Give the official Raspbian interface a go on your Windows desktop
This QEMU-based emulator of the Raspberry Pi lets you run a virtual Pi on your Windows desktop. It is simple to install and is a good way to experiment with the Pi before buying one.
It's easy to get started. The download is a compressed folder. Extract it to your computer and double-click on the run.bat file in the QEMU folder. A window will open and you will see the start up text of the Raspberry Pi.
You might want to set the option in the first time run window to start the graphical user interface (gui) automatically. Press the down arrow to get to the boot_behaviour option and press Enter. Make sure Yes is highlighted and press Enter again. You can change the other options as you require and then press the right arrow twice to get to the Finish option. Press Enter to save the changes and continue booting. The emulated Pi will restart with the new options.
If you forget, as we did, simply type startx when the Pi has finished starting and the Raspbian interface will appear.
The resolution is slightly lower than we experienced using the Pi on an external monitor. It is possible to make the window larger but this doesn't increase the resolution.
Networking worked flawlessly so we were able to access websites in the Midori browser without any further tweaking of settings.
The other key apps in Raspbian worked fine as well, including the excellent Scratch programming app and the Python interface.
One small niggle is that QEMU didn't pick up our graphics tablet properly and so we had to use a mouse to control Raspbian. It's a problem that will only affect a small niche of people.
This is not a small download at 505MB and it needs even more space to uncompress. The final folder weighs in at 1.88GB. Still that's much smaller than a virtual Windows or Linux computer using Virtualbox.
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A great way to try out the Raspberry Pi without buying one, just don't forget to get the real thing
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