Personalization of GUI


Hello Pocketchip Community,

I hope everyone is enjoying their Pocketchip, and learning the ‘Ins and Outs’ of Linux.
For some of you this may be your first time ever using a Linux OP, or accessing Terminal, for those of you who “are new to this” welcome! Learning how to use Linux, and terminal, can sometimes feel dauntingly overwhelming especially because it is something new, unpredictable, and has no familiarity ,but don’t be discouraged to take a chance, mess something up, explore, dive around through the insides of the system, because in most cases involving code the system can be fixed if something breaks. Anyways, let’s take some ownership of YOUR new space and make Pocketchip more familiar by doing something as simple as adding your own custom desktop background.
(if you messed something up you can fix it, there is a section down below, check out post #18!)

To ‘easily’ complete this task you will need:

Desktop computer
USB Flash Drive
And a Pocketchip

Okay, so first things first you need a background image! Any picture can work, just make sure you resize the image on your desktop computer to 480x272 (I used Adobe Photoshop to resize the canvas, but I’m sure Blender GIMP ((a free program, can also be used)@UnixOutlaw also mentions some other great alternatives in the comments below), save the image as mainBackground.png(exactly the same making sure to capitalize when needed!) to your USB flash drive.

Next, Get your Pocketchip and go to Browse Files. Navigate to /usr/share/pocket-home and find the picture that is named mainBackground.png. Highlight it (don’t select it) and click EDIT>COPY in the tool bar at the top of the screen. Once you have copied your image navigate to your Pictures folder located at /home/chip/Pictures and then EDIT>PASTE(this is just so its somewhere if you ever want it again).

Now, go back to your desktop and eject and remove your USB flash drive. Then insert it into Pocketchip. A window will pop up and It will ask you “would you like to open removable media” you don’t have to. Just exit the window.

The next bit should be done in terminal it is super simple.

This Changes the directory(cd) to the location of the new mainBackground.png picture.

ls -a
to list all(ls -a) the contents of the directory.

Once you are in the directory containing the image.

sudo cp mainBackground.png /usr/share/pocket-home
This Tells Super User(sudo) to copy(cp) mainBackground.png to /usr/share/pocket-home thus replacing the original image.

All that is left is to reboot your Pocketchip and… PRESTOCHANGO… you have your very own background!

That wasn’t so bad was it? This was just something basic to get you a little familiar with your new Pocketchip system. I’m sure along the way you also saw some other familiar .png images that are also on your desktop, bootscreen, and settings menu, these can all be change with more or less the same process( make sure you resize and rename the new .png to match the originals) and that should be it. With a little ingenuity you can make Pocketchips GUI look however you’d like! I hope you enjoy and I encourage you to have fun and play.

So long, for now!

P.S. Let’s see some of your GUI personalizations !!!

P.S.S. - The real treasure lays beneath the surface hidden from the eyes. In ‘Browse Files’ press Ctrl h for “x-ray vision” this shows the hidden files used to govern and bring order to the system!

Customize-able home screen?
Case mod/customisation/decoration

I really appreciate hackers like you! Helping me (a teenager who wants to be a programmer) and others! I’m still waiting for PocketCHIP. but trust me, when I get my pocketCHIP I’ll be sure to put pepe the frog as my background! Thanks


Great tip for the noobs to Linux and X…

I’ll just point out one thing - Blender is not really a photoshop “replacement” (it’s more of a Maya, 3DS Max or Lightwave replacement).

GIMP is what you’re looking for… There’s plenty of other alternatives too… and available to run on CHIP…

Some others that run on x86 Windows Mac or Linux are :

Inkscape (for Scalable Vector Graphics, sort of like Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw)

(I’d love to see Inkscape on CHIP! might put that on my to do list)


Fabulous hat-tip to the awesome film “Hackers”! What a great background image. Go for the trash - HACK THE PLANET!


You’re doing great work, much appreciated.


**Changing Icons**

Hello Everyone,

So, changing the icons on the desktop has been pretty straight forward.
I kinda just did same thing from before by
editing using nano sudo nano config.json
in the directory /usr/share/pocket-home
I just used the preexisting icons pathway located at /usr/share/pocket-home/appIcons
to replace the default pathway location of the "Get Help"s Icon
which was also located at /usr/share/pocket-home/appIcons
So I basically just changed the gethelp.png name for it to the "webbrowser.png"
and since the original "shell" : "surf" called a local document.
Which is also presaved on Pocketchip and doesn’t require the internet(surf) to use.
I just changed it to open to a webpage instead.

The same method can be done for all the icons so as long as you have the proper shell command for it to execute.

Once you resave the file by pressing Crtl and X at the same time and Reboot the device it should be on your desktop.make sure you save it as the same name - config.json

Next thing is to see about putting more than 6 icons on the desktop.
I will also post a write up on that when I get to it this afternoon.

P.S. The white page takes about 10 seconds to load. You can see the thin orange load bar at the bottom of the screen.

PocketInstaller (v5.0)
CHIP and PocketCHIP - OS differences

When you do changes, you dont actually need to restart the whole thing. If you have terminal access via ssh or local you can simply do

sudo systemctl restart lightdm

and it will restart the gui. Pretty useful for fast testing :slight_smile:


Thanks for the steps!


Here’s my current wallpaper:


Amazing! By the way, what about the D-pad? Is it cool, comfy?


The D-pad is great…it works really well.


When you change it do you change it to "shell : “url” ie… to change the shell to launch iceweasel i would change it to “shell” : “iceweasel” or would i change it to “shell” : “


@NateHack3r If youre using iceweasel, you can “shell” : "iceweasel"
then once your firefox browser loads,upon selecting the icon, it will redirect to your assigned home page. The home page is done within the options menu of your browser, so there is no need for


Have you tried to launch something like Iceweasel? What would you type in place of “surf”?


@midheaventech I tried replacing “surf” with “iceweasel” and when I click on it nothing happens, am I missing something.


I just tried it out and it worked on mine. It takes 30+ seconds to load after the icon is selected, but there was a loading screen. Did you rebooted your pocketchip after you saved the changes to the config.json file? I also think you can run iceweasel from the terminal by typing iceweasel or firefox and returning the line. Try typing iceweasel in your terminal and see if the package runs at all or what it says and let me know.


It is also strange, because even after i purge iceweasel. Something is left over because using firefox still loads the browser. I checked for files and packages and try purging firefox , but it says there’s nothing there.


**Frozen PocketCHIP fix without reflashing**

Hi everyone,

So a lot of people are customizing their PocketCHIPS GUI; awesome! Well trying their best. Sometimes you succeed and sometimes you forgot a {curly brace}, and your PocketCHIP won’t load after rebooting or gets hung up on the splash screen.

Never fear your serial connection is still here!

1.Turn on PocketCHIP and plug it into your computers USB port(on the newer macsbookpros I’m pretty sure you will have to use a hub that supports USB 2.0)

  1. In terminal on your desktop computer type ls /dev/tty* and you should see a list of serial connections

  2. You should see /dev/tty.usbmodem1d111 on that list. If that is not on your list and you do not know which one is your PocketCHIP simply run the command from step 1 without PocketCHIP plugged in, and then run is again with it turned on and plugged in. What ever shows up that was not there before is most likely your PocketCHIP.

I suggest making your terminal session full screen from here

  1. type in terminal screen /dev/tty.modem1d111
    (or screen /dev/tty.whatevershowedup) then hit return
    it should follow with a prompt for 'chip login:'
    First enter the username default i.e chip
    then the password chip, then you are in your PocketCHIP’s terminal shell. I think you got it from here. Change, or fix what ever it is you are doing, save, and exit or reboot your way outta there.

Here is more info on "Connecting to CHIP using a serial terminal"

This little trick may not work all the time, but its worth a try, and saves your system from being “neuralyzed” by “the flashy thing”.:sunglasses:

If you by chance completely messed up (lets say your config.json file) and didn’t save a backup, here is a copy. Just copy and paste it from your browser to your serial terminal session via the keyboard(ctrl c/ctrl v) and save and that should fix it.

  "defaultPage": "Apps",
  "pages": [
      "name": "Apps",
      "items": [
      "name": "Terminal",
          "icon": "appIcons/terminal.png",
          "shell": "vala-terminal -fs 8 -g 20 20"
          "name": "Play PICO-8",
          "icon": "appIcons/pico8.png",
          "shell": "pico8"
          "name": "Make Music",
          "icon": "appIcons/musicsequencer.png",
          "shell": "sunvox"
          "name": "Get Help",
          "icon": "appIcons/help.png",
          "shell": "surf /usr/share/pocketchip-localdoc/index.html"
          "name": "Write",
          "icon": "appIcons/texteditor.png",
          "shell": "leafpad"
          "name": "Browse Files",
          "icon": "appIcons/filebrowser.png",
          "shell": "pcmanfm"
      "cornerButtons": [
          "location": "TopLeft",
          "name": "Battery",
          "icon": "battery_0.png"
          "location": "TopRight",
          "name": "WiFi",
          "icon": "wifiOff.png"
          "location": "BottomLeft",
          "name": "Power",
          "icon": "powerIcon.png"
          "location": "BottomRight",
          "name": "Settings",
          "icon": "settingsIcon.png"
      "name": "Settings"
      "name": "Power"
      "name": "WiFi"
      "name": "Battery"
  "background": "0000FF"

Also if you just want PocketCHIP or CHIP to boot straight into the console on startup try this.
Once you are logged in you can always type startx if you want to run the GUI.

Can PocketC.H.I.P. land me a job?
How to launch Terminal if config.json shell goes to wrong program

**PocketCHIP Classic Styled Desktop**

This one is pretty easy and you don’t have to install anything.

  1. sudo systemctl set-default
    This makes it so PocketCHIP boots straight into a console.
    More info here

  2. reboot PocketCHIP.

  3. When prompted with

    Debian GNU/Linux 8 ttyl
    chip login:

Login with

chip login: root

  1. Type

and there is your awesome desktop.
Utilizing a desktop mouse here may come in very handy, but it is up to you.

you can change to an xfce style desktop by going to
start menu>Debian>Applications>File Management>xfdesktop.
You can utilize the ctrl button with numbers or letters as shortcuts to change the icon format or content’s sizes i.e ctrl + / ctrl -.

Just keep in mind that you are logged in as the root user and if you have not done so you should change your password with the bash command passwd in a terminal session.
Also, use useradd to create a new user(other than chip or root). The new user should be able to login to the awesome desktop the same way, and it keeps you from being logged in as root. Root is a powerful user and it can make or break your OS or worse so tread lightly as the root user.

One more thing your battery status is not shown here, and at the moment I do not know if you will get any kind of indicator if your are too low on power, you could check via the terminal by typing or cat /usr/lib/pocketchip-batt/voltage and hitting enter(return), but I would just keep it plugged in.


Thanks for the tips, keep 'em coming! See below for my current desktop. For the Mac users, it’s just as easy to edit your desktop picture through OSX’s Preview app, it has the ability to crop and save as png.