Running a headless system

Moving this thread. I’m working on using a Raspberry PI with Ubuntu Mate for Ground Control. We started to go sideways in another thread so I created this. Please share you thoughts on running headless here.


Good idea to give this a tread of it’s own,

How to use GC from the command line?
Are there other ways to do this?
Webserver gui like OctoPi

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you cannot use GC without a GUI

once you have finished calibration, you should be able to use any grbl
compatible sender to deliver the g-code to the maslow.


Should as in “this is a feature we plan to have” but you can’t quite do this right now.

The firmware doesn’t save any of the settings in eeprom, so every time you initiate a usb connection to the arduino, you have to send the device settings. This is on the list of issues to fix.


ahh, at one point this worked, and the settings were saved in eeprom.

So this is a bug that was introduced at some point

can we easily have GC save the settings in a file in g-code (i.e. B code) file
that can be ‘played’ by a grbl sender to initialize a maslow?

Yeah, I don’t know exactly when we took it out, but w need to design and implement a settings manager within the firmware.

You proposed interim step isn’t a bad idea. It isn’t currently supported but you could pull the commands out of the print.log file right now.

I beleive OctoPi once was making efforts to add grbl to their system, though i don’t know if that ever made it in there

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Headless is not GUI less.

Thank you

Have you used this with Kivy?

I this combination - no. This is a question of remote access. I have used combinations of this on over 100,000 connections world wide over 2 decades and more than 30 technicians. I have installed software this way in Egypt even though I’ve never been there. To be complete I just tested it with GC and it is working. :slight_smile:

Thank you


I’ve used remote access too, but hadn’t gotten Kivy to work over it. You were using RDP, yes? What distro of Linux?

I will test it on the PI when I can. I used VNC to OSX. Are you using a touch screen? Are you using KivyPi?

Thank you

I see, yes I’ve done remote to Kivy on OSX (VNC) and Windows (RDP), but never to a Linux running Kivy. Kivypie or any other. It would make using a Pi a much better proposition.

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CDo you guys have any interest in running the little 7” touch screen you can get for the raspberry pi’s that are out now for like $60 or are they not worth it? Also, has anyone been able to run ground control and all that on of of these (not nescicarly a headless but a r.p.) ? Anything special or any upgrades that need to be done to a 3? (I hope I’m not super off topic here)


Yes - GC will run with KivyPi on the PI Foundation Display. The issue is this, as stated in the original thread that started this one. You can get a refurbished laptop for ~$120 based on an I3 or I5 cpu. The cost of a PI3 is ~$50 before the display, you are getting less computing power and less reliability. What I mean is the laptop runs on battery if the power drops out, it will keep power to the Arduino. With the PI3 there is no battery, you are running it towards it’s limits. Also the laptop has a high res 15 inch display. I am not affiliated with New Egg, but that is where I picked up a Lenovo T420 laptop for a good price. A friend that dose high end CAD work got a refurbished machine through them too and they seem to be solid machines. We broke this thread out from a different one discussing the Pros and Cons of low end processing and reliability of connections and OS freezing. The question here was about running with no display on the pc directly connected to the Maslow. Hence the term Headless. Then remoting to that machine for local control.

I in the future may recommend a specific PI setup for the Maslow. A set of hardware for a specific experience. In cost it will not be a good choice, meaning it will run $80 -$90 to setup the PI. But it will be a configuration with specific features that because of the PI will have more people supporting it.

My daily driver is Windows 10 on a refurbished T420 with an I5 as a general CNC controller.

The PI config I’m working on would allow a dedicated machine to the Maslow and include a UPS system.

If I seem like I’m upset or short , I’m not. I just wanted to catch you up on the conversation.

BTW - I have seen a " controller" running a PI touchscreen and power distribution that is a awesome build here. If you already have the parts to make a PI touchscreen system it may work well for you.

To sum up - the status of RPI - KivyPI works well with a Pi foundation touchscreen. Running it on a standard display is challenging.

I have a good experience running a PI3 on Ubuntu Mate desktop with a 720p display.

So yes you can make the Pi work for Ground Control.

Thank you


@Bee is right. I have an RPI setup on my 2x4 foot cnc mill, but it is running bcnc and chili pepper. I wanted to go down the same path for the maslow, but it just didn’t make sense. I was able to buy a used amd x970 desktop and a monitor for less then a RPI and screen and that included a windows 10 license ($10 on ebay). GC was easier to install, and I can run geode and cad software at the same time. So while I’m baby sitting a cut I can work on other designs. Not something you can do on an RPI.


You could even save the $10 for that Micro$oft license by installing Ubuntu instead.

But if you never used Ubuntu before then $10 ain’t a bad deal for microsoft…

I’m planning to use a laptop to run the Maslow. I’ve got a little business-grade Toughbook (not the mil-spec ones) that I picked up as a refurb for about $160. It’s an i5, has decent batteries, came with Windows 7, has a touchscreen, solid WiFi performance, and it can be twisted and folded into tablet mode. The “built in UPS” aspect of it is appealing, as was the price.

I use RPi3s for a LOT of things (including running my brewery, my other CNCs and my 3D printers). Once I evaluated the costs and the complexity of running a Maslow on a Pi, I decided that running the Maslow wouldn’t be one of them.

Maybe someday, as the software matures and my understanding grows. For now, I want to be able to cut things, so I punched the easy button and chose to use a laptop.


Thats a nice find $160 for an i5! And that in a somewhat rugged box. + touchscreen :open_mouth:

And indeed the UPS aspect is a +. A RPi can’t beat that in any way

For smartphone fans it could be nice to have someknd of VNC client

Then the phone could be the touchscreen…

And what about Slapping Ubuntu Touch on a google nexus phone and install GC on that.
And use the Nexus as Maslow controller those Nexus phones should already be dirt cheap by now!!

Or Samsung S4 with Replicant OS (not sure if this can run Kivy in some way or form)

With a USB OTG cable this should be no problem