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GramPi: RPI XP Look-a-Like

*** The GrampPi Recipe has been moved to
(no more updates here!) ***

GramPi boot time

Last update: 03 May 2021

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

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

Goal:  Replace a number of aged Windoze XP desktop machines for elderly friends and family

Motivation:  Simplify managing computers for my older friends (80-90+ years olds!).  Old desktop computers are beginning to fail. Very limited use (email, browsing, games), but they know how to use their systems and not interested in changing the way they do things - or spending a bunch of Money!


Stuff I bought or had on hand


Target Machine(s)

The PC's targeted for GramPi are all XP-Class machines, desktop and towers with Celeron or Sempron processors, 1-2g of memory and small hardisks (<100g disks).  When Microsoft XP support dried up the machines were reloaded with Linux Lite w/Lubuntu XP theme which worked fine on the old hardware for the past 4 or 5 years.  Users were already used to Thunderbird email and Firefox browser and really only squawked about losing MS solitaire.

The initial GramPi install happened a bit ahead of schedule - I ran out of spare parts!  Original plan was to wait for the RPI4 because my benchmarking seemed to indicate that the RPI3 (or 3B+) would not have the horsepower to replace the target machines ... BUT ... it worked!  Existing machines were apparently not running anywhere near capacity.  Here's the profile of the first replacement.
Original PC Hardinfo Report:

ProcessorAMD Sempron(tm) Processor 3000+
Memory1542MB (466MB used)
Operating SystemLinux Lite 3.4
Resolution800x600 pixels
OpenGL RendererGeForce 7100 
Audio AdapterICH - SiS SI7012
Input Devices
Power Button
AT Translated Set 2 keyboard
ImExPS/2 Generic Explorer Mouse
Printers (CUPS)
SCSI Disks
Memorex TD CLASSIC 003B

(in case I have to do this again!)

  1. Download latest Q4OS (500M compressed download, 1.9G image) 
    and Etcher to flash sd card, if necessary
  2. Flash (Etcher) - Approx 5 mins
  3. Initial boot - Approx 5 mins
    • Automatically resizes file system
    • Detects WiFi now!  Set up ssid/pass at this point 
    • Automatically sets language
    • Forces password change for user pi
  4. Some post-install cleanup - notes to self, season to taste
    • Raspi-config via Terminal session (Konsole) or ssh 
      • Network Options/Hostname - Set Hostname
      • Boot Options/Wait for Network at Boot
        // Mostly to avoid confusing the 90+ year old users when system appears up/ready //
      • Interfacing Options/SSH Server on 
      • Advanced Options/Screen Resolution to 800x600 (for my mom!)
      • <reboot here>
    • Q4OS Config via notes Welcome Screen - User Manual
      • Run Desktop Profiler:  Select "Full featured Desktop, Office Suite ..."  (~25 mins)
      • <logoff/logon forced>
      • Run Install Proprietary Codecs
      • Enable Autologin 
      • Disable desktop effects
      • <time to reboot!>
    • Tweaks via Q4OS Control Panel 
      • Appearance&Themes/Screen Saver -> Uncheck "Require Password to Stop"
      • Peripherals/Display -> Set Power Control -> Standby/Power off timings
  5. Make it look like XP
    • Download latest xpq4 from
    • run setup_xpq4-free (or full - read license) setup wizard (5 mins)
    • Install via package manager
    • Control Panel->LookNFeel->XPQ4 Desktop Styles - Luna for me
    • <logoff/logon forced (I think)>
  6. Software install via Package manager
    • Install favorite editor (I like joe, many use inbuilt nano)
    • Install Chromium Browser
      // Firefox would not stream gramps radio station, also noticeably slower than chromium //
    • Microsoft Fonts aka "ttf-mscorefonts-installer" 
    • Games
      • sgt-puzzles - includes Blocks (aka "Same Game") 
      • Snood = xbubble
      • Aisleriot Solitaire
  7. Misc Cleanup
    • Turn off Welcome Screen at startup (checkbox on Q4OS welcome screen))
    • Eliminate unnecessary desktop icons - Right-Click/move to trash
    • Config System Tray (Right click on left arrow) - hide all except Sound & NetworkManager
    • Favorites - Start/All Programs/Programs - Add to Favorites, Desktop, Panel ...
    • Classic XP theme w/ Kickstart Style menu seems best for these two (bad eyesight)  
    • Optional:  I change chromium desktop icon to firefox icon for my users, they are used to that path to internet 
    • Nobody seems to use OS default browser setting
    • Set DPMS for monitor via raspi config.txt - See my Note
      • Carefully edit /boot/config.txt, add one line
      • <Reboot here>
  8. Aftermath
    • WiFi did not come up after reboot *or* 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
        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 and have been watching/manually compacting periodically.   Will play with Clean up ("Expunge") Inbox on Exit option.
    • Added for Raspberry Pi so I can monitor or tweak remotely.  SSH and VNC
    • 1/31/19:  Added a pdf viewer - xpdf package.  Odd that this one slipped thru the cracks


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