Installing Total Open Station

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

GNU/Linux distributions


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

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

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 Python 2 from the official website, and follow this document on the website, that will help you choosing the correct version of Python to use.


Do not use the pre-installed Python that comes with the OSX operating system.

Microsoft Windows

Two packages need to be installed before the actual installation of Total Open Station, because the program is written in the Python programming language which is not installed by default on Windows.


You might need administrator privileges to be able to install all the programs.

Install Python

Check whether your Windows is 32 bit (x86, common for older versions like Windows XP) or 64 bit (x86-64). Then download the latest Python installer for Python 2 (not Python 3):

When you’ve got the installer donwloaded on your computer, install it. You don’t need to use Python directly, but it is needed for the program to work.

Install pySerial

Download pySerial and install it. As with Python, you don’t need to use it directly, but it is needed for the program to work. Please make sure you are installing pySerial version 2.7 or a later version.

Install Total Open Station

Download the most recent version of Total Open Station from PyPI and install it. You will find the totalopenstation-gui script in C:/Python27/Scripts/ unless you have changed the standard installation options (not recommended). You can create a shortcut to the program on your desktop if you like.

To upgrade to a newer version, just go to PyPI again, download the latest version and install it as with the first one. The old version will get overwritten. No data will be lost!

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 (for the latest version)

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 virtualenv (which creates isolated software environments: 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.

Install pip and virtualenv

First of all, make sure you have pip and virtualenv installed. All major GNU/Linux distributions have them packaged:

  • Debian and derivatives (including Ubuntu): apt-get install python-pip python-virtualenv
  • Fedora: yum install python-pip python-virtualenv

Create a virtual environment

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

virtualenv tops-environment

A new directory named tops-environment was 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

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. Please report any errors to the issue 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