Run Raspberry Pi’s PIXEL Desktop on a PC or Mac – an Exton modified Build 170425 with Refracta Tools

NEWS 170425 about Raspberry Pi Debian Pixel
I have updated my first Debian Pixel Build from 161223. Study all included packages – latest by 170425. I’ve added NetworkManager, which makes it easier to configure wireless connections.

NEWS 161223
Yesterday I read that the Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced the release of a new PIXEL image that can be booted on a PC or Mac. Study this site. I saw immediately that there was no installer included, which I thought was a little disappointing. Come to think of Refracta tools, which work very well in Debian and Ubuntu. I quickly made a “remix” of the Raspberry Pi Foundation PIXEL image. My remix thus include Refracta tools. This means that you can easily install the system to hard drive and you can just as easily make your own remix of the Raspberry Pi Foundation PIXEL image. Study all included packages. I’ve added a few packages. Most important Synaptic, which I find essential.

About the PIXEL Desktop
Raspbian had its biggest update ever in September, 2016, thanks to a dazzling new desktop environment called PIXEL. Raspbian with PIXEL (which stands for ‘Pi Improved Xwindow Environment, Lightweight’) is a huge software update to the desktop environment. It introduces a crisp new interface, and is brimming with new programs and features.

VirtualBox and VMware
My build/image works very well in VirtualBox and VMware. I.e. you can run the system directly from the ISO file and also install it to a virtual hard drive. You can of course also make your own Debian system with the the PIXEL Desktop using Refracta snapshot (pre-installed).

Kernel 3.16.0-4-686-pae is used. PAE (Physical Address Extension) increases the physical memory addressable by the system from 4 GB to 64 GB.

Login and passwords
Log in to the PIXEL Desktop as the ordinary user pi or as root. The passwords are raspberrypi respectively root. When logged in as pi you can use Sudo to become root. (Command: sudo su).

You may want to install Spotify. Just go ahead. It’s very easy. When running my PIXEL image live or from hard drive you can just install Spotify with the command sudo apt-get install spotify-client. Watch a screenshot when Spotify is running.

Important about Refracta
You can use the Refracta tools (pre-installed) to create your own installable Debian PIXEL system once you have installed my build to hard drive. I mean change everything and then create a whole new Debian live system. Start Refracta from Menu >> System tools >> Refracta snapshot. You don’t even have to install my build to hard drive before you can use the Refracta tools. If you have plenty of RAM you can create a new (your own!) Debian PIXEL system while running my build from DVD or a USB stick. Please note that the whole Refracta process (creating your new ISO file) will only take 5 – 10 min!  Please edit the configuration file /etc/refractasnapshot.conf first. Change line 45 and 46. I.e. decide where you want the ISO file to be build. The whole thing is very simple. NOTE: You can also do everything in VirtualBox or VMware. Use FileZilla (pre-installed) to transfer your new ISO file to your server.

Install to Debian PIXEL hard drive
Just start Refracta Installer from Menu >> System tools >> Refracta Installer and follow the instructions. Very simple.

Install Debian PIXEL to a USB stick
You can use Rufus in Windows. Persistence can’t be enabled though. You can also use UNetbootin in Windows or Linux. The best way to do it is to burn Debian PIXEL to a DVD, start up the system from the DVD and then use Refracta Installer for the installation. Choose “Expert Installation”. Choose to install Grub in MBR on /dev/sdb. (Normally your USB stick, but check it carefully!) I.e. you will get a chance to choose between /dev/sda and /dev/sdb. This method will (of course) give you perfect persistence.

Watch the slideshow below showing the Refracta installation process. It’s for LFA (Linux for all), but it works in the same way in Debian PIXEL.

Screenshot 1 – Spotify running
Screenshot 2 – Samba running (reach your Windows computers in your network)
Screenshot 3 – Refracta Snapshot has started
Screenshot 4 – Refracta Installer has started in VMware
Screenshot 5 – Wireless connection with NetworkManager (installed in Build 170425)
Wifi connection using NetworkManager – in detail
Wifi connection established

This build has been replaced by Build 180315.

Other Exton Linux Systems you may like
All Exton Linux Systems
Exton Systems for the Raspberry Pi computer
Exton Android Systems for PC’s

55 thoughts on “Run Raspberry Pi’s PIXEL Desktop on a PC or Mac – an Exton modified Build 170425 with Refracta Tools”

  1. Hi, great stuff, I’ve installed it on a real PC. If you ever respin this, here are 3 packages I think should be added to the build in order of importance: raspi-config, obconf, and os-prober. It’s understandable why they were left out of the Live DVD.

  2. Hi Exton, i have installed it on a my Acer netbook T1810, runs very good. Only exception is – wifi. How can i enable wifi on the OS in a easy way? Thx

    1. anthoff,

      I suggest that you install network-manager and network-manager-gnome. Then restart your computer. If you can’t see your wireless network then your wireless card isn’t supported (by the kernel).

      Watch this screenshot when I have installed NetworkManager.

  3. Hi Exton, I have the Pixel disk which came with the Magpie magazine. Do I need to download your version of Pixel to install onto my old PC? I currently have Lubuntu installed on it.

  4. I was able to boot to the Live dvd on my iMac 5.1 (the dreaded EFI32 Macs that aren’t up-gradable). I was able to install Pixel on a separate partition on the Mac HD (I used the defaults of the Refracta installer and watched the slide show in this article). Once the install was complete, I was able to boot to the Mac partition – there was no Pixel partition to select, even holding down the Option key. I verified the Pixel partition exists but I can’t boot from it. To complicate matters, when I tried to reboot from the live DVD, I was presented with a black screen and then a series of “No session for pid (a number, eg 1970, 2433, 2312, and so on)” errors with the only option being Okay. Could you point me to a “for dummies/step by step” guide?

      1. No to the Grub. I left the Mac off for a few days and was able to boot from the DVD again with no errors. Still no dual boot though. Someone recommended the rEFIt boot tool so I’m going to exeperiment with that. On a more successful note,, I was able to install Jessie on an old work station (old XP) and I have a “brand new” computer. Thank you.

  5. Okay I give up.

    Windows, Ubuntu, Linux Mint and OpenSUSE all work fine on my network but this Debian always tries to connect to anything that has an IPv6 address using IPv6.


    It should see that it only has a local IPv6 address and use the IPv4 address like everything else does.

    Is there a magic incantation to get it to behave normally?

    1. Okay I think the IPv6 thing was a total red-herring.

      I install build 170425 ti my netbook and although I can see all my WiFi SSIDs only a wired connection works. Then I do

      sudo apt-get update

      which seems to work. Followed by:

      sudo apt-get upgrade

      which also seems to work

      Then I reboot and suddenly I have zero internet connectivity wired or wireless. Nothing at all.

      The status icon changes correctly when I plug the ethernet cable in and it looks like I can connect to my WiFi ifconfig shows the expected information but I can’t actually get to anything, browsers say timed out, can’t ping anything, nothing works.

      I think I need suggestions.

    1. Thanks.

      Does ping work for you?

      I think ping just doesn’t work at all, ever, on this 170425 “distro”.

      It’s really odd with WiFi, it connects okay (even gives an error if I get the passphrase wrong) but no software seems to be able to use the connection.

  6. I have the same problem as Brian. I can connect via wired, but not with wireless. Although I can see the vertical bars showing I have connected to wireless, I cannot access the internet. Being hopelessly ‘untechnical’, I tried replacing Network Manager with WICD, but I must have made a mess of the installation as I ended up with neither! So I did a complete reinstall. Same problem. No internet via wireless. Like Brian I can access wirelessly on other linux distribitions.
    Hope you can help. Thank you veryn much. Regards Upkeep

  7. Not sure why my recent post saying I was having same problem as Brian has been deleted? Perhaps it just got lost. Anyway, cannot access internet using wifi, so any help would be appreciated. Thanks. Regards. Upkeep

    1. Check the file /etc/resolv.conf. Your routers IP address should be in there. If not add it.



      If you want to try to replace NetworkManager with Wicd just run the following two commands:

      1) sudo apt-get remove network-manager

      2) sudo apt-get install wicd


      1. Thank you very much for the quick response. Much appreciated.

        I tried to find /etc/resolv.conf but with no success. What I did find was:
        /etc/resolvconf/resolv.conf d with two files in it – base and head, the latter with a note in it saying do not edit by hand.
        I then looked further and found this one:
        /etc/resolvconf/run/resolv.conf and again when I opened resolv.conf it said do not edit by hand. It had two entries in the resolv.conf text file and these referred to the primary and secondary DNS addresses. No mention of router. I would add this as suggested but it says do not edit by hand, so not sure what to do.

        Please bear with me I am very new to all this.

        Thanks for your help



        1. Removed Network Manager as per your instructions, but when I typed in the installation command you gave me for wicd it stated ‘Package wicd not available’.

          So not sure what to do next.



  8. Yes, I can see you were able to connect ok. That’s good. I have tried so hard to get this sorted out but I just don’t know what more I can try. I have tried three wifi dongles to see if it was a hardware problem but none of them seemed to work. I connected ok with the normal pi live disk, so the dongles work ok. All the indications are that I am connected to wifi. But I just cannot get on to the Internet.
    I have reinstalled three times. Have tried without network manager but still no luck. Run out of ideas now really. However, I am grateful for all your help. You have done your best.

    Best wishes. Upkeep

  9. Good news. I got it to work. I was nervous about updating but felt I had nothing to lose so I updated and upgraded. Rebooted. And it worked. I should have tried this earlier. My fault. But I thought I would report back. Thanks very much for all your help. Regards. Upkeep

  10. Tried this 4 times.. I cannot get the installer to find any partitions or any disks, even though I have used GParted with MBR and GPT format disks with 1 or 2 partitions (one swap if I use 2). the page above keeps going on about how simple it is.. Well it isn’t for me! I am installing in a VM under Linux KVM virtualisation. The ISO boots fine.. just cannot install to my virtual Hard disk

  11. Hi Exton,
    Really appreciate your great work, particularly for the recent leased build. I had your earlier iso without wifi functionality (wired was always working). I was glad to see your new version get it well fixed.
    One thing I still don’t get it right though. I am trying to modify your boot menu for default boot command with persistence thus no need for typing “persistence” command each time when I boot. However I couldn’t find grub.cfg in /boot/grub/ neither I could create one using grub-mkconfig. Anything I might have missed?

    1. Before you build your own Debian Pixel system you should change the settings in /usr/lib/refractasnaphot. As I remember it’s in a folder called isolinux.

      Another way to do it is to open the ISO-file you have and edit the file live.cfg in the folder isolinux.

      1. Thanks for your help Exton!
        My problem is each time I have to hit tab and type “persistence” in the default boot option line to keep persistence . Per your instruction, I changed the boot configuration by appending “persistence acpi=off” or something like that in the default boot line of the live,cfg file from /usr/lib/refractasnapshot/iso/isolinux folder. After reboot, I checked the boot default option line and no changes I made were added. I also tried the another way you mentioned by editing the file live.cfg in the folder isolinux inside the iso distro. The result is the same: I can’t make any changes to be persistent from the boot option menu.

        I am learning and something is still missing I guess. I haven’t started to install my Debian Pixel OS from my live-usb to my PC’s HDD yet. Everything is only on USB stick right now.

        1. If you change live.cfg in /usr/lib/refractasnapshot/iso/isolinux you’ll have to use Recfractasnapshot to build a new ISO for the changes to take effect.

          If you can run Debian Pixel live with persistence (which I don’t know if you can) “my” other method must work. I.e. change live.cfg in the ISO.

          As you say you have Debian Pixel on a USB stick. No need to change the ISO then. Just edit isolinux/live.cfg on the stick.

          1. Wow finally found what I missed… thanks so much Exton!

            I made my live-usb persistent by using GParted to add a persistence partition manually. However I didn’t know my sdb1 partition was made read-only as I used Etcher to burn my usb . It took me a long time to figure it out as I am really a new player in this area. I don’t know enough to make it read-write with Etcher but I fixed it by using another application (UltraISO).
            Now the problem was solved!
            I have another smaller issue for your boot option menu: I couldn’t figure out how to change the time-out which is 20 seconds on your live menu. Really appreciate it if your could enlighten me and other newbies:-)

          2. Ok, but the best way (simplest) to get persistence is this:

            Burn Debian PIXEL to a DVD, start up the system from the DVD and then use Refracta Installer for the installation. Choose “Expert Installation”. Choose to install Grub in MBR on /dev/sdb. (Normally your USB stick, but check it carefully!) I.e. you will get a chance to choose between /dev/sda and /dev/sdb. This method will (of course) give you perfect persistence.

  12. Hi Exton,
    My goal is to install the Debian Pixel OS to my /dev/sda with persistence but currently I am messing around my sdb and still learning. I will follow your instruction when I am ready to make it to my sda. Thanks!

    I assume what you said about changing time-out is in the file of /usr/lib/refractasnapshot/iso/isolinux/isolinux.cfg. Thus I have to run Refracta application. Can I only change the ISO file inside of the usb I already made for time out ? Actually I did change the file of isolinux.cfg inside my ISO file with time-out 200 to 50 (trying to wait for less time for auto booting) but found it didn’t change anything -still 20 secs. Anything wrong?

    1. I figured it out. The cfg file needs to be edited should be syslinux.cfg instead of isolinux.cfg. It resides in the same folder as the isolinux.cfg in my ISO. I made the change and it worked:-)

  13. Hello. I am trying to install this on my minipc stick, Meegopad
    the problem is it only ufi bootable. And i couldn’t make it boot . Is there any way to boot with ufi mode

      1. FYI. I made an EFI bootable Debian Pixel usb stick working on my old MacBook Pro. I also tried to use the same bootable usb on a Dell Inspiron 13 7000 Series with UEFI booting and it worked too.

  14. Thanks very much for this. I’m trying to run Debian Pixel under VMware (on a Mac) and have successfully got the install to work (bit more help on which partitions to create would have been good – but it seems to work).

    But I can’t get VMware tools to work properly. I have shared disks, but I can’t get cut and paste to work correctly between the host and the VM. I’ve used the VMware tools and the Open VMware tools – neither work

    1. After re-reading stuff form late last night, I missed this:
      sudo apt-get install open-vm-tools-desktop

      Reboot the VM, after the reboot copy/paste using the menu (but not ctrl-c/v) and drag/drop will work! Not perfect but OK…

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