Using Raspbian Stretch on the pi-top
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¨Rene Richarz
Latest commit 45a5889 Aug 30, 2018
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documents removed reference to Raspbian Jessie May 19, 2018
tools new tool touchpad added Dec 20, 2017 instructions added Nov 4, 2017 changed instructions for Raspbian Lite Aug 30, 2018
config.png picture added Nov 4, 2017
install new tool touchpad added Dec 20, 2017
pt-setup email address added Dec 3, 2017
pt_config.desktop fixed mouse pointer Nov 4, 2017
uninstall new tool touchpad added Dec 20, 2017


This repository includes information and programs to use Raspbian Stretch on the pi-top laptop (version 1 and 2) and the pi-topCEED.

The help of @pi-top and especially @m-roberts to get this to work is very much appreciated.

The pi-top Device Manager, which handles the pi-top hardware (hub) and the pi-top accessories (pi-topSPEAKER and pi-topPULSE) is now available for Raspbian Stretch. This is the recommended way to use the pi-top with Raspbian. The documentation can be found at the pi-top repository. You can also find instructions there on how to install the pi-topSPEAKER, pi-topPULSE and Alexa service. The pi-top Device Manager also supports pushing the power button for a second as a means to turn the pi-top off.

Important! If you have used pi-top-install or pi-top-battery-status, they should not be used together with the Device manager. See the instructions for uninstalling them at the links above.

The pi-top Device Manager is automatically installed with the latest software for the pi-topSPEAKER or pi-topPULSE. It can also be installed with the following commands.

  sudo apt-get update
  sudo apt-get upgrade
  sudo apt-get install pt-device-manager

Important! If you had installed pt-hub earlier, see at the bottom of this page on how to upgrade your software.

With the latest release of the pt-device-manager software, it is also possible to install the software using Raspbian Lite, even so this is not recommended. If you are using Raspbian Lite, do not turn off or reboot your pi-top after installing the pt-device-manager! Instead, type 'sudo raspi-config' then use 'boot options' and 'Desktop/CLI' to set your bootup to Console. Afterwards, you can reboot your pi-top.

If you are installing this software on a pi-top rev 1 or pi-topCEED, make sure that spi is enabled in menu->Preferences->Raspberry Pi Configuration.

Once the software is installed, you can obtain information from the pi-top hardware, and change certain parameters:


Starting with the latest upgrade of Raspian Stretch (January 30, 2018) a battery icon should be automatically installed and enabled on the pi-top laptop (both versions). The apt package lxplug-ptbatt is part of the apt package raspberry-pi-ui-mods. If this battery icon shows up on your pi-top, installation of a separate battery widget is not required anymore. It will only show up if pt-device-manager is installed and i2c is enabled.

If this battery icon does not show up on your pi-top, you can use the following means to display battery information.

The information about the state of the battery can be obtained with the command


If the Device Manager has been properly installed, you should get the following output (of course with different values for each parameter)

  Charging State: 0
  Capacity: 70
  Time Remaining: 590
  Wattage: 0

If you do not see a battery icon on the desktop panel after the next bootup, proceed as follows: Right click at an empty spot on the desktop panel, and choose "add/remove panel items". Click on Battery (pi-top/laptop) and click "add". Now you can move the battery icon to your preferred position with "Up" and "Down", then close the Panel Preferences window. The battery icon only shows up if pt-device-manager has been installed and works properly.


On the pi-top version 2 the brightness keys work with out-of-the-box Raspbian Stretch.

You can control the screen brightness and the timeout before the screen blanks also with the command pt-brightness. To get information on how to use pt-brightness, type

  pt-brightness -h

If you prefer to adjust brightness and screen blanking using sliders and buttons using the Raspberry Pi Desktop, you can install pi-top Configuration from this repository as follows

  cd Downloads
  git clone --depth 1 git://
  cd pi-top-setup
  chmod +x install

After installing this program, the sliders and buttons are available using menu->Preferences->pi-top Configuration. I recommend to keep pi-top-setup in Downloads. This makes future upgrading or uninstalling easier.

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Additional tools

If you install pi-top Configuration (instructions above), the following additional tools are also installed:

pt-log displays the log of pt-device-manager (current session).

pt-devices displays the current host device and peripherals handled by pt-device-manager.

audiotest plays a short sound on the speaker.

The following command allows to turn the internal touchpad of the pi-top version 2 off until the next boot, if you are using an external mouse, and are bothered by unwanted mouse actions.

touchpad off turns it off until the next boot

touchpad on turns it back on without a new boot

Example output of pt-devices:

  pi@pitop:~ $ pt-devices
  Devices and peripherals handled by pt-device-manager:
  OS release: 4.9.59-v7+
  Host device is pi-top v1
  Peripheral pi-topSPEAKER-v1-mono is currently enabled
  pi@pitop:~ $

To update pi-top Configuration to the latest version

Open a terminal and type

  cd Downloads/pi-top-setup
  git pull

To uninstall pi-top Configuration

Open a terminal and type

  cd Downloads/pi-top-setup
  chmod +x uninstall

Additional documents describing how to use your pi-top

Using the analogue inputs of the pi-topPROTO+ with python

Problems with an attached USB stick

What to do if bluetooth does not work after installing pt-pulse

See the workaround at the bottom of pi-topPULSE.

How to upgrade pt-device-manager if you had installed earlier versions of pt-hub

First, uninstall the existing pt-device-manager software (earlier than May 18, 2018) with the following commands:

  sudo apt-get update
  sudo apt-get purge pt-hub pt-device-manager
  sudo apt-get autoremove

Do not reboot right now, but install the latest version:

  sudo apt-get install pt-device-manager
  sudo apt-get upgrade

Now you can reboot your pi-top.

Links to other contributions for the pi-top

Mike Spivey has adapten a script that's automatically invoked by udev rules and disables the touchpad automatically, if an external mouse is plugged in, and enabling it again if the mouse is umplugged. See

Please open an issue in this repository or write to if you have any feedback or problem with this repository. Your input is appreciated.