Zynthian OS on a standard Pi4B setup?

Hi folks,

Sorry, it’s been a heck of a long while since I’ve been here, things have been rather manic and the speaking organ build has been taking up a lot of my time, needless to say it’s now sponsored by a few companies and a lot of work is going on here.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about zynthian OS for a project, so I don’t know how viable it is, so, before I even go ahead and run a setup, I have some questions for you.

OK, the project is this, I did mention it some time ago… I have been planning on a digital piano setup to donate to my church, that has now had to be escalated up the list of projects. I have a Pi4B 8gb available, I love this raspberry pi stuff! this, along with something like a hifiberry DAC2Pro which I’m using an instance for dev work on the organ platform, I’m really impressed with.

Now I’ve heard mention that Pianoteq and maybe organteq from Modartt, as it’s linux ARM based, would possibly work with this?

Here’s what I’m planning on. I have a spare 15.6" dtouch panel interface I’d be willing to integrate into the setup, as such, this would do a heck of a lot. The master keyboard is a fatar 88 note studiologic SL88 Studio, I’ll be fitting the pi and display into a secure case so you wouldn’t easily recognise it was an actual computer as such.

Would this work with a touch panel like this? also can this OS be tailored to just having certain software instruments available? such as Pianoteq 7.4.2, Organteq 1.6.3 and maybe a workstation instrument with the bread and butter sounds needed for church and concert performances? I don’t need it running instruments like drum machines or fancy effect processors or other resources.

I’m asking this as a blind person although I’m not concerned myself as to it’s use. how would a sighted person interact with this from a touch panel perspective where a user would want to interact with the instrument, knowing that pianoteq and organteq are GUI based.

Any thoughts?

If Zynthian OS isn’t ideal for this, I had thought about Raspberry Pi OS which I’m using on a test environment and like it, but I’d like to run it like a kiosk where only select applications were available from a centralised window, tap an icon to launch pianoteq, quit it, tap an icon organteq, quit it, tap an icon for another instrument, quit it, shut down or reboot the system. I’d love to know if this can be done. if so, could someone help please? I’m no linux geek, in fact, starting out with it for a while and it’s interesting but does drive me mad from an accessibility side of things as ORCA can be a right pain.


Zynthian runs Pianoteq with certain limitations ( as I understand it, I hav a license, somewhere … :slight_smile: ) imposed by the Pi4 itself, so it’ as good as you will probably get that way in that is integrated into an environment that will present setups from a clean boot up.

The screen you mention will probably work with a zynth , but will present the zynthian GUI as, that’s kind of what we do. That’s not to say that precisely what functionality you would want from your touchscreen. Obviously you would be constructing this as a project of your own so you can do whatever you want with the GUI. This is Open Source !.
The Zynthian can be configured to react to Program Change messages very easily, so you might be simply generating an screen that generates PC messages when pressed, but I suspect other functionality might be required after due consideration of the actual device.

The zynth is a toolkit and the availability of tools like recording and sequencing can offer facilities for learning and training that might reveal themselves later. It’s nice to have that sort of thing easily integrated because successful projects grow.

Wether of not the accessibility aspects of the GUI as it stands would allow complete operation of the GUI is an open question and it would certainly be interesting to see what issues arrive, and how far into the Zynthian world control signals can get you.

The sighted users would certainly benefit from the fairly considered zynthian interface as it presents instruments specifically for live performance and has kept things pretty tight in that regard, and there is the wiki here https://wiki.zynthian.org which contains enough documentation and howto’s to address most people concern.

sounds interesting.

Pianoteq and organteq would be tools I’d want made readily available in whatever method I could set up. Windows from what I’ve heard, offers a kiosk mode where a multi-app kiosk could be created. Linux, not so sure of that, MacOS has a simple finder resource, etc.

I think that in this instance, the UI needs to be as per the actual software so that a user can understand it better and work with it how they want. Aeolus has been updated to 0.9.10 so would need to be updated in the latest build of zynthian OS.

The challenge here from a UI perspective is that the master keyboard itself doesn’t have the kind of normal controls that say, a korg 01w would have as an example, so the touch ui really needs to be there to work with the software directly. kind of like what Roland, Yamaha and KAWAI are doing with their instruments now, native OS with touch UI


For the setup you describe I would suggest just running PianoTeq and OrganTeq applications directly. Zynthian adds much complexity which you don’t need and actually reduces the ability for Raspberry Pi to run PianoTeq optimally. I can get PianoTeq running on Raspbian with much better parameters than when it runs in Zynthian. Also the Zynthian UI is targeted at providing relatively simple access to the complex innards but there are lots of menus and stuff that wouldn’t be needed. Presenting the actual PianoTeq GUI full screen may be a better solution.

Obviously I love more people using Zynthian but I don’t think it is the best solution for your requirement.

That’s what I’d like to achieve.

What I would like to do is this, have a stripped down interface so that no one could openly faff with the OS, etc, just run either organteq or pianoteq from startup. either one of two ways, on boot it presents an option screen to run organteq or pianoteq, or to boot into a desktop with just the software as 2 icons centred to a window the user can run, of course, power off button on screen, etc.

any thoughts on this?


I would install minimal Raspbian (now called Raspberry Pi OS) then install the xserver and probably a light display manager, like we use for the “engines” display in Zynthian. Ideally have the buttons to launch the apps and do other operations on a panel. The one I used for Zynthian didn’t have the ability to recognise and switch to existing running apps so I wrote a wrapper for the apps to implement this functionality . You might prefer external physical button panel to do that: switch between apps, shutdown, power on, etc.

This might get interesting lol

So go Raspberry Pi OS Lite, installl XServer and a GUI. what would you advise? I’ll have to do some research further in to this.

Why is it that when you need a spare sd card for a test run like this, there isn’t one. I don’t want to upset the one card I have which is running the dev version of Organteq I’m working on

So, I could effectively launch particular applications by physical buttons? yes I’d be using a power switch anyway, just had one turn up yesterday for my pi for the organ build, really impressed with this.

Daft question, do I need a power management board for a 4 wire switch or not? my supplier’s tech support seems eager for me to go for a powerblock board to go on top of the Hifiberry DAC2Pro. Any thoughts on this?


The Pi can be powered down by an OS command which may be triggered by a script or daemon / service monitoring a physical switch / GPI. It can be powered up by a momentary switch of 0 volts to pin 5. Abruptly depowering it may corrupt the SD card hence a graceful power off is desirable. The powerblock board provides these soft power on / off features but I would implement it myself for a fraction of the cost, but then I am frugal (tight).

I’m not near a computer today so can’t check what I did with Zynthian but it is in GitHub.