lauantai 9. syyskuuta 2017

How to install Raspbian with Pixel Desktop on a 4 GB SD card

I have an "old" 1st generation Raspberry Pi with only 256 MB of RAM. The most suitable OS for this sort of hardware would be Linux with no GUI. However it's possible to run Pixel Desktop on the oldest Raspi if you like. I wanted give it a go to see how fast (or slow) Raspbian really is on Raspi 1.

One might think it's easy task to download the latest Raspbian (with GUI included), write it on an SD card and fire up Raspi. Well, I only had a 4 GB SD card. Bummer! A 8 GB SD card is required nowadays. The image fits no more on an a 4 GB card.

So I was forced to:

  • Write the image of Raspbian Lite on an SD card and install Raspbian Lite (with no GUI)
  • Download and install the rest (GUI and some assisting software)

Follow these steps to make Raspbian with GUI fit on a 4 GB SD card:

  • Download the latest Raspbian Lite here: https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/raspbian/
  • Write Raspbian Lite on a 4 GB SD card and boot your Raspi (any Raspi will do)
  • Login and type-in the following command: sudo raspi-config
    • Once inside raspi-config localize your Raspbian, use Turbo mode to over-clock your raspi, reduce screen memory to 16 MB and let Raspbian populate the whole SD card etc.
  • Update and upgrade Raspbian:
    • sudo apt update
    • sudo apt upgrade
  • Install xserver: sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends xserver-xorg
  • Install xinit to make xorg display server to launch: sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends xinit
  • Install bare bone version of Pixel Desktop, terminal app and Recycle Bin: sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends raspberrypi-ui-mods lxterminal gvfs
  • Install GUI version of raspi-config: apt-get install rc-gui (may need reboot after install)
  • Now, thumbs up and reboot!
What about the hard disk and memory consumption? Try the following commands:
  • To find out the amount of free RAM memory: free -m
  • To find out how much free space is left on hard disk: df -h

How is it? Does it work? All's well! The OS is steady, a bit sluggish though. On the other hand there is a lot of room for software left on SD card since I never installed for example LibreOfffice or Wolfram. My Raspbian is a slimmed down version - only the necessities are there! Pixel Desktop which I'm used to is there as well. In fact, I'm really pleased with my Raspbian.

Did I figure out all of this by myself? Nope. I followed other users instructions found on the Internet. Here you are, some additional reading: https://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=133691

The good ole Pixel Desktop!

1st generation Raspberry Pi
with only 256 MB of RAM

Pixel Desktop up and running!
Still some memory and HD left!

lauantai 2. syyskuuta 2017

Tiny Core Linux 9 on a 1st gen Raspberry Pi

As Raspbian is becoming bloated and will not run that fast on an old 1st generation Raspberry Pi (especially with GUI) I started to look for and alternative distro. After searching I came across Tiny Core Linux (TCL) - a tiny and quick distro which loads entirely to RAM and runs from there. TCL can be downloaded here: http://distro.ibiblio.org/tinycorelinux/ports.html. The image is only 50 MB in size and fits on any SD-card.

If you are still with me and are going to flash TCL read on very carefully. After flashing use Gparted on Linux (I have no idea what to do if you have Windows) and enlarge the second partition so that all the software and extensions you are going to install fit on your SD-card (see next phase below).

Now, fire up your Raspi and TCL. Type-in the following command: tce-load -iw TC. Make sure you are wired to the Internet. When TCL has downloaded and installed all required packages reboot your system. A graphical user interface should show up.

I tested TCL on an "old" 1st generation raspberry Pi (not the very first one though!) with 512 MB of RAM. It took ~ 10 seconds to boot to CLI (that is no graphical user interface, command-line only) and 20-30 seconds to GUI. Not bad! Besides you can remove the SD-card if you like. The whole OS runs from RAM memory! Cool!

Ok, enough for now. Still to-do: keyboard layout is US and needs fixing. No apps installed so I need to find some sort of tool for that task. I'll be back!

TCL with GUI

Composite video!

Time flies! 2011-12!



lauantai 24. kesäkuuta 2017

An old Dell Latitude X1 is now running the latest Raspbian from hard disk

Now that Raspbian is available as an installable ISO for an x86 PC I decided to give it a go on my rusty old Dell Latitude X1.

With only 1 GB of RAM my Dell is able to run a Linux which consumes as little resources as possible. Raspbian is based on Debian Linux and is equipped with a modified and light window manager - suitable for my needs.

If you want to download the latest (summer 2017) Raspbian for x86 (i.e. Intel-compatibel processor) you can either use direct link or download a torrent file below:


Once the ISO was downloaded I burned it on a USB stick. Next, I booted Dell from USB.  The setup was familiar from Debian. The only annoying thing was my wifi dongle was not recognized. So I was forced to use an external one from König. No problem with that dongle. The driver was automatically loaded and the dongle worked out-of-the-box.

Raspbian x86 on hard disk really made my day! I'm going to migrate to Raspbian on all of my platforms! It's already running on my Raspies and from now on on my PCs as well!


König USB Wifi dongle




It's official! Run Raspbian from hard disk on your PC!

For a while it's been possible to run Raspbian from USB stick on PC. From now on you can install Raspbian on the hard disk of your PC!

If you want to give Raspbian on PC a go please make sure to back up your hard drive before installing. All your information will be earsed during the setup.

Download the ISO image here: http://downloads.raspberrypi.org/rpd_x86/images/rpd_x86-2017-06-23/2017-06-22-rpd-x86-jessie.iso 

Or if you prefer torrent, use the following link: http://downloads.raspberrypi.org/rpd_x86/images/rpd_x86-2017-06-23/2017-06-22-rpd-x86-jessie.iso.torrent

Burn the image on a USB stick and boot your PC from it. Choose Install from Boot Menu (look at the picture below). Run the setup familiar from Debian. When finished you have Raspbian up and running on your PC.

Edit 1: I did let Raspbian populate the hard disk entirely. I guess multi-booting is possible but I haven't tested it yet.

Edit 2: Not all devices work. For example wifi circuit might not be supported by Raspbian ( i.e. Debian).


Choose Install (text-based setup)

An old x86 mini laptop and Raspberry Pi
running Raspbian and Pixel Desktop

sunnuntai 11. kesäkuuta 2017

UBports Installer 0.1.4 beta - an easy way to install Ubuntu Touch on your phone

UBports Installer lets you install Ubuntu Touch on limited variety of smart phones (see picture below). The app is in beta (0.1.4) at the moment.

The Installer is available for Windows, Mac and as an AppImage for Linux! Read more about AppImage here: http://appimage.org/. Download your copy of UBports Installer here: https://github.com/ubports/ubports-installer/releases .

Once the app is downloaded and installed connect your device and hope for the best. Keep in mind all your data will be gone when flashing Ubuntu Touch. Make sure you know how to restore your original OS in case something odd happens. UBports is maintaining a list of supported phones and tablets.

UBports Installer on Windows 10



sunnuntai 28. toukokuuta 2017

Picroft - a special version of Mycroft open source Artificial Intelligence for Raspberry Pi 3

There are many AI (Artificial Intelligence) assistants available like: Siri (Apple), Google Assistant, Amazon Echo and Cortana (Microsoft) which all are proprietary. The only open source AI-tool out there on the Internet is Mycroft. I wanted to give it a go.

Off I went and downloaded Picroft - a ready-made image - for Raspberry Pi 3, burned it on a microSD-card and booted Raspi3. Once Picroft was connected to the Internet a six character code was printed on screen. In order to make AI work Raspi3 needs to be paired at https://home.mycroft.ai using the code. After that I started to speak to Mycroft.

My equipment was not that up-to-date. It seems not all devices work. At first I tried a USB headset from Logitech with no luck. I had to use an old Microsoft web camera as microphone and a headset as speakers. After saying "Hey, Mycroft" Mycroft started listening and answering to me.

How was the conversation with Mycroft? Well, very basic I'd say. For example when asking:"Where is London?", Mycroft had no idea. The president of the USA was known by Mycroft. I wanted to teach Mycroft but I guess it's not allowed.

After a quick test all I can say is Mycroft works almost out-of-the-box on Raspi3. That's good news. I hope Mycroft will soon learn where London is somewhere on this planet. And it will - eventually.

PS Ah, you can install skills via command line and github! That way you can make Mycroft do more tricks. See skills that are available foe downloading (requires a free github account) : https://github.com/MycroftAI/mycroft-skills

Picroft - a special version of
Mycroft runs on Raspberry Pi 3

An old web cam as a microphone

Head set as speakers

The UI of Mycroft on Raspberry Pi 3

Mycroft doesn't know where London is...


lauantai 6. toukokuuta 2017

Charge other devices with your Android phone

Lets say your friend's Android phone is out of charge. Did you know it's possible to lend some battery voltage to other Android phones? Yes, it can be done. Read on!
  • Next, find out if your Android phone supports OTG (On The Go). Download and install USB OTG Checker from Play Store. Check your phone to see if USB OTG support exists.
  • After the above steps it's time to connect your phone with another phone. Use the USB OTG -cable and your normal USB charging cable. Thumbs up your friend's phone will be charged! And hey, not only phone-phone can be connected but phone-other devices as well (cameras etc).
I made a quick test with two phones; Samsung Galaxy S4 and Samsung Galaxy S (yes, an ancient phone from year 2010 running Android 4.4). And yes! It works! Galaxy S4 is acting as a charger for Galaxy S!

Charging going on!

Samsung Galaxy S receiving extra power!

USB OTG Checker
user interface



perjantai 17. maaliskuuta 2017

How to turn a year-2004-PC with Windows XP into a modern Linux computer

Yesterday I received a donation; a Fujitsu-Siemens laptop from year 2004 with the following specs:
  • 512 MB of RAM
  • 60 GB harddisk
  • 1.6 GHz Pentium M
  • Windows XP on harddisk
There are many lightweight Linux distributions to choose from. Off I went and swiped out Windows XP with something lighter in mind:
  1. Lubuntu didn't fit in since it requires PAE.
  2. Debian Linux was also out of the question - it is way too fat operating system nowadays - at least for my tiny PC!
  3. After those two there were not that many candidates left. Thank heavens Tiny Core Linux made my day! It loads super-fast, offers a simple yet usable desktop and the latest software (for example Firefox- and Chromium-browsers).
I'm testing Fujitsu-Siemens at the moment. Wifi (IPW2200) is built-in and supported by Tiny Core Linux. Localized keyboard is not yet configured but there are instructions available.

Edit: turns out one can install Puppy Linux on harddisk. I will try it next!

Desktop is simple yer usable

lauantai 11. maaliskuuta 2017

Turn your PC into a Chromebook - three distributions to choose from

If you have a spare PC and would like to turn it into a Chromebook you have three differerent flavours to choose from. Let's see what these OSes have to offer.
  1. Cloudready of Neverware is available for free for individual users. You can choose between 32-bit and 64-bit versions. Bear in mind not all PCs are supported. You can find the list of certified models here. Why would you choose Cloudready? There is a company behind the the distro so updates can be expected to happen. Download here: https://www.neverware.com/freedownload
  2. FlintOS is aimed at RaspberryPi 3 and PC. At it's early stages FlintOS is not ready for all PC users just yet. However the project is alive and growing rapidly. So a mature version for PC might show up any time soon. If you are familiar with Raspberry Pi 3 you might want to run FlintOS on both Raspi and PC. Download here: https://flintos.io/download/ .
  3. Last but not least there is Arnold The Bat's ChromiumOS. Arnold has been offering his version of ChromiumOS long before Cloudready and FlintOS showed up. When nothing works try ChromiumOS. My 10 years old mini laptop accepted Arnold's version while rejecting Cloudready and FlintOS. Download here: https://chromium.arnoldthebat.co.uk/ .
It's pretty easy to download and install ChromiumOS (open source version of ChromeOS) on PC. In addition there are three different alternatives to choose from. So there is no need to buy a Chromebook but to pick up a version of ChromiumOS that suits you and start to play!

Acer Aspire One ZG5 running
Arnold the Bat's ChromiumOS


perjantai 13. tammikuuta 2017

Flint OS turns RaspberryPi 3 into a Chromebox!

Chromeboxes/Chromebooks are very easy-to-use computers. The only app you need to know is web browser. Eventhough Chromeboxes/Chromebooks are relatively cheap devices there is an even more inexpensive option available!

With RaspberryPi 3 SBC (Single Board Computer) and Flint OS you can run a Chromebox of your own. A Raspi can be purchased nowadays almost everywhere on this planet. Adafruit is selling Raspi 3 for 40 $.

All you need to do is to download the image of Flint OS and burn it on an at least class 10 SD card (make sure your card is fast enough!). Fire up your Raspi, login and start browsing the web!

Too good to be true? Well, you can't expect Flint OS and Raspi 3 to run at the same speed as your laptop or desktop computer. In addition, Flint OS has so far only reached the version number 0.2. Flint OS on Raspi 3 is very usable but not for all of us just yet. However Flint OS will mature in near future. So you'd better keep your eye on Flint OS!

Edit: A new and more stable version 0.2.1 “Beetle” was released in February 11th!

Flint OS on RaspberryPi 3



keskiviikko 11. tammikuuta 2017

New version of Raspbian is out (January 11th 2017)!

Raspbian is based on Debian Linux and runs on Raspperry Pi. A new version of Raspbian is out (January 11th 2017)! You can download Raspbian:

Either via Raspberrypi.org web site:

Or via torrent network:

keskiviikko 4. tammikuuta 2017

How to install Pixel Desktop on hard disk

What is Pixel Desktop?

Pixel Desktop is the default GUI of Raspbian operating system made for Raspberry Pi. Recently Pixel Desktop was released for x86 platform. This means you can run the same desktop on your PC as on Raspberry Pi.

At the moment only Live image of Pixel Desktop is available for x86. You can boot up PC from USB stick but not install Pixel Desktop on your hard disk - officially. However, there is a work-around; Refracta Tools makes it possible for anyone to install Pixel Desktop on hard disk.

The installation on hard disk - take the following steps
  • Next, burn the image on a USB stick (2 GB stick is big enough). Use your favourite app to do that. There are many apps to choose from; Win32DiskImager for Windows, command dd for Linux etc. 
  • Finally, boot up your PC from Live USB stick. Once the graphical user interface is up and running look for System Tools -> Refracta Installer (see the picture below). You need to create and choose at least one partition for Pixel Desktop on hard disk. A wizard helps you and launches an app for partitioning. In the end of install you'll be asked to type in passwords for Pixel Desktop.

Aftermath

After setup you can run (in Terminal-app) sudo apt-get update and sudo apt-get upgrade to get the latest updates and to see if your PC is connected to the Internet.

For all you non-English-keyboard-users: different keyboard layouts are there for you to pick up. Browse Preferences -> Mouse and keyboard settings -> Keyboard tab -> Keyboard Layout button.

What if Refracta Tools doesn't show up? This happened to me. An old Acer ZG5 mini laptop just could not make it. I guess Intel Atom 1,6 GHz with 1 GB of RAM was not enough? No Refracta Tools anywhere eventhough I was able to boot up Acer from USB stick. Well, Asus EeePC 1025C made my day and was willing to receive Pixel Desktop and is now my number one laptop!

What if wifi doesn't work etc.? This, too, can happen. Bear in mind Pixel Desktop is there only helping you with your everyday tasks. It's Debian Linux under the surface that takes care of for example drivers. Off you go and look for help on the internet if your hardware fails. There are many Debian-concentrated discussion forums available.

An official installer of Pixel Desktop is arriving later this year (2017). Before that Refracta Tools and a derived version from Exton Linux help you to perform hard disk setup of Pixel Desktop.

Refracta Installer helps you to setup
Pixel Desktop on your hard disk

Asus EeePC 1025C running Pixel Desktop
from hard disk - no USB stick needed