Windows XP Look-a-Like on a Raspberry Pi

RPi based Windoze XP Look-a-Like for people who don't want to learn NEW computers!

Decommissioned 27 October 2022
remarkably long run!


*** 2022 Update: Finally updated to Buster on a fresh 32g sd card. Original Grampi had been running constantly for 3.5 years! Not bad! ***

*** 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 @

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.

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


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


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

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



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 ( was ~900M compressed download, 1.9G image)

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

  3. Initial boot, Update and Desktop Profiler - Approx 45 min

    • 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 30 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 5 mins

    • 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 // Optional //

      • 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

Make it look like XP or other versions of Windoze

  • Download latest xpq4 (for Trinity Desktop) from
    // Be careful to get correct version - raspberry pi was slightly behind, Centaurus) //

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

  • 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!

Couple of tweaks via Q4OS Control Panel

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

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

Software Installs

Software install via Q4OS Package manager (or apt)

  1. Install favorite editor (nano is installed by default but Ilike joe)

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

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

  4. Games - MANY to choose from!

    • A boatload of games were JUST THERE on this release ... I don't recall installing:
      Programs:/ q4os-Programs/q4os-Games!

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

    • Snood = xbubble

    • Aisleriot Solitaire (pretty close to MS Solitaire)

  5. Misc

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 in favorites)

  • 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)

  • Email Setup (Thunderbird)

    • Setup works right out of the box with gmail account

    • Account Settings -> Empty Trash on exit

    • // REMEMBER to import/move addressbook from old world//

  • 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


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

<Time for one more Reboot!>

Aftermath & Notes

Log/Notes on things that were tweaked since deployment.


  • Prepared new (buster) version of GramPi on new 32g microsd. Minor touch-ups in recipe, mostly simplifications

  • Forgot chromium bookmarks & passwords on first attempt. This article came in HANDY:

  • Skipped VNC for now ... researching why I can't access options:
    Stuck on this one, posted for help

    Unable to configure options for VNC Server".
    Popup detail:
    "This requires super user access when running in service mode as the
    changes will affect all users of this system. Either you do not have a
    suitable method configured to gain superuser privileges (e.g. sudo),
    you are not authorized top do this, or you supplied invalid credentials"

    Journal looks like this ...
    Mar 29 07:30:45 GramPiV2 vncserver-x11-serviced[486]: <11> 2022-03-29T12:30:45.931Z GramPiV2 vncserverui-service[786]: ServerUi: Error showing options dialog: Elevation not supported: no terminal found"

  • <more to come>


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


  • 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:
      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.

  • Turned off "Ask to Compact" option. Will play with Clean up ("Expunge") Inbox on Exit option.

  • Ended up setting "empty trash on exit" - seemed to make more sense for IMAP Account

  • Added 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!