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To set up a new CHIP without a display available, you'll need to:

  1. Connect to it using serial communication over the micro USB port from another computer
  2. Configure WiFi settings so it can connect to your LAN
  3. (Optionally) Install a VNC server so you can log into the GUI from another computer

Connecting to CHIP by USB

If you plug your CHIP into another computer (a "host") via a cable connected to the C.H.I.P.'s microUSB port, it will appear to the host as a serial communications device (specifically, a USB-connected modem). Then you can use a terminal emulator on the host to log into a shell on CHIP. The Turn it on#Simple shell page has complete instructions.

The CHIP OS's default user account is chip, with password chip. This account has sudo access, so you shouldn't need to use the root account directly, but if you do, its password is the same.


You can use any Linux computer as a host if it has reasonably standard USB hardware and Linux software. Possible hosts include a Linux desktop or laptop or a small computer such as a Raspberry Pi or even another C.H.I.P. (If you are using a small computer, make sure it can supply sufficient power to the target C.H.I.P via its USB port.) Many standard Linux distributions pre-install the device driver for a USB-connected modem. If this driver is installed, then when you plug the C.H.I.P. into a USB port on the host, it will (eventually, after it boots all the way) appear on the host as a serial console port named /dev/ttyACM0. Note: if this driver is already supporting some peripheral on the host, then you will already have a /dev/ttyACM0, and the C.H.I.P. will appear as /dev/ttyACM1 or some higher number. After this port comes into existence, you can use any serial-port terminal emulator program on the host to connect to it. So:

  • verify that you have serial tty emulator program (e.g., minicom or putty) installed on the host. If not, install one.
    • on Ubuntu or Debian:
    apt-get install minicom
  • With C.H.I.P disconnected,
   ls /dev/ttyACM*

This lists all USB serial ports already supported by the ACM driver before you plug the C.H.I.P in. You probably have none at all.

  • Plug the C.H.I.P into a suitable USB port on the host using a USB-A-to-microUSB cable
  • Wait for the C.H.I.P to complete its boot sequence (patience, grasshopper!)
  • Issue the ls command again. It should now have one additional entry, (probably the last one, and likely the only one as /dev/ttyACM0)
   ls /dev/ttyACM*

Now run your serial tty terminal emulator and configure to connect to the correct serial port. If you just installed minicom and don't know how to use it, then look at its documentation:

   man minicom
  • you should now see the C.H.I.P.'s login prompt, so proceed to the section below.


Some rough instructions are available on the forum; hopefully someone can clean them up and put them here.

CHIP USBserial in Windows10 device manager.PNG
This is how it looks in device manager if your CHIP is connected to a Windows 10 PC via USB serial connection (CHIP's micro USB to PC USB A). You need to look up the COM port number here to set it in putty or similar software for SSH connection.

Other OSs


Connecting To WiFi From The Command Line

Now that you have established a command-line login session over the USB, you can configure WiFi so CHIP can connect to your wireless network. Run the following commands on CHIP, via the terminal connection you established above, not on the host PC. (Note: An alternative WiFi set-up procedure is outlined on Next Thing Co.'s website.)

  • Edit /etc/network/interfaces, using nano or vi
  • Add lines:
    auto wlan0
    iface wlan0 inet dhcp
        wpa-ssid YOUR_SSID
        wpa-psk YOUR_PASSWORD

(where YOUR_SSID is the WiFi network's name, and YOUR_PASSWORD is the password.)

  • Save changes and exit the editor
  • Run sudo dhclient wlan0 to acquire an IP address from the DHCP server
  • Run /sbin/ifconfig wlan0, which will output CHIP's IP address — it's on the second line, after inet addr:.

Now you can use the IP address to log into CHIP from another computer via SSH. For example, if its IP address is, you could use the command ssh chip@

Note: CHIP's IP address might change periodically, especially after it's rebooted, because the DHCP server in the WiFi router hands out IP addresses dynamically. This can be a pain if you lose the IP address and can't SSH to it anymore! Two ways around this are to edit the router's configuration to reserve a fixed IP address for CHIP, or to install Avahi so the CHIP can advertise itself using an mDNS (aka Bonjour) hostname like chip.local.

Once SSH is working, you can disconnect CHIP from USB.

Configuring a Remote Desktop (VNC)

If you want to use CHIP's GUI, follow the VNC setup instructions so you can log into it from another computer.