To run Processing on a Raspberry Pi computer, you will want to have:

  • a Raspberry Pi model 3+, 3 or 2 (those are recommended, it will work the Pi Zero and older versions, albeit much more slowly)
  • an unused microSD card, at least 8 GB in size (fast cards are a plus)
  • a suitable USB power supply (2.5A are recommended for the latest model)
  • an HDMI cable to hook up the Pi to a screen
  • a USB keyboard and mouse

Download and preparation

Go ahead and download the latest Raspbian image with Processing pre-installed. This image is based on Processing 3.4 and Raspbian release March 2018 and works on all versions of the Pi.

Also download and install Etcher. Etcher is a graphical tool that makes flashing operating system images on external media very easy.

Launch Etcher, select the ZIP file you downloaded, the card reader with your microSD card to write to (all its contents will be erased), and click “Flash!” to start. You can eject your microSD card afterwards.

Initial boot

With the image flashed onto the card, you can now insert the microSD into the Raspberry Pi and power it up. At first boot, the operating system will expand the size of its partition to encompass the entirety of the microSD card you installed it on. When this is done, the Pi will swiftly reboot, and you should find yourself on Raspbian’s desktop a few moments later.

The Raspbian distribution comes with settings for a British keyboard layout as default. To change this to your locale, click the menu button in the top-left corner, select Preferences and Raspberry Pi Configuration. Under the Localisation tab, you find a button labeled Set Keyboard… which prompts you to select your keyboard layout.

Users of the Raspberry Pi 3+ might also want to set the the WiFi Country to where your are located it, as this is required to be using the built-in WiFi on this model.

A first Processing sketch

To launch the Processing Development Environment (PDE) on the Raspberry Pi, click the menu button on the top-left corner, select Programming and chose Processing from the list of available programming environments.

Processing works just like its siblings on desktop and laptop computers, but you can additionally make use of the Raspberry Pi’s hardware interfaces and the versatile features of its free and open source Linux operating system.