Category Archives: Raspberry Pi

Icon for Raspberry Pi

How to remote into a Raspberry Pi running Raspbian OS from Windows

There are a lot of tutorials out there explaining how to remote into a Raspberry Pi. Unfortunately a lot of them ignore that this functionality comes baked into even the slimmed downed version of Raspbian. Worse still a lot of them just plain do not work! This article demonstrates how to actually remote into Raspian from Windows and you do not need to write a single line of code as everything can be done through the UI. That is of course assuming you are not a masochist and actually installed the UI.

(FYI these instructions are for connecting over the same network)

Virtual Network Computing

You will gain remote access and control of the Pi using technology called VNC. In computing, Virtual Network Computing is a graphical desktop-sharing system that uses the Remote Frame Buffer protocol to remotely control another computer.

To do this you will need to install a VNC viewer software on your Windows 10 PC. Microsoft’s own Remote Desktop Connection software can be a bit temperamental so it is recommended you use the free and very light software “VNC Viewer”. You will not need to install a VNC Server on the Pi as it is already preinstalled.

Setting up the Windows PC

VNC Viewer can be downloaded for free from RealVNC at the following link, or you can search for it in your web browser of choice if you would prefer. Once you have it installed you will need to set up the Pi to receive VNC connections.

Setting up the Pi

To enable the VNC connections follow these steps.

On the Pi go to the Application Menu, the Raspberry Icon to the top left of Home screen.

Preferences > Raspberry Pi Configuration > Interfaces > then enable the VNC option.

Next you will need to enable the VNC Server to display in the Application Menu which you can do by follow these steps.

From Preferences in the Application Menu go:

Preferences > Main Menu Editor > Other > then enable VNC Server.

Then click okay to apply the setting.

Now when you go to the Application Menu (Raspberry Icon on Home screen) you will be able to access the VNC Server application via the category “Other”.

Remoting into the Pi from Windows

After opening the application you should see under “Connectivity” the IP address that can be used for other computers on the same network to connect to the Raspberry Pi. (If an IP address is not displayed make sure your WiFi is on)

Jump over to your Windows 10 PC and open the VNC Viewer app.

Type the IP address displayed by the VNC Server into the Address bar.

When prompted enter the username and password you use to access the Raspberry Pi (possibly pi and raspberry). You should now have remote access to the Pi.

The best part is on reboot the VNC Server should start automatically.

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Icon for Raspberry Pi

How to find a program’s directory in Raspbian OS

For Linux distros most programs are stored in the /usr directory. There is no “Programs Files” directory like for Windows. The executables are typically stored in /usr/bin with additional stuff in /usr/share and libraries in usr/lib etc.

There is also usr/local where stuff gets put when you do the compiling yourself. With /bin tending to be command line tools and /sbin being the directory for command utils only for root.

The quickest way to find the actual directory a program resides in is through terminal using the command “which”.

Here are some examples:

which nano

which gpicview

which chromium-browser

The programs referenced are the preinstalled text editor, image viewer and web browser. All of these examples will return the /usr/bin/ directory.

Note chromium is referred to as “chromium-browser” as typing “which chromium” will return no result as that is the incorrect name for the program. If you are unsure of a program name, run the program and then look for it in task manager to confirm.

An Icon of a keyboard

How to use an Android device as a keyboard and trackpad for a Raspberry Pi

Anyone who has set up a Raspberry Pi Zero W will know it is a bit limited by IO, such is the trade off for such a small form factor. I recently went through a set up that was especially awkward as there was no WiFi available. I tried to use an Android hotspot but unfortunately the Pi could not see the Android device at all. The only option I had was to tether the Pi to the Android via USB. This worked. The Pi had access to the mobile data of the Android device however it seems that the power draw from the Android device meant there was not enough power left to power the wireless USB receiver for the keyboard and mouse combo. So I was left with mutually exclusive options of either access to the internet or the ability to use a keyboard and mouse. Luckily there is always a plan C.

Prerequisites:

You will need a mouse that can connect to the Pi either by USB or Bluetooth. The OS used was Raspbian but this solution should work with other Distros.

Solution:

The Raspberry Pi Zero W also comes with Bluetooth built in so there was the option to make the Pi discoverable and connect a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. I do not have a physical Bluetooth keyboard or mouse but thankfully there is an App for that, multiple ones actually.

The App I used was the “Serverless Bluetooth Keyboard & Mouse for PC/Phone” from Google Play, available here.

It is free (with ads) and very easy to set up. In terms of performance it provided me with a usable keyboard (like Gboard) with half of the device screen acting as a very responsive track pad. I certainly would not want to compose a thesis with this setup but for typing a few words and clicking a few links it is perfectly serviceable.

I experienced what maybe a slight bug during set up however but I resolved the problem in a minute or two.

Problem and Fix:

Firstly you will need to make the Pi discoverable via Bluetooth. This is the only time I needed to make use of a physical mouse. The option to turn on Bluetooth and make the device discoverable is to the top right of the Raspbian Home screen.

When I tried to connect the Android and Pi together through the App it would not work. The Pi was not discoverable by the App despite the functionality to discover devices being built in to the App.

To connect the devices I first had to connect the Android device and Pi together via their respective operating systems. This threw an error on the Pi but the Android device was visible to it. I then removed the Android Bluetooth connection from the Pi and again tried connecting the Pi via the App. This worked.

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