Arcade Side Quest: Swapping Hardware

The Problem

It wasn’t too long ago I uploaded a post on how I built out the Raspberry Pi 4 for the Light Quest arcade project. It was all promising at first, until I did my first test. I figured, before I go down the long, long road of fully developing an entire game from scratch, going through countless revisions (hopefully not countless) and finally getting to the point where I’m ready to deliver the game to run it on the Raspberry Pi, only to find out the game wasn’t compatible with the Pi hardware… It’d be best to just run a simple test first with a game I already had lying around. Yes, I got the controls working for the game, but that was only on my laptop. I wasn’t satisfied until I had a game that I’d written fully functional and running smoothly on the Pi.

Good news: I ran this check early. Bad news: The test unearthed some unfortunate results. Something that I didn’t completely realize until after the Pi was ordered and assembled and set up with a fresh copy of Raspian, was the fact that Pi’s run ARM CPU architecture. This is great except when you need X86 architecture. The executible Linux binary I had exported for Pi was only compatible and compiled for x86 architecture. When I executed on Pi, it just threw an error and that was that. There was no running the game unless I could export for ARM. After many-a internet searches, almost zero game engines support ARM architecture. I say almost because there were a few examples of crazy experimental setups running Unreal or Unity on ARM boards, but it wasn’t exactly straighforward. Keyword: “experimental”.

So finally, I came to terms with the fact that it would just be easier to swap hardware in favor of an X86 CPU board instead of forcing the Pi to do what I needed it to do. So after a quick call to IT, they just happen to have a few chromeboxes lying around that were being replaced. Score! I was able to snag one of the boxes for the arcade project. The new gameplan was to wipe the chromebox, install GalliumOS, and test the linux executable on that box. But first, the GalliumOS install. Luckily I have some previous experience with GalliumOS and have installed it on 2 laptops before.

The first step is finding the four corner screws that keep the main case assembly together. They can easily be located by popping off the rubber feet at the bottom of the chromebox with a small flathead screwdriver or a knife. With those screws exposed, you can pull them out with a Phillips head screwdriver.

With the four corner screws removed, the top of the case can easily slide off. With the chromebox top removed, you can get a good look at the internal components. Upon careful inspection and a little bit of help from Mr. Chromebox, I was able to find the write-protect screw. Yes, there is a physical screw that protects custom firmware from being written without removing this screw. I guess Google doesn’t want anyone to accidentally boot a different operating system.

Once the write protect screw is removed, I was able to close everything back up and boot into GalliumOS without having to hit CTRL+L every single time to make sure that it boots into legacy mode. And with a few settings tweaked, I now have a chromebox that automatically logs in as admin at boot and launches the Linux binary executable that I was testing on the Raspberry Pi 4 that was failing previously. Problem solved.