

sudo apt-get install totalopenstation

as usual. Please note that the version provided by your distribution may not be the latest release.


Download Python3 from the official website, and follow this document on the website, that will help you choosing the correct version of Python to use (Python 3.6.8, 3.7.2 and later have builtin Tcl/Tk).


Do not use the pre-installed Python that comes with the OSX operating system which has serious bugs that can cause application crashes.

Then follow the section Using pip below.

Microsoft Windows

Download the most recent version of Total Open Station from Github download and run it.

The Windows version of Total Open Station is portable and everything is included in the executable, without need to install.

To upgrade to a newer version, just go to the Github download page again. No data will be lost!


In some cases, there may be a warning about a potential virus threat in the downloaded .exe file. This is a false positive and we are actively reaching out to antivirus vendors to make sure that Total Open Station is recognized as genuine software. See issue #140 for more details.

On a technical level, the Windows version is created by an automated procedure run on GitHub, based solely on the open source code of Total Open Station and PyInstaller. See Github Action workflow pyinstaller.yml.

Install the Prolific PL2032 drivers

(optional, but recommended).

Most USB-serial adapters are made with the Prolific chipset. If plugging the cable gives you errors about missing drivers for your hardware, drivers for Windows can be downloaded from the Prolific website.

Using pip

Until your operating system’s packaging tools (e.g. apt or yum) allow you to install Total Open Station along with other programs, the recommended way to install is using pip (a package manager for Python) and a virtual environment: basically you don’t mix packages installed system-wise with your package manager and user-installed software). Here follows a detailed step-by-step guide using a terminal.


You need to have Python installed on your machine. Total Open Station runs on all supported Python versions (from 3.6 to 3.9).

On Linux, make sure that the python3-tk or python3-tkinter package is installed on your system, otherwise install it with your package manager, for example on Debian-based systems like Ubuntu:

sudo apt install python3-tk

or for ArchLinux:

pacman -S tk

Tkinter is the library used for the graphical interface of Total Open Station.

Create a virtual environment

Creating a virtual environment is as easy as typing in a terminal:

python3 -m venv tops-environment

A new directory named tops-environment has been created. It contains a minimal set of files needed to manage a Python installation that is isolated from the one installed on your system, helping to keep things clean.

Now, activate the environment with:

source tops-environment/bin/activate

(On Windows, this will be tops-environment/Scripts/activate)

From now on, all Python-related actions will be executed within the newly created environment, and not on the system-wide installation. You terminal should look a bit different when the virtual environment is active:


You can change directory freely, the environment will remain active.

You deactivate the environment (that is, you exit from it), with the deactivate command.

Installing Total Open Station

Once the virtual environment is active, you’re ready to install Total Open Station, with:

pip install totalopenstation

This will automatically download the latest released version from the Python Package Index (PyPI), and install all the other required Python packages as well.

Installing development versions

Sometimes it is useful to install development versions before they are released, to help with testing of new features and making sure that there are no new bugs.

Using the procedure described above it is fairly easy to create another, separate environment. Once the new environment is active, the command for installing a development version is:

pip install -e git+

Developers may ask you to install from another repository, but the concept stays the same. This mechanism is very flexible and allows to install and test different versions safely.

Running the program

When the program is installed, you can use it from the command line or with a graphical interface (recommended for new users).

From your terminal, type:

and the program should start.

Of course you can also run the command line programs:

  • downloads data from your total station

  • totalopenstation-cli-parser converts raw data in common formats like DXF and CSV

Please report any errors to the bug tracker.

The next time you want to run the program, follow these steps:

  1. open a terminal

  2. cd to the directory where the virtual environment was created

  3. source tops-environment/bin/activate to enter the virtualenv

  4. will start the program