Solved: Complete beginner - is it possible to setup and configure with just my Mac?



  • Hi all,

    Complete beginner here so I apologise in advance for my very basic questions!
    I have just bought a new RPi3 Model B. I got the beginners kit with SD card, power supply and case. All good there. I want to create a retropie box as a Christmas present for my OH, however as we live together I need to do this at my office in the evenings. I've been following the official documentation and I think I've managed to get a version of RetroPie onto the SD card. I had to do this via Terminal as Apple Pie Baker kept hanging. Not sure if it worked correctly, and not sure if there's a way to tell that without a screen.

    So, here's the problem, I don't have a screen here I can use as my monitor doesn't take HDMI. I have read numerous blogs about using SSH to connect to the Pie, but I haven't been able to get that to work yet (can't find IP address). I can continue to try and figure that out, but my question now is am I wasting my time? Is it even possible to do the setup that I need to do with SSH and VNC? If so, I guess I'll continue trying to do it but it would be great to know if this is even possible before I waste much more time on it.

    Thanks in advance for your help! :)


  • Global Moderator

    @nuttymakes yes, when you ssh in you will have full access to the system via the command line. you can run the retropie-setup script from there. however, you won't be able to run any games or configure your controller easily, so i'm not sure there's much use if you don't have a screen. VNC won't work as retropie doesn't run via a traditional desktop.



  • With the recent wifikeyfile.txt implementation you can definitely get network access going with just a controller plugged into the Pi. I don't think it's fully documented, but here's a post on it and you basically create a file called wifikeyfile.txt and put it in the boot folder (which you can access on your Mac when the SD card is plugged in) and then you can go through the RetroPie menus to set up wifi using that file.



  • @dankcushions OK, perfect, I thought as much. I thought I might be able to get some of the work done first (like make sure it's installed right, connect the wireless controllers to the Pi) but if the VNC won't work in that way then it's pretty much a waste of time. Pity. It means I'll have to do the set up in snatched moments here and there in the house.

    Thanks for your quick response! I'll probably be popping in and out of here quite a bit over the next while. :)

    As an aside, for a complete beginner, I haven't found very much online. I mean, I had to google what the lights mean ("Raspberry Pi red light flashing green light meaning"), and even at that I mainly git results for Pi projects to control lights. Most beginner documentation tends to be aimed at people familiar with electronics but maybe not Pi. Perhaps I'm already in over my head attempting to start with Retropie. :/



  • @nuttymakes Stick with it, and if you have questions, feel free to ask them here. This community has been very helpful to me and many others. Search through existing posts, and if you don't see your question addressed, ask away. If you look through my post history I'm sure you'll see plenty of questions that some would see as "dumb" but if I don't know, I'm sure someone else doesn't either.


  • Global Moderator

    @nuttymakes said in Complete beginner - is it possible to setup and configure with just my Mac?:

    As an aside, for a complete beginner, I haven't found very much online. I mean, I had to google what the lights mean ("Raspberry Pi red light flashing green light meaning")

    to be fair i don't think running pi systems without a screen is a particularly 'beginner' task :)



  • @dankcushions said in Complete beginner - is it possible to setup and configure with just my Mac?:

    @nuttymakes said in Complete beginner - is it possible to setup and configure with just my Mac?:

    As an aside, for a complete beginner, I haven't found very much online. I mean, I had to google what the lights mean ("Raspberry Pi red light flashing green light meaning")

    to be fair i don't think running pi systems without a screen is a particularly 'beginner' task :)

    It took me a year and a half before I set up my first headless Pi, and even that was done with a keyboard plugged in and using a TV to do some initial tweaking before plugging it in to act as a Pi-Hole server.



  • @obsidianspider said in Complete beginner - is it possible to setup and configure with just my Mac?:

    @nuttymakes Stick with it, and if you have questions, feel free to ask them here. This community has been very helpful to me and many others. Search through existing posts, and if you don't see your question addressed, ask away. If you look through my post history I'm sure you'll see plenty of questions that some would see as "dumb" but if I don't know, I'm sure someone else doesn't either.

    Thanks for the support @obsidianspider ! :) My background is design and social media so this is kind of a whole new world for me.

    @dankcushions I didn't realise that running it via my laptop rather than connecting to a screen and keyboard would be seen as an advanced task, I'll try and stick with doing it the beginner way from now on! :)

    Thanks both, if this all goes well I intend to experiment a bit more with it and become an active, productive member of this community! :)



  • Why not go simple? A ~$4.50 HDMI to DVI cable or adapter. Or a similar HDMI to VGA adapter. Or whatever you need to hook it up to a monitor at the office. Problem solved and you have this little adapter for future use.

    Also, I've tried ApplePi-Baker on literally 4 different Mac's with zero problems (from Yosemite to El Capitan to Sierra OS). What problems are you having with it? A bad card reader perhaps? ...tried it with at least 4 brands of micro SD cards as well.


  • administrators

    @nuttymakes another way to run headless without needing an initial monitor is to plug the Ethernet in and ssh (provided you know what IP the pi gets) and configure wifi that way (though I know most workplaces are very particular about what devices are plugged into their networks) but as you've seen from the responses thus far, with the raspberry pi there are always 3-4+ ways of doing something.



  • @Dochartaigh It just goes idle after a few seconds, about 5% into the progress bar. I've seen other people online have had this issue, including a post on this forum where they tried on another Mac and everything worked fine. It's one of the official cards so compatibility shouldn't be a problem. I've also been able to browse SD cards from the card reader in the laptop so likely not a card reader issue either. Seems to have worked via the command line install, but I'll know once I plug it into a screen.

    @herb_fargus Yeah, I'm starting to see that alright! :) I've tried using an Ethernet cable put as I don't know what IP the pi gets it has been problematic. If retropie doesn't use traditional desktops (as Ive learnt on this thread), then that method will only get me so far anyways.

    I think I've squeezed about 2 hours of free time in the house tonight by sending the OH off on an errand so that should hopefully give me a bit of a start.



  • @obsidianspider why it does not work for me with Raspberry Pi Zero W and Retropie installed?



  • @MEPoss Did you enable SSH?


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