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The "Getting started with Raspberry Pi Pico" guide states in chapter 2:

The following instructions assume that you are using a Raspberry Pi Pico and some details may differ if you are using a different RP2040-based board. They also assume you are using Raspberry Pi OS running on a Raspberry Pi 4, or an equivalent Debian-based Linux distribution running on another platform.

I won't be using a RPi4 as development platform. So the choice falls on an "equivalent" Debian-based distro. What do they mean with "equivalent"? Can I choose any Debian-based distribution to set up the RPi development toolchain, or should I choose a specific one?


Edit to make it clear that I'm not asking for opinions on which Debian-based distributions are the best, or anything like that.

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    There is a version of Raspberry Pi OS for x86-64 (ie., normal desktops and laptops). However, while I don't have a Pico, I'd bet almost certainly the toolchain will work on any distro, not just something "Debian based" -- but you may need to understand the difference between that distro and Debian to the extent that whatever instructions are Debian specific. This all assumes that said toolchain is open source and not a big proprietary binary. I think it is compatible with the Arduino ecosystem, though, which makes things a lot easier.
    – goldilocks
    Sep 14, 2022 at 16:20

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You are correct; "or equivalent" is a rather vague and meaningless term. I'll guess they are trying to avoid making a flat statement covering a multitude of different distributions. You should be quite safe using Debian or Ubuntu - those are both mentioned in para 2.2 of the Getting Started Guide. Any distro that uses apt will probably be good enough.

I'm using Ubuntu 22.04, and everything seems to be working well so far. I didn't try to run the setup script; I'm installing things as I go along; when I need them. I've not encountered anything that hasn't worked.

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You are asking for opinions which is off topic.

I don't know why the guide makes this statement but possibly so the author doesn't have to write different instructions for each platform.

I have used Thonny on macOS, Pi4, Pi3+, Pi3 to program Pico. Use whatever you have and are familiar with.

If you are planning to program in c you need different tools but can use any platform (although this is more involved).

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