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Compiling for MiSTer

MiSTer uses a combination of various compiled binaries in the finished product. There is a customized minimal Linux Kernel, a bootloader, a Main MiSTer binary that's written in C, and then there are the cores built on the MiSTer framework written in a combination of VHDL, Verilog, and SystemVerilog. In order to compile the "full stack" as it were, you need a variety of tools.

To compile MiSTer FPGA cores

The vast majority of MiSTer FPGA cores currently use Quartus 17.0.2 for compilation. Here are the download links for both Windows and Linux:

Windows Download

Linux Download

The Linux version is intended to work with Ubuntu 18.xx, you may have to adjust by downloading some missing dependencies if you use a newer version or another distribution.

Open the .qpf file from the MiSTer core you wish to compile with Quartus and press the play button. It's as simple as that!

General prerequisites for ARM Cross Compiling

These prerequisites are not completely strict, only some of them are. I'm using a specific linux distro (Ubuntu 20.04.5 LTS in WSL2), but you may find that other distros work for you, however your results may vary. Install the prereqs that I use for the Main MiSTer Binary and Linux kernel compilation this way:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y
sudo apt-get install build-essential git libncurses-dev flex bison openssl libssl-dev dkms libelf-dev libudev-dev libpci-dev libiberty-dev autoconf liblz4-tool bc curl gcc git libssl-dev libncurses5-dev lzop make u-boot-tools libgmp3-dev libmpc-dev

Download the correct cross-compiler for compiling ARM binaries on a 64-bit x86-based system:

wget -c

Extract this archive to somewhere you prefer, we will use it as a PATH, so here we will extract to /opt:

tar xf gcc-arm-10.2-2020.11-x86_64-arm-none-linux-gnueabihf.tar.xz -C /opt

Add this to your path temporarily each time you compile:

export PATH=/opt/gcc-arm-10.2-2020.11-x86_64-arm-none-linux-gnueabihf/bin:$PATH

Note: On WSL2 I have to run these export commands again after logging out, this may not be the case in your scenario, there are ways to permanently set them, but I'm preferring not to do that, you can also use them as parameters with make like normal (e.g. PATH=/opt/gcc-arm-10.2-2020.11-x86_64-arm-none-linux-gnueabihf/bin:$PATH make -j30).

Main MiSTer Binary

The Main MiSTer binary is a good place to start for this guide. I will assume you are either running a linux system or you are using Windows Subsystem for Linux. I'm using Ubuntu current (22.0).

Clone the Main_MiSTer repository:

git clone

Then cd into that directory that was created and follow up with make.

MiSTer Linux Kernel

Edit your sources file:

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

Uncomment all of the lines which start with deb-src and then run the following:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get build-dep linux

to be continued... If you would like to contribute to this article, please do! :)