I am developing an embedded application, and because of supply issues I'm looking at using the Raspberry Pi 0W v1.1, which is armv6, which is armel.

The images available for download, even ones labelled "Compatible with: All Raspberry Pi models", link to an armhf image, which will not boot on an armel system.

Has raspbian support for armel been dropped? Otherwise, where can I get a current operating system supporting the Raspberry Pi 0W v1.1?

1 Answer 1


The very first OS for Raspberrypi used ARMel which uses software emulated floating point.

There was a Debian Squeeze image based on Debian ARMel which used software floating point and the "soft float" ABI.

The initial Raspbian was a port of Debian Wheezy and used hardware floating point and was adopted as the basis for all official OS releases. There has never been a Raspbian using ARMel.

No one would want to go back the old slow software emulated floating point.

"Raspberry Pi 0W v1.1, which is armv6, which is armel" is incorrect - there is no architecture which did not include hardware floating point. The Pi Zero W is a much later release from Feb 2017 although it uses the same BCM2835 SoC as all the early models.

If you could find one of the original OS they would probably run on Pi Zero W.

All the current releases of Raspberry Pi OS (except for the 64 bit versions) will run on all models.

You may find A Brief History of … Raspberry Pi OS interesting.

  • Oh! I've just tried an armhf image on my raspberry pi zero, and it booted. Never seen that before; I believed that it needed to be armel to work. Aug 15, 2023 at 14:08
  • So what you're saying is, there used to be armel debian images to run on raspberry pies, but that's just a suboptimal compilation. But all Pis actually are armhf. Is this correct? Aug 15, 2023 at 14:10
  • No Pi is ARMhf or ARMel - these are software terms. Pi are based on ARM6, ARM7 or ARM8 CPU. You could run an emulated floating point package on any hardware (I wrote one myself in the 1970s for an 8 bit CPU - IBM even had a decimal floating point package on some early computers to avoid rounding errors in financial transactions.)
    – Milliways
    Aug 15, 2023 at 23:58
  • of course, but not all ARMs have hardware floating point. But all Raspberry Pis have the appropriate hardware if they are all able to run armhf software. This is what I meant by "all Pis actually are armhf". Aug 16, 2023 at 2:20

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