Windows XP Look-a-Like on a Raspberry Pi

*** 2021 Update: GramPi is STILL humming along - 2.5 years with periodic q4os updates ***


*** 2020 Update: First GramPi system is still working fine - 1.5 years on original SD and RPi 3B+. Tweaks listed in Aftermath section below. ***




Migrated to new site spring 2021. Original recipe @ http://ventures.tpedersen.net/errata/raspberrypi/grampi

Motivation & Goals

The GramPi project focused on managing dated computers for my older friends (80-90+ years olds!). Older x86 desktop computers were all beginning to fail and I was running out of parts! System usage is very limited, typically used for email, browsing and card games, BUT they all knew how to use their systems and were not interested in changing the way they do things - or spending a bunch of money!

The original goal was to replace aged desktop computers for elderly family and friends. Most of which were already running Linux that looked like XP (Lubuntu).


Level of Difficulty & Prep Time

Pretty simple project, no programming required but Raspberry Pi and Linux knowledge may be required.

Possibly 1-2 hours of install/config work if hardware is in place.

VERY little ongoing maintenance (see Aftermath section). I do manual Q4OS updates but am pretty sure they could be automated.

The replacement "PC" was well under $100 - cheap/fun project!

Hardware

Stuff I bought or had on hand

Reused PC Hardware

    • USB Keyboard

    • USB Mouse

    • VGA Monitors (all have early flatscreens)

    • Speakers

    • USB HP Printer/Scanner (CUPS handled this like a charm!)

New Hardware purchases (approx $70 total)

Optional hardware that was tested or considered

Software

OS: Settled on Q4OS (arm) - Donate Here!

XPQ4 Add-on: "Windows look'n feel for your Q4OS desktop"
- options for Win 10, Win 8, XP, NT ...

Apps/Software

Performance

The PCs originally targeted to be replaced by GramPi's were are all XP-Class machines, desktops or towers with Celeron or Sempron class processors, 1-2g of memory and small hardisks (<100g disks).

When Microsoft XP support dried up the machines were reloaded with Linux Lite with the Lubuntu XP theme, which had worked fine on the old hardware for 5+ years. Users were already used to Thunderbird email and Firefox browser and really only squawked about losing MS solitaire.

CPU performance comparison RPI3B+ vs Sempron 3000+ in chart below - Full Benchmark Spreadsheet is HERE.

Step By Step Install

Q4OS Installation

(in case I have to do this again!)

  1. Download latest Q4OS (q4os-3.14-rpi.r4.zip was ~900M compressed download, 1.9G image)

  2. Flash to SD card using Etcher (or similar) - Approx 10 mins

  3. Initial boot - Approx 5 mins

    • Automatically resizes file system

    • <odd!? mine stopped here in terminal session - did a sudo reboot to kick it on>

    • Login as pi/raspberry

    • Forced feeds some scaling dialog - yada yada, I just hit OK

    • Detects WiFi now! Set up ssid/pass at this point as needed

    • Automatically sets language

    • Forces password change for user pi

    • Runs Desktop Profiler: Select "Full featured Desktop, Office Suite ..." Approx 45+ mins
      // This took a looong time. It looked like a big update included here ... lots of packages flying by!! //

  4. Some post-install cleanup (notes to self, season to taste) - Approx

    • Raspi-config via GUI or Terminal session (Konsole)

      • System Options:

        1. Set Hostname

        2. Boot to Desktop

        3. Wait for Network at Boot
          // Mostly to avoid confusing the 90+ year old users when system appears up/ready //

        4. Enable Splash Screen

      • Display Options

        1. Set Resolution to 800x600 for my Mom (large/square LCD)

      • Interfacing Options:

        1. SSH Server on

        2. VNC Server Enabled

      • Localization

        1. Check all options - I had to set Timezone and WiFi Country


<Forced reboot here>

Make it look like Windows

Couple of post-boot config tweaks & installation of xpq4 to make it look like XP

Q4OS Config cleanup via Welcome Screen - see also User Manual

    • Run Install Proprietary Codecs - Approx 5 mins

    • Enable Autologin

    • Make sure desktop effects are disabled

  1. Tweaks via Q4OS Control Panel

    • Appearance & Themes/Screen Saver -> Uncheck "Require Password to Stop"

    • Peripherals -> Display -> Set Power Control -> Standby/Power off timings

Make it look like XP or other versions of Windoze

  1. Download latest xpq4 (for Trinity Desktop) from https://xpq4.sourceforge.io

  2. run setup_xpq4-free (or full - read license) setup wizard (5 mins)

  3. Control Panel->LookNFeel->XPQ4 Desktop Styles - Luna (XP for me!)

Check for any remaining Q4OS updates (orange flower in task bar)

<Reboot A Roooo>

It should come back logged in and looking like Windows XP!

Software Installs

Software install via Q4OS Package manager (or apt)

  1. Install favorite editor (I like joe - nano is installed by default, I think)

  2. Make sure Chromium Browser was installed
    // I still install Firefox
    but it did not stream grampa's radio station, also noticeably slower than chromium //

  3. Microsoft Fonts aka "ttf-mscorefonts-installer" package

  4. Games

    • sgt-puzzles - includes Blocks (aka "Same Game")

    • Snood = xbubble

    • Aisleriot Solitaire (pretty close to MS Solitaire)

Misc Cleanup

Misc Configuration Cleanup

  • Eliminate unnecessary desktop icons - Right-Click/move to trash

  • Cleanup the System Tray (Right click on left arrow) - hide all except Sound & Network Manager

  • Favorites - Start Button->All Programs->Programs - Right Click to Add/Remove from favorites (I put ALL used apps, games, email & browser)

  • Right Click on Start Button - Kickstart Style menu seems best my users (bad eyesight), clean up panel (no unnecessary or confusing icons!)

  • Browser Cleanup (Chromium)

    • Optional: I change Chromium desktop icon to firefox icon for my users, they are used to that path to the internet

    • Fix Thunderbird to launch Chromium - Article on Mozillazine

  • GramPi has no on/off switch! Set DPMS so monitor turns off. Mod via raspi config.txt per my Note

    • Carefully edit /boot/config.txt, add one line

hdmi_blanking=1

    • Settings->Peripherals->Display: Power Control Tab. I set Standby, Suspend and Power off to be safe.

<Time for one more Reboot!>

Aftermath

Log/Notes on things that were tweaked since deployment.

2018

    • WiFi did not come up after reboot and wasn't controllable via NetworkManager gui - lots of fiddling

      • Fixed in latest version (2.6 Nov 2018)

        • If you downloaded before fix ... here's the forum thread: https://www.q4os.org/forum/viewtopic.php?id=2406
          in a nutshell:

          We probably found the root of the issue, as the "dhcpcd5" package conflicts with network manager. Please try to run in terminal:
          $ sudo apt purge dhcpcd5


purging dhcpcd5 did the trick for me!

    • One more WiFi issue - No internet connection in morning ... Turned off WiFi Power Save mode via

      sudo iwconfig wlan0 power off

  • Don't forget to export Thunderbird Address Book before you ditch old PC!

  • Timezone did not get set during the config/tweaking - right click on taskbar/time

  • Complaints about slow Mail (Thunderbird) ended up being Thunderbird asking/compacting folders every time it started - even IMAP.

  • Added Remot3.it for Raspberry Pi so I can monitor or tweak remotely. SSH and VNC.
    This ended up being EXTREMELY helpful during COVID-19 Lockdowns in 2020!

2019

  • 1/31/19: Added a pdf viewer - xpdf package. Odd that this one slipped thru the cracks

2020

  • Prepared new (buster) version of GramPi, but haven't installed due to COVID lock-ins. Original version just keeps humming along!