How To Set Up A Headless (And Password-less) C.H.I.P. Computer

How To Set Up A Headless (And Password-less) C.H.I.P. Computer

My C.H.I.P. computer arrived yesterday.  The first thing I did was take an obligatory banana picture as seen below.

Next, I set it up as a headless machine so I can mess around with it on my Mac instead of hooking it up to a TV with a keyboard and mouse because remote access makes like much easier.

Steps To Set Up A Headless C.H.I.P.

You can find some great help on their documentation site, but below are the steps I took to get both SSH and VNC working on the C.H.I.P.

Next Thing Co. has a great documentation site simply found at

Connect The C.H.I.P. To A Monitor

I used my HD TV, which had some open RCA inputs.  Since I did not have a USB hub and the C.H.I.P. only has one USB port, I had to swap out the mouse and keyboard whenever I needed to use one or the other.

Connect To The Network

Unless you are using a USB-to-Ethernet adapter, you will connect via Wi-Fi.  Select your network and enter the password.  Since I always want to know where to find my C.H.I.P., I set a static IP address.  To do so, go to Settings > Network Connections.

On a side note, it looks like I haven’t used this connection for 46 years.

Set A Static IP Address

Edit the connection details and enter your network information.  I just used OpenDNS servers for the time being.


SSH is already enabled by default, so I did not need to do anything here.  You just have to know to log on as root.

Connect Without A Password

In addition to being more secure, it’s very convenient to connect via SSH without having to type in a password every-time.  Make sure you have generated some SSH keys and then you can run this command:

cat ~/.ssh/ | ssh root@ 'mkdir ~/.ssh;cat >> ~/.ssh/authorized_keys'

This will add your public key to the C.H.I.P., allowing you to log in without a password.

VNC (Screen Sharing)

I wanted to be able to use the GUI as well without having to use a separate monitor every time.  I wanted to do everything from my Mac, so I had to setup VNC.  I opened Synaptic Package Manager, updated it, and then searched for VNC.

There are many different servers you can choose from.  I chose TightVNC since I have used it before.

Once installed, I restarted the C.H.I.P. and then started the VNC server with this command:


The first time you run it, you will be asked to make a password, which you will enter when you try to connect.  After that, I was able to connect via my Mac’s Connect to server… menu.

What Next

A lot of work has been going into the Pi-hole lately (we just added support for IPv6), so I want to somehow make the C.H.I.P. into a $9 Pi-hole, which would be even cheaper than a $35 Raspberry Pi-hole.

In addition to being less expensive, the C.H.I.P. is considerably smaller than the Raspberry Pi 2, which I am currently using as my Pi-hole.