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Easy to use graphical ARM simulator

Project description

QtARMSim is an easy to use graphical ARM simulator. It provides an easy to use multiplatform ARM emulation environment that has been designed for Computer Architecture introductory courses.

The ARMSim ARM simulator, Copyright (c) 2014-20 by Germán Fabregat, is bundled with QtARMSim. It can be found on the armsim/ subdirectory of the QtARMSim installation path.

1. Installing QtARMSim

In order to install QtARMSim, its dependencies should be installed first.

QtARMSim has the following dependencies: Python3, Qt for Python (PySide2), and ARMSim.

ARMSim, which is bundled with QtARMSim, has in turn the next dependencies: Ruby and the GNU GCC Arm toolchain.

The next subsections describe how to install QtARMSim and its dependencies on GNU/Linux, Windows and macOS.

1.1 Installing QtARMSim on GNU/Linux

The major GNU/Linux distributions already provide packages for Python3 and Ruby. Therefore, the provided package manager can be used to install them. As for the GNU GCC, the required part of the GNU GCC Arm toolchain is bundled with QtARMSim. Finally, Qt for Python and QtARMSim can be installed using the pip3 command provided by Python3.

For example, on Ubuntu you can install QtARMSim using:

$ sudo apt install python3-pip ruby libxcb-xinerama0
$ sudo gem install shell e2mmap sync
$ sudo pip3 install QtARMSim

On a Gentoo distribution, you can install QtARMSim issuing (as root):

# emerge -av pip ruby
# pip3 install --user QtARMSim

If you are installing QtARMSim on a system where PySide2 is already provided as a package, you can install the packaged version of PySide2 and then install QtARMSim using the --no-deps option (be aware that the packaged version can be not so to up to date as the one obtained from pip). Once the PySide2 package(s) are installed, QtARMSim should be installed as follows:

# sudo pip3 install --no-deps QtARMSim

1.2 Installing QtARMSim on Windows

To install QtARMSim on Windows please follow the next steps:

  1. Download a 64 bits Python executable installer from Python releases for Windows. During the installation process, please select the Add Python 3.X to PATH option.

  2. Download a 64 bits Ruby with Devkit installer from Ruby Installer for Windows. During the installation process, make sure that the Add Ruby executables to your PATH option is selected.

  3. Open a Windows console (executing either Windows PowerShell or cmd, depending on your Windows version), and execute the commands indicated in the next steps.

    3.1. Install the shell, e2mmap and sync Ruby modules with:

    PS C:\Users\Username> gem install shell e2mmap sync

    3.2. Install QtARMSim using the pip3 command:

    PS C:\Users\Username> pip3 install QtARMSim

1.3 Installing QtARMSim on macOS

To install QtARMSim on macOS, please follow the next steps:

  1. Download and install Python 3 from the Python downloads page.

  2. Open a Terminal and execute the next command:

    $ sudo -H pip3 install QtARMSim

After doing the previous steps, you should be able to execute QtARMSim by typing qtarmsim on a new Terminal.

Note: If an error message appeared when executing the pip3 command saying that there was no matching distribution of PySide2 for your macOS version, you can instead install PySide2 with MacPorts and QtARMSim with no dependencies using the following commands (MacPorts should be installed previously):

$ sudo port install py39-pyside2   # same version as the installed Python
$ sudo -H pip3 install --no-deps QtARMSim

1.4 Installing the GNU GCC Arm toolchain (optional)

Starting with version 0.3.1 of QtARMSim, the required part of the GNU GCC Arm toolchain is already bundled with QtARMSim. So this step should only be done if there is a problem with the bundled GNU GCC Arm toolchain (i.e., QtARMSim is not able to assemble any source code).

In this case, another instance of GNU GCC Arm toolchain can be installed and used.

On GNU/Linux, this can be accomplished by installing a GNU GCC ARM package provided by the GNU/Linux distribution being used, by building a cross-compiling toolchain, or by extracting the gcc-arm-none-eabi-????-linux.tar.bz2 file from the GNU Arm Embedded Toolchain Downloads page.

For example, on Ubuntu, this optional step can be achieved with:

$ sudo apt install gcc-arm-linux-gnueabi

And on Gentoo with:

# emerge -av crossdev
# echo "PORTDIR_OVERLAY=/usr/local/portage" >> /etc/portage/make.conf
# crossdev --target arm --ov-output /usr/local/portage

On Windows and macOS, to perform this optional step, download and execute the respective Windows or macOS GNU GCC Arm toolchain package from the GNU Arm Embedded Toolchain Downloads page.

Once a new GNU GCC Arm toolchain is installed, please configure the ARMSim Gcc Compiler QtARMSim option to point to the new arm-none-eabi-gcc executable.

2. Executing QtARMSim

To execute QtARMSim, run the qtarmsim command, or click on the corresponding entry on the applications menu (on GNU/Linux, under the Education:Science category).

3. Upgrading QtARMSim

To upgrade an already installed version of QtARMSim, execute the following command on GNU/Linux:

$ sudo pip3 install --upgrade QtARMSim

On Windows:

PS C:\Users\Username> pip3 install --upgrade QtARMSim

On macOS:

sudo -H pip3 install --upgrade QtARMSim

4. Uninstalling QtARMSim

To uninstall QtARMSim on GNU/Linux, execute the following command:

$ sudo pip3 uninstall QtARMSim

On Windows:

PS C:\Users\Username> pip3 uninstall QtARMSim

On macOS:

sudo -H pip3 uninstall QtARMSim


Copyright 2014-20 Sergio Barrachina Mir <>

This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program. If not, see <>.

3rd party software acknowledgments

The next 3rd party software is used and distributed with QtARMSim.

ARMSim: an ARM simulator, copyright Germán Fabregat Llueca, licensed under the GPLv3+. Included under the qtarmsim/armsim directory.

GCC, the GNU Compiler Collection, copyright the Free Software Foundation, Inc, licensed under the GPLv3, with the addition under section 7 of an exception described in the “GCC Runtime Library Exception, version 3.1” (see <>). Binary versions targeting the ARM EABI are included under the qtarmsim/gcc-arm directory.

Qfplib: an ARM Cortex-M0 floating-point library in 1 kbyte, copyright Mark Owen, licensed under the GPLv2. Source code included under the 3rdparty/ directory. This part of the code is only available under the GPLv2 license.

AlphaSmart 3000 font, designed by Colonel Sanders. Included under the 3rdparty/ directory.


0.5.4 (2021-05-27)

  • Fixed incompatibility with Ruby 3.0.

0.5.3 (2020-11-06)

  • Updated the installation instructions.

  • A newer 64 bit GNU GCC Arm toolchain for macOS has been included.

0.5.2 (2020-06-20)

  • Updated the installation instructions.

  • Updated post installation hook for linux.

  • Post installation code reorganized to allow post_install to be installed as a script.

0.5.1 (2020-06-13)

  • Reformatted post_install code and added a hook for linux.

  • Changed default QtARMSim icon by the SVG version.

  • Moved script outside of qtarmsim module to avoid its dependency on PySide2 (under certain circumstances, post-install is called before the PySide2 dependency is installed).

0.5.0 (2020-05-25)

  • Visualization improvements, especially on the trace ribbon (left area of the simulator).

  • The registers at the register dock are now highlighted when a register is highlighted in the editor or in the simulator.

  • Added Full Screen mode.

  • Added new Compact layout. Hides everything but the registers and memory docks (which are stacked at the left) and the Edit/Simulation widget (which takes the rest of the window).

  • The ARMSim path and GNU compiler path are tested on initialization. If they are no longer valid (usually due to a system python update), they are replaced by their default values.

  • Improved the QtARMSim installation and integration on GNU/Linux, Windows and macOS. On GNU/Linux, the KDE expected mime type for assembler editors has been added. On Windows, a menu entry and a desktop shortcut are now created. On macOS, the qtarmsim script is automatically copied on /opt/local/bin/.

  • Added a simulator output panel that displays the stdout of ARMSim (available only in debug mode).

  • Fixed a bug in ARMSim due to GCC trimming the lines of the LST file at a fixed number of bytes, which under certain circumstances could lead to split a multi byte UTF-8 character and provoke an exception.

0.4.19 (2020-05-05)

  • Fixed bug: ‘QPaintDevice: Cannot destroy paint device that is being painted’.

  • Updated ARMSim version.

0.4.18 (2020-05-05)

  • Fixed bug: assigning a PIPE to armsim stdout prevented the Windows version to work properly.

0.4.17 (2020-05-04)

  • Updated installation instructions for Windows systems.

0.4.16 (2019-11-08)

  • Added the Show/Hide tabs and spaces functionality (on the editor contextual menu).

  • Saved files are forced to end with a new line (to avoid misleading the gcc compiler if the last line ended with a TAB).

  • Added zoom in and zoom out via CTRL++ and CTRL+- (CTRL+wheel already was there).

  • Tab width is now correctly computed.

0.4.15 (2019-07-15)

  • Added the printf subroutine to the ARMSim firmware.

0.4.12 (2019-04-24)

  • PySide2 5.12.2 has corrected the previously changed signature of QAbstractItemModel.createIndex(). The INSTALL documentation has been modified to no longer force the installation of PySide2 5.11.

0.4.11 (2019-01-21)

  • PySide2 5.12 has changed the signature of QAbstractItemModel.createIndex(), as it seems that they are going to do a regression, the INSTALL documentation has been changed to force the installation of the previous 5.11.2 version of PySide2.

0.4.10 (2018-11-20)

  • Added an scroll area inside the LCD Display dock widget (so that the LCD width does not force the whole simulator width).

  • Changed LCD font to “AlphaSmart 3000” by Colonel Sanders.

  • Added a new example of floating point operations usage, triangle.s, under ‘File > Examples > Floating point’ menu.

0.4.9 (2018-10-16)

  • Changed LCD font to “1 Digit” by David Chung.

  • Fixed bug that prevented code to be resized.

0.4.8 (2018-10-8)

  • Properly acknowledging Qfplib by Mark Owen.

0.4.7 (2018-7-27)

  • Added memory contents tooltips.

  • Added new example, LCD/ascii, and revised previous ones.

  • Changed the way the monospaced font is selected.

0.4.4 (2018-7-25)

  • Migrated to Qt for Python (PySide2).

  • Speeded up the filling of the simulator data.

  • Added examples as a File menu entry.

  • Added ARMSim tabs to separate the source code of the different ROMs.

  • Added Qfplib (floating point library) API documentation to the help.

  • Added UseLabels ARMSim option.

  • Memory dock: first RAM is expanded by default and whenever a memory entry is modified it scrolls to its position.

0.3.16 (2018-1-17)

  • Corrected typo on the restructured text format of the changelog documentation.

0.3.15 (2018-1-17)

  • Added support in the simulator to showing jump labels instead of their addresses.

  • Corrected errata on Qfp library acknowledgments.

  • Removed legacy code from GlSpim.

0.3.14 (2017-11-08)

  • Added SVG icon support explicitly: the toolbar icons now will be also shown on Windows.

  • ARMSyntaxHighlighter rules are now generated only the first time.

  • ARMSim: - Added support for floating point operations including Qfplib: an ARM Cortex-M0 floating-point library in 1 kbyte. - Corrected minor bug: .global declared labels generated a linking error. - Corrected minor bug: negative displacements on ‘bl’ instructions where incorrectly displayed.

0.3.13 (2017-11-02)

  • Added preliminary printing support.

0.3.12 (2017-04-21)

  • Changed the icon set to the KDE Breeze one.

  • LCD Display not rescaling correctly on some desktop environments fixed.

  • LCD display can now be zoomed with CTRL+mouse wheel.

  • Editors and panels now honor the system default point size.

  • Now the menu bar is displayed on the system menu bar on Mac OS X.

0.3.11 (2016-10-30)

  • The Edit menu actions have been implemented.

  • Settings values are now automatically stripped to avoid errors due to misplaced spaces.

  • ARMSim: updated firmware to correct a bug on sdivide subroutine.

0.3.10 (2016-09-19)

  • ARMSim: updated firmware to provide a signed division subroutine.

0.3.8 (2016-09-19)

  • Bug corrected: waiting spinner occluded File and Edit menus.

0.3.7 (2016-09-18)

  • Added firmware ROM that provides, among others, functions to display strings and numbers on the LCD display. The new memory organization consists of two ROM blocks and two RAM blocks. The first ROM block is filled with the assembled user code. The second ROM, with the firmware machine code. The first RAM can be used to store the user program data. The second RAM is used by the LCD display.

  • The graphical interface now uses a thread to retrieve the memory contents and the disassembled code from the two ROM blocks.

  • The regular expressions used to highlight the code on the editors have been optimized to increase the highlighting process speed.

0.3.5 (2016-09-12)

  • Improved the Mac OS X compatibility and added installation instructions for this platform.

  • Changed the minimum size of the code editor container to accommodate lower resolution screens.

  • ARMSim: (i) LSL result is now bounded to 32 bits; (ii) command redirection is performed explicitly to avoid an error on newer Windows versions; and (iii) the method used to compare whether memory blocks where not defined has been changed to avoid errors on Ruby with version >= 2.3.

0.3.4 (2016-01-21)

  • Added a memory dump dock widget that allows to see and edit the memory at byte level. It also shows the ASCII equivalent of each byte.

  • Added a LCD display dock widget that provides a simple output system. It has a size of 32x6 and each character is mapped to a memory position starting a 0x20070000.

0.3.3 (2015-11-28)

  • Added a visual indication of which instructions have already been executed on the left margin of the ARMSim panel.

  • Added automatic scroll on simulation mode in order to keep the next line that is going to be executed visible.

  • Improved the automatic selection of a mono spaced font (previously selected font used ligatures).

  • Fixed an error on the Preferences Dialog which prevented to select the ARMSim directory and the Gcc ARM command line using the corresponding directory/file selector dialogs.

  • ARMSim: Fixed the simulation of shift instructions: only the 8 least significant bits are now used to obtain the shift amount.

  • ARMSim.: Fixed the behavior when memory outside the current memory map is accessed: each wrong access now raises a memory access error.

  • Bundled a reduced set of the GNU compiler toolchain. To reduce the package size, only those files actually required to assemble an assembly source code have been included.

0.3.0 (2015-06-09)

  • Migrated from PyQt to PySide to allow a simpler installation of QtARMSim.

  • Developed a new source code editor based on QPlainTextEdit, though removing the prior QScintilla dependency, which allows a simpler installation of QtARMSim.

  • Improved the ARM Assembler syntax highlighting.

0.2.7 (2014-11-05)

  • Last revision of the first functional QtARMSim implementation. This implementation was used on the first semester of an introductory course on Computer Architecture at Jaume I University. This is the last version of that implementation, which used PyQt and QScintilla.

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