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If you can not afford commercial tools, it is highly recommended to develop under Linux. Currently, Ubuntu and Lubuntu 11.10 - 13.04 are recommended for maximum compatibility, although there will likely be a progression toward newer versions of Ubuntu, particularly 14.10 which will be out in October 2014 and will be the only long-term release until two more years.
Windows development of stm32f4 software using gcc, libopencm3 and cygwin is also possible. This combination is still under evaluation. In the meantime, here is a walkthrough. If you have any suggestion or improvements, please get in touch with us and let us know.
ARM maintains their own official version of GCC for the STM32F4! It's for many platforms including Ubuntu, Windows and Apple.
Install it like this:
sudo add-apt-repository -y ppa:terry.guo/gcc-arm-embedded sudo apt-get -y update sudo apt-get -y install gcc-arm-none-eabi
This guide 'How to do Virtual Development on the STM32F4' is maintained by DIYDSP to facilitate development within a virtual machine. If you are using the windows platform, it is recommended to do development within a virtual Ubuntu machine. This guide takes you through developing software on the stm32f4 inside a virtual machine.
All kinds of neat low-level stuff you didn't know about ARM programming: