Beginners Headless Zynthian Tutorial

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Introduction

Here's a simple as possible step by step beginners tutorial to setup a headless Zynthian.

A headless Zynthian is a Raspberry Pi with ZynthianOS without the screen, the buttons and the knobs. All is controlled remotely via another computer, a tablet, a smartphone or a midi controller. In most of the cases, the Zynthian Kit is the better way to use ZynthianOS. But sometimes, headless configuration could be interesting.

Hardware

  1. Raspberry Pi (Pi4 recommanded)
  2. SD card (class 10)
  3. Power supply (take the official one)
  4. (optionnal but recommended for the best audo experience) an I2S DAC (sound card) (recommanded sound cards)

ZynthianOS

  1. Download the last stable Zynthian OS image
  2. Download Etcher
  3. Burn the ZynthianOS image on an SD card

Network Connection

  • The more simple way for making a network connexion is to directly connect an ethernet cable from the Raspberry Pi to the computer.
  • Another way is to connect the two devices to an Ethernet switch.

Web Browser

You will need a web browser but not all are working well for that purpose.

  • Google Chrome is reported to works well

First Boot

  1. Put the SD on the raspberry
  2. Power on by plugin the power supply
  3. Wait a little bit
  4. Open your web browser
password = raspberry

If you cannot enter to the Zynthian WebConf Tools, wait a little bit more. Then try to reboot by powering off. Then, try to burn another SD card.

Configure Internet

  • If you are connected via an ethernet switch, connect the switch to your internet box
  • If you are directly connected via an ethernet cable, configure the Wifi on the WebConf page:
System / WIFI / Add Network
Mode = ON

Update ZynthianOS

Now that you are connected to the Internet, you can update Zynthian OS via the WebConf:

Software / Update

System / Reboot

Configure the hardware

Configure your hardware setup via the WebConf:

Hardware / Kit / Custom

Hardware / Audio / Select your soundcard on the list or choose RBPiHeadphones

Hardware / Display / Generic HDMI Display

Hardware / Wiring / DUMMIES

System/sys-reboot / Reboot

Activate VNC Server on the Raspberry Pi

VNC allows you to remotely have the Raspberry Pi screen on your personal computer, your tablet or your smartphone. With your browser pointing to http://zynthian.local, navigate to Interface => UI Options scroll at the bottom and check "Enable VNC server"

Install VNC Viewer in your Devices

1. Download and install VNC viewer in your devices:

2. Connect to the Zynthian UI via VNC: You should be on the same network (ethernet cable and/or Wifi). Type the raspberry pi IP address (on Windows and android) or zynthian.local (on MacOS and iOS) in VNC Viewer.


User name : root

Password : raspberry

You should now have the Zynthian UI working remotely.

For a better use, configure Zynthian UI for headless use in the WebConf:

Interface / UI options
 
Advanced view : ON

Enable Touch Widgets: ON

Enable cursor: ON

On stage, you can disconnect the Zynthian from internet and configure it as a hotspot for connecting your devices to it. For this, go to the WebConf:

System / WIFI / Hotspot

OPTIONAL STEPS

Accessing the Native GUI

If you want to access from your computer to the Graphical User Interface of softwares like Pure data or Pianoteq that run on the Raspberry Pi, you need to install an X11 server on your computer:

On the X11 server’s terminal (xterm) that run on your computer, send the command:

ssh -Y root@zynthian.local

On the Zythian UI, create a new Pure Data layer (or other engine with supported native GUI) and the Pure Data GUI should appears on your computer screen.

  • Note that you can access MOD-UI (the virtual pedal board) without X11. When you have created a MOD-UI layer, just go to the WebConf :
Software / MOD-UI

Accessing the ZynthianOS Folders

If you want to graphically access to the Zynthian OS files and folders (not recommended for beginners):

1. install an SFPT client on your computer:

2. Open an SFPT connection:

Server : zynthian.local (MacOS) or IP Address (Windows)

User : root

Password : raspberry

3. If, for exemple, you want to access to the Pure Data externals folders for manually installing externals that aren’t available via another way, simply use it as a normal finder and go to:

/usr/lib/pd/extra

And upload your custom externals.