Virtualize Raspberry Pi with QEmu under Debian in Virtualbox

If you are on this site it is surely for a tutorial. You may also want to know what you could do with this little machine. With Virtualbox you can test before you buy !


It is a moment that I looked to see how to make the tests without having to redo images every two minutes. J’avais en tête une virtualisation qui facilite l’usage du Raspberry sans Raspberry 🙂 J’ai jamais réussi à trouver un moyen de le faire de simplement. Until I found a post on the forum of the Raspberry.

What surprised me it is that in the end the implementation is really simple ! So here is how I proceeded to install a distribution Moebius in

A big thank you to tonyhughes for explanations !

  1. I pass the explanations on how to install VirtualBox and install Ubuntu or Debian in VirtualBox. I went to a machine with Debian installed :Debian__Running_
  2. In your virtual machine, update all packages. From a console (as well, you can do it from:
    sudo apt - get update sudo apt - get upgrade
  3. My choice was to install all of the data (kernel and image) in my user's home. You choose where you want to put them. So I created a directory QEMU
    mkdir qemu cd qemu
  4. In this directory you install kernel that will be used by Qemu. For this you can download it at this address : (I've not managed nor too sought by wget).You should therefore with now in the directory QEMU created in step 2, the file kernel-qemu.
  5. Then you copy the image you want to always run in this directory QEMU. I have copied Raspbian and Moebius.Capture_d_écran_02_06_13_18_26-2
  6. Now we are going to mount the partition ext4 of your image to make a small modification on the filesystem. For this, We need to know where the beginning of the partition. Use the file command then take the start sector that multiply by 512 :capture_d_c3a9cran_02_06_13_18_28-2
    Here the beginning of the second partition is 122880. We therefore need to pass to the command Mount the parameter 62914560.
  7. Mount the partition (Here I always use Moebius) :
    Mount /home/chris/qemu/moebius-1.1.1.img o offset = 62914560/mnt
  8. Edit the /mnt/etc/ file to comment line. Add a # beginning of line, It is sufficient to disable the loading of the library ELF.
  9. Unmount the image
  10. Install Qemu
    apt - get install qemu-system
  11. Run Qemu with the image you want to emulate
    sudo qemu-system-arm - kernel/home/chris/qemu/kernel-qemu - cpu arm1176 m 256 -M versatilepb -no-reboot -serial stdio -append "root = / dev/sda2 panic = 1" -hda /home/chris/qemu/moebius-1.1.1.img - redir tcp:5022::22
  12. When you first launch you will get an error on the integrity of the partition. You will end up with a prompt asking for the password root. You grab. Attention it is the qwertz !Check the disk

    Then shut down the system

  13. You can now restart Qemu with the same command as in step 11 :
    sudo qemu-system-arm - kernel/home/chris/qemu/kernel-qemu - cpu arm1176 m 256 -M versatilepb -no-reboot -serial stdio -append "root = / dev/sda2 panic = 1" -hda /home/chris/qemu/moebius-1.1.1.img - redir tcp:5022::22
  14. You should arrive at the prompt without errorDebian__Running_

So now that you have your system launched, several constraints :

  • It's emulation in virtualization. It's not top but for an ARM processor that seems to be enough (I did not 50 tests). It works
  • You cannot extend the partition because the image file can be expanded. For example, you can copy the img on a SD card, make an image of the SD and use this new image.

I have not tested with Raspbian but initially the performance under X are not bad.

You can test !


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