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 @ http://ventures.tpedersen.net/errata/raspberrypi/grampi
GramPi: RPi XP Look-a-Like
Original: Fall 2018
Last Update: January 2022
Retired: October 2022 (R.I.P. Dad & 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.
This replacement "PC" was well under $100 - cheap/fun project!
Stuff I bought or had on hand
Reused PC Hardware
VGA Monitors (all have early flatscreens)
USB HP Printer/Scanner
(CUPS handled this like a charm!)
New Hardware purchases (approx $70 total)
Motherboard: Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+* ($39)
HDMI->VGA Adapter to reuse existing monitors (~$10 in 2017)
HDMI to VGA, 1080P with Audio Port*
Case, Heatsinks and good powersupply w/ on/off button* ($11)
A good SD card - Like a Samsung EVO 16g* (~$7)
// Replaced with 32g Sandisk Ultra* ($7 in 2022!)
Optional hardware that was tested or considered
Optional: USB Soundcard
(HDMI or 3.5mm sound was fine for my 'clients')
DTOL 5.1 External USB Audio Sound Card*
(Tested with Google Hangouts, future?)
Logitech HD Webcam C525*
Optional: USB DVD Drive
(one user likes to listen to DVD music)
LG Electronics USB Portable DVDARW External*
OS: Settled on Q4OS (arm) - Donate Here!
Q4OS Centaurus v3.14 - Raspberry Pi / armhf
(Raspbian Buster underpinnings)
Features of interest: Trinity Desktop, Automatic updates and maybe custom app installer
Active project - but RPi/Arm versions are typically a tad behind.
XPQ4 Add-on: "Windows look'n feel for Q4OS desktop"
- options for Win 10, Win 8, XP, NT ...
Browser: Settled on Chromium (faster and flash support)
// Required webapps include: Facebook, streaming radio, CNN, AP News, YouTube, and local newspaper (obituaries) //
Office: LibraOffice - but only required components to save space (e.g. writer only)
Games: AisleRiot Solitaire
Remote access: Remote.it for Raspberry Pi
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
(in case I have to do this again!)
Download latest Q4OS (q4os-3.14-rpi.r4.zip was ~900M compressed download, 1.9G image)
Q4OS Raspberry Pi Setup Guide (pretty thin)
Q4OS Forums (very good/responsive!)
Flash to SD card using Etcher (or similar) - Approx 10 mins
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!! //
Some post-install cleanup (notes to self, season to taste) - Approx 5 mins
Raspi-config via GUI or Terminal session (Konsole)
Boot to Desktop
Wait for Network at Boot
// Mostly to avoid confusing the 90+ year old users when system appears up/ready //
Enable Splash Screen
Set Resolution to 800x600 for my Mom (large/square LCD)
SSH Server on
VNC Server Enabled // Optional //
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
Make sure desktop effects are disabled
Make it look like XP or other versions of Windoze
Download latest xpq4 (for Trinity Desktop) from https://xpq4.sourceforge.io
// 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 install via Q4OS Package manager (or apt)
Install favorite editor (nano is installed by default but Ilike joe)
Make sure Chromium Browser was installed
// Firefox did not do well, it did not stream grampa's radio station, also noticeably slower than chromium //
Microsoft Fonts aka "ttf-mscorefonts-installer" package
Games - MANY to choose from!
A boatload of games were JUST THERE on this release ... I don't recall installing:
sgt-puzzles - includes Blocks (aka "Same Game")
Snood = xbubble
Aisleriot Solitaire (pretty close to MS Solitaire)
xpdf - Open source pdf viewer
I watch over GramPi using remote.it - Raspberry Pi Install @ https://docs.remote.it/software/device-package/installation
apt install remoteit
http://find.remote.it - and Clink on Register! Nice! Much easier than it used to be!
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)
Optional: I change Chromium desktop icon to firefox icon for my users, they are used to that path to the internet
Set Chromium as default browser via control panel->TDE Components->Default Applications ...
I used "chromium-browser %u" (FYI: Previously used this Thunderbird fix to launch Chromium
// REMEMBER to move/import Bookmarks and Passwords if moving from old world //
THIS IS HANDY:
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 https://www.q4os.org/forum/viewtopic.php?id=3979
Message="Unable to configure options for VNC Server".
"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: <11> 2022-03-29T12:30:45.931Z GramPiV2 vncserverui-service: 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: 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.
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 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!