Turn it on

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You want to turn on your chip for the first time and get connected to WIFI! There are two methods:

  • With a real keyboard, monitor, and mouse (Full GUI).
  • With only a micro-usb cable and a host computer (Simple Shell).

Most people who have the required hardware and cables want to do Full GUI first, so as to experience the full glory of CHIP.

If these instructions don't work for you, see troubleshooting and Care and Feeding.

Full GUI

Most people just follow NTC's instructions and do just fine. Others have problems, some of which the instructions below are intended to avoid.

You will need:

  • CHIP, of course.
  • Good quality power source with a MicroUSB connector. I suggest one that is rated at a minimum of 1.5A, preferably 2A.
  • Keyboard and mouse.
  • Self-powered USB hub. Trust me, you will avoid a lot of frustration if you get a self-powered hub now.
  • WIFI network.
  • A monitor and appropriate cabling. One of:
    • A TV that accepts composite video.
      • Composite video cable. Hopefully you got NTC's $5 cable. Many video cameras have the same kind of cable, but is wired differently. People have reported mixed results.
    • VGA Monitor
      • VGA DIP and VGA cable
    • HDMI monitor
      • HDMI DIP and HDMI cable

What to do:

  1. Connect keyboard and mouse to powered hub. Plug in powered hub. BUT DON'T PLUG THE HUB INTO CHIP YET!
  2. Connect your TV or monitor. One of:
    • connect composite video cable between CHIP and TV. Make sure TV's input is set to the composite connectors.
    • install your VGA DIP onto the CHIP's 40-pin connectors and connect the VGA cable from the DIP to your VGA monitor.
    • install your HDMI DIP onto the CHIP's 40-pin connectors and connet the HDMI cable from the DIP to your HDMI monitor.
  3. Plug CHIP into microUSB power supply. It's LED lights should both turn on.
  4. Wait. You should see some bootup messages come up on the TV or monitor screen. After a minute or two, the full GUI should display.
  5. Now you can plug your USB hub into CHIP. Wiggle mouse. The pointer should move.

So far, so good. But before you can surf the net, you need to connect to your WIFI. Follow NTC's instructions.

Think you're done? Go to Care and Feeding and set your CHIP up right!

Simple Shell

Maybe you don't have all the accessories listed above. Maybe you aren't interested in using CHIP as a full GUI computer. Or maybe you've already flashed Debian, so GUI isn't an immediate option. Once you get connected to WIFI, you can log into CHIP over the network using SSH. But how do you get connected that first time?

You will need:

  • CHIP, of course.
  • A good quality data-capable MicroUSB cable.
  • A host computer (Linux, Windows, Mac, Chromebook...) with a suitable USB port.

Follow the directions on the USB Login page. Once you're logged in, come back here.

Configuring WiFi

Note: An alternative WiFi set-up procedure is outlined on Next Thing Co.'s website.

Now that you're logged into a shell on the CHIP, you can set up WiFi by entering the command:

sudo nmtui

It will prompt for your login password again.

The nmtui program is a little awkward to use since it uses "ncurses" to simulate a GUI-like interface without a mouse. It should come up with "Edit a connection" highlighted.

  • Press down-arrow. This highlights "Activate a connection"
  • Press Enter. This brings up a selection of WiFi networks.
  • Use the up/down-arrow keys to highlight the desired network, then press Enter. It should prompt for your WiFi password.
  • Type the password and press Enter. It should connect, and leave you in the same network select menu.
  • Press Tab to get to the menu to the right. "<Deactivate>" should be highlighted.
  • Press down-arrow to highlight "Quit", then press Enter.

This should return you to a Unix prompt. But the "nmtui" command sometimes leaves your terminal emulator in a bad state, so enter:


This does not reset the CHIP, it just resets the state of the terminal.


Now determine CHIP's IP address:

sudo ifconfig wlan0 | grep "inet addr"

Ignore the "Bcast" and "Mask" addresses, you want the address right after "inet addr". For example, mine is "". This is CHIP's IP address: write yours down! But be aware that it can change over time, especially if you have your CHIP turned off for long periods. And of course, it will almost certainly change if it joins a different WiFi network.

Connecting Over SSH

You can now log out of the CHIP account and disconnect the USB cable. From now on, you should be able to log in over the network using SSH; this is preferable to using USB. For example, let's say your CHIP's IP address is Do this:

ssh chip@

Think you're done? Go to Care and Feeding and set your CHIP up right!