You could try the following steps: - While RVIZ is running configure it the way it sould be, if the dropdown is empty just type the name of a valid frame - Manually save the rviz config to a vcg file - When you start rviz specify the parameter -d and give it the path to your vcg file In a launch file it could look like this: <node pkg="rviz" type="rviz" name="rviz" required="true" args="-d $(find your_stack)/test.vcg"/> I had to repeat this twice, but after that I allways get the correct frame selected on startup Another option could be using the visualization_experimental stack. This includes a new version of rviz that uses qt. But I have not yet tried this, so I can't tell if rviz_qt handles configurations better. I too noticed that rviz sometimes has problems restoring settings and filling the Fixed Frame dropdown properly. You could try the following steps: - • While RVIZ is running configure it the way it sould be, if the dropdown is empty just type the name of a valid frame - frame • Manually save the rviz config to a vcg file - file • When you start rviz specify the parameter -d and give it the path to your vcg file In a launch file it could look like this: this: <node pkg="rviz" type="rviz" name="rviz" required="true" args="-d$(find your_stack)/test.vcg"/>your_stack)/test.vcg"/>