Pi-top [4] without pi-topOS

Is there a way to use a pi-top [4] case without pi-topOS? Can I use different OS, for ex. Raspberry Pi OS 32-bit or 64-bit, and install apps/libs/scripts for pi-top [4] hardware?

You can use it with another OS but you’ll lose the hardware drivers, such as battery readings, soft shutdown, OLED screen functionality etc. We don’t currently have the drivers available as Debian packages but it’s on our roadmap to do so - we’ll also be making our Github repos public very soon so that others can contribute to the effort!

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Got my pair of pi-top[4] DIY edition on Thursday and I managed to set up my pi-top4 device with Patchbox OS (an OS distribution from Pisound developer) after doing some deep searching on Google without actually flashing an pi-topOS to check and copy the configuration.

First some configuration in /boot/config.txt is needed, as described in this article: What does pi-topOS do differently to Raspbian?

And I found a MagPi article mentioned how to add pi-top4 apt repository and install the support deb packages. I can’t post the steps directly due to the number of links restriction.

However, the steps are not complete. After rebooting the newly installed services are not able to start successfully due to some dependency packages are missing. Looking into the service logs from journalctl -xe gives the hint about which needs to be installed.

After installing all the packages required, the OLED mini screen and buttons, and also the pi-top default UI on the screen and buttons are working. And I can also write python code to utilize the screen and buttons. However, I found an issue that the device might shut down unexpectedly after playing with buttons for a while. I haven’t found the root cause of this yet.

One thing to note is that the services installed above needs to be running if the code is utilizing the python libraries from pi-top. I hope I can write my own codes using GPIO / SPI library to use the screen and buttons without those services running, but the information is not complete, and I have not dug into their python libraries yet.

I will update the steps to give the complete package list next time I set up again.


Hi @wangpy, have you had a chance to check out our new SDK? Would love to get your feedback on it! :+1:

What about the opposite? Can you use Pi-Top OS on a vanilla Raspberry Pi 4b?

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of course! :grinning:

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Hi All,

I have a similar issue, I would want to use my pi-top 4 diy with a different OS - Raspberry Pi Buster.

I have followed the guideance from knowledgebase:

and have gotten the following to work:
Battery status showing on monitor
Mini-Oled (partially)

The issue I have is that the mini-oled shows the start-up animation but is on a continuous loop, showing the pi-top logo. The menu on the mini-oled is not showing and the buttons are non-responsive. Is there a way to have this fixed? Do I need to make any other changes? Many thanks

@Luis did you manage to get this working? We are looking into it this week, let us know if you have made any progress :+1:

@duwudi, yes, have managed to get it working. I went with a quick fix by un-commenting the lines that had to do with the pi-top logo animation at startup in pt-sys-oled. Would be nice if you guys manage to find a fix so I can keep the logo animation as well. Thanks a lot

Hi, have you managed to get everything working from Patchbox OS?
Also, have you tried a vice versa approach?
To use Pi-Top OS and install all stuff from Patchbox OS? Like MODEP, Jack etc.?

Just wondering, will this work with Raspberry Pi OS Lite?