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Emuation using Qemu's native raspi2/3 machine

Follow instructions under native-emulation subfolder in order to use Qemu's native raspi2/3 machine to emulate raspberry pi.

Emulation using pre-compiled versatilepb kernels

Ready-made kernels that can be used to emulate a Raspberry Pi using QEMU.

They are compiled from the same kernel sources used for official Raspian images, with tweaks to make them suitable for use with QEMU, and are supposed to be used along with official Raspbian images.

Obtaining Raspbian

Before starting, you should download a Raspbian image from the Raspberry Pi website and extract the .zip archive to obtain an .img file.

Choosing a kernel image

This repository contains three types of kernel images:

  • kernel-qemu-4.*.*-buster are the most recent images, which are compatible with Raspbian Buster and Stretch. To use these images, you'll need a compiled device tree file (.dtb) which is also contained in this repository. Use versatile-pb-buster.dtb for Buster, or use versatile-pb.dtb for Stretch. Unless you are positive you need a different kernel, the most recent of these images is probably what you want.

  • kernel-qemu-4.*.*-stretch are images compatible with Raspbian Stretch and Jessie. To use these images, you'll need the versatile-pb.dtb file which is also contained in this repository.

  • kernel-qemu-4.4.*-jessie are images compatible with Raspbian Jessie and Wheezy.

  • kernel-qemu-3.10.25-wheezy is the original image from, which is compatible with Raspbian Wheezy only.

Using kernel images with QEMU

The QEMU command line will look like

$ qemu-system-arm \
  -M versatilepb \
  -cpu arm1176 \
  -m 256 \
  -hda /.../2019-09-26-raspbian-buster-lite.img \
  -net user,hostfwd=tcp::5022-:22 \
  -dtb /.../versatile-pb-buster.dtb \
  -kernel /.../kernel-qemu-4.19.50-buster \
  -append 'root=/dev/sda2 panic=1' \

For the kernel 5.4.51 please use (Tested with Raspbian Buster Lite):

$ qemu-system-arm \
  -M versatilepb \
  -cpu arm1176 \
  -m 256 \
  -drive "file=/.../2020-05-27-raspios-buster-lite-armhf.img,if=none,index=0,media=disk,format=raw,id=disk0" \
  -device "virtio-blk-pci,drive=disk0,disable-modern=on,disable-legacy=off" \
  -net "user,hostfwd=tcp::5022-:22" \
  -dtb /.../versatile-pb-buster-5.4.51.dtb \
  -kernel /.../kernel-qemu-5.4.51-buster \
  -append 'root=/dev/vda2 panic=1' \

with the paths to the disk image, .dtb file and kernel image adjusted appropriately.

There is a Docker image available to automate this whole process:

docker run -it lukechilds/dockerpi

More information:

Using kernel images with libvirt

Assuming your libvirt version is at least 5.0.0, you can use something like

$ virt-install \
  --name pi \
  --arch armv6l \
  --machine versatilepb \
  --cpu arm1176 \
  --vcpus 1 \
  --memory 256 \
  --import \
  --disk /.../2019-09-26-raspbian-buster-lite.img,format=raw,bus=virtio \
  --network user,model=virtio \
  --video vga \
  --graphics spice \
  --rng device=/dev/urandom,model=virtio \
  --boot 'dtb=/.../versatile-pb-buster.dtb,kernel=/.../kernel-qemu-4.19.50-buster,kernel_args=root=/dev/vda2 panic=1' \
  --events on_reboot=destroy

to create a new libvirt guest called pi. You'll be able to manage the guest with all the usual tools, such as virsh and virt-manager.

Building your own kernel image

See the contents of the tools/ directory, where the build scripts and instructions on how to use them are stored.

Origin of this repository

While searching the Internet for information on emulating a Raspberry Pi using QEMU in Jun 2015, most of the guides pointed to kernel images hosted on; however, at the time the resource was no longer online, and that's still the case as of Feb 2019.

This repository was initially created as a way to make those kernel images available once again, and has since been expanded to provide improved and up-to-date images.

Further information

Additional documentation can be found on the wiki.


Qemu kernel for emulating Rpi on QEMU






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