Setting up a development environment

Dealing with microcontrollers involves several tools as we'll be dealing with an architecture different than your laptop's and we'll have to run and debug programs on a "remote" device.


Tooling is not everything though. Without documentation it is pretty much impossible to work with microcontrollers.

We'll be referring to all these documents throughout this book:

HEADS UP All these links point to PDF files and some of them are hundreds of pages long and several MBs in size.


We'll use all the tools listed below. Where a minimum version is not specified, any recent version should work but we have listed the version we have tested.

  • Rust 1.31 or a newer toolchain.

  • itmdump v0.3.1

  • OpenOCD >=0.8. Tested versions: v0.9.0 and v0.10.0

  • arm-none-eabi-gdb. Version 7.12 or newer highly recommended. Tested versions: 7.10, 7.11, 7.12 and 8.1

  • cargo-binutils. Version 0.1.4 or newer.

  • minicom on Linux and macOS. Tested version: 2.7. Readers report that picocom also works but we'll use minicom in this text.

  • PuTTY on Windows.

If your laptop has Bluetooth functionality and you have the Bluetooth module, you can additionally install these tools to play with the Bluetooth module. All these are optional:

  • Linux, only if you don't have a Bluetooth manager application like Blueman.
    • bluez
    • hcitool
    • rfcomm
    • rfkill

macOS / OSX / Windows users only need the default bluetooth manager that ships with their OS.

Next, follow OS-agnostic installation instructions for a few of the tools:

rustc & Cargo

Install rustup by following the instructions at

If you already have rustup installed double check that you are on the stable channel and your stable toolchain is up to date. rustc -V should return a date newer than the one shown below:

$ rustc -V
rustc 1.31.0 (abe02cefd 2018-12-04)


$ cargo install itm --vers 0.3.1

$ itmdump -V
itmdump 0.3.1


$ rustup component add llvm-tools-preview

$ cargo install cargo-binutils --vers 0.1.4

$ cargo size -- -version
  LLVM version 8.0.0svn
  Optimized build.
  Default target: x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu
  Host CPU: skylake

OS specific instructions

Now follow the instructions specific to the OS you are using: