It’s quite likely that most Raspberry Pis in the wild are running Raspbian, the stock operating system that’s based on the Debian distribution of Linux. And if you’ve gone through the Raspberry Pi NOOBs installation process, you’ll know that there are a few other choices for operating systems such as Arch, Pidora, and RISC OS. But your options for operating systems and emulators don’t end there. As a matter of fact, Raspberry Pi has become a popular hardware platform for running vintage or specialty platforms. Below you’ll find Make:‘s roundup of some of the unique systems that you can run on the Pi.

Classic Macintosh with Mini vMac

We first spotted John Badger from RetroMacCast using Mini vMac on Raspberry Pi to emulate Macintosh System 7 for his based 1/3rd scale Classic Mac replica. If you have a Raspberry Pi, Mini vMac and the required ROM Image File (which they can’t legally distribute), you can relive the good ol’ days of Macintosh.

PC XT with 8086tiny


Since the PC XT-compatible emulator 8086tiny is written in C, it can be compiled fairly easily on the Raspberry Pi. The open source distribution includes FreeDOS and the classic game Alley Cat. The emulator is powerful enough to run Windows 3.0 (as pictured above) and even AutoCAD! (Also be sure to check out FastDosBox, which is optimized for DOS gaming on Raspberry Pi.)

Classic Gaming Consoles with PiPlay

No emulator list would be complete without a mention of MAME, the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator. PiPlay (formerly PiMAME), a pre-built Raspberry Pi operating system made for gaming and emulation. It can emulate many retro consoles including Playstation, Genesis SNES, NES, Gameboy, Atari 2600. PiPlay has a built in FTP server and web-based uploader utility that makes adding game ROMs easy.

Commodore 64 with Commodore Pi

Although the last update to the project was about 10 months ago, Commodore Pi is a native Commodore 64 emulator for Raspberry Pi. It boots nearly instantly, can access the full RAM of the Pi and takes advantage of the GPIO, Ethernet, and USB ports. Scott Hutter, the project’s creator, is looking for help with the project if you’d like to see it move forward. Otherwise, you can take it for a test spin with a downloadable SD card image.

Matt Richardson is a San Francisco-based creative technologist and Contributing Editor at MAKE. He’s the co-author of Getting Started with Raspberry Pi and the author of Getting Started with BeagleBone.

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