Friday, March 29, 2013

RTEMS on the Raspberry Pi

RTEMS on the Raspberry Pi

What is the Raspberry Pi?

The Raspberry Pi is a neat little ARM SoC (System on a Chip) based computer that runs Linux and a growing number of small/embedded operating systems. There is a $25 model A with 256MB of RAM and one USB port. There is a $35 Model B that has 512MB of RAM, 2 USB ports, and a 10/100 ethernet port. The Pi runs Debian Linux from an SD card and provides a full desktop environment.

The Raspberry Pi was created primarily as a way of encouraging kids to learn how to program, but it has quickly been adopted by over a million people as an inexpensive embedded computer.

Find out more about it here:

What is RTEMS?

RTEMS stands for Real Time Executive for Multiprocessor Systems. RTEMS is an open source real time embedded operating system. RTEMS is similar to vxWorks in size and functionality. It has many features including a network stack, file systems, POSIX APIs and more. It runs on the x86, PowerPC, m68k/Coldfire, ARM, MIPS, SPARC, and AVR architectures. RTEMS is used in many embedded applications including quite a few satellites. I have used RTEMS on few satellites for my job.

More info about RTEMS is available here:

RTEMS on the Raspberry Pi

Once I received my Raspberry Pi (of course, I had to have one), it was not too long before I looked at what it would take to get RTEMS working on it. Most of the boards I have used RTEMS on cost $200 or more, so the chance to have an RTEMS target that everyone could buy for $35 was pretty appealing to me.

There is a great community of coders on the Raspberry Pi forums, so I studied many of the samples from the Bare Metal programming forum over at

With some help from the RTEMS community I was able to put together a bare minimal BSP that runs on the Pi. It only supports the timer and the UART at this point, but it’s a good starting point. I hope that others can find it useful and over time we can add support for all of the devices on the Pi such as the USB, Network, SD Card, etc.

Trying out RTEMS on the Raspberry Pi

Getting an RTEMS development environment up and running can sometimes be a little bit of work. In the next few blog entries, I will walk you through setting up an RTEMS development environment and getting some simple RTEMS programs running on your Raspberry Pi.

Next: Setting up an RTEMS development Environment for the Raspberry Pi


  1. Is this port for Model B ?
    And can it run on Model A ?


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  5. Is it possible to follow these same steps to have RTEMS run on a Zedboard?

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  7. This was very informative. I learnt the basics of Raspberry Pi here