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:
  • 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 lightdm: apt install lightdm (apt purge lxde removes lxde which is not needed)
  • 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:

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: 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!