Friday, April 24, 2015

Install C# on Raspberry Pi 2 with Mono


We can run C# on the Raspberry Pi 2! This has made the raspberry pi very valuable in my eyes. You can use Visual Studio to compile a .exe and then RUN IT on The Pi using Mono.

What I liked about The Pi: Getting it working was dead simple. I just formatted an SD card in FAT 32, downloading and extracting a 500mb .zip file and copying the contents of the extracted folder onto the SD card. After you've accomplished that, go take a beer break, you deserved it *whew*.

I was able to just plug in the cables, put in the SD card and I running Linux on The Pi. I was using the HDMI and Ethernet ports, however. If you wish to use the tiny, headphone-jack-looking component video or a USB wireless adapter however, there will be additional steps.

Problems / Gotchas 

Winforms may not play nice with Mono when on the Raspberry pi. Specifically, the problem manifests when you attempt to use a TextBox on your form, but who uses those? This bug  is supposedly fixed in the latest releases, but I have yet to get it to work by just updating my mono. It is very likely that I have to REBUILD mono from the latest source on the pi, which can take several hours. I have not tested this. The bug tracker for this says it has to do with with the pi's 'hard floats', which is referring to hardware floating point calculations.

The hardware is not exactly what I would call stable. Sometimes it does not POST (the BIOS is a binary blob, so does a pi really have a POST?). Anyways, ensure your USB charger that plugs into the wall that can supply plenty of power. The websites say 700ma at a minimum. I find using a 700ma charger is not sufficient. I use a charger that can push 2A, and I dont see many problems.

How does this work? 

A project called Mono. The Mono team has implemented a Common Language Runtime (CLR) that runs in the Linux and Mac environments and is coded to the ECMA-335 Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) AND covers functions and classes in the .NET framework, going all the way to 4.0 with some 4.5! Its open source, of course, and also has a compiler that follows the ECMA-334 C# Language Specification to turn C# code into CLI intermediate code that can be ran in windows as well. Remember, the CLI is just a specification that any language could (theoretically) be compiled to CLI.

Installing Mono C# on Raspberry Pi

This step was pretty straight forward as well. The instructions below are if you installed the NOOBS package which uses Raspian. If you have a different flavor of Linux, the commands below might be different.

You should already have sudo installed on your raspb pi. Prefixing a command with sudo allows you to run processes under a higher privilege without having to log into root. Also if you didnt know, the default username/password to log in the first time is pi/raspberry. If you prefer, you can type 'startx' to bring up the xwindows GUI. The commands below need to be entered into a terminal, which can be brought up within the GUI.

Fist, you want to update your Raspian to the latest version. To do that, you have to have the raspberry pi hooked up the the internet. If you have an ethernet cable and the router uses DHCP, plugging in the ethernet will be sufficient. Then, at the console simply enter the below line into the console:

sudo apt-get update

That may take a few minutes to complete and might prompt you to hit Y/N regarding the size of the package.

sudo apt-get install mono-runtime

This will also will take a few minutes to complete and might prompt you to hit Y/N regarding the size of the package.

After you've accomplished that, go have another beer because that was hard work!

Mono can now be used to run .NET executables:

mono Test.exe

Or, if your program requires elevated rights:

sudo mono Test.exe

Mono also features a REPL (read eval print loop). To access it, type 'csharp'. You can use your favorite text editor to make .cs files and compile them. My recommendation is, of course, to use Microsoft's Visual Studio. You can build and compile an application with MSVS in windows, and just transfer the executable by SCP or thumb-drive to the raspberry pi, which is pretty slick. Hats off to the developer(s) of Mono.

1 comment:

Daniel Loche said...


I'm currentlydevelopping a .NET application to run with mono on a Respberry Pi 3. And it looks like I have exactly the issue you mentionned.
Coudl you explain exactly what I should do to solve it ? I found nothing around about that...

Daniel. :)