Give your PocketC.H.I.P 3 New Abilities: Software Tutorials From the Community


PocketC.H.I.P. runs Debian Linux, which has 1000s of open source applications that you can download and use for free. Pocketeers have been busying installing all sorts of them and sharing their experiences in the forums.

Taking their lead, here’s how to install the Arduino IDE, start a DIY PocketCHIP Boombox, and configure a command-line Twitter application.

Installing the Arduino IDE

Arduinos are microcontrollers for building projects. We use them in our lab whenever we need a quick way to actuate a motor or illuminate an LED. Installing the Arduino IDE is as easy as opening the Terminal from the home screen and typing the command below, followed by enter.

sudo apt install arduino

But as Pocketchipfan points out, installing the IDE available from the webpage is newer than the version in the Debian repositories. For the absolute latest IDE, download the Linux ARM package from the and follow the instructions they provide.

DIY PocketCHIP Boombox

PyRadio is a text-only internet radio player created by Ben Dowling, that makes it easy to connect PocketC.H.I.P. to internet radio stations. The software is written in Python and uses the popular MPlayer movie player to handle the audio streams.

Combine this software with Jose’s speaker project and you’re well on your way to a portable, DIY PocketC.H.I.P. Boombox –assuming, of course, you’re in range of WiFi.

Open the Terminal application on the PocketC.H.I.P. home screen and follow the numbered steps below.

  1. Setup locales by following the Language and Location section of the C.H.I.P. docs.
  2. Install all the necessary software for PyRadio by typing in the following command.

    sudo apt install -y python-setuptools python-dev build-essential mplayer

  3. Note: When you type the command, do not put in a line break between build-essential and mplayer.

  4. sudo easy_install pip
  5. sudo pip install pyradio
  6. To run the applications, simply type in pyradio.

Note: Thanks to emdkay1h for pointing out that the default installation does not install a configuration file. To correct this, copy the contents of the default config file and save it to the directory ~/.rainbow_config.json. If you need any help, check the forum discussion.

Command-Line Twitter

The Rainbow Twitter client running on PocketC.H.I.P.

The Rainbow Twitter client running on PocketC.H.I.P.

Rainbow stream is a command-line Twitter application written by @dtvd88. Use it to tweet, watch the stream from your followers, and do pretty much whatever you can do with a GUI Twitter client. The application is completely configurable and even offers custom themes.

Once you get Rainbow Stream on PocketC.H.I.P., make sure to tweet us @nextthingco.

Open the Terminal application on the PocketC.H.I.P. home screen and follow the numbered steps below.

  1. Install all the required software for Rainbow Stream by running the following command.

    sudo apt-get install python-dev python-pip libjpeg-dev libfreetype6 libfreetype6-dev zlib1g-dev

    Note: Just like with the installation of PyRadio, this is one long command. Don’t add a line break between libfreetype6- and dev, and type enter to execute the command.

  2. Then use the Python package manager, pip, to install the application.

    sudo pip install rainbowstream

  3. To run the application, type in rainbowstream in the Terminal.

Note: Thanks to all of you who alerted me to an error in the original instructions! I’ve updated the installation instructions, but if you get the error that your terminal can’t find pip, simply type sudo apt install python-pip. Sorry about that!


To discover more applications that will run on PocketC.H.I.P., checkout the Debian package repository. While it’s not the only source of software that runs on PocketC.H.I.P., it’s a great place to check first.

These are just three of our favorites applications that the community has installed and shared on the forums. If you get something installed that’s cool, post a screenshot in the forums, tweet us, and let others know!

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I can’t get get it installed and working, it keeps saying it is unable to locate package Zlib1g-dev, but when I try to install it, it says I already have the newest version.

“1. Setup locales by following the Language and Location section of the C.H.I.P. docs.”

When I follow that link, the screenshots in no way resemble the OS of the PocketCHIP. This instruction, I believe, must be for the C.H.I.P. and not the PocketCHIP.

Iggy topo,
You are correct that all the screenshots are taken on C.H.I.P. in the C.H.I.P docs, however the locales section should look quite similar on PocketC.H.I.P. and C.H.I.P.. Unfortunately, due to the way the table of contents are automatically built, you’ll have to scroll down a bit for that section.

“Scroll down a bit…” where? In which of the six available PocketChip apps will I find the “Language and Location section of the C.H.I.P. docs” so I can scroll down to “locales”?

If it’s something I can’t access through the GUI, you left out the steps to access it through the Terminal.

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