Setting up a development environment

Dealing with microcontrollers involves several tools as we'll be dealing with an architecture different than your computer'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.

* NOTE: Newer (from around 2020/09) Discovery boards may have a different e-compass and gyroscope (see the user manual). As such, much in chapters 14-16 will not work as is. Checkout the github issues like this.


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. Chapter USART requires 1.51 or newer.

  • itmdump >=0.3.1 (cargo install itm). Tested versions: 0.3.1.

  • 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 computer 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

Verify the version is >=0.3.1

$ itmdump -V
itmdump 0.3.1


Install llvm-tools

rustup component add llvm-tools

Install cargo-binutils

cargo install cargo-binutils

Verify tools are installed

Run the following commands at your terminal

cargo new test-size
cd test-size
cargo run
cargo size -- --version

The results should be something like:

$ cargo new test-size
     Created binary (application) `test-size` package

$ cd test-size

~/test-size (main)
$ cargo run
   Compiling test-size v0.1.0 (~/test-size)
    Finished dev [unoptimized + debuginfo] target(s) in 0.26s
     Running `target/debug/test-size`
Hello, world!

~/test-size (main)
$ cargo size -- --version
    Finished dev [unoptimized + debuginfo] target(s) in 0.00s
  LLVM version 11.0.0-rust-1.50.0-stable
  Optimized build.
  Default target: x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu
  Host CPU: znver2

OS specific instructions

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