Pi 400 - keyboard form factor

I spotted the new Pi4 in keyboard form factor: https://www.raspberrypi.org/products/raspberry-pi-400/?resellerType=home

It seems like this might get traction with solar lease companies in Africa such as Azuri

On one level I guess you could just install the USB version of Rachel on top of Raspberry Pi OS.

wget ftp://ftp.worldpossible.org/rachelusb_32EN/rachelusb_32EN_4.0.zip
unzip rachelusb_32EN_4.0.zip

Is it worth reaching out to Pi foundation to see if they would make this visible/ easy for Pi400 users from within the interface?

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I’ve been keeping an eye on this and my plan is to make a custom desktop version of RACHEL-Pi similar to some of the desktop versions I’ve made for people before that get installed on laptops.

While the USB versions of RACHEL would be better for performance, they haven’t been updated in a long time so the content isn’t up to date. Hopefully doing it this way will give full access to a normal RACHEL experience.

It will be an image that you flash just like the regular desktop or RACHEL-Pi but I plan on writing a few utilities to let you easily switch between modes like RACHEL-Pi mode ( regular RACHEL-Pi hotspot ), RACHEL-Pi Desktop mode ( no wifi hotspot but local RACHEL content). or regular desktop mode ( All Rachel services turned off).

Do you have any thoughts on this and what would be some useful features?


That sounds very good!

I do wonder if there is a way to work with the Pi foundation to do it in their mainline codebase?

https://www.raspberrypi.org/about/ I know some senior person there is keen on Rachel, I can’t remember exactly who.

Would it be feasible to package up your work into a bash script, or even better a Debian package that would work on PiOS?

@jeremy would you be happy for me to reach out to the Pi foundation? I’d make it clear I was just a volunteer and cc you into the correspondence

Hi Sam - I keep in touch with those guys sporadically. Happy to be CC’d on an e-mail. At one point, Eben Upton said RACHEL was his favorite raspberry pi product of all.

To be honest I don’t really think it suits being in their mainline codebase as RACHEL-Pi isn’t a simple package install. It’s a complete change to the entire system with multiple new packages and services running in the background and linked into RACHEL.

Every time they update RaspiOS I go through and make sure it works and change things by hand when they don’t. Sometimes this includes recompiling apache plugins, making custom versions of packages like usbmount, writing new scripts to handle kiwix, or like most recently, looking through Kolibri’s code for a month to find a bug that was causing slow shutdowns. I think the premade image format really suits it much better and is more practical to maintain for end users, especially now that there are both 32bit and 64bit versions of raspios with 2 separate bootloaders for the pi 4.

Maybe the static content from OER2GO would be more suitable?

@sam_uk I personally don’t think it’s appropriate for someone not currently involved in the project to contact the raspberry pi foundation representing it, but I would be happy to work with you if you want to contribute and work on your ideas with me. If you have an idea around the static content maybe we can work on a utility for that.

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Hi everybody,
I have been working with a group of teachers in Zambia and have just sent 8 Pi4s out then the 400 comes out! Still I think I would prefer the old fashioned way, We use the Pi as an access point setup usually in the Heads office, I think a keyboard would look out of place on a wall :slight_smile:
@jamesk, I have no idea what would happen if you didn’t put in the hours you do. We are all very grateful to you. Thanks.
Kind Regards


Hi @jamesk fair enough that does make sense. I don’t mean to step on any toes, just interested in getting your work into as many hands as possible…

Do you maintain a Github repo or similar for your work? Would you be open to doing so?

One thought is just having that repo within the Pi repo: https://github.com/raspberrypi would lend it visibility and legitimacy. Maybe even as an ‘official’ fork/ flavour in a similar way to Ubuntu studio perhaps https://ubuntustudio.org/about-ubuntustudio/

I have no idea if that would suit the Pi foundation of course, but it may do?

A static content installer might be a ‘nice to have’ but as you say the functionality you provide in your builds is superior.

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@giakonda thank you saying that. It is my pleasure to continue this project to help you with your work and I absolutely agree that a giant keyboard would not look great mounted to a wall let alone 8! haha :grinning:

With any new release it gets exciting, but what this Pi 400 seems to be is a Pi 4 with a keyboard case and the ports layed out flat on the back. It’s very cool looking, especially for a fan of the old Commodore 64s like myself and would also be great to deploy, but the interals seem to be the same as using a Pi 4 so Howard I think you’re fine with the 8 Pi4 deployment!

@sam_uk There is a github repo at https://github.com/worldpossible. I am a contributor with a branch on the installer page along with others who have put in a lot of work before me. I also maintain my personal github which has a few branches of things that are RACHEL-Pi related as well as where I submit bug reports to others. The lastest Pi installer is from Raspbian Buster which i will update soon to add one for RaspiOS 32/64bit as well as a Linux Mint installer. The customization on the images themselves goes much further than is possible with the installers and to be honest, I don’t really want to promote the installer route because of that. They can randomly go out of date when a package gets updated, so it’s a constant battle. I prefer to make images that I know are complete and working. When I make installers it’s generally for people who want to install to non-pi systems or donated hardware as they can’t just flash the image like with a Pi.

As for legitimacy, I think as Jeremy has said, the Raspberry Pi Foundation are very aware of and happy with the project and I personally think it’s best to keep it the way it is unless they reach out or a conversation is necessary. I appreciate the enthusiasm and I apologize if I was rude, I have just worked very hard to get this project working again and maintain it to a high standard the best I can. I would like to see more people using RACHEL with a pi or otherwise, but I also think that side of things takes a lot of hard work by the people deploying it in the field which is a whole separate challenge. Pairing it with those kinds of people is where the work is.


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@rimit this is off topic for this post.

This is not an official response as I’m a volunteer, but I think most of the content available with RACHEL is open source GPL and meant to be made available for free which is why you can download it from oer2go.org. World Possible used to sell USB sticks but I think they have moved away from that as large USB sticks are widely available now. I have also looked through and seen you mention that the content is virus free, but the content available from oer2go.org and World Possible is virus free, so I’m not sure what the advantage is. As a product at this point, I personally think it is just selling content. Is there more to it?

Hi @jamesk just wondering if you ever did an image for the Pi400? Integration with https://veyon.io/en/ might be interesting as a ‘teacher PC’ on the 400 form factor?

Hi @sam_uk,

The focus has been on the content side and getting the big migration to 2021 Kiwix content working first. Now that all of those are in place, the new RACHEL-Pi images will be up soon and are just in the testing phase.

The 400 should be great as a client device out of the box. There will be a separate RACHEL image available for the 400 without the hotspot functionality, so they can run independently and still connect to wifi easily.

Integrating remote classroom management software in RACHEL is something I’ve looked at. It would just take a lot of time both for development and support. Support is something most of the open source packages available don’t really seem to have. If the users are all connected to the same server, it shouldn’t be hard to install and try out, but getting it fine tuned and stable is where the issue lies.

If you try it out and it runs well let me know.

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Great, thanks James. I’ll wait for the new images and have a go at the Veyon install on there.

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