Top 10 Programming Languages Ported to the Raspberry Pi - dummies

Top 10 Programming Languages Ported to the Raspberry Pi

By Sean McManus

The Raspberry Pi was designed to encourage young people to learn to how to code — the Pi in Raspberry Pi even comes from the Python programming language, so the very idea of programming is written into the name of the computer itself.

In the short time that the Raspberry Pi has been around, a considerable number of programming languages have been adapted for the Raspberry Pi, either by the creator of the language, who wanted to support the Pi by porting their creation, or by enthusiastic users who wanted to see their language of choice available on their platform of choice.

Either way, this plethora of languages speaks volumes for the vibrant ecosystem that is building up around the Pi, and suggests that with such great support, it will be around for a long time to come.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the languages now available for you to program on the Pi. Keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive. Remember: If a language can be compiled for the ARMv6 chip, it can run on the Raspberry Pi.


Scratch is an entry-level programming language that comes as standard with the Raspberry Pi distribution, Raspbian. Scratch was originally created by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab in Boston, U.S., with an aim to help young people learn mathematical and computational concepts while having fun making things.


Python is one of the primary programming languages hosted on the Raspberry Pi. Did you know that Python is named after Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the comedy team who brought us Life of Brian? (Which means Raspberry Pi is indirectly named after Monty Python, too.)

References to the comedy show are encouraged in the documentation and examples. Guido Van Rossum, the Dutch programmer who created Python, was a big Monty Python fan. Python’s supporters have given Guido the title of Benevolent Dictator for Life. Great title, eh?


HTML is the mark-up language that makes the World Wide Web tick. It was devised by Tim Berners-Lee while he was working at CERN in Geneva as a means to allow scientists in the organization to share their documents with each other. Before long, it went global.

HTML is the primary building block of the Internet — it tells your browser how to lay out each web page, and lets one website link to another. The latest version is HTML5. Through its radical redesign, it’s made embedding videos or audio into webpages or writing apps that will run on any smartphone or tablet easy.


JavaScript is a scripting language that works alongside HTML to add interactivity to websites. JavaScript was invented, and is maintained by, the World Wide Web Consortium, which also looks after HTML and CSS.

JavaScript adds client-side scripting to web browsers, which means you can create rollover buttons and drop-down menus and do calculations and a million other things. It got a new lease of life when it was combined with XML to become AJAX, which was adopted by companies such as Google and Yahoo! to improve the usability of their online maps, among other things.


JQuery is the most popular JavaScript library. It runs on any browser, and it makes the scripting of HTML considerably simpler. With jQuery, you can create rich web interfaces and interactive components with just a small amount of JavaScript knowledge.


When Java arrived on the scene, it was greeted with open arms by developers as the first programming language with which you could write a program that would run on any operating system, Windows machines and Unix boxes alike, without having to re-write the code.

This was a great leap forward. No longer did developers have to write in different languages for each operating system, or compile different iterations for every computer they wanted their code to run on. They could simply compile the code one time and it would run anywhere.

It was originally designed for Interactive TV by its creators, James Gosling, Mike Sheridan, and Patrick Naughton, and is named after the Java coffee that the creators consumed in quantity.

C programming language

The C Programming language was written by Dennis Ritchie, using Brian Kernighan’s B language as its model. C is one of the most widely used languages in the world, utilized in everything from complete operating systems to simple programming languages. Linux, the operating system that runs the Raspberry Pi, is largely written in C and is built into all Linux and Unix systems.

The design for C influenced a great many other programming languages, including Python, Java, JavaScript, and a programming language called D. It was also extended as Objective C, which is the language used to write apps for iPhones and iPads.


C++ was developed by the Danish developer Bjarne Stroustrup as a way to enhance C. C++ is used in a million different circumstances, including hardware design, embedded software (in mobile phones, for example), graphical applications, and programming video games. C++ adds object-oriented features to C. Other object-oriented languages are Java, Smalltalk, Ruby, and .Net.


Perl has been called the “duct tape that holds the Internet together” and the “Swiss Army chainsaw of scripting languages.” It was given these names because of its flexibility and its adaptability. Before Perl came along, the Internet was but a collection of static pages.

Perl added a dynamic element, which meant that for the first time, websites could be put together on the fly. Among other things, it enabled ecommerce and sites such as Amazon and eBay to come into being.


Erlang is a programming language used when there is no room for failure. You might use Erlang if you were running a nuclear power plant or if you were designing a new air traffic control system: mission-critical situations where the computer breaking down would spell disaster.

With Erlang, you can create programs that run across several computers. It’s designed so that if one computer fails, the others make up for it, which means the system never goes down.