Guide to Using Rust with Raspberry Pi - RustMeUp

Using Rust with Raspberry Pi - RustMeUp

When it comes to venturing into the world of Embedded Systems, Raspberry Pi and Rust together form an incredibly powerful duo. Rust, a programming language that is fast and prevents segfaults, and Raspberry Pi, a platform that is ubiquitous and simple to set up. This guide helps you unlock the potential of using Rust with Raspberry Pi and explores different ways to implement this combination in various applications.

What is Rust?

Rust is a powerful general-purpose programming language that is known for its safety, speed and concurrent programming capabilities. It has a rich ecosystem with a variety of libraries to choose from. One of its main objectives is to provide memory safety without any compromise on performance. Its innovative design prevents null pointer dereferencing and guarantees thread safety.

What is Raspberry Pi?

Raspberry Pi is a single-board computer developed in the United Kingdom by the Raspberry Pi Foundation. It promotes the teaching of basic computer science in schools with its low-cost, high-performance and versatile device. Raspberry Pi finds its applications in various fields, from making gaming consoles to building sophisticated robots.

Why Use Rust with Raspberry Pi?

Rust and Raspberry Pi together form a potent combination for several reasons:

  • Performance: Rust offers performance similar to the likes of C and C++, making it a fitting choice for the constrained computing resources of the Raspberry Pi.

  • Memory Safety: Rust provides memory safety guarantees without needing a garbage collector. This comes in handy when building applications on Raspberry Pi which has to operate within limited memory boundaries.

  • Concurrency: Rust's strong support for concurrency makes it perfect for applications on a Raspberry Pi that require handling multiple tasks at the same time.

  • Cross-compiling capabilities: Rust provides excellent support for cross-compiling, making it easy to write your code on a beefier machine and then compile it for running on the Raspberry Pi.

How to Install Rust on your Raspberry Pi?

Rust can easily be installed on Raspberry Pi using the rustup toolchain installer. Here's a simple step-by-step guide:

  1. Open the terminal on your Raspberry Pi.

  2. Download the rustup installation script by typing:

curl --proto '=https' --tlsv1.2 -sSf | sh
  1. This will download a script and start the installation process. You will be prompted with a few options to customize the installation – you can just proceed with the default options by hitting ‘1’ and then ‘Enter’.

  2. Close and reopen the terminal.

  3. Verify the installation with the command: rustc --version

You should now have Rust, along with its package manager Cargo, installed on your Raspberry Pi.

Setting Up Your Rust Development Environment for Raspberry Pi

Even though you have installed Rust on your Raspberry Pi, it would be easier to write the code on your main computer and then compile it for the Raspberry Pi. Here is how you can set this up:

  1. Install the rustup target for the Raspberry Pi from your terminal or command prompt:

For Raspberry Pi Zero: rustup target add arm-unknown-linux-gnueabihf

For Raspberry Pi 2: rustup target add armv7-unknown-linux-gnueabihf

For Raspberry Pi 3 or later: rustup target add aarch64-unknown-linux-gnu

  1. Install the cross-compiling utilities. For example, if you are using Ubuntu, you can use:
sudo apt-get install gcc-multilib-arm-linux-gnueabihf

Remember to replace arm-linux-gnueabihf with armv7... or aarch64... depending on the Raspberry Pi model. Now you can cross-compile your Rust programs.

Coding with Rust and Deploying on Raspberry Pi

After setting up your environment, you can write your Rust applications. Here's an example of a simple Hello World program:

  1. On your main computer, open your command prompt or terminal and create a new Rust project:
cargo new pi_hello_world
cd pi_hello_world
  1. Open the file in a text editor and add the following code:
fn main() {
    println!("Hello, Raspberry Pi!");
  1. Save and close the file.

  2. Cross-compile the project:

cargo build --target=arm-unknown-linux-gnueabihf
  1. The executable binary is created within the target/arm-unknown-linux-gnueabihf/debug/ directory. Transfer this file to your Raspberry Pi and run it:

The output will be: Hello, Raspberry Pi!


Combining the safety and performance of Rust with the versatility of Raspberry Pi can yield powerful results. Whether you are building real-time systems, Internet of Things devices, or high-concurrency applications, Rust and Raspberry Pi can be a fun and productive way to make progress. So why wait? Spin up that Raspberry Pi, boot into Rust, and start building!