Raspberry Pi Learning Resources

Demo Programs

Raspbian comes with a range of demo programs which you can just compile and run. They range from simple hello world text output, to full 1080p HD video playback, 3D spinning teapots and real-time animating fractal patterns. These are a great way to get a feel for what the Pi can do, and to gain some familiarity with navigating around the system and running programs at the command line.

Oh no! A command line interface!

Boot up your Raspberry Pi and open a terminal window:


pi@raspberrypi ~ $ _

The text above is the command prompt. Try not to be afraid of it! A CLI (command line interface) is actually a very quick and efficient way to use a computer.

To start, enter the command below to navigate to the hello_pi folder where all the demos are stored. TIP: You can use the TAB key for auto-complete as you enter commands.

cd /opt/vc/src/hello_pi

The command prompt should now look like this. The blue part shows where you are in the file system of the Pi.

pi@raspberrypi /opt/vc/src/hello_pi $ _

If you enter ls and press enter, you’ll see a list of folders. There is one for each demo. Before you can run them though, they must be compiled. Don’t worry if you don’t understand why you need to do this; just go along with it for now, and we'll learn more about it later on.

There is a small shell script supplied in the hello_pi folder called rebuild.sh, which will do the compile for you. Enter the following command to run it. Ignore the gobbledygook for now!


A lot of text will scroll up the screen now, but for this exercise you can ignore it. It is just the output of the compiler as it works through the demo code. Wait for the command prompt to return before you continue.

Now we’re ready to run some demos.

Hello world

First, let's do a quick test that will ensure the previous compilation step worked correctly. This rather boring program will only display the text Hello world!, but if it works correctly then we know all the other demos should work too.

Enter the following commands to go inside the hello_world folder and list the files.

cd hello_world

You’ll notice the .bin file is shown in green. This is because it is an executable file. This means this is the file we run to launch the program.

Use the following command to run the demo. You need the ./ to specify the current directory, otherwise the Linux system folders will be searched for the filename you type.


Hello video

This will play a 15 second long, full HD 1080p video clip with no sound. The intention here is to demonstrate video decode and playback capability. You’ll see that it's very smooth!


Enter the following commands to navigate to the hello_video folder and list the files.

cd ..
cd hello_video

You’ll notice the .bin file again. This demo needs to be told what video clip to play when we run it though, so this must be the test.h264 file (h264 is a type of video codec).

You'll need the ./ to specify the current directory again.

./hello_video.bin test.h264

Hello triangle

This displays a spinning cube with different images on each side. This is intended to demonstrate Open GL ES rendering (an open-source programming library for doing 3D graphics).

Enter the following commands to navigate to the hello_triangle folder and list its contents.

cd ..
cd hello_triangle

You’ll again see that one of the files is green. This is the executable file. This demo doesn’t need any video input files like the previous one, so you can just go ahead and run the .bin file.


The demo will run forever until you decide to quit. To exit the demo press Ctrl – C.

Hello triangle 2

This one displays two superimposed fractals, one on top of the other. You can move the mouse to change the shape of the fractal in real time. This is also intended to demonstrate Open GL ES rendering. Some of you may recognise the Mandelbrot fractal.


cd ..
cd hello_triangle2

Notice the green .bin file? Okay, run it!


Now move the mouse around, and you’ll see the fractal changing. See if you can get it to form a perfect circle. It’s a little tricky, but it can be done. To exit the demo press Ctrl – C.

Hello teapot

This displays a spinning teapot with the video clip from hello_video texture-mapped onto its surface. Impressive! You may recognise the teapot model if you’re familiar with a piece of software called Blender. This demonstrates Open GL ES rendering and video decode/playback at the same time.


cd ..
cd hello_teapot

Notice the green .bin file? Okay, run it!


You may receive the following error when you try to run this demo:

Note: ensure you have sufficient gpu_mem configured
eglCreateImageKHR:  failed to create image for buffer 0x1 target 12465 error 0x300c
eglCreateImageKHR failed.

Don’t worry though: if you see this error, you just need to alter one configuration setting to make it work.

The error means the GPU (graphics processing unit) does not have enough memory to run the demo. It’s the GPU that does all the heavy lifting when drawing 3D graphics to the screen (a bit like the graphics card in a gaming PC). The Raspberry Pi shares its memory/RAM between the CPU and GPU, and by default is configured to only give 64 MB of RAM to the GPU. If we increase this to 128, that should fix the problem.

To do that, you'll need to enter the following command:

sudo raspi-config

This will open up a menu on a blue background. Perform the following actions:

  • Go to Advanced Options.
  • Go to Memory Split.
  • Delete 64 and enter 128 instead. Press enter.
  • Go down to Finish.
  • Click Yes to reboot.

After you have logged back in, enter the following command to get back to the hello_teapot demo:

cd /opt/vc/src/hello_pi/hello_teapot

Now try and run it again, and you should find it will work.


The demo will run forever until you quit. To exit the demo press Ctrl – C.

Hello audio

This demo just demonstrates audio output. It plays a sine wave, which makes a kind of WOO WOO WOO sound.

cd ..
cd hello_audio

Notice the green .bin file? Run it. Getting the hang of this now?


This will play the sound over the headphone jack on the Pi. If you’re using a HDMI monitor, you can make it output over HDMI by adding a 1 to the command.

./hello_audio.bin 1

The demo will run forever until you quit. To exit the demo press Ctrl – C.

What next?

  • By now you should be getting the hang of navigating up into the parent hello_pi folder (using cd ..) and then down into one of the demo folders (using cd hello_something).
  • Try some of the other demos on your own. The hello_videocube one is a good place to start.