Raspberry Pi Emulation
To run Raspberry Pi on Windows, you would need an emulator, which is software that allows you to run another software that was otherwise built for another system. In this case, you would need software that would allow you to run Raspberry Pi’s operating system on a Windows PC. There are several Raspberry Pi emulators that you can download for free, but perhaps the most popular is QEMU or Quick Emulator.
QEMU is an open-source and Windows-compatible emulation software that’s capable of emulating Raspberry Pi’s ARM chipset, making it an ideal program to virtualize Raspberry Pi on a Windows PC. QEMU is a lightweight application with a modest file size of only 550MB or even less, so it won’t exhaust your computer from emulating Raspberry Pi.
A little bit of coding is involved during setup, so it’s suitable for users with at least basic coding experience. There are three things you need for Raspberry Pi emulation using QEMU: QEMU installer, kernel, and Raspbian OS image. Here’s how to emulate Raspberry Pi’s OS on Windows using QEMU.
Download the QEMU installer from their official website. There are 32-bit and 64-bit versions; download the version according to your Windows version. Once the download is complete, run the executable file (.exe) and follow the instructions to install QEMU.
Choose and download the most recent kernel from this link.
Raspbian OS Image
Download Raspbian’s image file here. Choose the most recent folder and unzip it in the same folder where you saved the kernel file.
After downloading these three essential files, it’s time to create a Windows batch (.bat) file. To do this, open up Notepad or any text editor and type these commands:
-kernel type kernel’s file name here ^
-cpu arm1176 ^
-m 256 ^
-M versatilepb ^
-serial stdio ^
-append "root=/dev/sda2 rootfstype=ext4 rw" ^
-hda type Raspbian image’s file name here ^
-dtb versatile-pb-buster.dtb ^
-net nic ^
-net user,hostfwd=tcp::5022-:22 ^
Note: Change the QEMU path on the first line according to the QEMU path on your computer. Also, make sure to change the file names of the kernel and the Raspbian image’s file names in the second and eighth lines, respectively (indicated in blue), according to the file names of what you have downloaded.
Save the batch file in the same kernel and Raspbian image folder.
Now, run QEMU and open up the command prompt. On the command prompt, go to the directory that contains the Raspbian image file, kernel, and batch file. Type the file name of the batch file you’ve created and press Enter. This will open up the QEMU window running the Raspbian OS. You can now explore Raspberry Pi on your Windows PC.
There are also other tutorials available for emulating Raspberry Pi using QEMU that you can try, such as this one here.
Other Ways to Emulate Raspberry Pi
QEMU is probably the most popular emulation software for Raspberry Pi, but it’s not the only one out there. Here are other programs you can use for emulating Raspberry Pi on Windows.
Another Raspberry Pi emulator similar to QEMU but is much simpler to set up and has a more user-friendly interface is the RPi Emulator. It is a new software that emulates Raspberry Pi 3’s hardware.
If the whole process of emulating Raspberry Pi using QEMU looks scary to you, you can use the RPi Emulator instead, which has all the things you need to emulate Raspberry Pi without the need to code. This is suitable for beginners who don’t have prior coding experience yet. You can download it here for free. You simply have to unzip the file once downloaded, open the QEMU subfolder and run the bat file. The program will load all the files and will boot up to the Raspbian Wheezy screen once done. You can then start to have the experience of Raspberry Pi without a Raspberry Pi.
To relaunch the configuration tool, type sudo raspi-config in the command prompt.
VMWare Workstation is a virtual machine that runs on the Debian system and can emulate different operating systems, including Raspberry Pi’s OS, on a computer. It is free to download for personal use but comes with a fee for business users. To emulate Raspberry Pi, download the Windows version of VMWare and install it by running the executable (.exe) file. After successfully installing the program, create a new virtual machine and open the Raspbian iso file to initiate the Raspberry Pi emulator.
VirtualBox is another hardware virtualization and emulation program similar to VMWare that virtually imitates any OS on a computer system. Like VMWare, VirtualBox is based on the Debian system, which Raspbian is built on. It is free to download and comes with an easy-to-understand interface which makes it very easy to use. Moreover, unlike QEMU, no coding is involved in emulating Raspberry Pi, making it ideal for novices or for those without coding skills.
Setting up VirtualBox in Raspberry Pi is less complicated than doing it in QEMU. Once you’ve downloaded VirtualBox, create a virtual machine and install Raspberry Pi. Once the virtual machine is set up, you can go through the Raspberry Pi configuration as you would on the actual Raspberry Pi, and you can then get the feel of Raspberry Pi’s OS.
There are many reasons why one would want to emulate Raspberry Pi on Windows, either just out of curiosity, or gain familiarity with the software before actually buying it, or simply experience Raspberry Pi without spending a single buck. Whatever the reason is, there are a lot of Windows-compatible programs that can help Raspberry Pi’s emulation for those who want to get their hands on it, for experienced users or newbies alike.