Care and Feeding

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Tips for keeping your CHIP healthy, wealthy, and wise. It is strongly recommended you go through this material.

If you haven't gotten your CHIP connected to your local network, see Turn it on. Then come back here and follow these steps.

If your CHIP is not working well enough, see Troubleshooting.


CHIP's operating system is Linux. Linux, like all modern operating systems, should be shut down in an orderly way. Simply removing power abruptly can lead to filesystem corruption of CHIP's flash-based disk.

  • If you are using CHIP's graphical user interface, click the gear icon in the upper right and select "shutdown" and wait for the power LED to turn itself off.
  • If you are using CHIP's shell prompt, enter the command:
sudo systemctl poweroff

and wait for the power LED to turn itself off.

Other approaches:

  • Blink - program that blinks CHIP's status LED to indicate system health, and monitors the reset button to perform an orderly shutdown.


By far the most common problem that CHIP users face is finding a reliable source of power. Inadequate power leads to sudden shutdowns of CHIP, which many people have complained about.

One attractive feature of CHIP is that it can be powered by a USB charger, and most people have several of those lying around the house. The problem is that MANY POWER SUPPLIES LIE!!! A supply with a label claiming 1A at 5V may actually be unable to provide HALF that. See for an eye-opening and sobering survey of many supplies. A battery charger typically doesn't need a high-quality source of power; CHIP needs a clean source of at least 500 mA, with brief spikes at 1A. Unfortunately, testing a power supply requires test equipment, ideally an oscilloscope and a high-power resistor, which is beyond most CHIP owners.

So if you are using a USB charger, and you experience sudden shutdowns, try a different supply.

It has also been confirmed that a low-quality MicroUSB cable can lead to degraded power. If you are pretty sure that your power supply is good, try a different cable.

Another problem is that USB peripherals (keyboard, mouse, flash memory, ethernet adapter, etc, etc) steal power from CHIP. A power supply capable of running CHIP by itself may be unable to power CHIP and all your USB peripherals. NTC recommends using a powered hub, and that is a good suggestion. Unfortunately, that means having TWO power supplies, one for CHIP and the other for the hub.

Another good solution is the Queso board, which is a combination power conditioner and powered hub. Queso will provide power to both CHIP and up to 4 USB devices, and the power conditioner allows the use of a wider variety of power supplies. Many people power their CHIP/Queso using old 20V laptop power supplies.

See the Power page for more detailed information.

Wireless Speed and Reliability

Many have reported that CHIP's wireless experiences slowness and even unreliability. This can be fixed.

See for one solution.


Out of the box, CHIP has two accounts pre-installed: "root" and "chip". Both have the password "chip" and are accessible over WIFI. Even if your WIFI network is password protected, it is a good idea for you to secure your CHIP. Here are some commands you can enter from a terminal window to help. They should be entered exactly as shown (use cut-and-paste).

passwd    # change "chip" account's password
sudo passwd -l root    # lock the root account from direct login
sudo sed -i.old /etc/ssh/sshd_config -e'/PermitRootLogin/s/yes/no/'    # configure sshd to not allow root
sudo service ssh restart

This disallows anyone from logging directly into the root account, including using the "su" command. Instead, you must log in as "chip" and use "sudo" to perform privileged operations. If you want a root shell, enter:

sudo -s

In addition, there are times that security vulnerabilities are discovered in Linux. So you should periodically Update CHIP Software.

Update CHIP Software

Note: As of July 2018 the Next Thing Co. update repositories are offline. To use the archived mirrors you must edit the sources list file to point to one of the archives. related forum post JF Possibilities' instructions page

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

Change all the occurrences of "" to "" or "".

To use Pico-8 you must also edit the apt preferences changing "" to the same archive you used in your sources.lst file. from this forum post

sudo nano /etc/apt/preferences

This is different from downloading the operating system from scratch (i.e. "flashing" the chip), which updates the kernel as well as the distro. This is just updating the distro. You should do this periodically! Software vulnerabilities *are* discovered in Linux, so you want to keep your OS patched.

It is assumed that you have set up WIFI so that your CHIP can access the Internet.

Open a terminal window and enter:

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade

One or both of these commands can take quite a while to execute.

Set Locales

Out of the box, CHIP doesn't have locales installed (i.e. where are you geographically.) Setting these before you upgrade will eliminate the locales errors during upgrade.

First update apt-get and install locales:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install locales

Now update your locales and timezone:

sudo locale-gen en_US en_US.UTF-8  # only use "en_US" if you are in the USA.
sudo dpkg-reconfigure locales           # if in the USA, select "en_US" locales.
sudo dpkg-reconfigure tzdata            # select your timezone