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I am a decent Linux user looking to develop on raspberry, I don't have one yet.

In my mind the ideal workflow would be to startup a virtual rasbian instance, connect to it via terminal and develop away, test it out by and somehow emulate the GPIO pins and finally move the result to an SD and plug it into the pi.

But I need to ask you first if it is worth it? I don't know how feasible would that be.

I've seen that there is a x86 virtualbox version but I don't think that anything compiled on that environment can be transferred to an actual raspberry.

Is it hard to use qemu or something like it to emulate the processor? to have a virtual raspberry?, In my naive mind it isn't but that's mainly because I haven't really done anything like that before, I could learn tho.

Regarding the communication ports, all I need is the GPIO emulation (besides the access via terminal of course) and again, my naivité tells me that they are just serial ports which could be emulated from my debian environment.

So what do you think? should I even bother to do all of that, or would you just recommend to get a raspberry and start working? because it would take me a while to get my hands on one.

I was thinking of a raspberry3b whose emulation might be hard on my cpu, since it is just an Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo CPU E4500 @ 2.20GHz (don't judge me, it works... hard to think that my work PC is barely superior to a rasp T_T, or even smaller, not sure how would you match a quad core @1.2Ghz. daaaamn you technology!!! you've left me behind)

  • Have you tried a few of the tutorials online? I found 2 tutorials with a quick "virtual raspberry pi" search – Vincent P Sep 20 '18 at 10:47
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You can only emulate the CPU, not the VideoCore VC4 or GPIO.
The cheepest way to use GPIO is to buy a Raspberry Pi Zero and use it as USB-Gadget like described on raspberrypi.org. There is no way to emulate VC4 and hence the 3D and vector graphics capabilities or even the hardware media en-/decoder.

  • Mmmm I see, seems like a good option, but I'm thinking that since the main goal is to minimize cost, getting a pi zero just for the sake of testing seem like an innecesary expense. Oh well, too bad, guess I better start saving for the pi. Thank you! your info really helped me! – Luis Esparza LeedMx Sep 17 '18 at 8:38

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