Getting Started with ESP32 ESP-IDF (part 1)


The ESP32 is an awesome chip and a perfect solution for a variety of complex IoT based designs. In this series of articles, we discuss the process of getting started with ESP32 programming using ESP-IDF from Espressif Systems.
The series of articles is organized as follows:

  • Article 1
    – Download Ubuntu 14.04 LTS
    – Download and Install VirtualBox
    – Run Ubuntu 14.04 as virtual machine
  • Article 2
    – Prepare Ubuntu for ESP32 Development
    – Download the Toolchain
    – Verify Toolchain Installation
  • Article 3
    – Download ESP32 ESP-IDF from GitHub
    – Compile Blinking LED Example

In this article...

This series of articles on getting started with ESP32 ESP-IDF will start from scratch to getting the blinking LED project running on your ESP32 development board.

In part 1 of this series, we will take a look at how to get the ESP32 toolchain up and running on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. It is extremely easy to set up the toolchain, thanks to the readily available pre-built tool chain which you can simply download. In part 1, we have:

  • Download Ubuntu 14.04 LTS
  • Install VirtualBox virtual machine
  • Create a virtual machine with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS

The remaining steps will be covered in part 2 of the Getting Started with ESP32 ESP-IDF series.

Download Ubuntu 14.04 LTS

We will use the 32-bit version of the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS because it is lighter than the 64-bit version, and therefore can be run comfortably on a virtual machine.

In this article, the Ubuntu image file we use is the


The minor version change should not make any major difference to the process followed in the rest of the article.

Download and save the ISO file at a convenient location on your PC.

Download and install VirtualBox

Download and install VirtualBox to be able to run the ISO file we downloaded above on the virtual machine.

The version of VirtualBox you use does not really matter, just make sure that it is appropriate for the host machine you are using. Some versions of VirtualBox may be unstable with Windows 10!

Just in case you are curious, the laptop we used has the following configuration:

  • Windows 10 (64-bit) Home Single Language
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Graphics: 2GB DDR5
  • Intel Core i7 – 4500 CPU

The version of VirtualBox used in this article series is Version 5.1.4 r110228, which is stable with Windows 10.

Run Ubuntu 14.04 LTS on VirtualBox

Running Ubuntu 14.04 on VirtualBox is very easy. Because it is something that can be done by a newbie with help from articles readily available on the internet, we will not go through the process of setting this up here. You may read the following article for setting up the virtual machine in VirtualBox.

Follow the article above from part 3: Creating a New Virtual Machine

However, please use these settings for best results:



The rest of the process is shown in part 3 of the WikiHow article.

Run Ubuntu 14.04

Now that the virtual machine is set up and ready to run, we will configure the OS. Run the Virtual Machine. Ubuntu should boot normally.

You may request the virtual machine image with pre-installed ESP32 toolchain from us! If you do so, the login credentials will be:

Password: esp32

You should be into Ubuntu now!


Configuring Ubuntu and installing the ESP32 environment

Ubuntu, when it comes as a general ISO file, cannot be used to compile code for the ESP32. For compiling code for ESP32, we require an Xtensa cross compiler installed.

This has been covered in the next article, Part 2 of Getting Started with ESP32 ESP-IDF.

If you have something to talk about, feel free to leave your comments below! Also, scroll to the bottom of the page and SUBSCRIBE to stay updated with more awesome articles!


3 thoughts on “Getting Started with ESP32 ESP-IDF (part 1)”

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