PocketChips New Documentation


I don’t know how long it has been up for, but I thought I would RTFM again and I found many new screenshots, images and information that may answer a few questions people have.
Link below:



Mmmm… seems a bit feature limited…

I was kinda hoping for a small screen XFCE4…

Wait and see I guess… What does it output when you plug the composite into a TV?


I don’t think there will be anything stopping you from using xfce or any other DE, this is probably just the default to encourage a larger audience. Also, one tap to the terminal over two (I guess a desktop shortcut would fix that. Or does xfce need double click on desktop items? I would use i3 anyway).

As far as output over composite http://docs.getchip.com/pocketchip.html#faq says:

Can I take C.H.I.P. out of PocketC.H.I.P. and use it?
At this time, it will not work as expected without reflashing. The C.H.I.P.s in PocketC.H.I.P. run a custom graphics software that’s designed for the touchscreen and PocketC.H.I.P. keyboard. C.H.I.P. may boot, but the resolution and input will not work as expected.


According to the PocketC.H.I.P. FAQ, it won’t support video out through the minijack. It also mentions supporting headphones with a microphone, so I take it that the C.H.I.P.s that ship with PocketC.H.I.P. will have the solder points set to audio+mic mode instead of audio+video mode. Presumably the HDMI and VGA shields would still work with it (removed from PocketC.H.I.P., of course,) or you could redo the connection to enable composite out instead of microphone out.

But as shipped, PocketC.H.I.P. will not be able to output to a TV.


Our plain C.H.I.P. desktop DE is XFCE4 (as you have seen). The UI on PocketC.H.I.P. is custom (built with JUCE and AwesomeWM) and designed to work well on a tiny resistive touch screen. It’s meant to be very simple for people who are used to handhelds, and the applications have been modified so that you can use them (as much as is sensible) without a stylus or pointy object.

However, you’re free to switch back to XFCE4. Not only free to, but encouraged to if it’s what you’re into! I know @computermouth for example is more in your camp on this one. There are many ways to PocketC.H.I.P., it’s only about two command lines away from running stock C.H.I.P. DE. Having seen some of your other posts I think you’ll figure it out quickly, but we’re planning to publish some simple instructions on how to do it.

About composite: @zero-x is correct (nice docs pull!). Right now the composite out won’t work while in PocketC.H.I.P., if you remove C.H.I.P. it will work, though it will default to the PocketC.H.I.P. UI until you change that. Stay tuned for updates on this restriction, we’re working on it. @CharonPDX, thank you so much for pointing out that we mention the TRRS microphone. How it’s presented there is a mistake: we ship the exact same physical C.H.I.P. with PocketC.H.I.P. so if you want to use the microphone you’ll need to solder it. As it ships, the composite out is still electrically enabled, the fact that it doesn’t display out of it while in PocketC.H.I.P. is entirely a software issue. We’ll be sure to update our docs.

Thanks a lot for the good questions.

Home Screen Modification Mystery?
Make the Debian GUI smaller

Thanks for the clarification! One suggestion for a C.H.I.P. v2 would be the ability to switch from composite to mic (and back) via a jumpered connection, preferably one on the pin headers so it can do something like “composite when not in PocketC.H.I.P., microphone when in PocketC.H.I.P.” without having to do any physical modifications.


so where`s is the desktop? is there even a desktop? why is this thing a notepad ripoff and not the other real text editor they featured? is that still around? how do i acess other installed things? WHERE IS THE DESKTOP?


I assume you can change to xfce using the login manager (GDM, or LightDM probably) or by changing ~/.xsession and running startx.

Official debian docs:


I hope that this means there will be a flash for chip that can tell if it’s in a pocket or standalone and can allow you full desktop mode in pocket I really want the built in apps to be usable in pocket


This is great! Thanks, @zero-x for the link! I’ve been dying for more info while I wait for mine. Some interesting things I didn’t know yet:

  • There’s a power/home button on the bottom - nice!
  • Really great design on the shift/fn buttons - they’re all far away from the left-shift and fn buttons, so your hands aren’t all mashed up trying to press the combo
  • tiny prototyping area on the back - can solder components on back there
  • sleep mode! Great addition for a portable device.
  • Ctrl - tab for switching windows

Still unclear:

  • What’s the actual capacity of the battery?
  • What text editor is ‘Write’? Is it custom?
  • I assume the UI will be open sourced, Is it online somewhere already? I’m sure I’ll want to make shortcuts to my own applications.

Anyway, this is a really awesome find, I’m going to have to spend more time with the pico-8 and sunvox sections. Can’t wait!


All the normal programs installed on the CHIP should be able to be run, you might just have to start them from the Terminal. Yes, it’s a PITA, but NTC is working on the ability for us to add shortcuts to the PocketCHIPs UI.


Really hope the ability to add shortcuts and even use some desktop features is available through this interface by the time I get mine shipped out, maybe someone will have a fork with this added by then so I can do what I was planning to do because so far with this interface it’s limiting everything I was hoping to do with it. Also as for the prototype area is there any docs of what each point connects to?


See this post from @computermouth:


The biggest excitement I had from the new feature list was Sunvox :smile:

I had planned on buying it after seeing it in one of the PocketCHIP videos, assuming it wouldn’t be included, best mistake I’ve made in a while :wink:


Same here I like the interface but I was really hoping for access to the full gui while docked


New Documentation page is great, but brings up a lot of questions.

  1. I was counting on the GUI applications listed for C.H.I.P. being preinstalled on the PocketCHIP, is all we get those few apps shown on the desktop? I have no need for the gaming software and it will take forever if I have to download all the apps I was counting on, on a slow dialup connection (all I have access to).

  2. PocketCHIP is shown with a camera attached. Does that mean camera drivers are coming preinstalled, and that kernel support is already there for USB webcams?

  3. Surprised there is no application panel or tray, which I thought was standard for handheld devices. Will lxpanel work as an addition to the DE you have on the PocketCHIP?



Thanks @ahk !

I’ll be switching back to XFCE4 at the earliest opportunity!

I’m assuming I can still run Pico-8 in XFCE4 if I’m so inclined? Not sure if I’ll use it - but I’m intrigued.


@mickio1 You still have the terminal access, for ‘computer things’. The features and UI shown is for non-techy people and I’m pretty sure the tip of the iceberg of possibilities.

They’ve made it ‘entry level friendly’ and left the door open for you to mod, hack and add apps to your hearts content.

You can even pop out the chip and re-flash to make it a standard chip, if you prefer.


You can install your own equivalent of open office or another writing app if you prefer, you don’t have to use it ‘as is’ I assure you.

You may have to use the terminal to install or use some apps, it’s very straightforward and only a small learning curve. I don’t have my PocketCHIP yet to see if new icons will be added to the UI, although if it doesn’t, I think there are alternative ‘desktops’ available.


oh yea the terminal im not scared of. although im not sure if they included a list of things to -apt get since my memory can be shoddy at times and going on the interent every time is a bit of a chore.