The Raspberry Pi is definitely a must-have device for anyone in the maker space with the flexibility it brings to the table at a very affordable price.
Using it as a development board, as a GPIO interface, as a small, portable computer for programming, or even using it as a webserver are some of the things you can do with the Raspberry Pi, which also have several applications in 3D printing space.
Flashing a bootloader to a 3D printer with the GPIO pins – or running an OctoPrint (OctoPi) server are perhaps the two most widely used applications of Raspberry Pi in 3D printing, but it doesn’t have to end there.
As a Raspberry Pi is practically a computer that runs ARM Linux, it can run any software that runs on ARM Linux, meaning that it may also run a slicer such as Cura and remove the need for a desktop computer, which would definitely be exciting.
So, can Raspberry Pi 3 and 4 run Cura? Let’s find out.
While there are no official releases of Cura that support ARM processors, running Cura on Raspberry Pi 3 and 4 is possible by compiling or downloading an unofficial release that is ARM-compatible.
Moving forward, we will go into greater detail about running Cura on Raspberry Pi and how you can install it on popular distributions such as Raspbian and Ubuntu for Raspberry Pi.
Can You Run Cura on Raspberry Pi 3 and 4?
As of right now, Cura is only officially available for 64-bit (x64) Windows, 64-bit (x64) Linux, and 64-bit (x64) macOS (M1 isn’t fully supported yet).
While the Raspberry Pi also features a 64-bit CPU and runs on Linux, it has an ARM processor, whereas the official Cura releases are only compatible with x64 processors.
Even though this means that you can’t run the official Cura releases on a Raspberry Pi, it doesn’t mean that you can’t run Cura on a Raspberry Pi at all.
As Cura is fully open-source, it’s possible to modify it and compile a release that works on ARM processors, meaning that you can run Cura on a Raspberry Pi 3 and 4 with such a release.
Since doing this requires a high level of technical expertise, we recommend downloading an unofficial ARM-compatible release created by community members instead.
As Ultimaker does not support unofficial releases, these releases may contain bugs Ultimaker may not be able to help you fix due to them not existing on the official releases.
Next up, we have detailed guides that outline how you can install Cura on popular operating systems such as Raspbian and Ubuntu for Raspberry Pi, where we go through all the steps you will need to take and provide links for ARM-compatible releases you can use.
Installing Cura on Raspberry Pi
There are two different methods you can use to install Cura on a Raspberry Pi.
With Pi-Apps Rpi App Store
The easiest way to install Cura on a Raspberry Pi is through Pi-Apps, a program that allows you to install software with a user-friendly graphical interface.
This method will work with most ARM Linux distributions, including both Raspbian and Ubuntu for Raspberry Pi.
- Start by downloading and installing Pi-Apps from here.
- Run Pi-Apps from either the terminal or the start menu.
- Choose Cura from the list of applications, and click Install.
If Cura isn’t working after these steps, you may have to download the libgles-dev package with the command sudo apt install libgles-dev in the terminal.
When the installation process is over, you will see a button for Cura in the start menu, which you can use to launch it.
With an AppImage
If you prefer not to install another third-party application, you will have to launch Cura by manually downloading the AppImage.
This method will work with all ARM Linux distributions, including both Raspbian and Ubuntu for Raspberry Pi.
- Run the command uname -m in the terminal, and note the output down.
- Download the ARM-compatible Cura release from here. If the output you have noted in the previous step is aarch64, download the file that has the text aarch64 in it; else, grab the one that contains the text armhf instead.
- Make the AppImage executable by running the command sudo chmod a+x <filename> (such as sudo chmod a+x Cura-mb-master-armhf-20210629.AppImage) in the directory where you downloaded the file.
- Install the libgles-dev package by running the command sudo apt install libgles-dev, as thispackage is a dependency for this release of Cura.
- Run Cura by running the command ./<filename> (such as ./Cura-mb-master-armhf-20210629.AppImage) while you’re in the directory of the AppImage file.
While the file names change over time, such as the XXXXXXX part referring to the release date (such as 20120629), the vital part to consider is to get the correct package for the CPU architecture.
As aarch64 refers to 64-bit operating systems (and therefore 64-bit CPUs), and armhf refers to 32-bit ones, trying to run the package labeled aarch64 won’t run if the output of uname -m doesn’t state aarch64.
On the other hand, running either the armhf or aarch64 package on a device that outputs aarch64 will work without problems, as 32-bit programs can run on 64-bit operating systems.
Cura Alternatives for Raspberry Pi
Unfortunately, there aren’t many slicer options for Raspberry Pi right now, as most developers don’t compile packages that work with ARM processors.
PrusaSlicer is the only slicer we have found where the developer releases ARM-compatible packages, making it the most viable alternative for Cura if you rather stay away from unofficial releases.
If you are interested, you can find PrusaSlicer releases for all available architectures here.
While the process for getting to run Cura on a Raspberry Pi depends on the distro you’re running, it’s definitely possible to do so and use your Raspberry Pi for everything 3D printing-related.
Even though Windows users that don’t have too much experience with Linux may have to spend slightly more time to get things to work, installing Cura on a Raspberry Pi should be a simple task for the most part.
We hope you have found this guide valuable and easy to follow, and we will see you next time!