Install the Formant agent via Apt


It is highly recommended NOT to use this method.

We highly recommend following the standard installation process as outlined in Install the Formant agent.

Supported systems

We currently support bionic, stretch, and jessie on amd64, arm64, and arm.

Step 1: Repo setup

  1. To get setup with Formant's Debian repository you will need to add our repo to the machines source list:
sudo echo "deb [arch=amd64] $(lsb_release -cs) main" >>/etc/apt/sources.list
sudo echo "deb [arch=arm64] $(lsb_release -cs) main" >>/etc/apt/sources.list
sudo echo "deb [arch=arm] $(lsb_release -cs) main" >>/etc/apt/sources.list
  1. Next add the Formant gpg key:
sudo apt-key adv --fetch-keys
  1. Verify that you now have the key with following fingerprint:
6EDB 1254 D11E D6D4 E2FD D26A 9983 EFEB D4D9 CD6A

You can search for the last 8 characters of the fingerprint by the following command:

sudo apt-key fingerprint D4D9CD6A

pub   rsa4096 2019-08-13 [SCEA]
      6EDB 1254 D11E D6D4 E2FD  D26A 9983 EFEB D4D9 CD6A
uid           [ unknown] Formant (Formant signing key) <[email protected]>

Step 2: Agent installation configuration

Before installing the agent, there are several configuration options that can be set via debconf.

Provisioning token

You can generate a provisioning token by following Steps 1 and 2 of Create a device.

If you are using a provisioning token for the installation it can be set with:

echo formant-agent formant-agent/token password "<token>" | sudo debconf-set-selections

Replace <token> with your token.

Provision with Formant credentials

Using a token is preferred over using Formant Credentials for security reasons, however we do allow provisioning of agents with credentials. You can do this via:

echo formant-agent formant-agent/email string "<email>" | sudo debconf-set-selections
echo formant-agent formant-agent/password password "<password>" | sudo debconf-set-selections

Replace <email> and <password> with your credentials.

ROS master URI

If you are on ROS you will need to setup the agent with the ROS Master URI:

echo formant-agent formant-agent/ros_master_uri string "<ros_master_uri>" | sudo debconf-set-selections

Replace <ros_master_uri> with the correct value.

ROS catkin workspace

The agent supports parsing of custom ROS message types, however we need to source the setup.bash file located within that workspace.

echo formant-agent formant-agent/catkin_ws string "<catkin_ws>" | sudo debconf-set-selections

Replace <catkin_ws> with the absolute path to your catkin workspace.

Note: The agent assumes the setup.bash file is in /<catkin_ws>/devel/setup.bash. If your setup file is in a different location use source_script.

Source Script

To support custom locations of catkin workspace setup files, the agent allows a custom location for a script to source.

echo formant-agent formant-agent/source_script string "<source_script>" | sudo debconf-set-selections

Replace <source_script> with the absolute path to the script to source.

System resources

The agent installation supports setting parameters for system resource usage for cpu_quota and memory_limit

Set these with:

echo formant-agent formant-agent/cpu_quota string "<cpu_quota>" | sudo debconf-set-selections
echo formant-agent formant-agent/memory_limit string "<memory_limit>" | sudo debconf-set-selections

cpu_quota: The value of the CPUQuota parameter, which is expressed in percentage, specifies how much CPU time the unit gets at maximum, relative to the total CPU time available on one CPU.

memory_limit: Use suffixes K, M, G, or T to identify Kilobyte, Megabyte, Gigabyte, or Terabyte as the unit of measurement.

Service enable

You can install the agent in a disabled state with the service_enable parameter. This is true by default.

echo formant-agent formant-agent/service_enable boolean "<enable>" | sudo debconf-set-selections

<enable> can be true or false.

Port forwarding

The agent supports port forwarding to power remote SSH, SCP, and other advanced networking tools. This can be controlled via configuration as well, however for security purposes we support disabling this at install time. This is true by default.

echo formant-agent formant-agent/port_forwarding boolean "<enable>" | sudo debconf-set-selections

<enable> can be true or false.

Step 3: Installation

To install the agent, run the following commands:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install formant-agent


If you didn't create your device already, a new device will be added to your Formant organization with the same name as the device to which the agent is installed.

Step 4: Configure over-the-air (OTA) updates

Formant also supports over-the-air updates of the agent via a separate Debian sidecar package called formant-sidecar.

To enable OTA, install this additional package:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install formant-sidecar

By default the agent creates a formant user and group on the host system with no sudo permissions. However, to perform upgrades the formant-sidecar adds restricted sudo capabilities to the formant user. When the package is installed you can see them at /etc/sudoers.d/formant

The restricted permissions are:

formant ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD:/usr/bin/apt update, /usr/bin/apt install --upgrade-only -y formant-agent, /usr/bin/apt install --upgrade-only -y formant-agent=[0-9]*.[0-9]*.[0-9]*, /usr/bin/apt remove formant-agent, /usr/bin/apt remove --purge formant-agent

See also


If you notice an issue with this page or need help, please reach out to us! Use the 'Did this page help you?' buttons below, or get in contact with our Customer Success team via the Intercom messenger in the bottom-right corner of this page, or at [email protected].