Ethernet directly to laptop?

I’ve been using my new Pi 4 with Oram this week and so far, everything I’ve tried works OK. I’m still not ready to make the jump to assembling a standalone box (maybe this winter) so it’s still just a Pi with I2S DAC connected to a computer. Is there anything to be aware of if I were to connect my Pi directly to a laptop via Ethernet rather than through a router/switch as I’m currently doing?

I assume all I need to do is make the connection, determine the Pi’s IP address and ensure my local mask is correct; I will have an auto MDI-X interface on the laptop. Any "gotcha"s?

I think in most cases it will just work. I can think of one “gotcha” is that some sufficiently old laptops will not auto-detect that they are directly connected and require an Ethernet “cross-over” cable to do a direct connection.

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Yes, that’s why I am getting an MDI-X adapter for it (Macbook with Thunderbolt). I figure with both ends being auto crossover there shouldn’t be a problem in that area.

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Why do you want to connect directly to computer? You may not get a route to the Internet so may not be able to update. Zynthian may not expose a proper IP address so you may need to is it’s hostname which may work over mDNS. mDNS is poorly supported by Windows and often doesn’t work. You may not be able to reach Zynthian from other machines on your local network.

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I guess I should have explained my purpose - this will be for performance only; there will be no network as such, just the two computers talking to each other so I can use VNC-UI on Zynthian. As long as I can see the Pi’s IP I don’t care if DNS, Internet or anything else exists on the “network”. If I need to update the sw I’ll bring the Pi upstairs and plug it into my LAN.

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Okay - that makes sense. For performance we recommend disabling VNC because it is a drain on resources and most performance workflows should be able to be done without it.

nDNS is the mechanism that computers use to identify each other when full DNS is unavailable. It is sometimes called uPNP or Bonjour. Both ends of the link need to be able to use mDNS to negotiate a way to talk to each other and Windows is particularly bad at this (1). If you are using a Mac running OSX then this should work. You should be able to access Zynthian by its hostname, e.g. http://zynthian.local by default (that can be changed in webconf).

(1) From Wikipeida:

Although the Windows 10 implementation was limited to discovering networked printers, subsequent releases resolved hostnames as well.
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Sounds good to me. I’m very familiar with setting networks up, I’ve just rarely had any need to direct wire two computers and wanted to make sure there were no issues in Zynthian.

Right now I’m using VNC-UI over the LAN from a Mac Studio and it works great. I’m not stressing the Pi by loading up a bunch of simultaneous engines or FX, and I don’t see any xrun issues so I expect it will be OK to experiment with until I can build a proper Z box.


Yes, most stuff can be done with VNC. Indeed I have it enabled all the time because I use it for development and testing. There are some configurations where it has particular impact, e.g. the new AIDA-X plugin has an issue with VNC. We are slowly improving VNC integration and maybe one day it will have minimal impact and we may be able to remove our advice to disable it but for now the advice remains that you should disable VNC if you can, when it is not in use.

Good luck with your configuration and let us hear the fruits of it. :face_with_monocle:


The behaviour of an isolated Zynthian has been a bit hap hazard from the perspective of Ethernet. Like everything else nowadays. It craves that Network!

Where you can end up with a machine unwilling or unable to operate mechanisms like vnc & ssh which can unsettle a day if you haven’t specifically expected it. The defaulting to a hotspot method may well alleviate this issue.

It’s the sort of thing that takes time to test…
If someone tries to hack it, I’ll probably insist they join the band.

Or become a bellringer. . .

This has been a wyleu, on a zyncajon.
Somewhere in a field.
For the Nine O’clock news.