Running LEGO LDD on linux

I’m finally going to try the EV3DPrinter.

3D pen

Now that my 3D pen arrived from China I downloaded Marc-André Bazergui LDD file to understand how to assemble it and then it striked me… dang, need Windows to run LDD!

I still have the Windows VM I used to update the firmware of my EV3 but I don’t want to use it (yes, I’m stubborn) so I decided to try wine. I once had LDD working with wine but never really used it and now that I got a new laptop I didn’t even bothered to install wine again.

So after a few tweaks I got LDD running – it seems that running 32-bit MS Windows programs on wine on a 64-bit linux breaks some things but essentially one just needs to add some 32-bit gstreamer plugins to make LDD work fine.

To show the full process I created a 64-bit virtual machine (1 CPU, 4 GB RAM, 32 GB thin provisioned disk), installed Ubuntu 16.10 (64-bit) on it (default installation, just enabled the download of updates while installing and the installation of 3rd party software).

As I’m using VirtualBox I also installed the VirtualBox Guest Addictions, enabled bi-directional clipboard to allow copy&past of commands between the VM and my desktop and enabled a shared folder to exchange files (just the LDD 4.3.10 setup file and the EV3DPrinter .lxf file).

Then a full last update:

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade
sudo apt dist-upgrade

followed by a reboot and a safety snapshot (“trust no one”).

So this is the full process:

sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386 
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:wine/wine-builds
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install --install-recommends winehq-devel

at this moment, I have wine 2.4 installed:

wine --version

I could install LDD right now but it will not work because at first run it tries to play some music and or video and it fails. The trick is to install some plugins for gstreamer:

sudo apt install gstreamer1.0-plugins-good:i386 gstreamer1.0-fluendo-mp3:i386

So we install LDD by just double-clicking it. As it is the first time wine runs, it first asks to install two dependencies: mono and gecko (that assures some .Net Framework and Internet Explorer compatibility).

LDD setup asks for a language (“English”) then asks us to accept the License Agreement and suggests creating two shortcuts (“Desktop” and “Quick lauch”).

Then it asks to install Adobe Flash Player and to choose a destination folder (default is fine).

When completed, we may check the option to “Run LEGO Digital Designer” but it will not work, it just shows a black window that we need to force close.

But if we launch LDD again, it works now.

Just a last issue: when opening the EV3DPrinter .lxf file we get a request for a FLEXnet license file, it is located at the installation folder:

~/.wine32/drive_c/Program Files/LEGO Company/LEGO Digital Designer/RL278-1000.lic

Everything seems to work, even creating a Building Guide and the HTML Building Instructions.

I recorded everything in this video:

It’s a long (21 min) non edited video so you may want to skip most of it (the download and installation of wine components, the install of LDD and the creation of the Building Guide).

And by the way, this is nothing really new – Marc pointed me this video with LDD running on Ubuntu 7.10 (2007!)

Virtual Mindstorms – using LEGO EV3 software on Linux

Yesterday Marc-André Bazergui incentivized me to make a video showing how to use LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Software inside a virtual machine. It is a shame that a product running Linux inside can only be used on PC or Mac – and that’s one of the reasons I started using ev3dev as I only have linux systems (laptops, Raspberry Pi’s, old DIY desktops without a Windows license…).

I got my first EV3 exactly 3 years ago as a birthday gift from my wife. I don’t remember if I ever installed the Windows software on a VM before – I did installed one or twice in Ubuntu with Wine (not sure why) and I did installed a Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio in a VMware Workstation virtual machine and do remember having connected it to the the EV3 thorough a bluetooth USB dongle (most modern hypervisors have this nice feature to allow a local device on the host to be passed-through into the guest).

I no longer have VMware Workstation but I have used Innotek VirtualBox in the past and knew that Oracle somehow managed to keep it alive after buying it (Oracle has the morbid habit of poisoning every good thing it owns – Java, Solaris, OpenOffice, MySQL…).

So I installed Oracle VM VirtualBox 5.1.4 (there is even a x64 .deb package for Ubuntu 16.04 “Xenial”) and after that the VirtualBox 5.1.4 Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack.

It was quite easy and also very fast. After that I got a licensed version of Microsoft Windows 8 Professional (x64 also) – this is my work laptop so people immediatlely started making fun of me – hey, he is installing Windows on his laptop, finally!

The rest of the process was also quite easy after all – like I thought, it is possible to use a Bluetooth USB dongle and also just the direct USB cable connection:

  • create a Virtual Machine
  • make sure “Enable USB Controller” is checked and USB 2.0 (EHCI) Controller is selected – it might also work with USB 3.0
  • add an USB Device Filter for each USB device you want to passthrough into the VM (the EV3 itself and/or the Bluetooth dongle)
  • install Windows
  • present VirtualBox Guest Additions CD Image and install
  • define a Shared Folder so you can pass drivers and binaries into the VM
  • if the Bluetooth dongle is not automatic configured, install the proper drivers
  • pair the EV3 (or plug the USB cable)
  • install LEGO Mindstorms EV3 software and run it

I made a video showing every step (just skipped the LEGO Software as it’s pretty straightfoward):

Just one note: although USB cable connection seems to work fine, i tried to upgrade my EV3 firmware several times with no success – every single time it hangs at 0%. Perhaps it behaves better with another Windows version… who knows?

Edit: Laurens Valk and David Lechner know. So I made a second post showing how to upgrade the firmware.