Installing 64bit Xubuntu on a pi400 over wifi

Thanks to the lovely wife, I recently got a Raspberry Pi 400. I’ve got Retropie on one microSD card and the official Raspberry Pi OS on another, but I wanted a “full fat” OS. My preferred Linux distro for lower powered systems is Xubuntu, but there is no pre-built image available, so you need to start with Ubuntu server (64bit) which is available in the Raspberry Pi imager.

  1. Getting Ubuntu server
    Using the Raspberry Pi imager and either a MicroSD card or USB storage, select Ubuntu server 20.10 64 bit and point it at your storage. This will wipe the storage.
  2. Insert the MicroSD or USB into the Pi400 and boot.
  3. Login and set a new password for the ubuntu user (default password is ubuntu).
  4. At this point, you might notice that you’re stuck at a command prompt with no wifi. Poop.
  5. Configure wifi by opening /etc/netplan/50-cloud-init.yaml
    sudo nano /etc/netplan/50-cloud-init.yaml
  6. Enter your wifi details by adding the following to the bottom of the file, changing the SSID and password for your own (pay close attention to the indentation):
    wifis:
    wlan0:
    access-points:
    YourSSIDname: yourwifiSSID
    password: yourwifipassword
    dhcp4: true
  7. Apply these settings with: sudo netplan apply
  8. Next, install Xubuntu: sudo apt install xubuntu-desktop. I’d recommend selecting lightdm when prompted.

After the install has finished restart the Pi with sudo reboot. Now we can start tweaking,

Firstly, you’ll probably want to overclock to get a little more speed. To do this, edit the config.txt file in /boot/firmware/config.txt

Mine has the following stuck to the bottom:
arm_freq=2200
over_voltage=6
gpu_freq=800
force_turbo=1
gpu_mem=256
dtoverlay=vc4-fkms-v3d
max_framebuffers=2

This clocks the CPU up to 2.2Ghz, increases the voltage, bumps up the GPU frequency, modifies the memory assigned to the GPU and enables fake KMS for 3d acceleration. Note that the over_voltage and force_turbo entries will void your warranty.

After this, you’ll probably want to remove the modifications to /etc/netplan/50-cloud-init.yaml that you made earlier. Doing this will allow you the manage the wifi in the Xfce GUI.

In the next post I’ll write up some tweaks to increase disk speed and fix the crackling sound problems in some apps.

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