I know this is perhaps slightly dodgy teritory, but I'm going to go ahead.

I'm wondering which of the many python IDEs/interactive shells are best suited to the RPi? By this I mean low RAM, and fairly low memory on the SD.

If anyone has any other factors they think this should include, please do comment.

  • 2
    IPython is very nice imho. As for IDE i use Eclipse... but not exavlty lightweight :)
    – Paolo
    Commented Jun 17, 2012 at 13:44
  • 1
    I use vim. You can't really call it an IDE, but it has great syntax highlighting and is probably the lowest demand editor in terms of size and memory.
    – Jivings
    Commented Jun 17, 2012 at 14:05
  • @Paolo Does that run well? Considering the pi has no JIT JVM I would imagine it is unusable
    – Jivings
    Commented Jun 17, 2012 at 14:06
  • 2
    Eclipse on the Pi?! I'd ruled that out because of size. Thanks for the suggestions guys.
    – ACarter
    Commented Jun 17, 2012 at 15:11
  • Just to clarify, I didn't run those on RPi ... :) I wouldn't even try Eclipse since typical RAM usage is some hundred of MB...
    – Paolo
    Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 15:13

5 Answers 5


On other computers I use Eclipse with PyDev installed but I judge Eclipse to be too big to run on the Raspberry Pi.

A Python IDE needs to give me the following three things,

  • Python colorizing
  • smart indenting
  • debugger

I would suggest using IDLE for a quick and simple way to get Python colorizing and smart indenting. As far as a debugger is concerned you can use Winpdb (simply open your Python files with it and you have all the debugging control and insight that you would get on PyDev).

Winpdb comes installed on the Debian Squeeze distribution from the Raspberry Pi website. IDLE does not come installed on Debian Squeeze but can be easily installed using sudo apt-get install idle.


I'd go with bash using vi or nano. Emacs would probably be be fine too.

While these are not in the literal sense IDEs, with the right setup you can achieve the functionality of an IDE with a smaller footprint. I'll be honest, I have no idea what the resource requirements of the "proper" IDEs like IDLE require, but as they are windowed environments, it strikes me that they'll use a lot more resources up than a simple text editor with syntax highlighting, and a command line for running the code.

  • 3
    +1 for vi. Although these are not IDE's, they get the job done, and are the best performance you will have on the Pi.
    – Jivings
    Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 9:34
  • 6
    Unix is an IDE Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 10:00
  • 1
    Really? I wouldn't use Vi, Vim is the better bet.
    – user46
    Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 17:07

Raspberry Pi is great but yes, it has limitations. That's fine. We work within that, and thats what its all about. So...

Why not just use IDLE? It has/does pretty much everything you need. * Its small, it was designed for Python * cross-platform: works on Windows and Linux * multi-window text editor with multiple undo * Python colorizing and many other features, e.g. smart indent and call tips * Python shell window (a.k.a. interactive interpreter) * debugger (not complete, but you can set breakpoints, view and step)

Its the best way, really.



I know it's an old topic but just in case someone would tumble upon it, I think my answer to the issue might be of help. I work with Geany, on a Raspberry Pi 2 and a 10' screen. I wanted a fast, simple IDE which would allow to view all the files in my project and open them as tabs, which would deal with syntax coloring, symbol analysis, autocompletion (which is only partial in Geany but still...), blocks wrapping and project runners. All those things are handled in a simple yet efficient way by geany. So it makes a quite nice substitute for my otherwise favourite python editor, Jetbrains Pycharm which is the best python IDE i've ever found... (And almost the only one besides Eclipse that handles autocompletion so thoroughly)

  • Wow, ten-foot screen. Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 23:49
  • +1 for Geany. It's the IDE that I prefer to use on my Raspberry Pi.
    – Paul
    Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 16:19

Or you could get NINJA-IDE. Well, its the only thing that runs on the Pi officially.

I see that the Raspberry Pi is somewhat limited and the preferred IDE is IDLE, which too is limited. I don't know why would someone like the Pi for hard-core coding. (Big thing, in Python 3 on the Pi isn't object-oriented. Has anyone this bug that child classes don't inherit functions from their parent class?) Well, I prefer shell coding and NINJA-IDE on the Pi.

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