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DreamPi NOOBS Image

Background information about DreamPi

 The Sega Dreamcast was quite innovative for its time. One major selling point and unique feature for the console during its tragically short, but glorious lifespan was the inclusion of a built-in 56k dial-up internet modem, making the Sega Dreamcast the first home video game console to have online support out-of-the-box. The modem could be upgraded to a Broadband Adapter (BBA) for a higher speed, larger bandwidth DSL internet connection; however, these units are rare, in high-demand, and expensive (even today on eBay). With the 56k modem, players could surf the web using a dial-up connection and Dreamcast web browsers such as PlanetWeb (or likewise could use a DSL connection with the BBA). Most of these web browsers also allowed players to read and send email. Moreover, many games supported online features, such as online multiplayer, leaderboards, and the ability to download DLC to the VMU memory card for usage in-game. 

   Despite the Sega Dreamcast being discontinued prematurely in 2001, many of the game servers stayed online for a few years afterwards. Eventually, however, as the Sega Dreamcast grew older and less socially relevant, all of the games' official servers were retired offline. Recently there have been many online Dreamcast games whose inner workings have been reverse-engineered, and private servers created to resurrect their online functionality. Despite this, however, nowadays with the advent of newer online connection types (such as DSL, fiber, etc), real landline dial-up connections to use with the default 56k modem are becoming obsolete and it is getting much harder to find ISPs who can offer a dial-up connection, while the BBA adapter (for usage with DSL connections) is still rare and expensive.

Enter DreamPi

   In order to create a standardized, modern set of hardware to allow players to connect their Dreamcasts to the internet and applicable games to their respective resurrected game servers, a fellow named "Kazade" created the DreamPi. It is a customized Debian-based Linux distro that runs on a Raspberry Pi Model 2 or 3, which will allow a Dreamcast to connect online via a modern-day RJ45 Ethernet or WiFi connection. A DreamPi setup consists of the following
  • Raspberry Pi Model 2 or 3
  • DreamPi distro
  • Linux-Compatible USB Modem
  • RJ11 Phone cord
  • Line Voltage Inducer circuit (if the USB Modem or Dreamcast modem model requires voltage on the modem connection)
  • Internet connection via RJ45 connection (required for Model 2 RPis) OR WiFi access point (for WiFi-equipped Model 3 RPis)

   With the DreamPi software and the USB modem setup, the DreamPi will answer to the Dreamcast's dial-up calls, and allow it to connect to the internet. The Dreamcast Now website displays which players are currently online with registered DreamPis and for what games. Furthermore, a DreamPi can be used to get other dial-up based consoles and computers back online for surfing the web, such as a Sega Saturn. With a DreamPi, the Sega Saturn can browse online with a PlanetWeb web browser and NetLink modem cartridge, or browse the resurrected NetLink Zones for Netlink-enabled games. (More information about surfing the NetLink Zones via the DreamPi on the Sega Saturn available here). One minor con of the DreamPi distro, however, is that it is not NOOBS compatible; the distro must be installed directly to the SD Card by writing the image to it, meaning that one cannot partition the SD Card easily for multi-booting of several Linux-based distros on the SD card. Enter DreamPi NOOBS Image!

DreamPi NOOBS image

   The easiest way to setup a new Raspberry Pi is to install a bootloader software known as NOOBS (New Out Of Box Software). It comes in 2 versions: the full-version (has a few Linux distros available locally for installation from the SD Card, and allows installing other Distros from an online server), and the lite version (only allows the user to install a few Linux distros from online). NOOBS is run when the Raspberry Pi boots, allows one to install various operating systems in such a way to allow multi-booting, and allows the user to select which OS to run. All the user needs to do to install NOOBS is to plop the contents of the NOOBS download to the root of the designated SD Card (formatted to FAT32) for the Raspberry Pi. On first boot, the NOOBS bootloader will create a primary FAT32 partition sized appropriately to contain the NOOBS bootloader files and local OSes (if any) for installation on the SD Card's root folder; afterwards, the user can select what OSes to install (either locally from this partition in the "os" folder for the full-versionr, or online for the lite-version from the online server for various officially-sponsored distros). The lite-version can only install OSes from the online server. Installing OSes via NOOBS allows multi-boot capabilities.

   A much better alternative to NOOBS is PINN (PINN Is Not NOOBS), which I highly recommend using over NOOBS. PINN is based off of NOOBS, has the same features as NOOBS, and also has the following enhancements such as:
  • Various ways to install OSes
    • Install from SD Card (offline)
    • Install from online server (with a wider variety of OSes)
    • External Media
      • USB Flash Drive
      • External SD Card via a USB SD Card reader
  • Install additional 512MB ext4 Data paritions, for general data usage
  • Download and archive to the SD Card the OSes from the online server, for offline installation
  • Easily reinstall OSes if something goes wrong (without having to redo a fresh NOOBS/PINN setup)

  • Various maintenance capabilities
    • OS maintenance utility
    • Recovery shell
    • SD card clone utility
    • Password restorer
    • File System Checker
   To allow easy setup of a DreamPi distro on a Raspberry Pi (with multi-boot capabilities for other OSes), I have a created a NOOBS/PINN-compatible DreamPi image, based against the latest version of DreamPi. This image has its own OS icon and slideshow images too when installing!

How to install DreamPi via NOOBS/PINN

If modifying an existing NOOBS/PINN setup, it is highly recommended to backup the SD Card first!
  • Setting up a new SD Card
    • Format the SD Card to FAT32
      • This will erase all data on it!
    • Download latest version of either NOOBS (full version) or PINN (latter highly recommended)
    • Put the contents of either download onto the root of the SD Card
    • Download my DreamPi NOOBS compatible image below

    • Copy the "DreamPi" folder from my download into the "os" folder on the SD card
      • Also copy the folders for any additional NOOBS-compatible OS images there too (for NOOBS setup, if necessary)
      • To quote the PINN documentation:
        "Make sure to add any OSes to the /os/ folder before you boot [NOOBS/PINN] in [an] RPi for the first time.
        Otherwise you will find the partition has been shrunk to its minimum size and
        there will be no room to add any more OSes to the card later."

    • Place SD Card into Raspberry Pi, and boot the Pi up.
    • Install the OSes (DreamPi and others).
      • Important: For NOOBS, make sure you check you all of the OSes you want installed at once!
        Installing a single OS may wipe any currently existing ones, and you aren't easily able to change OSes installed afterwards!

    • Enjoy your new multi-boot capabilities!

  • Setting up an existing SD Card with NOOBS/PINN already installed
    • NOOBS Lite
      • Upgrade to either NOOBS Full-version or PINN (recommended), then follow the "Setting up a new SD Card" section.
        This is required, because we need offline installation for the DreamPi NOOBS image!

    • NOOBS Full-version
      • Follow steps in "Setting up a new SD Card section" for NOOBS setup.
        Backup data before doing so, and make sure you either have local access to all OSes


      • Upgrade to superior PINN instalation

    • PINN
      • Format USB Stick/external SD Card to FAT32
        • (if not already; USB Stick/SD Card will be erased!)
      • Create "os" folder on root of USB Stick/external Card
      • Copy "DreamPi" folder from my DreamPi NOOBS Compatible Image download into "os" folder
      • Boot up Pi with USB Stick/USB Card reader with external SD Card inserted, install DreamPi
Installing DreamPi (for dual-boot setup in PINN)

DreamPi installation Slideshow